Saturday, August 30, 2014

God's Praise

Every justified person will have praise from God.

"For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." - 1 Corinthians 4:4-5 KJV

That is grace... wonderful grace... imagine a person who has done nothing right and has messed everything up but they stand before God and He has praise for them... maybe nobody else would do that or if they did they were disappointed again and again.

But when God sees them He might well say something like this, 'Thank you. I am glad to know you. You received my Son and I gladly receive you.'

I can't tell you how much this little fact means to me. When I first heard it in P Lutz's class 20 years ago it changed my life. Even reading it now it breaks me. This is my loving God. This is the heart of my Savior.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Goods and Services

Every time money changes hands in a business transaction it can be boiled down to either the exchange of goods or services.

We see people getting involved in fly by night business schemes all the time don't we?

It is a good principle to understand when evaluating a potential business opportunity... what is the service being provided? Is there a product and what is the demand and distribution method? Interesting ideas are not always profitable ones.

God wants a different transaction.. He wants your heart. No product or service is produced or expected. God desires connection not profit.

That is why faith is not a work. It is intimate trust.

God gives us beauty for ashes. (see Isaiah 61:3)

"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." - Luke 16:13 NKJV

If we live life like it is a cold business transaction then we are in very bad company.

"You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire." - Ezekiel 28:14-16 ESV

Don't get me wrong I am all for good business practices. God wants a just balance.

It is important to understand that His relationship with us is not a business transaction. Our relationships to each other should not be either.

"And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." - Matthew 5:40-41 ESV

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" - Matthew 16:26 KJV

Souls are worth more than all the world. Each one has value beyond all time and space. Love just does not function in that economy. God will only deal with us in grace. It is a gift given. It is a love relationship.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

David's Plan But Solomon's Temple

I often think of King David's desiring to build a temple for God.

"Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. But the LORD said to David my father, 'Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, it is not you who shall build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.'" - 2 Chronicles 6:7-9 ESV

"Then David gave Solomon his son the plan of the vestibule of the temple, and of its houses, its treasuries, its upper rooms, and its inner chambers, and of the room for the mercy seat; and the plan of all that he had in mind for the courts of the house of the LORD, all the surrounding chambers, the treasuries of the house of God, and the treasuries for dedicated gifts; for the divisions of the priests and of the Levites, and all the work of the service in the house of the LORD; for all the vessels for the service in the house of the LORD, the weight of gold for all golden vessels for each service, the weight of silver vessels for each service, the weight of the golden lampstands and their lamps, the weight of gold for each lampstand and its lamps, the weight of silver for a lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand in the service, the weight of gold for each table for the showbread, the silver for the silver tables, and pure gold for the forks, the basins and the cups; for the golden bowls and the weight of each; for the silver bowls and the weight of each; for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the LORD. All this he made clear to me in writing from the hand of the LORD, all the work to be done according to the plan." - 1 Chronicles 28:11-19 ESV

All of 2 Chronicles chapters 2 through 4 talk about the process involved with building the temple.

"Thus all the work that Solomon did for the house of the LORD was finished. And Solomon brought in the things that David his father had dedicated, and stored the silver, the gold, and all the vessels in the treasuries of the house of God." - 2 Chronicles 5:1 ESV

There was great planning and attention to detail... tender loving care and dealings with people... King Hiram of Tyre supplied the wood needed... He has supplied materials for David's house and now he would deal with his son.

"But God said to me, 'You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.' ... And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel." - 1 Chronicles 28:3, 5 ESV

We often feel that the warfare has disqualified us. We have desires to see God glorified and draw up plans to make it so. We want Him living close by in a house made by our hands.

In this instance we could say that Solomon was a picture of the new testament believer and David a picture of our natural man. Solomon had the genetic makeup of his father but where David was able to nothing but plan... Solomon had access to materials to built the temple.

Solomon is also a type of Christ Himself. This king full of wisdom.

Joseph, also a type of Christ, had no sins recorded in the scriptures. But, In many way Solomon is like us with times of darkness and disillusionment.

"Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' ... And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."" - Matthew 16:16, 18-19 ESV

Peter's confession of Christ's identity was the rock that God would build His church upon and yet the ability to bind and loose is given to us. We can say what is said in Heaven declaring what Heaven permits and restricts and Christ builds His church.

He gathers His gold and cedar from the gentile nations. People are His dwelling place and His resource at the same time.

We can live like Solomon when he wrote Ecclesiastes, a natural man full of failure and dark perspective, or we can live like a Solomon writing his great song, as a person full of faith, love and connection.

Today I will be gathering gold for God's house. Revealing Christ's identity and watching Him build the thing that has become my heart's desire... a resting place for God in people and a place where people can rest in God.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Contradictions Go On And On

A life of faith is a paradox in many ways.

Servant leaders.The healer who is wounded Himself. The wise man who looks like a fool at first glance. The comedian who isn't laughing at pain but has a depth and draws the deep waters out of a person. The agent of hope who lives a hard life by sight. The blind visionary. The gardener who rarely tastes a fraction of the benefits of what he is growing in this life. The intimate stranger who loves people before he even meets them.

Criminals declared innocent... not claiming innocence.

"Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." - Isaiah 53:1-5 ESV

Jesus. The king on a cross. The man who donned a towel and washed the feet of fisherman. He possesses the greatest joy and yet He bore the deepest sorrow.

"And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand." - Isaiah 53:9-10 ESV

A seemingly poor man buried in a rich man's tomb. The only innocent One treated like the basest criminal.

The contradictions go on and on.

"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

"We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open." - 2 Corinthians 6:3-11 ESV

If I told you your life should be contradiction free then in would only put an obstacle in your path.

People who walk by sight are looking to resolve the contradiction by natural means.

Jesus has resolved the contradictions in Himself and has peace that He leaves with us. He will tie up the loose ends in the last chapter. Until them we walk by faith on the edge of darkness as citizens of light.

Grace and mercy are straight things that are manifested in a crooked and broken world. The natural man sees something unbalanced but a spiritual person is leaning in such a way that world seems slanted and the eternal things fit perfectly.

We do not look to balance the scales. We receive and give love in situations that look very unbalanced. We lean towards grace.

Can we do that today? Can we receive from God what we don't deserve based on the goodness and straightness of His Son's life?

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." - Colossians 3:1 ESV

It will mean we must walk by faith and not sight. Our perspective must make the shift. Oh God... help us. Show us. Shift us. Give us peace in the storm. Give us eyes that see and ears that hear what your Spirit is communicating.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two Mountains

"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no 'root of bitterness' springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;" - Hebrews 12:15 ESV

Reading this I think of a mother at dinner time with a child who is sick isn't eating gently coaxing their child to eat and gain strength.

Grace is a vital element of life if we see that someone isn't getting it we want them to receive it.

The passage then goes on to talk about two mountains.

"For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, 'If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.' Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, 'I tremble with fear.'

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." - Hebrews 12:18-24 ESV

When a person comes to you which mountain do they get? Do they get someone feeding on grace and giving it or do they get an order that can not be endured that will only produce bitterness?

I suppose it depends on where we live doesn't it?


Monday, August 25, 2014

It Is Him

"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

It's Him. Really it is. It's not a method or a philosophy. It's a person. The person.

He Is the method and path. He is the first hand information. He is the animating power of life itself.

"The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us." - Isaiah 59:8-11 KJV

We listen to the angry poets of music that reflects dark truth. Each generation invents a new brand of it and it resonates with our heart. Talk radio rails against the ways that are not the way and information that is not the truth.

There is no path to purity and justice without Him but with Him we find it. We are put on it.

Without Him the world will die and so will we. Our water will be poisoned and mankind will outgrow it's food supply and resources. The secular world lives purposely shortsighted hoping man can overcome it's greed and evolve but secretly despairs and looks to crueler solutions of violence just in case it will not happen in time.

"On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. ... And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one." - Zechariah 14:4-5, 9 ESV

If life on this planet evolved than man is a disease because we destroy what is beautiful to make more money. But we did not evolve... we were created and Jesus is the knight in shining armor that will save it. He is the Savior of the World and of the individual.

"Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?'

Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' " - John 14:5-6 ESV

Thomas is the embodiment of the doubter. The skeptical disciple. But, When He does see Jesus risen with wounds in His hands and side he worships.

We need to see Jesus. Seeing Him opens our access to the Father. I am going to roar like a bear and mourn like a dove if I lose sight of Him.

"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

"[She] My beloved has gone down to his garden to the beds of spices, to graze in the gardens and to gather lilies." - Song of Songs 6:2 ESV

We find Him in the great commandment and in the great commission. We see Him in the finished work of the cross. His death, burial and resurrection now point us to a throne of grace where He sits.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lights In The World

Reading Zechariah chapter 4 again and again. A man of God is like an olive tree and the anointing is like olive oil used by a lamp to produce light. Without artificial light we would only have light during the day and darkness at night (relative to moonlight and clouds of course).

'And he said to me, 'What do you see?'

I said, 'I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.'

And I said to the angel who talked with me, 'What are these, my lord?'

Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, 'Do you not know what these are?'

I said, 'No, my lord.'' - Zechariah 4:2-5 ESV

The writer needed to be awakened to see it. Why are people's lives so dark? Perhaps it is because there is no oil tree in their lives or those oil trees don't have bowls near them to draw the oil and produce a place of safe ignition and illumination of truth.

A lamp provides a way to see beyond the light provided in creation.

"Then I said to him, 'What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?'

And a second time I answered and said to him, 'What are these two branches of the olive trees, which are beside the two golden pipes from which the golden oil is poured out?'

He said to me, 'Do you not know what these are?'

I said, 'No, my lord.'

Then he said, 'These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.' " - Zechariah 4:11-14 ESV

It is good to identify who the anointed people in my life are. I need the light they produce.

"For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth." - Zechariah 4:10 KJV

If we discern the anointed man and see the plumb line that measures the straightness of a design in His hand we will rejoice even if things seem small right now.

An anointed man who carries the objective word of God with him and measures by that measure can start things and they will bud with life. The beginning may seem small but the seed will grow in unexpected ways.

The temple built by these two men in Zechariah is no more. It was built and it is gone now but the small beginnings of the project affected many people and generations. Life is the issue not the project.

An anointed person starts a family, or a business, or is involved in a Church project and that project has delays and problems. There are victories and defeats also but the project serves as a bowl to collect the oil so that light can be produced. It may look small and we may need our eyes opened to see it for what it is but those projects and people become vehicles for illumination.

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' " - John 8:12 ESV

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." - Matthew 5:14 ESV

God has made us to be lights and give us eyes to see illumination. I want to recognize the source of it and be a friend to those men who have little projects on the Earth. They may seem little now but they are blazing fires in Heaven's eyes.


Friday, August 22, 2014

I Stand At The Door And Knock

"At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, 'The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.'" - Zephaniah 1:12 ESV

The Hebrew there for complacent is a phrase 'that are settled on their lees' and it is talking about wine silt that hardens on the bottom of the bottle from lack of movement.

If communion is active, the wine bottle is moved to pour out wine, and bread is broken.. then God's work will not be invisible. Passivity remakes God in our own image as passive.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." - Revelation 3:20 ESV


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Being Swift To Hear

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:" - James 1:19 KJV

A person who wants to learn is swift to hear. A problem solver must be. Anger or frustration often comes when we must have the solution and we are not patient enough to listen with our ears or our eyes.

The passage leading up to this verse is also very illuminating.

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." - James 1:16-18 ESV

There is a flow coming from God. His input is useful (Agathos Strong's G18) and complete (Teleios G5046). Jesus used a word from the same family as that second word when He said, 'It is finished!' on the cross. God's grace is useful and His counsel brings us to completion because it comes from someone who has seen the end as well as the beginning.

If we are quick to listen and slow to speak our anger will come slowly also and will burn clean instead of sending up billows of smoke. Anger is reserved for evil not sin but we must listen to hear and discern the difference.

You may say what is the difference between evil and sin. Shouldn't both make me angry?

Sin is paid for. People miss the mark all the time. God is patient and long suffering for sinful things.

"If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;" - Psalms 130:3-5 ESV

He hates sin but His anger about sin has been poured out on one substitute. Jesus was the sacrifice that paid to satisfy God's holiness.

God is still angry about evil and those that align themselves with evil will be caught in the crossfire of that righteous rage.

"But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly." - 2 Peter 3:7 ESV

"But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil" - Romans 2:5-9a ESV

So if we understand man's depravity and are in God's flow of grace we will discern what is warfare and what is weakness. Anger will come slowly if and when it comes at all. It will not be faithless.

"Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah" - Psalms 4:4 ESV

In other words do not act quickly in anger. Wait and think things through with God. Look at what the cross has done and weigh the situation that way. Sin is paid for but evil is not. Which one is this?

In the flow of God's goodness we will get definition and will be able to be kind but decisive. We will listen with our eyes and discover avenues to be a blessing to people instead of using their faults against them.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Same Eternal Substance

I was thinking yesterday how truth spans generations and has untarnished substance. Eternal things are like that. They don't fade or crack or change while everything around them does.

"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for 'All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.' And this word is the good news that was preached to you." - 1 Peter 1:22-25 ESV

The author says that the Gospel of Grace has that eternal quality and it has passed that quality on to us. The message of grace lives with God and we are born of it. It's DNA mixed with the unique DNA of our soul producing a child that Is of God. Instead of creating a new separate person... a new purified person was born in a moment retaining the thoughts and memories of the old but with eternal substance.

"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 4:6-7 ESV

Darkness is a medium for light and this Earthen vessel is a medium for God's treasure to be manifested. Golden divine substance poured in Earthen vessels like pouring something in a mold and letting it set to take shape.

"I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." - Mark 1:8 ESV

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

This treasure is in us by baptism. In other words we have been soaked in something that has made it's way into every spiritual cell and changed it. The outward baptism is not what makes the change it is a representation of the change that was made when God passed through our walls and presented Himself in our soul to make a home in us and provide us a home in Him.

" 'In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.' Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?' 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 14:2-7 ESV

Grace is presented by the good news of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection on our behalf. God is there in a special way with those words. He has sent them specifically via a messenger of some kind or way unique to the situation and then if the words are received a saving transaction is made... an invisible transforming action... eternal substance is hidden in an earthen vessel.

'Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.' - 2 Timothy 2:20-21 ESV

Gold and silver vessels are used by God for royal use and belong in His house. They have a special place and every believer has a special place prepared in God the Father's kingdom. A 'mansion' to go to. Just as Jesus baptized us and passed through the walls of our life to make a home in us and ignite our human spirit to be intertwined and mingled with His Eternal Spirit we will pass through the walls of death as incorruptible people of substance and be brought to a divine place made just for us in God's house.

Grace prepares us for honorable use. Truth has illuminating substance that glows with life. It is not only accurate... it is living and makes divisions.

"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." - Hebrews 4:11-13 ESV

Grace will cause us to rest and truth will guide us and prune us at the same time.

Grace is what we need today. Truth is what we need. Eternal substance has both of these things. We ring with a certain sound like a tuning fork does when the right note is played because we are made of then same thing if we have believed.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

God's Thoughts Not Our Emotions

We are used to believing based on how we feel 'but doing the work of God' is basing our actions on how God thinks. That is where the freedom is going to be found.

"Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.' Then they said to him, 'What must we do, to be doing the works of God?' Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent... Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.' " - John 6:26-29, 35-40 ESV

A full belly gives us nice emotions but Jesus says, 'Look at me the sent One. How do I think?' He is the embodiment of grace and truth. He is the doorway out of the trap and into the freedom. He loses nothing. He loses no one. Even heading to the cross and a brutal necessary death He says this because He believed the One sending Him was faithful.

Go ahead and weight the options. Your emotions will point you in the direction of where you can be fed. Jesus goes to cross not a breakfast table.

That is why fasting is good for us at times. It is not to punish our self in denial. It is to free us to think clearly because we have already established that we will deny our belly for a little while. Now we can make some decisions with God that deny our belly also.

"For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." - 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 ESV

Liberty is saying 'YES' to God. But our old man is double minded if our belly is in charge.

The food isn't the problem. Food is good. God gives us food. Our old self dependent nature with it's politics and complexity is the problem.

Faith is simple. Listen and buy in. Watch what God is doing and do it with Him. Seek and find. Knock and the door will be opened. Fall backwards into God's arms. Fear will be conquered and courage will be born in faith.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Faith Partners

There is truly something beautiful about watching a person walk by faith and have their needs met. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such people.

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen." - Philippians 4:19-20 ESV

Just as advertising creates a need in people made in the image of God the prayer of faith creates a need in God. People walking by faith create a need that God gladly meets and He meets it out of the riches of His glory.

Why we buy or don't buy something is a similar, if not equivalent, dynamic.

"You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, 'He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us'? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' " - James 4:3-6 ESV

In other words God not in a buying mood. He loves and has compassion but it's going to buy into this program. Some other spiritual power might but not God. The humility of faith aligns in some invisible way with the glory of God and God pours His provision through a channel of grace.

You might say, 'Yes, It's great to see God answer peoples prayer but what about my unanswered prayers. What about all the people that pour out their hearts and do not get the results they hoped and prayed for??'

God in His integrity and royal discretion answers out of the riches of His glory. He is good and can not go against His own integrity. He functions in grace no one can force His hand.

It isn't going to be by effort. It is going to be by grace and by faith that creates or amplifies a need.

Have you ever had a salesman get you to buy something you had no intention of buying? I have. Not often but I have.

Faith sells a need because it aligns with God's glory. Glory isn't just something that makes God look good. Glory is the revealing of God's true character and nature of being good. God's grace has glory.

God isn't aloof, selfish or stingy. It isn't in Him. He is not holding anything back but like any rich person He wants to 'be sold' on certain ideas and projects. Need isn't enough or no child would ever be sick or lacking. God the Father is willing to invest in the things that His Son is involved in. He loves His Son so much. In our humility can we put on His Son's seamless clothing. Can we let God's grace transform us into having His character and nature.

Our faith not only causes God to buy... it sells us as well.

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys." - Luke 12:32-33 ESV

"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 3:8-9 KJV

God shares His glory with no one but He shares His riches generously with those He chooses. God uses our faith to change us and make us generous.. sacrificially generous.

God wants co-laborers. Faith partners who will opens channels to bring light into darkness. We are made that way. Will we choose to believe and be that way?


Friday, August 15, 2014

What Is Added And What Is Taken Away

God removed something from each Jewish male as an outward sign. He didn't add something. He removed something. Each believer has had something removed at the point of their salvation.

"For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God." - Romans 2:28-29 ESV

"Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. ... For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love." - Galatians 5:2-3, 6 ESV

"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ," - Colossians 2:11 ESV

"For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation." - Galatians 6:15 ESV

"Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh" - Philippians 3:2-3 ESV

Religion tells us to remove something outwardly and God will be pleased with our life. Become something different and things will be better.

"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ," - Colossians 2:11 ESV

What has needed to happen has already happened. The moment you accept Christ God does it. He didn't make us to be something more. On the contrary, He took something away and added Himself to our lives.

"But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you." - Romans 11:17-18 ESV

It doesn't make us Jewish... It grafts us into the source of what made people in the Hebrew scriptures like Abraham and Moses spiritual and makes us spiritual us well. We are wild branches grafted into God's life by Jesus Christ.

Never look at someone and envy what they have. God looks at what they don't have. It is an inward sign. Don't fall for the lie that something must change on the outside. The only thing that needs a change is the heart and that change is made by God in a moment.

There are additions and they happen over time...

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

In other words we learn to live out the finished work of Christ. God has taken away what hindered us and given us His life. Now we live that life with awareness. We live on purpose connecting the dots and reckoning on the newness and freshness of God's life.

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

We don't seek outward additions... we have inward multiplications.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eli's Good Advice

Eli was a priest in Israel at a difficult time in it's history. He was not a good priest. His sons ran wild in the temple doing things that made it hard for the people of that time. Eli was given charge of a special little boy. Samuel would grow up to be a great man of God. He was Hannah's child of promise (see 1 Samuel 1:1f)

Eli was not a good priest but in this instance he gave good advice.

"Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, 'Here I am, for you called me.'

Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, 'Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.' '

So Samuel went and lay down in his place." - 1 Samuel 3:7-9 ESV

Eli knew what to tell Samuel. He gave good counsel. He told Samuel to be available to God... to respond. That is the good part. The problem was that he told him to respond as a servant. That is what Eli was doing and that is why he was not a good priest.

"And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!'

And Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant hears.'

Then the LORD said to Samuel, 'Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.'

Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli." - 1 Samuel 3:10-15 ESV

What a seemly heavy responsibility to give to a young boy. Tell Eli his servant attitude isn't going to cut it. Tell him his desire towards me is right but his approach towards me is wrong.

"But Eli called Samuel and said, 'Samuel, my son.'

And he said, 'Here I am.'

And Eli said, 'What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.'

So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, 'It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.'

And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD." - 1 Samuel 3:16-20 ESV

Eli's servant attitude made him weak. Samuel's grace attitude made him strong. This prophet had strength to do the hard things.

Isaiah had a proper response. Instead of 'Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.' He said, 'Here I am! Send me.' (see Isaiah 6:8).

Grace doesn't makes us servants it makes us sons and daughters. We need a father not a impersonal authority. We need intimacy that has authority and accountability.

Eli was weak in faith because grace was external to him. He recognized it but never owned it.

We are little Samuels today. God has birthed us by prayer and promise and nurtured us in His house living fully on what He gives freely. Let's live like Samuel lived. Let's live in grace afraid sometimes but declaring what God has said to us even if we think our generation doesn't want to hear it.

Here we are God. We are what we are by grace. Send us out today with the message of grace on our lips. Let all that we do be a response to the calling of grace.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Grace Connects Us

Grace is not an attribute of God like goodness, holiness, justice or the many others expressed in the scriptures. It is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit like love, joy and peace. Grace is not who God is or what God produces. Grace is God's chosen method to connect with people. Grace is how God connects inside the Trinity. Grace is how God has chosen to relate to those who receive His Son. The ultimate favor of being inside an intimate permanent relationship with God as the initiator and source. Father and Son; Husband and Wife; Parent and Child; all these relationships mirror partially aspects of the perfect unity of the Trinity. We are given by grace that same unity freely when we receive grace.

"Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible." - Ephesians 6:23-24 ESV

Grace is intrinsically linked to eternal life. Grace is also inseparable from knowing Jesus Christ. We can not have eternal life without grace. We can not have eternal life without Christ.

"This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:11-12 ESV

People can talk about God's attributes. They can call Him loving and just and still be disconnected. They can exhibit what seems like the fruit of the Spirit as kind and compassionate people but still be very disconnected. Grace is the connection to eternal life. Without grace God's attributes are intimidating and distant and the fruits of the Holy Spirit are great methods to be counterfeited because they won't be produced by the Spirit in and through a person.

The Gospel is the Gospel of Grace because there would be no other message that could connect a person to God. That is why grace will always be my focus and why I always return to it in my thinking. It is the essence of my intimacy with God. It is how I relate to who God Is and how I connect to what He has done and will produce in my life.

Amazing grace is a sweet sound because it saved a wretch like me. Now as a found person it grows sweeter and sweeter because it is my unseverable connection to the God who I am continually getting to know.

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

If you have not yet... Believe in what Jesus did. Let God lead you to the water and drink of it. Accept the sacrifice given for your salvation and receive it as yours. This is our first agreement with God. His first gift to us was life itself this gift is the gift of eternal life without beginning or end. Believe and it can be yours. Just believe.

Believing once opens a channel of believing. Grace is that channel.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Far Down The Road

Investment works in cycles and those cycles run a course.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." - Isaiah 55:8-11 ESV

"And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.' " - Matthew 13:57 ESV

Return comes later and from farther away than we think. Many times it is not our family or people close to us that respond... it is people far away. The rain has a cycle and passes over much territory in a seemingly one way investment but it brings forth fruit 'a ways down the path' in time and space.

God's thoughts are not our thoughts. He is very patient and long suffering.

We want results quickly and in close proximity and sometimes despair if we don't get them.

This is one of them beautiful things about missions. We go far away to invest and it is there outside our culture and comfort zone where we see a greater measure of results. Of course we invest the same at home as we would far away and the fruit will come eventually in God's time but there is something special about going. God seems to move in a special way in people's hearts.

We may not pay much mind to the person close by that we are familiar with but are greatly impacted by the person who can from far away to visit us even though the message is essentially the same.

That is why it is good to see people as coming from Heaven... grace people are Heaven sent Ones... We can't be familiar with people from that far away. {smile}


Monday, August 11, 2014


Humility is so needed. I need it. I want it. I'm not talking about confidence versus insecurity. I know plenty of humble people who are insecure and confident people who are very humble.

"A rich man's wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination. Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame." - Proverbs 18:11-13 ESV

We have all seen and known people who are not humble. They are the final authority on everything. Advice is not taken or taken only in part if it seems to benefit them. Ego. Arrogance.

I have been that person. Today I could act like that person. What will keep it from happening?

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

Humility is the knowledge that something or someone made you what you are now and that outside powers will form you into what you will be later. Meekness is submission to those powers.

Patriotism is a form of humility. Honor for the previous generation is also but humility towards God is humility returning to it's source. He is force under-girding every good thing in any culture and family.

"I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears." - Psalms 34:1b-4 ESV

"And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied...' " - Matthew 5:2-6 ESV

Knowledge of the finished work of grace that was done in the past... knowledge of God's present work of grace in our lives moment by moment... hope of a future work of grace that will take us to a destination by God's power. This awareness creates an atmosphere of humility and thankfulness.


Sunday, August 10, 2014


I was thinking this morning about flinching. An unconscious reaction to present circumstances that remind us on some level of past instances of hurt.

Young boys are teased by their peers if they flinch. It is a natural sign of weakness. It reveals a tendency to retreat instead of attack back in like kind or keep cool. Such weakness disqualifies respect.

Here is a great passage.

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.' " - Daniel 3:16-18 ESV

The three Hebrew boys knew that fire was a hazardous thing. But they had a unnatural confession when faced with the prospect of being thrown in the fire. God had saved them on the inside so it didn't matter to them if He saved them on the outside.

God's grace was larger than the situation to these three boys. They faced the possibility of injury but confessed God's ability. Grace puts God and people under no obligation but it magnifies God's ability and His goodness.

When we face similar situations and circumstance to ones that hurt us in the past we can have this mindset. When grace is made real to us and we embrace our Savior's goodness we are saved on the inside and we are not the same. Grace gives us a capacity to be delivered or to endure injury but either way facing the situation with a great big God changes our subconscious associations. Pain no longer has power over us.

Instead of saying, 'Wow, I'll never do that again.' we can say, 'I'll do what is needed when it is needed because God is with me and will be with me.'

Receiving grace shuts the mouth of the bully and takes away his ammunition in that area also... a pleasant side benefit. {smile}


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Understanding Ministry

Pondering 'The Ministry' and approaching the word as if I have never heard it before. I think it is concept that is misunderstood and one we can get familiar with and miss the true value of this God given dynamic.

The word 'ministry' comes from the Greek word Diakonia (Strong's G1248) and it basically speaks of administering a stewardship of distribution. A ministry is in a sense a distribution center and a minister is an individual who assumes the role as a distributor... much like a mailman has a route and the moves the mail from their truck and put it in the right box or leave it at the correct door.

Every believer has a ministry of reconciliation.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." - 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 ESV

So in a way we are all mailmen of the message but it is more than that.

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:" - 1 Peter 4:10 ESV

It involves stewardship in personal service to one another. We are stewards of grace and that grace is many sided grace.

"Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, 'In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything." - 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 ESV

The 'we' aspect of ministry is very real. Flying solo we do not experience it but corporately there is a shared life and a magnification that must be experienced.

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee... Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith." - 2 Corinthians 1:20-22, 24 ESV

Pastors are helpers of the joy of a flock full of ministers. Stephen, and other men,  worked in the food bank so that the Apostles would be free to pray and administer the word of God to people (see Acts 6:4f) so that in understanding the individual can remain focused on what is important and real.


Costly Love Casts Out Fear

I was thinking this morning that redemption is a 'value for value' transaction.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it." - Matthew 13:45-46 ESV

A merchant would know the value of the pearl He saw. Seeing the value he sells off what he has to amass funds to get the thing that is precious.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." - Luke 12:6-7 ESV

Fear here is linked to a low value estimation. We think in our isolation that perhaps we don't matter to God and we sink into fear.

"Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." - Matthew 7:6 ESV

God doesn't want us to be cheated. People give what should be given to only to God to people, concepts and things and in the end those things 'turn on them' causing disappointment and heart break.

A women gives her body to men but it really should be saved for one special man. A man gives his loyalty to a cause only to be disappointed when it falls short.

We give our precious moments to things but are we casting what is holy before dogs?

"Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." - 1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV

Fear is cast out by this perfect costly love. God paid the highest price for us. Love pays a high price and perfect love pays the highest price.

What is of the most value to God? Our heart... Our time. Our works are cheap compared to these things. Our vegetables are a secondhand offering (see Genesis 4 with Cain and Abel)

Grace is free because someone bought us an endless lifetime supply of favor. It was so costly that it leaves no room for me to be afraid.

When I see the value of one soul I begin to 'amass my funds' because I realize the stakes involved.

When I see the value of my marriage...

When I see the value of freedom...

When I see the value of my children...

Time and heart are my currency. I don't give them to those things... I give them to God and choose to lose my old life that was of little value to anyone and invest in a new life that was given as a free gift.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Love For Our Enemies - Part 2

This is the second part to yesterday's blog so if you didn't read that it might be good to go back and read that now. Today's thought is where I started yesterday but I needed to set the foundation first.

Sometimes the enemy is us and the ones who we think are our enemies, perhaps because of discomfort we associate with them, really are not against us at all. Our perception is off. Our ego is involved. Our judgement is clouded.

How many teenagers wake up one day after they become young adults and realize. My parents, flawed as they were, loved me and wanted the best for me when up until that realization that had on some level thought of them as enemies.

What do we do if we suspect we are our own enemy in a situation? We do exactly what we would do with our external enemies. We give ourselves grace.

We seek God's mind through various avenues to have our thinking illuminated... The Bible... The pulpit... The body of Christ... Prayer and counsel... but all of it is bathed in grace.

"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' " - Romans 12:19-20 ESV

Feed that hungry soul of yours... not the flesh in sentimentality but the soul in spirituality. Leave revenge to God and double-mindedness at the door. Self interrogation is not valuable. Revenge against self is not our right. Grace is what is needed... grace will convict us... grace will teach us... grace will convert us.

Sexual attraction is not sin. Acting on it outside of marriage is.

"I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high?" - Job 31:1-2 ESV

Because of a lack of agreement with truth that forms a conviction within our soul prompting people to adopt a habit the individual ends up feeding a fire of self contradiction. The truth must pass through a personal realization of the cross and what it has accomplished in order to be effective. Without truth our flesh continues to flare up leaving only destruction in it's path.

This is true for all types of lust not just the sensual variety.

If a projectile hits armor it is deflected. If it hits an unprotected area it causes damage.

In our pain and weariness it is easy for us to become enemies to our self, others and of the cross itself.

It could be ego, blindness, pain, weariness or any number of natural causes that might prompt us to say, 'I am the enemy in this situation.'

Letting God love us is the answer. Receiving grace makes us overcomers. Living in and confessing the finished work of the cross proactively redeems time.

So love that enemy... even if the enemy is you. Because in truth we have a new identity to live in.

"You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you." - Romans 8:9a ESV

This is the mystery that only grace reveals. Although we sin and fall short those actions are not our identity anymore. A believer in Christ is 'in the Spirit' but we must stand in grace to walk in the Spirit.

Standing in grace we can pray and make decisions not second guessing our motives. God knows and has all of that covered anyway.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Love For Our Enemies - Part 1

Grace out your enemies.

"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12:19-21 ESV

Treat them like friends and brothers. But, That sounds so naive. Yes, Maybe. If there is no God and if love is powerless.

If we are sentimental friends and brothers it is also dangerous. If our obligation extends beyond love we stop listening to God and become deaf to His initiations.

"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." - Romans 13:8-10 ESV

Nehemiah had a great approach to warfare.

"From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other." - Nehemiah 4:16-17 ESV

"Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, 'Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.'

But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, 'I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?'

And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner." - Nehemiah 6:2-4 ESV

Our wall building is grace oriented. Our sword is grace. It has been beaten into a plowshare and a pruning hook (see Isaiah 2:4). Our laboring tools are the laboring tools of grace. Rest and the spreading of the message of rest. We labor to share the Gospel of Grace.

The difference between a friend and an enemy is the fellowship. We can give to an enemy the same way we give to a friend but we can not invite them into our walls the same way we would a friend.

Judas was given all that every other disciple was given but he never heard the words Jesus said at the last supper after he was gone. He never sang as they went... he never prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.

"Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" - Proverbs 6:27 KJV

The context of this verse is adultery but the principle stands. Intimacy is not for everyone. We love everyone but we are not intimate with everyone.

"I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn -fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more." - 2 Corinthians 7:4-7 ESV

When there is fellowship there is refreshment.

The great thing about grace, one of a long list of great things, is that you may find that people that were once your enemies will become your friends. God will convert them and make them friends of His and they will become friends of yours.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Stay In Jerusalem

Ah, Yes. The impossible situation. No answer in sight and emotions charged up to the hilt. Ever been there?

"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." - John 20:19-20 ESV

Jesus had been killed and they were sure they were next. Can't go this way or that way. Caught between a rock and a hard place.

I often think of this verse when my back seems to be up against the wall or I have painted myself into a corner somehow.

He walked through the wall peaceful and healthy and showed them His hands and side. It was like He was saying, 'See, The impossible is possible. God brings life out of death.'

That is so comforting to me. I don't even to know how to express how comforting it is.

Sure, Sometimes it is just our poor planning that gets us into impossible situations. Go ahead and take a moment to condemn yourself. That always works out well. Reminisce with 'what if' statements and 'maybe I should have done it this way or that way' conjectures.

I imagine the disciples were full of that thinking... trapped in a room with dwindling options and emotional disturbances.

But, Then Jesus walks in. All their self-justification and self-recrimination just fades away. I love this next part. To be perfectly honest I hate it and love it at the same time.

"He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, 'you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.' " - Acts 1:3-5 ESV

Did He say, 'Ok. Get out of this stuffy old room and sneak out of town. Go start over in Bethany. I will make sure you will be safe there. This will all blow over soon.'


He commands them to stay free right there in Jerusalem. He calmly challenges them to use His promise against the fear that wants to eat them alive and consume their thinking. Power is coming. Power that overwhelms fear. Power that redeems lives. Power.

Fear is a bully. We can run and then make leaving and starting over a lifestyle or we can stay and fight fear with faith. Standing in grace insulates us from the violent electrical current that would otherwise energize a person.

God isn't always going to give use all the details of His plan. He gives use grace and promises. His grace is enough until He fills our gaps with His glory.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Way Of Grace And Truth

"And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, 'Be gone!' " - Isaiah 30:20-22 ESV

Who is the hidden teacher? Is it Jesus and His way is grace and truth.

The path He shows us is a particular path. This path runs through every day and circumstance. It is not a path of right or wrong or better and best. It is a path of grace and truth. God keeps showing it to us. It is a upper highway where we proactively walk in rest and move in forgiveness.

It is God's path not ours but it is not rigid. At times it is very narrow and other times it is very wide. We choose to go right or left. God teaches us to listen to His voice.

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." - Matthew 7:13-14 ESV

Jesus is the narrow gate. God directs us here. This is a door we must path through. It is so narrow that our good works and bad must stay behind they will not fit. Our old life must stay behind and only our soul passes through this gate.

"But there the LORD in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams, where no galley with oars can go, nor majestic ship can pass." - Isaiah 33:21 ESV

"Oh let the house of Aaron say, 'His lovingkindness is everlasting.' Oh let those who fear the LORD say, 'His lovingkindness is everlasting.' From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place. The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?" - Psalms 118:3-6 NASB

We enter a narrow gate but God sets us and directs us to the way of grace where mercy is new every morning. It is like an open field or a place of many streams and rivers flowing in a certain direction that must be navigated.

When we find this Teacher we no longer want our idols. They get left behind. They become heavy, clumsy and represent something we no longer want or need. There is a new way to walk.

The way of grace and truth awaits us today. It runs right through our day and into forever. It is where Jesus is walking. We can walk with Him there.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Souls Over Self

One devotional I read this morning spoke about Lot's decision making. It made me want to look at Abraham's decision making and compare it to Lot's.

"And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.

Then Abram said to Lot, 'Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.'

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other." - Genesis 13:5-11 ESV

Lot was smart enough to associate Himself with Abraham, then Abram, and as long as he did that he was successful. The new testament scriptures call Lot righteous (see 2 Peter 2:7) even though the accounts do not record Lot doing very much that would qualify as righteous... except that he attached himself to Abram. Lot did what he did to be successful.

Abraham was a grace man. He did what He did for redemption's sake in faith. Instead of choosing what was best for himself he often choose the path of redemption. He wanted peace over profit. He valued redemption over conquest.

"When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan... Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people... And the king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.' But Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich.' ' " - Genesis 14:14, 16, 21-23 ESV

Abram went to war when he needed to but He fought for souls not goods. He operated that way towards people but he also operated that way towards God.

"Then the LORD said, 'Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.'

So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD." - Genesis 18:20-22 ESV

Abraham stood before the Lord to make a bid for the souls in Sodom.

"And they called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.'

Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, 'I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.' '' - Genesis 19:5-8 ESV

Evil will always lust after the beauty of God. Lot was willing to negotiate the souls of his daughters to preserve his honor. His daughters then learned from his example and later compromised to get what they wanted.

I believe it is grace that enables us to make the shift from self to souls. Our hearts become established in God's favor apart from our performance and instead of being focused on winning in a situation we become focused on winning Christ. We become friends of God and aligned with His cause.

Abraham was a successful man. He was far more successful than Lot. God choose to prosper Abraham. He had his priorities straight so he was a man God could trust with success.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happy Now Or Happy Later?

Happiness can be elusive. Many times there does not seem to be enough for now and later.

Perhaps we think we must sacrifice present happiness for future happiness or vice versa. Or we sacrifice for someone else's future happiness. It gets complicated.

There is nothing like going to a funeral of a loved one. It gets you thinking about these things. Future happiness gets stretched. Is it 10 years from now... 20... Retirement... Then what about those moments and years after we take our last breath?

It is very possible that we could say 'eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we will die.' then spend many long years, or eternity, very very unhappy. Or we can always postpone our happiness for a sense of security only to find out later we just don't know how to love life.

Faith is the only way i have discovered to have both. God's grace enables me to have joy in the midst of sacrifice. To have and give hope when there seems to only be chaos.

I want the people I love to be happy now and later. I want them to have joy ten years from now and ten thousand years from now. So I promote faith, forgiveness and intimacy with God through knowing Christ.

If I knew a better way I would promote that but I remain convinced that faith sees farther ahead than anything else. Faith is what we were made for. God is the best friend anyone of us can have and the best legacy anyone of us can leave behind.