Friday, February 27, 2015

Talking Animals

I was thinking of Balaam today. Balaam and his talking animal. The thing is... animals don't talk.

"And the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road... When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam's anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff.

Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?'

And Balaam said to the donkey, 'Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.' " - Numbers 22:23, 27-29 ESV

Can you see the parallel of the angel with the draw sword to the garden of Eden. The angel barred the way back

"And the donkey said to Balaam, 'Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?'

And he said, 'No.'

Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.

And the angel of the LORD said to him, 'Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.'

Then Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, 'I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.' " - Numbers 22:30-34 ESV

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has inflamed our minds and ignited a contradictory nature. The law amplifies that nature and makes it visible. The natural man lives in a duality that is perverse.

Balaam's greed drew him onward and his ego was wounded. He lives in a duality that splits his very soul in two. That error will make him into a divider in Israel.

"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." - Revelation 2:14 ESV

Balaam's ego can be wounded because he does not live in grace. He has no 'free gift' identity. He wants to 'do'. He wants to 'accomplish'. He wants to 'have' by effort to build a name for himself.

The donkey is speaking for God but Balaam is blind to that. The donkey says, 'Haven't I been good to you all your life?'

Balaam can't hear that from God. He is ready to smite that voice like his natural man would smite God but His ego won't let him direct the anger towards God. The law makes our hidden hared for God visible. It kills us because we can not reconcile our split mind.

Grace unifies our mind. The free gift makes us whole. The law reveals an incurable wound but grace reveals a merciful God that makes people one inside and outside.

"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 2:17 ESV

Grace brings hidden manna and imparts to us a secret name. Grace truth and a grace identity.

The cross kills our ego and ambition. It is buried with Christ and we are raised with Him on the third day. We rise with Him and sit with Him in Heaven. He is the glory not us. He is important. Basking in His glory we are made one. There is great joy and peace in that unity.

Balaam divides but the grace man or woman gathers and does not feel like less of a person doing it.


Go With The Bible

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it" - 2 Timothy 3:14 ESV

'Whom' here is plural.

"and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV

The Gospel of Grace is the wisdom for salvation. That truth opens the door of truth. The Bible is not just a book. It is a communication breathed out by God.

Many people have taught me many things. Men have reproved and corrected me. People have trained me. We need that. People are a doorway but it is the Bible that speaks. The Bible teaches and trains. The Bible reproves and God uses people.

An equipped person must have iron in them and then that iron can be sharpened by another person's iron. Alone anyone can get dull.

Do you have a teacher? Does that teacher empathize conforming outwardly or inward transformation? Is it grace or is it just goodness? Is it do, do and more do or has the work of salvation been done already?

Doing is replaced with a going that invites company.

'We are going to talk about what is done... come with us.'

That is the teacher I want to learn from. That is the man I purpose to be.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Will We Wipe Them Away?

I awoke this morning and the word that was on my mind was 'offscouring'. I read a bit and looked at a few things but this word kept coming back. The Greek word translated 'offscouring' is only used once in the new testament. It is Peripsema (Strong's G4067) and it is used here.

"Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." - 1 Corinthians 4:13 KJV

Some things are kept but other things are wiped away. This speaks of the stuff that is wiped away.

This is that verse in context using a more modern, but reliable, translation...

"For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children... I urge you, then, be imitators of me." - 1 Corinthians 4:9-14, 16 ESV

Paul identifies strongly with the other Apostles. He had his disagreements with them but that didn't stop him from identifying with them. He even made collections for the Saints in Jerusalem (see 1 Corinthians 16:1).

Grace elevates and promotes people. It does not wipe them away. Yet, It happens all the time. People wipe others away to put a shine on their new life.

In America we live in a society where people wipe away the older generation to make room for the newer one.

I am so thankful God does not consider me as someone to wipe away like a grimy smear. Really I am.

Who does God remember that I have forgotten? Prayer will reveal the answer. I want to love them like the Apostle Paul loved people. I want to write them, or the modern equivalent of it, like Paul did at great expense to himself.

It is easier to compartmentalize our lives at times so we can go forward... to lighten our load. But who is it that carries our burdens? Is it us or is it God?

The Apostles are people most believers will want to meet when they are Heaven but when they walked the Earth it seems that they had few real friends. Perhaps we can befriend some people who are well known in Heaven but forgotten on the Earth.

Help us God. It can't happen without You. We need You. Fill us with love. Open our eyes. Cause us to move on the narrow pathway loving and serving others because You love and serve us.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Never Going Down

"Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." - Acts 1:11b ESV

I have always found this to be an interesting passage. Why did the angels word it the way that they did? This is no ordinary exit. He Is raised up then He 'will come' as they saw Him go. The Greek word for 'will come' is Erchomai (Strong's G2064) and it is in the middle voice which means it is an action that is performed by a person to themselves. Jesus appears and He does it in like manner. He leaves rising and He also appears rising.

"...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.' " - Matthew 28:20 ESV

He was but He did not leave them.

"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." - John 14:2-3 ESV

His present preparation is not for a return to Earth but to bring us to Himself.

"For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words." - 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 ESV

He appears and His cry of command descends to bring us up.

He Is going to meet us like we meet someone at the airport but it is more like an elevator because we will be going up with Him in the same manner that He went up in the first place. We will never see Him descend. We will all rise together joining Him in the air to rise with Him.

Even in judgement He swoops in from the side.

"For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man... Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." - Matthew 24:27, 30 ESV

He descended once to become a man and the angels marveled at that. Then He descended into Hell after the cross. He will never descend again nor will we. We have been as low as we will ever get. Once we got to know Him we move with Him in His direction. That direction is up or forward but never down.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Power Present To Heal

When Jesus came into a room the power was present to heal.

"But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed. And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them." - Luke 5:15-17 KJV

Here is a great quote (I added the Strong's numbers):

'A tremendous process of healing is available to us, expressed by the various Greek words used for 'power' in Ephesians 1:19-21: God gives us His dunamis (Strong's G1411) - that is, His inherent ability because of who He is. Energeia (G1753) is the operation of God’s power in its proper place. Ischus (G2479) and kratos (G2904) work together to manifest that ability toward us. Then, in faith, believing, we choose to operate through His power in our frame of reference. Thus, we experience divine deliverance based on kuriotes (G2963) - Christ’s dominion over all things.' - P Carl Stevens

There is one more word for power not mentioned here, exousia (G1849), and it is the power of authority.

Dunamis is the word used in Luke 5:17. Jesus healed because of His nature. Virtue flowed out of Him. The verses that follow are amazing.

"And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.

And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day." - Luke 5:18-26 KJV

In a way what the Pharisees said was true. Who can forgive sins? Who has that ability? Who has that right? Jesus did because of what He was about to do. He was going to go to the cross. His victory was present in His life before the event even happened in time.

Which is easier? Both are impossible for a fallen person. When we come under His covering we have the power to think with God. The Holy Spirit that has made our human spirit alive brings us into a divine dynamic.

Healing is waiting right there behind forgiveness. Jesus used healing to showcase God's forgiveness.

Healing is a sovereign thing. God's has a time and place in His plan for such things. But when we walk into a room forgiveness walks in with us and people may well see some 'strange things' when that forgiveness is showcased.


Monday, February 23, 2015

The Bones That Travel With Us

I have been thinking of the birth of Israel as a nation and the long path that took them into slavery then out again into the wilderness and out into the promised land. There were several different seasons and two water crossings but there was one thing that always went with them.

"Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, 'God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.' So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." - Genesis 50:25-26 ESV

"Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, 'God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.'... And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people." - Exodus 13:19, 21-22 ESV

"Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel. As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph." - Joshua 24:31-32 ESV

Joseph's bones went with them. They didn't worship those bones but they were always somewhere in the caravan. The bones crossed the red sea. The bones followed the cloud. The bones passed over chilly Jordan and went to war with Joshua. As far as we know those bone are still buried in Israel right now.

I was pondering this morning and asking the question, What are my bones? What do I carry through life?

It is the Bible. We don't worship the Bible but it goes with us. We don't abandon those bones. They represent a heritage.

God used Joseph to save the known world from a great famine and to saved his family from starvation. That family became a nation. Abraham is the father of our faith and Joseph's life became the framework for the nation of Israel.

"Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, 'Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.' ' " - Hebrews 10:5-7 ESV

God came in the form of a man. He is our Savior. We worship the God who sent us a Savior. The Bible provides the framework of our faith. The Church will carry the Bible all the way into the promise land.

The Bible is what will reveal God's grace. It will return me to objectivity. It will talk of how God Is... not how I want Him to be or how other people say that He Is.

Just as a young Israelite could stand looking at the bones of Joseph and realize that this one man represents the framework of his nation we can peer into the scriptures and put aside the politics of the day and remember what the Church really is. It is a vehicle to reveal the Savior. It is an object of His love and care. It is born from one book.

When I die I want to die with my Bible in my hands. The scriptures are what I will always carry with me into every season and across every river and foreign landscape. It is my heritage.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Clean Free Hands

His mercies are new this morning. They are right out of the oven mercy. Fresh. Warm. Wholesome. New.

"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.' " - Lamentations 3:21-24 ESV

His quickening is real this morning.

"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." - Romans 8:11 ESV

The Word is sharp and alive as ever.

"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." - Hebrews 4:12 ESV

His faithfulness is not yesterday's news. It is today's reality.

"For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!" - Psalm 117:2 ESV

"Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;" - Isaiah 59:1 ESV

God's ears are awake and His arm is strong.

"Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." - Psalm 121:4-8 ESV

He isn't sleeping. He hasn't forgotten us. He has been awake this whole time.

"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;" - Psalm 130:3-5 ESV

New mercies mean new hope.

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

We let go of the old and lift holy hands. We don't want to hold on to that which is false and feed on ashes (see Isaiah 44:20).

"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" - Hebrews 12:1-2a ESV

Today we rise to drink the cup of salvation and rejoice in the freshness of who God Is and always will be. Today is a day to shake off the dust, cast all of our cares on Him and rejoice as we worship Him with clean free hands.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cleaning Up

"They gathered their brothers and consecrated themselves and went in as the king had commanded, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. The priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and they brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it and carried it out to the brook Kidron. They began to consecrate on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD. Then for eight days they consecrated the house of the LORD, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. Then they went in to Hezekiah the king and said, 'We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the showbread and all its utensils. All the utensils that King Ahaz discarded in his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and consecrated, and behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.' " - 2 Chronicles 29:15-19 ESV

In the verses to follow King Hezekiah would order the offerings to be made and there would be worship.

"And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly." - 2 Chronicles 29:36 ESV

This whole chapter is a picture of conversion. I want to read it again and again and ask God to show me the little details and nuances that are found in these passages. This morning verses fifteen through nineteen really stuck in my mind.

I have never killed an animal and offered it up to God nor do I need to. Jesus is my priest and my offering. I have however taken out the trash and done the dishes. I have helped people move and done demo on a structure where the broken up structure needed to be dragged out and thrown into a dumpster.

A clean empty sink is a wonderful thing isn't it? Someone must clean the utensils.

You could preach a very legalistic message using this passage... a 'How can you worship if your house has not been cleaned first? Clean up your house.' sermon.

But if you look King Hezekiah isn't the one who cleaned up the mess. The priests did it.

Our priest is the One who does this work. He cleans and He offers. We reap the benefit of His work.

"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." - Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV

"When he said above, 'You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings' (these are offered according to the law), then he added, 'Behold, I have come to do your will.' He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God" - Hebrews 10:8-12 ESV

No one wants faithless artifacts cluttering up our life. God will take them away if we let Him. The water of the Word can wash us clean. The sacrifice has already been made.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Strength In The Clouds

"Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, And His strength is in the clouds. O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!" - Psalm 68:34-35 NKJV

What an interesting concept... God manifesting strength in the clouds.

'Ascribe strength to God' - Give it up for God. He has might. Admit it. Write it down.
'His excellence is over Israel' - His majesty that is like the swelling up of the sea is over Israel that hovers above and around us
'His strength is in the clouds' - This same might (Oz - Strong's H5797) that we have ascribed to Him is in the clouds (Shachaq - H7834) or fine dust that makes the clouds.
'O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places' - Or... You evoke awe from out of Your Holy places
'The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people' - The God who hovers around His people is He who strengthens them.

"And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle." - Exodus 40:33-35 ESV

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV

It paints a picture doesn't it?

We are God's temple. We ascribe power to God as living temples.

When Moses finished his work the cloud of glory rushed in leaving room for nothing else. The same principle is true for us in a different context.

Jesus cried, 'It's is finished!' on the cross and soon after Pentecost came to fill the believers with a cloud of glory.

God hovers around those who ascribe glory Him. He fills those with knowledge of His finished work. The temple may be a glorious thing to look at or it might be quite humble. It is not the building itself it is the glory. It is not the person it is the presence.

God... We say 'It is finished!' and we ask you to fill us. Fill us so that there is room for nothing else. Surround us. You are our strength. We are only here so that you can be seen. We are a landmark that marks off a place where You have done something wonderful and unique in time and space. Move us like You moved Your tabernacle in the wilderness. We will follow the cloud of glory.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Wine Into New Wineskins

How many of us have been transformed because we were around a group of people that just wouldn't know us after our flesh... people who addressed us with God's mind and gave us God's heart.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." - 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 KJV

People don't change naturally. They can refocus their energies but a leopard can't change it's spots. Grace does not address the old. It declares something new. A new energy that works in a new identity.

"Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved." - Matthew 9:17 ESV

Perhaps there is going to be spillage in our relationships and even in our own lives if we try to recycle the old.

We live in newness. We amplify newness. We declare the message that points to newness. We talk to people and pray for them knowing that newness can happen. The old is going to pass away. If the soil is right then newness will take root and produce fruit. We don't trust the soil. We trust the seed.

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." - 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Old things are passing away.

"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" - Romans 8:29-31 ESV

God already see those who believe as 'glorified'. We don't see it by sight but we see it by faith.

I want to be a person that sees people this way and treats them as if they are already justified. I want to water the seed.

Help me God. Open my eyes to see what you see and have words that represent your heart to people.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Who Can We Trust?

'That person can't be trusted.'

Have you ever heard that phrase? I think you likely have. We learn it early on. It is a phrase people think more often then they speak it. One of the beautiful things I think about when I dream about Heaven is that in Heaven no one will say that phrase. No one will even think that phrase about each other.

Here on Earth we say it and think it. Relationships are broken by it. Self images are distorted by it.

"To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled." - Titus 1:15 ESV

Constant distrust will defile a person but trusting untrustworthy people is disastrous. Who do I trust and how do I trust to remain in purity?

"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man." - John 2:23-25 ESV

Here Jesus was surrounded by a group of people that spoke well of Him yet He knew that the Father was the one He could trust.

Did He trust anyone else? It is clear from the Gospels that He did trust people on a very practical level. He delegated responsibilities to the disciples and had trusted friends. He just knew the difference between trusting His Father and trusting fallen people.

He always had someone in the room He could trust and that kept Him pure. His Father was always there with Him.

People trust other people with the wrong things. No woman should trust a man with her body until after marriage. She is setting herself up for failure. It is a gamble with very bad odds at best. On the other hand a man should not take what He knows He can't be trusted with either.

Delegation is important. There is trust involved in delegation. It must be done in wisdom. It must be done period or a person will become an island. The wisdom is in knowing what to delegate and when to delegate.

"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." - Luke 16:10-13 ESV

When someone watches a leader trust God in their delegation it is amazing what can happen.

"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.' " - Mark 16:15-18 ESV

It amazes me that God trusts us with something so important. With that trust comes a unique kind of power.

When we have someone in the room that we can trust and delegate it also has power. We have stewardship and authority comes with that responsibility. In right order those things are in proportion to one another.

Trust must be our focus and not distrust. God is the right one to trust and from that trust in Him there are times to invest trust others. It may start with something small but that small thing that magnifies grace may just turn a untrustworthy person into someone who relies upon God for their strength.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Transformation Or Domestication

Yesterday on outreach we were talking about the term domestication.

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches... Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called." - 1 Corinthians 7:17, 20 ESV

"This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away." - 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 ESV

The world has cycles. It reinvents itself in cycles. But a believer is called in a certain condition. Faith in Christ is that condition. If we compromise in the cycles we start to deviate and become conformed to the world.

"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 12:2 ESV

"I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 ESV

In marriage we see a great example of what can happen. Men and women can either be transformed or conformed.

A wife needs a husband with a single eye. She need a man who will lay down his life for her. A man in the world but not of the world.

A man is convicted by the 'good conversation' of his Godly wife. He sees Christ in her. He sees a devotion to God as the one who has won her by grace. She is someone who can not be easily manipulated. She is someone with inner strength who he is privileged to cover and he sees how she suffers at times because of his lack of covering. She makes him want to rise to the occasion. That is what she does for everyone through her life of love.

Marriage outside of God can be domesticating but by design it is anything but that. It is the picture of a relationship where individuals become more than they could be alone. There is a synergy that reveals God as the third cord woven into the mix that provides a strength beyond what the two could ever have alone.

We resist domestication by functioning in transformation. The cycles of the world do not have to toss us around if we remain grounded in the word with eyes fixed on Christ and His unchanging priority systems. Relationship can assist us in growing strong and tall as trees planted by the rivers of water. We don't have to lean to a different light source. We can soak in the sun and live fruitful lives.


Friday, February 13, 2015

The Red That Gives Value

Value is perceived. It is not intrinsic. In other words something can't be valuable by itself. A thing can be unique by itself but not valuable.

Water quickly becomes more valuable than money when you are traveling through a desert.

Jesus didn't come to save us because we were valuable. He came to save us and make us valuable. Just like He took ordinary clay and breathed life into it to make a man. He took fallen worthless people and shed His blood to give them worth.

We live in a world where talent has value and beauty is valuable. Potential is sought and exploited. People are just resources to be used. If we think people have value on their own then we will be a 'respecter of persons' and greatly under value them.

Grace is favor based on God's perception. Jesus' blood was shed for all people. That makes all people valuable. 'Better' does not exist in this arena. No one is better or more important than anyone else but each person has tremendous value.

The question is whether or not we have the same value system that God does. If we can't agree with Him on this than how many other things are we wrong about? But, If we do agree then we can move forward using the same measuring system that He uses.

When we look in the mirror what do we see?

There will be a lot of red everywhere tomorrow. Valentine's Day is supposed to be about love. You may have someone to love or you may not. Please don't let it determine your happiness. The red that means the most to me is not the red of hearts and bows. It is the red shed on a cross 2,000 years ago. That is the love that lasts forever. That is the love that gives value.


Proven Methods

"And David said, 'The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.' And Saul said to David, 'Go, and the LORD be with you!' Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, 'I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.' So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine." - 1 Samuel 17:37-40 ESV

Saul meant well. He offered David the weapons he would have used if he had gone himself. David was smart enough not to take them.

"And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance... When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled." - 1 Samuel 17:41-42, 48-51 ESV

Those smooth stones are tried. Water has washed over them. Grace is the thinking that has conquered us and we have used it before in our lives. Prayer is proven. The Bible is proven. God's thinking will immobilize the giant. Then we can use his sword to cut his head off.

People mean well when they offer us their carnal weaponry but in the life or death situation there is nothing like those smooth stones. There is nothing like prayer. There is nothing like reading the Bible and seeing the examples given to us there and gleaning from them. There is nothing like grace, forgiveness and love.

If someone must die let it be with the sword they took to battle and not one we took into it. The staff and sling were weapons used to protect the flock. Those are the ones we want.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Faceless Customer

Ever stand in a store seemingly unnoticed by the person behind the counter because they are busy having a conversation with another coworker only to have them eventually turn to you and have a very impersonal interaction that ends with them asking you multiple times, 'Will that be all.' or 'Would you like anything else.'

Their coworker had an identity to them, even though it might be a temporary, but you were just the 1,356th faceless customer to pass through the establishment. People on your side of the counter become more like a commercial... something to be endured until the show starts up again.

It's funny isn't it how salesmen are often more friendly to customers than they are to each other but service workers seem to huddle together like it's them against the world but that is human nature. We can often serve and value those who serve us and impersonalize or label those who take from us.

God is different. He Is not fallen. He has infinite capacity. Once He knows your name He knows it forever. He has known millions but when we stand before the throne of grace we become aware that we are at the center of His full attention. His still invisible eyes are looking kindly into our eyes with full recognition and they follow us even after we have gone.

"...And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:20b ESV

I don't think people realize how close they are to hating people when they develop the capacity to ignore individuals. Noticing someone is the first step into a potential relationship.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God... No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." - 1 John 4:7, 12 ESV

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." - Romans 12:10 ESV

We don't have a, 'We should all love one another!' message. You can't legislate such a thing for yourself or anyone. After thousands of demands people begin to look alike to us. Naturally speaking we have a limited capacity to love. Some people's eyes glaze over sooner and others later but eventually they all will if they function alone.

We can try to legislate attention and call it 'customer service'... but we can not legislate love.

We have a, 'Let God love you because of Christ.' message. We have a name and a face because of that One name and face. He Is our doorway into intimacy. He got us past the barrier of holiness that would have excluded us and gave us access to the throne.

We have the great privilege of standing in the rooms we always stand in knowing that God is waiting to be gracious to each individual in that room. He wants to know their name and for them to know His name.

Connected to this love the yoke of human relationships is easy and the burden is light because God is carrying the bulk of the load.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hush, The Neighbors Are Sleeping

Have you ever been quiet for the neighbor's sake? Maybe you want to do something but the thing you want to do is loud and it is late at night so you refrain.

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him." - Psalm 62:5 ESV

"For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.' But you were unwilling, and you said, 'No! We will flee upon horses'; therefore you shall flee away; and, 'We will ride upon swift steeds'; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." - Isaiah 30:15-18 ESV

Sometimes we quiet ourselves for our sake but this morning I am thinking about how we can respond to grace and enter into quietness for His sake.

Instead of staying here in quietness our minds can run away. We can run to fantasy and have our own little never never land. We flee away. The television becomes our noise or perhaps it is alcohol or lust of some kind. We chase the different scenarios around the living room of our mind. We make a ruckus with our 'should of's and 'could of's. We bang the drums of right and wrong. Perhaps it is a violin of self pity or maybe the hip hop of anger and self entitlement. We laugh loud to stave off the boredom. Instead of quiet purpose we run.

There is a place where God is waiting to be gracious. In quietness for His sake we find that place. A quietness in response to grace.

We might say, 'I need to turn this down because my neighbor is sleeping.'

On a spiritual level we say, 'I need to quiet down because God is resting in His Love. Is it right for me to panic so loudly? Is it really so good blare the sounds of my land of pretend when God is waiting right here to quietly speak to me?'

If is not a mindfulness born from demand. It is one born of grace, honor and love. He cares so we care. He has given favor because of His Son. We come under that favor and pass through the narrow space to find a wide open rest.

Hush now. Simmer down. What does the Bible say? Are we running or resting? Are we looking or leaving?

God is waiting to be gracious to us. He lifts Himself up to show mercy. He wants to speak to us in objectivity.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever." - Psalm 23:6 ESV

If we run He will follow us and show us mercy when we have exhausted all our efforts but what if we just stay in quietness? If we rest then we will have the strength to rise early and seek Him at the appointed time.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Who Can Open The Scroll?

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.' " - Genesis 1:27-28 ESV

"Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?' And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, 'Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.' " - Revelation 5:1-5 ESV

"Beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King." - Psalm 48:2 ESV

Beautiful in situation... God's throne is situated in a beautiful place.

Man was given dominion but submitted himself under the authority of the serpent. Jesus came as a man and paid for that transgression. He has the right to take back the title deed of the Earth. He has the right elevation in every situation.

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." - Philippians 2:1-4 ESV

Is there any consolation? Is there participation? In Christ there is. He has the authority in this situation and every other situation.

Many men died at the hands of Goliath... but not David. David was not a better man. David had a better God. His God held the title deed. His God had the power to break seals and loosen bondage. His God was situated in a high beautiful place. Other men shook in their boots but not David.

Adam was given dominion and lost it but Jesus took it back.

"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 11:21-23 ESV

Jesus is the stronger man who can enter and take what no one else would have the power to take. With all this power at His disposal He will not break down our door. He loves and honors our right to choose.

Will we invite Him in and take comfort in Him? Is there participation with what is real or will we just submit our minds to more thinking that directs us to eat what we shouldn't have eaten in the first place?

God owns this day. It isn't only because He is creator. He owns it as redeemer. Jesus walked as an ambassador of that redemption in the world. Now we have that privilege.

"Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you..." - Joshua 1:3a ESV


Monday, February 9, 2015

Facing Down Goliath

"Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span." - 1 Samuel 17:1-4 ESV

Goliath was a giant from a nation that reveled in war and all things warlike. War was a sport to them. Goliath was just out looking for a few more notches on his belt and basking in all the fear and shame he could produce in other people.

Fears are mighty foes and fear mongers capitalize on fear. They push anything that looks unstable and try to make it fall. It is emotional pyromania.

One of the healthiest things we can do is face our fears but to be honest who wants to go against Goliath? He has chewed up and spit out many men. It is what he does for sport.

"And the Philistine said to David, 'Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?' And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, 'Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.'

Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand.'

When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine." - 1 Samuel 17:43-48 ESV

Oh, It make you want to cheer inside doesn't it?

If fear is motivating us then we will just cower on our side of the mountain as the enemy amasses force on the other side. Goliath was just a stalling tactic. All that bologna about champion versus champion just a ploy to play on their honor to bring an easy victory. The Philistines wanted to shame the people to make them easier to fight. They never had any intentions of serving Israel.

It is easy to live a life of avoidance isn't it. To just cross unto the other side of the street face forward and just not get involved.

David wasn't a servant of Saul. He was on no man's leash. He was an arrow in the quiver of God. He was a free man.

Grace defies fear because it declares that God has given favor to a person. It is favor that no person or event can take away or diminish. It isn't foolish but it also doesn't back down.

David's speech was for the armies of Israel and for himself. His words made this contest a contest against God and His favor.

Go ahead and speak to that looming cloud that tries to cast it's shadow over your life. Rally your troops. A man or woman who serves The King of Kings needs never cower in fear.

We live in a victory that has already been won when we say, 'The battle is The Lord's!'


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Some Thoughts From The Bible Study / Birthday Party Last Night

"He left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give me a drink.' " (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)" - John 4:3-8 ESV

God gave me this passage on the way to the party last night. A strange passage for such an occasion. But when you think about it birthdays are stops on our trip from here to there.

The Spirit of God gives John, the writer of this book, awareness of the landmarks in that area. Those details are given to us. We are not the first to go from here to there.

On the way God gives us redemptive appointments. The disciples left to get provisions but Jesus was confident that God would supply the 'meat and drink' and that is where He meets the woman at the well.

That birthday party was my well last night. There was nourishment there. I didn't have the equipment to get the water out myself. I brought the little that I had and so did everyone else and God multiplied the provision.

We didn't leave thirsty or hungry. Jacob's well is my well. It hasn't run dry nor will it ever run dry.


Friday, February 6, 2015


"We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open." - 2 Corinthians 6:11 ESV

" I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." - Acts 20:20-21 ESV

Last night I heard a very instructive program talking about hesitation in speech. It always amazes me that there are people who seem to specialize in the study of these very specific things. The program focused on 'uh' and 'umm' and played all these clips of famous people speaking many different languages and how universal the use of 'uh' was.

It seems that 'uh' is a hesitation of interruption where 'umm' is usually followed by a deeper or more explanatory statement.

One of the things that is different about writing versus speaking are the pauses. Writing can seem so direct and deliberate. You don't hear the edits or the pauses in the process quite like you do when some one is speaking. Pauses are accomplished with commas, periods and other punctuation unless the 'um' is added as some kind of dialog.

Our love is often expressed with many pauses isn't it? We want to impart what our heart feels. We want to say what our mind thinks and knows but at the same time we hesitate for many different reasons.

God's heart is wide open to us. Communication flows more easily when two people have open hearts. But, Often one must do it first so that the other person can follow suit.

Like a door with many locks it can take a minute to even open the passage to someone who is welcome because all those locks need to be deactivated first.

The cross is the representation of God's open heart. The Gospel is Him opening His mouth. When we hear it and receive it we begin to unlock our souls. It can be like a flower opening to respond to the light.

Sometimes hesitation is a form of rejection but sometimes it is just a sign that someone needs time to unlatch the complex system in place that they use as protection. We tell God's love to people 'house' to 'house' but I never want to be discouraged by a seeming lack of response. An 'uh' doesn't always mean 'no'. The thought may very well have been received but the response is just delayed.

I gaze at the cross this morning knowing that it is opening me up. It did something eternal for me that is complete but today it is loosening the flow of my experience.

Walking in the Spirit I am less prone to hesitation because God's open heart has opened my heart.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Laughter In The End

"He said, 'I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.' And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, 'After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?' And the LORD said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?' 'Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.' Sarah denied it however, saying, 'I did not laugh'; for she was afraid. And He said, 'No, but you did laugh.' " - Genesis 18:10-15 NASB

"Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, 'God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.' And she said, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.' " - Genesis 21:3-7 NASB

A few chapters later Sarah is laughing. Much happened over that year. The incident at Sodom and Gomorrah happened. Abraham passed Sarah off as his sister to King Abimelech. She must have been showing at the time. Very serious things and yet laughter becomes the bookends for these events.

God made Sarah laugh and He makes many others laugh who hear of her situation. During serious times laughter is forming like a child in the womb. A promise from God is manifested as joy in due season.

God didn't tell Abraham to name his child Isaac. Isaac's name basically means 'He will laugh.' When it was all over Abraham and Sarah laughed together. God's joy was born in their life. Sodom and Gomorrah was a smoldering crater of a place. King Abimelech got a confused but personal experience with God. Abraham was a strange somewhat weak representation to this King but the light shone through a cracked clay vessel and healing came to his house. Even so they both laughed and we all laugh with them.

We can say the same.

If we have trusted in Christ we will laugh in the end. The tears will have dried on our face from what has transpired and healing laughter will come. It will come right on schedule.

"When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." - John 16:21-22 ESV

How many stories have we heard from mothers who say, 'I thought a knew what love was until I had my child.' This is the kind of joy that awaits all of us that we experience in part in this life. When we see Him our joy will be full.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Importance Of Humor

Just thinking this morning of the joy and release of laughter and how much of a covering it is to have people in charge who have a sense of humor coupled with integrity. When mom and dad can laugh and often do then it is a happy home. When you have a boss that laughs with you (not at you) instead of a humorless overseer it makes for a better workplace.

"A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast. Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it." - Proverbs 15:13-16 ESV


There is real wisdom there. Understanding and humor are linked.

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." - Proverbs 17:22 ESV

"Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!" - Psalm 144:15 NKJV

God is happy with His people. He covers us with a covering of joy. There is joy in His household. He is fun to be with.

Joyless religion is like a child brooding up in his or her room while mom and dad are tickling each other and having fun making dinner downstairs.

Life is filled with many difficulties and there are times to be sober and serious but we can live under the covering of joy so that our bones are fresh and our minds are flexible in the midst of it all.

In order to be genuinely wise we must have a sanctified sense of humor.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fellowship In The Gospel

The Gospel is a simple message but it is a deep message. It span the height and breadth of our human experience.

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel," - Colossians 1:1-5 ESV

When the message reaches us it is miraculous. The Apostle Paul was not indifferent to any person who embraced the message. He knew just what it was like to be blinded by God and then have his sight restored. He was blinded in communion and then his vision was restored in fellowship but the Gospel was the center piece of it all.

It is all about Jesus. God reaches past our good or bad behavior because of Jesus. We believe in what Jesus has done and the favor God has for His Son falls on us.

"which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing - as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit." - Colossians 1:6-8 ESV

The message reached them through people. One person in particular is named. Even though the experience is individually unique it is not exclusive. The Gospel is bearing fruit all over the world. The message brings increase. When Jesus is lifted up and His work on the cross is revealed all men are drawn unto Him (see John 12:32).

"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

Paul remembered what it was like to live in the zeal of religion thinking that what he knew was right. He knew what it was like to be blinded but finally see truth and then to have God restore his sight using a person who he would have had nothing to do with months before (see Acts 9:18).

This prayer is such a powerful specific prayer. In order to 'walk worthy' we must have Gospel oriented sight restored. The Bible and fellowship (or body life). The knowledge of His will, wisdom and understanding are all Gospel centered. Fellowship is the outward expression of doctrine. It is where doctrine comes to life.

Paul knew the value of truth and time with other people who had that same inheritance. He saw people veer off into error, emotionalism and isolation and the damage it did.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them." - Hebrews 13:8-9 ESV

Sometimes I pray 'Lord bless this person.' and I'm convicted of the shallowness of my prayer. Do I just want them to be well, happy, safe and prosperous or is it deeper than that? My best times have been ones of illumination. My precious memories involve fellowship. My hallmark moments are the times when God was revealed in greater clarity.

Let's face it. It takes time to pray longer prayers for people. It takes investment for people to grow. It takes teaching for us to walk worthy. We need the light of truth to illuminate our way.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." - John 3:16-21 ESV

Verse sixteen is so simple yet so profound. It is such a short sentence but it is so much larger than we are. We don't just learn it once and walk away. Knowledge, wisdom and understanding are hidden there. Might and power flow from there. Endurance and patience with joy are possible because of the unchanging nature of the message. This seed results in thanksgiving. It is seed that we sow side by side with other people.

"Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance... The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." - Proverbs 1:5, 7 ESV

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another..." - 1 John 1:7a ESV


Monday, February 2, 2015

Blessing The Second Son

"Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. For, he said, 'God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house.' The name of the second he called Ephraim, 'For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.' " - Genesis 41:51-52 ESV

Just look at the names. The first name is Joseph relating to the past and the second son's name is Joseph relating to the present and the future.

"Joseph said to his father, 'They are my sons, whom God has given me here.' And he said, "Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them." Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. And Israel said to Joseph, 'I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.'... And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn)... When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, 'Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.' But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.' So he blessed them that day, saying, 'By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, 'God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.' Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh." - Genesis 48:9-11, 14, 17-20 ESV

Naturally speaking our firstborn is our past. It is gone but not quite forgotten. The grace blessing always falls on the second son.

"Thus it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." - 1 Corinthians 15:45-50 ESV

Our past has no inheritance. As believers we live in the present reality of the quickening spirit who is Heavenly.

We can learn from the past but the right handed blessing is always on the present. Our identity is a present and future tense identity. It may look like the wrong order to us. We may think we are the product of what we have suffered and come out from but in truth we are the product of grace.

"And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one." - John 17:11 ESV

"If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." - John 15:19 ESV

We are in the world but not of the world. Our identity can not be a world oriented identity. God sees us according to the name He has given us in Heaven. Our residence is in Heaven and our time on Earth is just a business trip. Our true blessing waits for us at home and travels with us because we bring our Heavenly identity with us.