Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Away in Arabia And Back Where Two Or More Are Gathered

We must be alone with God yet at the same time if we spend too much time like that we can become subjective and theoretical. Christianity has grand principles but at it's heart it is about relationships.

" 'Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.' Then Peter came up and said to him, 'Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.' " - Matthew 18:19-22 ESV

God is going to manifest His presence in a special way in the 'two or more' dynamic.

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." - James 5:16 ESV

"Was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days." - Galatians 1:16-18 ESV

The prayer of one person closeted away touches God's throne and the place we really get our doctrine straight is alone with God. We need to hear the preacher and participate in a vision that has fellowship and we also need that time alone to sort it all out.

Peter was a fisherman. He was used to spending hours out on the water with just a few other people. When Jesus said that He was going to be with them when they gathered Peter's first question was, 'How many times do I have to forgive people?'

That is the other side of fellowship... forgiveness.

Paul didn't have to do much forgiving went he went off to Arabia but God brought him back for the fellowship of the other Apostles as a soundly doctrinal person.

It is good and important to study under people and it is my conviction that I never outgrow them or that dynamic. Christianity is a chain that stretches back and forward in time and our personal rewards are intertwined with that chain.

It is good to have a solid personal walk. We can't ride on other peoples faith forever. There are personal battles to be fought that alone time in Arabia will give us the resources to sit and stand in those trials.

If we are away and have been away a long time... Come back. God wants to meet us in a special way where two or more are gathered.

If you are knit in then go to Arabia in that prayer closet of yours. Close the door. open the Book of Books and ask God some hard questions. You will be surprised at how He answers.

Our whole lives can be lived in one week. Those seven days can have elements of everything. I want both of these things to happen every week.

I thank God for the 'two or more' God has given me. Each individual one has meant so much. We have forever friendships because God was right there in the middle of us.


Monday, March 30, 2015

In Love's River

When we start to understand the scope and ramifications of grace we will begin to love ourselves and loving ourselves is so important. When grace saturates our thinking then performance takes a back seat. Action become a result and not a goal or cause. Grace magnifies God in every way. A gracious God is a God that must love us in all circumstances and if He loves us and others it is suggested to us that we can begin to love that way also.

"We love him, because he first loved us." - 1 John 4:19 KJV

"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. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 ESV

Did God criticize to reconcile us? No, He did what was necessary without overriding our free will to make reconciliation possible without 'imputing sin'. He defines what sin is but does not associate us with individual sins because those sins have been placed on Christ. God was critical of Christ on the cross. He isn't ever going to be critical of us because of double jeopardy. We have been declared innocent and can never be prosecuted again.

Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of people that love themselves out there. They love themselves so much that there is little room to love anyone else much less God. But, The that love is shallow, muddy and stagnant. It has no depth and performance moves this love around and even drys it up because it is not grace based love.

Grace based love has depth and living movement. It flows like a stream.

"On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." - John 7:37-39 ESV

Yes, When we drink then rivers flow out of us. Not just any water. We drink the water that Jesus provides and then we have water that flows out of us.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Like He Has Loved Us

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." - John 13:34 ESV

Grace is God loving us His way. Giving grace is us loving each other the same way that God has loved us.

Isn't that something? I marvel at it. It breaks me. As I ponder it it brings tears of joy to my eyes

It is love that has freedom. It is love that gives space but sticks close at the same time. It is warm and new without being sentimental. It is jealous in that it won't let a person go but respects a person's right to choose.

This love has changed me forever.

How can I love the way a perfect person has loved me? How can I love like a man who went to the cross in my place? He is the master. I am the student. In my own feeble fashion I dip my brush in paint as I look to His masterpiece and let the inspiration given but what I am beholding flow through me.

The Apostle Peter loved people the same way he was loved... so did John and the other disciples... each had a different flavor of it but their work resembled their master.

God let all that we do resemble what you have done. Not by effort but by inspiration given through the life of Your Son.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Definition Of Propitiation

They say that if you are reading a sentence and you get to a word you don't understand and pass over it your reading comprehension and retention drops significantly. Things need to be defined in order to be retained.

For a long while there were words in the Bible that I didn't understand so I would just pass over them but once understood they opened great concepts up to me. Here is one example.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith." - Romans 3:23-27 ESV

What does propitiation (Hilasterion - Strong's G2435) mean?

It is the gesture or thing that causes another person's hardness or problem with another party to go away. It appeases them or softens them again. It satisfies them. It serves as the physical reminder that there is a relationship.

In American culture it might be a gift, or flowers or a phone call. A teacher might be ready to give a low grade but the student does extra credit and hands in the missing assignments so the teacher then chooses to raise the grade.

Jesus' blood is a propitiation to God. That may sound strange to us.

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life." - Leviticus 17:11 ESV

Spiritually speaking the 'life' of a person is in their blood. It is what is flowing and moving oxygen and food to the cells. It is what is taking away toxins and what might be harmful. But beyond that it has a spiritual dimension that we only see in part but it is there.

It is kind of how a doctor can take a blood sample and test it. When he does that the blood sample serves as a snapshot of that person's life when the blood was taken from them.

When Jesus' blood was shed it was a snapshot of His righteousness and sacrificial life as person. God sees that and is pleased with humanity again. This one person justifies everyone else who looks at that same snapshot and agrees. No one can boast anymore that what they do pleases God. A propitiation has already been made.

Jesus sent the father a bouquet of roses on our behalf large enough to fill his throne room. There is no room for any other gifts. Everything else has to sit out on the lawn.

God's hardness towards us is gone.

Thank you Jesus. Really. Thank You. The social and legal obligation has been met. God is pleased with man because of what you have done. All the prophets that have gone before rejoice when they look at what you have done. Let the ramifications of your sacrifice reach the deepest part of our hearts today. Let familiarity flee away and our own hardness be softened so that others will know what has already happened on their behalf.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Grace In Staying And In Going

Choose life.

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." - Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ESV

God puts a strange choice in front of us. A simple choice that the world and circumstances have made complicated.

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.

But Paul cried with a loud voice, 'Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.'

And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'

And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.'

And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God." - Acts 16:25-34 ESV

The same jailer that beat Paul earlier now had the tables turned on him. He was anticipating taking a beating Himself but God gave the jailer an opportunity to choose life. The jailer knew what a great hardship he and his family would face because this happened on his watch. One family was saved spiritually. They became people who believed earthquakes could work in their favor also.

Later we find out that Paul was a Roman citizen and he likely didn't use that card because Silas would have gone to jail alone. Here in Acts 22 we see proof of that...

"But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, "Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?'

When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, 'What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.'

So the tribune came and said to him, 'Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?'

And he said, 'Yes.'

The tribune answered, 'I bought this citizenship for a large sum.'

Paul said, 'But I am a citizen by birth.' " - Acts 22:25-28 ESV

Grace had taught Paul how to choose life and Silas was likely saved because of it. Silas had a man to sing songs with. Silas had fellowship and divine perspective. Then the dominoes of God's gracious plan continued to fall and the jailer was saved also.

Did God send the earthquake to save Paul or did God send Paul to save the jailer from the earthquake that would ruin the jailer's life? Maybe a combination of both but earthquakes happen when they happen. I like to think God was saving the jailer.

Are you 'taking a beating' from someone? It would be natural to rail against them for the ill treatment but just maybe God has you there so that they can be saved. Maybe it is some one else in the situation. Who knows. The earthquake (or whatever else God has planned) will free you and I in good season but grace can have us singing in our cells right now.

I'm not telling anyone to stay in abusive relationships or situations no matter what. That is not sound biblical counsel. In Acts 22 Paul sidestepped the flogging he was about to get. We are not gluttons for punishment. We are people who look for redemptive purpose and stay longer than we have to for Sila's sake and find that God can use our discomfort in far reaching ways. Meanwhile we can look for that chance to reveal Jesus to someone in it. When the redemptive purpose is gone we have no reason to stay.

Grace has taught us to choose life over comfort and that will give us opportunities to open our mouth and talk about Jesus in places where His name would otherwise not be heard. Then others can also choose life.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Should I Say?

What will we say when we don't know what to say? How will it be framed.

"Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." - Ephesians 4:28-29 ESV

I don't want to steal from the situation. No. I did that for years. How will my words be words that add and not steal? Grace is how. Grace is not corrupt.

Here is the verse in context...

"But that is not the way you learned Christ! - assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:20-32 ESV

"And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." - James 3:18 ESV

A harvest of righteousness is reaped by the winner of souls. The peacemaker is making peace by winning the soul with grace.

"Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." - 2 Corinthians 13:11 KJV

"Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." - Romans 12:17-18 ESV

Is it possible to have words that promote peace? Not always. But if there is a way grace wants to find it because God has made His peace with man. The cross was God's answer to sin. That conversation is closed.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace," - Ephesians 2:13-15 ESV

Yes. We stand close to God and grace goes out of it's way to break down the barrier and have words that draw someone else close to God also.

Oh God... give us words. We need silver tongues. We want to have nourishing words. Those are the words You have for us. That is what we want to have in our outer voice and our inner one as well.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Motives Transformed By The Cross

"The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." - Romans 14:22-23 ESV

Ever condemn yourself later for doing the 'right' thing?

The moral man will say, 'No, Do right and you will never regret it!' but that is very naive. It is just the lesser of two evils and there can be great regret attached to doing the right thing when you discover later you were deceived about what was right.

Faith is different. Faith glorifies God. Biblical faith proceeds from God and is mirrored in us.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20 KJV

When faith comes from co-crucifixion. Our mind may be darkened in time so that we regret actions that may seem to be linked with hardship but God is pleased by our faith.

The faith of the Son of God mirrors His life and attributes. Kindness and mercy are there. Grace is there. Love for people is there. Confidence in God's will was the hallmark of Jesus' life. Jesus' life of faith brought Him to the greatest hardship any man has ever faced... the cross. But, The cross was not the end. It was the beginning.

Our cross is our beginning also. Our cross is His cross. His death is what we must bear. The consequences for our decision right and wrong were born there. Good but faithless decisions that lacked all kinds of information and perspective and bad ones done in rebellion and full disregard for others. All of it was put on that cross by God.

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him... Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." - Hebrews 11:6, 12:1-3 ESV

It's Monday and we don't have to go to work or any other place because it's the right thing to do. Our motives can be transformed once again. We can go by faith on a faith adventure. God can steer us in any direction He wants to when we are moving in an un-condemned momentum.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Living In What Is Essential

"Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, 'Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?' " - John 14:22 ESV

Here we see a man asking Jesus a great question. He knows that Jesus is leaving but what will reveal the truth after He is gone? There are some people that perceive God as He truly Is and others that don't. Where is the line drawn. At what place does the invisible reality become visible if Jesus is not physically there to reveal it?

"Jesus answered him, 'If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.' " - John 14:23-24 ESV

Jesus' words are the key.

I like that there was a man named Judas asking this question. It could have been anyone or the Spirit could have had the writer say, 'one of the disciples' but He didn't. This Judas could easily be mixed up with another more notorious Judas.

The answer to the very question that is being asked can be confused in the same way that one Judas could be mixed up with another.

There are many people talking about God out there but the God they are speaking about is not the God of Jesus' words.

"But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. Thus shall you say to them: 'The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.' " - Jeremiah 10:10-11 ESV

The One True God is the God of the Gospel of Grace. He is the God who sent His Son to save.

Then are ten truths that some theologians call cardinal doctrines. They are unassailable truths. If you believe them then you believe Jesus and what you believe can be called Christian. Any teaching that excludes these truths of nullifies them in some way has enough error in it to nullify the one and only essential truth. That essential truth is the necessity of salvation. Salvation is God's one 'requirement' of man.

"Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God'... Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' " - John 3:5, 7 ESV

The cardinal doctrines: The Depravity of Man, The Trinity, The Deity of Jesus, The Deity of the Holy Spirit, The Blood of Jesus, Salvation by Grace, The Authority of the Bible, a literal Hell, a literal Heaven and The Resurrection.

Other theologians list more and others categorize differently (such as combining the Heaven and Hell into one principle) and there is much more truth than just these listed in the Bible but in a nutshell these are the truths that support the one essential truth that each individual must embrace or all else what is truly essential is lost to them.

People must be saved. Each one of us makes an individual decision. In the end rest won't matter unless that happens

If the Jesus I believe in is just a man like any other than I have not been listening to His words. If salvation is accomplished by my performance I have not heard Him. If there is no Heaven and Hell in my mind then I may truly be believing a lie to the point where I am not in the faith because the message is missing a major ingredient. That cake won't rise.

We don't have to understand all the cardinal doctrines fully to be saved. Salvation is not primarily intellectual. The truth is a framework for trust. Faith is special kind of trust. All we have to do is understand that Jesus died in our place and rose from the grave and believe that that is enough to save us. Error obscures the truth. Error waters it down.

I want to strengthen the pillars that support the one essential doctrine. Jesus' words will make visible what is real. I want to live in the reality of closeness to God and not a religious or intellectual fantasy.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Idea Of Substitution

In the original perfect environment substitution seemed unknown.

Adam did not even seem to think of giving himself for Eve. We don't see anything given in exchange for anything else yet. It seems the human race had no need for trade, exchange or substitution until this instance.

"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." - Genesis 3:6 KJV

Adam just joined Eve.

"Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." - Genesis 3:21 KJV

God showed the human race substitution. An animal's blood was shed for them so they could be warm and survive their new environment. God didn't sell them anything. The serpent was selling something to Eve apart from Adam and God. God gave them both something.

"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." - 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 KJV

"But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." - Matthew 20:26-28 KJV

The living soul joins and dies but the quickening spirit dies to self through identification without compromise and lives.

Jesus became the ultimate substitute. He walked the Earth as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Soulish life looks prosperous until the road block comes. Spiritual life looks to the One who gave all. It dies, gets buried and is raised three short days later. Spiritual life sits in Heavenly places because the right substitute is already sitting there.

"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:6-11 KJV

Grace is intertwined with this idea. God gave great grace when He gave His Son to us. Jesus had an attitude of grace that went hand in hand with the idea of giving His life.

"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." - 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 ESV

"And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." - Hebrews 10:10 ESV

A once and for all sacrifice has been made by the once and for all substitute.

Have we as individuals learned the lesson or will we just bite the apple that is handed to us?


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Warm Orbit

This morning I was thinking about God's attributes like the orbits of planets in the solar system.

Justice being the outer orbit... colder and wider. In order to approach the sun you must pass through this outer orbit. Justice is barely warm. It is changeless. In those outer orbits the sun is dim, far away and distant.

The expressions of God's love and mercy are in this sweet spot orbit (like the Earth is in). Any closer and we would burn up but any farther away we would freeze. Life takes place in this narrow circular band.

Justice must be satisfied before a person can approach love.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." - John 10:1-3 ESV

It is possible to approach this zone of life at too steep of an angle or at the wrong speed and just pass on through only to burn up as you get close or overshoot it entirely.

"But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever." - Jude 1:10-13 ESV

Jesus is our Shepard navigator. He opens the door and travels at just the right speed with just the right spin. When captured by His gravity He keeps others in the right orbit also. If you miss Him you miss your only chance. Other teachers have gravity but their ideas have set them off course casting them out into the cold. The warmth they felt was only momentary.

I am just using a little science to illustrate a truth. Some folks think that space is the answer for the future of the human race. That our origins came from out there in the blackness somewhere and answers will be found out there eventually by our ingenuity and exploration.

I am all for exploration but I think what we want is close by and not far away.

Spiritually we need to pass through judgement to find mercy. The cross is where we do just that. God came to us to give us answers. He did not come as an alien being from a different planet. He left a throne room of light in the highest Heaven to descend into His own creation so that we could be warmed by love and mercy and thrive again.

Find Jesus and you will find the sweet spot where life will thrive. His orbit will bring us right where we want to go.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Grumble, Stumble And Mumble Or Behold And Ask

"Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear." - Isaiah 59:1-2 ESV

"But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." - 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 ESV

Two directions... moving away from God with muffled words and facing God humbled and transformed.

"Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old" - Lamentations 5:21 ESV

Something about grace restores us. It turns us. Instead of wallowing in emotional rebellion it gives us an exit and shows us something marvelous about God. If we allow ourselves to be captivated we behold glory and in that face to face orientation we enter into communion.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." - James 1:2-8 ESV

We can grumble, stumble and mumble or we can face grace and get wisdom from God knowing that the situation is going to be used to do something in God's plan.


Monday, March 16, 2015

A Clean Cup

If any of you use a dishwasher perhaps you have experienced this also. Water collects on top of the mugs or rims of things from the last rinse cycle that does not get washed away. Then when you go to remove the item the wash drips down the side of the thing and gets whatever is under it wet also.

My habit, if I remember, is to open the dishwasher and find those little puddles of water and absorb them with a paper towel before I remove anything. But, If I forget I end up rinsing the whole mug off again because I don't trust that the collected water is clean and I don't want anyone in the family drinking dish washer residue.

That thought made me think of this verse.

"You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." - Matthew 23:26 ESV

I don't know about you but I am very aware of the fact that I am a depraved person. I am not just partially bad or mostly good with some bad parts. Without God I am a utterly depraved, bent, soiled and insane person and everything I do or think is marred somehow because of it. I may not appear to be that way in that same way that others do. I may not have explored darkness in ways that others have but at my root I am as bad as anyone that ever lived. I was born to be bad.

That fact could give me a terrible self image but it doesn't. I have discovered a cleaning agent. It is wondrous and effective. I trust it fully.

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

"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 9:13-14 ESV

God has cleaned the inside of my cup. I have not cleaned it myself. I am not dripping questionable dishwater water on myself or bringing the grim of the outside inside in the effort to clean myself. No. Because of grace I have left those practices behind. They don't work. My own efforts could not remove those stains. God has made a way for me to be as pure as fresh fallen snow. I will go to Him and reason with Him.

I have left behind the illusion that I can trust myself but I have other divine provisions I can trust. These things can never be taken from me and that gives me great joy and great rest. God doesn't want me to do something that I am to broken to accomplish. His will is that I live in a thankfulness for what He has done.

"What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD," - Psalm 116:12-13 ESV



Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Equal Yoke

Grace is an equal yoke. It is the right partnership. It is the basis for a right relationship.

"My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler. Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise." - Proverbs 6:1-6 ESV

A neighbor becomes a stranger once you cosign that loan. Why? You have just put money up based on their performance. You are saying, 'I trust that you will jump through the hoops.' and that has real relationship killing potential.

Grace creates an open passage for ministry and fellowship.

"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" - 2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV

It is interesting that Jesus was born into a carpentry family. It was a sales and service environment.

'Would you like to buy these benches?' --- Money changes hands
'I can build that for you?' --- An amount is agreed upon and money changes hands

That is the kind of interaction where ministry can easily take place. Things don't have to be reciprocal. They can be very one sided and no enslavement will take place.

Partnership on the other hand must be 'grace based' or the person will become a stranger. That is why someone without faith is a bad business partner for someone who does believe. Business has an impersonal element that can quickly enter in that will demand a victim.

"Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." - Ephesians 4:28 ESV

"We labor, working with our own hands." - 1 Corinthians 4:12a ESV

"And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." - Luke 6:34-35 ESV

This keeps the footing equal.

"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 4:13 ESV

You give an account for your life to God and I give an account to God for mine. You are not beholden to me and I am not beholden to you. Willing to transact. Willing to give. We can be neighbors and friends because we have an attitude of grace.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Motivated By Love To Take On The Role

Holiness - Justice - Love

God is all three. God won't compromise one quality to satisfy another. He is all three and many more things also but in order for Him to fellowship with fallen sinful man these three come to mind specifically.

Jesus took on roles because of love. He became a man because of love. He lived and died like a lamb because of love. He was and is holy and all that He did He did justly but it took a stretch, a reaching out or even a reaching beyond to accomplish the goal of reconciliation. He was really a King. The mount of transfiguration gave us a glimpse of who He is but for years that aspect of His nature was covered by a role He had to play in order not to compromise.

He was a man without sin but still at times He said things like, 'O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you?' (see Luke 9:41) Patience and long-suffering are also two more of God's qualities. Qualities He has revealed amazingly over humanity's history.

If the God who is changeless can take on roles so can I. Why would I bother to do it? Love. Love is the reason.

Is it right? There may be many wrong ways but there is a right one. Will it change who I am? It doesn't have to. In humility it can reveal a different side not often seen.

Justice should be upheld. Holiness needed to be honored and recognized. Love provides the right reason and grace is the right attitude.

Some people are true caretakers. It is what they do. Others do it for a season because they must. Some men are fathers to everyone and others are a father to the children God has given them but are happy to shed that role as soon as the children come of age. Has the role changed them? Maybe. Perhaps it just revealed something that was already there... or something that wasn't.

I have met a few people in my life who have a real gift of evangelism. It is amazing to watch them. I may have a gift or I may not but today I am a soul winner. I take on the role with trembling knees. If I have the Spirit I am who God says I am... nothing more and nothing less. Grace is the right attitude and the mission to seek and save that which is lost is the right pursuit.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:16-17 ESV

Striving is one of the wrong ways. Passivity is also. Proactive resting is right. Going is right. Stretching is God's heart. Jesus took on the work of salvation and finished it. When we go by faith God manifests that reality. We are not going to accomplish something. We go because something wonderful has already been accomplished.


Friday, March 13, 2015

The Breath Of The Day

"And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden." - Genesis 3:8 ESV

It seems God had a routine. Adam and Eve heard God at a special time. The 'cool of the day' in the Hebrew is the ruwach (Strong's H7307) Yowm (H3117) which can be translated day's breath. God gave Adam life with His breath. Now He was meeting Adam at the time that the Earth was coming to life. Still calm night was giving way to dawn.

It is a mystery. We can meet God in the morning or we can hide. People become very good at hiding.

God wants to meet us Spirit to spirit.

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." - John 14:16-18 ESV

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." - Philemon 1:25 ESV

The breath of truth meets our breath in an attitude of grace and there is an exchange of words. There is recognition and there is exchange.

Perhaps we wake and rush into the activity with no recognition or exchange and God is calling to us and saying, 'Where are you? I want to commune with you.'

The world of philosophy can not receive this breath. There may be recognition but there is not exchange. Science wants to study the stillness and the activity but misses God walking in His garden.

"All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it." - Proverbs 8:8-11 KJV

The cross has taken away our guilt. His Spirit has made us alive. Now we can walk and talk with God. He can teach us and instruct us. We can move with Him and be with Him.

I don't want to miss that time. It is precious.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wings Of Obedience

"Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!' " - Isaiah 6:2-3 ESV

The angels had wings of obedience. They moved swiftly. With eyes covered they had to fly navigated by knowledge. They flew by faith.

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?" - Galatians 5:6-7 ESV

We don't have a blind faith. We have a faith that works by love.

It isn't the outer appearance. It is the substance.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Prayer And Elevator Algorithms

Today I'm going to talk about elevators. There is much about their workings that speaks to me and invites scriptural correlations.

The simplest situation with an elevator is to have one elevator with two floors. If you push the button the elevator either opens or it is sitting on the other floor and comes to you and opens.

If you have more floors and more people pushing buttons inside the elevator and outside on floors calling the elevator it gets more complex.

It has several parts:
- The elevator continues to traveling in the same direction while there are remaining requests in that same direction.
- If a either the 'up' or 'down' button is pushed the elevator will stop and open if it is going in the same direction of it's destination.
- If there are no further requests in that direction, it stops and become idle and can be 'called' to move from a button pressed on one of the floors or 'sent' by a button pressed inside the elevator.

If there are multiple elevators it gets much more complex and heuristic algorithms are needed. There are different ideas about prioritizing the requests from outside the elevators. Engineers use different algorithms to control the traffic. Some elevator banks are programmed differently than others. Individual elevators can be given different priorities.

Most of us travel on elevators all the time and we may wait and wonder why we are waiting. Some elevators show you what floor the elevator we are waiting for is on and some don't. I think one of the reasons they show you the floor the elevator is on is to lessen the wear on the call button. When people get impatient they keep hitting the button to make the elevator come faster... it doesn't of course. If people see where the elevator is they lay off the call button.

I got a lot of seed thoughts from these concepts but mostly it made me think about prayer. Some prayers are short and sweet. We pray and it is answered in moments or days. Others have so many factors we can't know or see. People, events and important interactions are happening on so many levels.

Someone needs to hit the button or the elevator won't come. Maybe the guy standing there has already hit the button. There could be 10 people crammed into that elevator going to every floor and when the door does open it might not be going in my direction... etc... etc...

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8 ESV

Religion tells us we must always press the button or even climb the stairs if we are ever going to get anywhere. God does ask us to pray and says...

"You do not have, because you do not ask." - James 4:2b ESV

But in truth God is doing things behind the scenes and many times God does not show us what floor the elevator we are waiting is on. Nor do we know what direction it is going to go in once we get on. We press buttons by faith and get in by faith trusting God.

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:26-28 ESV

God in His sovereignty is pushing buttons behind the scenes. He knows and allows things to happen in a certain way. He is not just sovereign in a few areas. He is sovereign in every area all the time. There are just many people moving in many directions.

I am determined to be a person that pushes the button by faith and pushes the button by faith for others.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Comforts Of Home

"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." - Psalm 40:2 ESV

Without God our minds are homeless.

If you have ever been homeless or know anything about it you know that it is a condition that involves much more than a lack of physical shelter. There is a sense of detachment that accompanies the condition. A need to rely on people and a seesaw of emotions that moves a person's sense of self worth up and down and around depending on the day and circumstances. It is a unique challenge.

People can think, 'Why don't they just get a job somewhere?' but that is far from easy when you have no place to live, a limited variety of clothing and no identification in your pocket to show someone. Not to mention the challenges of staying healthy and clean.

When God sees a homeless person and a well established person standing next to each other He sees two people of equal and immeasurable value. Unless men have God's mind they don't see that.

A believer lives spiritually in God's home. A believer's mind is God's home. There are comforts and resources that are at a person's disposal on every possible level. A believer may wander but there is always a place to come back to. That is a beautiful aspect of grace.

"But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone... and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." - Hebrews 2:9, 15 ESV

Death has fear in part because there is no safe place in view. All control is gone and nothing is sure. People are slaves because of fear and ultimately people fear because of death.

Jesus came to change that. He became homeless so that we could have a home. He hung on a cross rejected of God and men so that we would have a strong tower to run to and resources to draw from.

Thank you God... really... thank you so much. You are our shelter. We are often not the best house guests but you love us so tenderly and consistently. You say to us, 'Mi casa es su casa.' and we are so grateful for that. We may not have a home here but when we are with You we are home.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Two Antibacterial Classifications That Have Spiritual Applications

There are two basic antibacterial classifications bactericidal (agents that kill bacteria) and bacteriostatic (agents that retard growth or reproduction).

Most agents that kill bacteria on contact are used topically not internally for obvious reasons. If it can kill bacteria it can also kill healthy cells. A common bactericidal agent is wood alcohol. It is a main ingredient in those clear antibacterial gels that we see everywhere. It not only kills bacteria effectively but it also evaporates away quickly leaving only the gel that was used to carry it on a person's skin.

Most of the things that kill bacteria inside an organism are bacteriostatic in nature. They damage or impede the cell in some way so that it can not grow or reproduce leaving the bacteria an easy target for the immune system.

It is also good to keep in mind that not all bacteria is harmful. We need certain kinds of bacteria in our digestive tract in order to be healthy.

I am not a biologist and it is easy to over simplify these concepts and come to strange conclusions. But just looking at this subject it is easy to see the wide range of spiritual applications. Everything from fostering lust and the spreading of gossip all the way to the persecution of the Church and attack on the Gospel message to make it palatable but not reproductive.

"For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife." - Proverbs 26:20-21 ESV

"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" - Genesis 22:17 KJV

"And he said to his people, 'Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.' Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses." - Exodus 1:9-11 ESV

"The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you." - Deuteronomy 7:22 ESV

This study can go in many directions but it has me thinking of the things in my life that foster spiritual growth and the ones that seem to inhibit it. On the other hand what causes carnality to get a foothold in my life?

Does television have bacteriostatic influence on our spirituality? It can under certain circumstances for me. Teaching on the tongue regularly at church can have that same affect on gossip in that Church.

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV

"Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit." - 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19 ESV

Our spiritual life is a right now kind of thing. Communion is present tense. At the same time the decisions we make today affect the potential spiritual climate of tomorrow.

Our minds are like gardens. What is growing there?


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Anarchistic Systems

Anarchistic systems can only exist surrounded by ordered society. They are parasitic in nature. Once the host begins to die they die also.

Prophecy states that it will only take three and a half years for Antichrist's work to begin to self destruct.

"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." - 1 Thessalonians 5:3-4 KJV

It will implode. God will turn up the heat and what seems like new liberty, unprecedented advancements of science and an evolutionary quantum leap for humanity will be revealed as a sink hole waiting to happen. The bottom will fall out and betrayal and blame will abound. The extermination of religion and religious people in the name of science and reason will degrade into the extermination of one another.

"Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God." - 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 ESV

When lawlessness overwhelms order it's host can no longer sustain it. God allows this to happen. So that the true cancerous nature of a thing can be revealed.

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

Evil feeds on moral structures. Grace provides a structure that is not moral in nature. It has good outcomes that people see through a lens of morality but it is not moral.

Morality alone is a breeding place for evil. Moral structures are the devil's petri dish. Evil is sustained when those structures are sustained. People think the return of morality will defeat evil but they are only feeding the fire. Only spirituality can defeat evil because it provides a hostile environment for the organism to live and reproduce.

Jesus had a three year ministry also but when the heat came he did not collapse. His foundation was solid. His kingdom is an everlasting and unshakable one. He lived in grace, truth, love, mercy, honor and mission. Evil has to twist what He did into a moral framework in order to use it. That has been done in a thousand different ways... but perfect love still casts out fear and unadulterated grace is still the light which dispels darkness.

The grace of God and the cross of Christ produces overcomers. It produces people that don't have to fold under pressure because they don't even see the heat when it comes.

People often choose the road of false temporary peace if it is offered to them. Grace is glorious but not easy. There is apposition and warfare but it is sourced in a system that will survive time. It will not be forgotten nor will anyone who comes in alignment with it's goals be forgotten.

If I am kind today it is because God has conquered me with His love. It may not be the polished politeness that culture instructs us to operate in but I'd rather have a kindness that is solid then live in a structure that could buckle at any moment and is doomed to future failure.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Revenge That Is Sweet

Puritanical people may not admit it but revenge feels good and is a marvelous motivator.

"And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." - 2 Corinthians 10:6 KJV

"For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come." - Isaiah 63:4 KJV

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." - Romans 12:19 KJV

Instead of directing revenge at flesh and blood (people or genetics) based on good and bad we leave that revenge to God. He has a revenge that takes the cross into account and so can we.

Sweet revenge for us is when we win a victory over our own potential carnality and function in spirituality instead. Going the extra mile when we feel lazy. Facing fear or living in grace when we are could linger in anger. Remembering God when we could just be thinking of ourselves and entering into the 'obedience of faith' by trusting Him.

That revenge has a good feeling attached to it. We overturn something that is against us. Our comeback is ten times better then carnality's petty remark.

My old man isn't getting the best of me today. I'll show him what's what and live a new life. The 'year of the redeemed' has come.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Three New Tools

Moses at the burning bush is such a fascinating encounter on so many levels. Moses is a man with a calling he couldn't fulfill. There was a great need. His people were in bondage he felt their pain as a young man but was able to do little to help.

"One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, 'Why do you strike your companion?' He answered, 'Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?' Then Moses was afraid, and thought, 'Surely the thing is known.' When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well." - Exodus 2:11-15 ESV

His individual violence could not bring salvation. Later he meets God only to find out that God knows about the need.

"Then the LORD said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey' " - Exodus 3:7-8a ESV

God then gives Abraham some new tools. They are non-violent and non-political in nature.

"But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go... The LORD said to him, 'What is that in your hand?' He said, 'A staff.' And he said, 'Throw it on the ground.' So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it... Again, the LORD said to him, 'Put your hand inside your cloak.' And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, 'Put your hand back inside your cloak.' So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 'If they will not believe you,' God said, 'or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.' " - Exodus 3:19-20, 4:2-3, 6-9 ESV

Those three signs speak volumes. The staff, the hand inside the cloak turning then leprous then being healed and the water into blood are amazing tools. What they represent is amazing. We use the same tools today.

The staff speaks of authority, assistance and political klout. Pharaoh chased Abraham out of Eygpt. It was not even Pharaoh himself that did it. Abraham was afraid of what Pharaoh could do and he ran. When Moses threw the staff on the ground it became a snake but when he took it by the tail it turned into his staff again. That staff would later swallow up the serpents that the magicians of Egypt conjured up (see Exodus 7:10f). There is bad authority. God knows it and has a way to deal with it. Moses' answer in frustration years ago was to kill each issue one by one hoping to sweep it all under the rug and get momentum of some kind. God taught Abraham to throw down Heaven's authority against the authority of fear. God is going to win those contests. Each individual fear, although deadly to us, is smaller and weaker than God's staff.

The first tool addresses external authority but the leprous hand talks to internal guilt and pain. No one is born leprous. It is a disease that is caught and then it takes a horrendous toll on it's new victims. Man's heart is leprous because of bondage. The hand coming out leprous the first time and then coming out clean the second revealed to those who saw it that God knew and identified with them. Bondage hurts. Fear deforms. God knows and God can make you clean. There is no need to hide. Hope is here.

Lastly, We have the water turning into blood. People relied on the Nile to live. Just as people today rely on information. They think what they know will save them but it won't. Only blood will save them. It something that is useless to people in comparison to the thing that they value and rely upon. Cain thought that his vegetables were a better offering because they were tasty and the fruit of great time and effort (see Genesis 4:3f) but God had little regard for Cain's fruit. All Cain's work was tainted by the leprosy in His heart. God desired a blood sacrifice. The person who has denied the first two signs can still be turned by this one. It is their last hope to be turned. Their arguments are blotted out by blood.

The Gospel of grace takes these tools and puts them in our arsenal. Grace trumps rules and fear based authority. Grace addresses the leprous heart and provides a second pure clean start born of freedom. The blood is where the power is located. Jesus' shed blood becomes the judicial basis for a continued freedom.

On a political level this is a huge contest. God was going to move on a massive scale to secure the freedom of his people. These three tools were for small groups or one on one encounters. These are tools we can use one on one also and they get great results.

God, Help us. We are just people and the system we walk into each day is big and imposing. Make us wise implementer of truth so that one at a time people can see your deliverance through our lives.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Wings of Grace

I'm moving slow this morning but that's alright. I have read my booklet pages about five times and I couldn't tell you what it said if you asked. Today like everyday I need to know grace. I cling to it. I cherish it. I won't condemn myself nor will I quit. I have great grace. God will never condemn me. He can't. He won't. I'm slow but I'm taken care of so I think of others.

< Listened to 'He Giveth More Grace' on the GaitherVEVO channel on YouTube and prayed for a number of people as their faces flashed by in my minds eye. A handful of them are deeply on my heart >

Sick people need more grace... tired people... grieving people... Oh, Yes they do... the grieving person is not themselves yet... time passes and they think that they are but it comes in waves because it is below the surface... they need grace... they need a Heavenly hope and to live in their Heavenly identity... God will dry the tears someday... He will dry them forever.

God wants us just as we are. God accepts us right now just as we are. Jesus is enough. Jesus was, Is and forever will be the only requirement attached to our lives.

Pregnant people need more grace... older people do and younger people do also... healthy people do but they just may not know it... working people do... my friends need it so do my family members... they need God's grace to be real... they need His touch... they need His love... my neighbors do... my co-workers do... the newly married people do... the older couples who know each other all to well do... young people do... they need it so much... the world is a crazy faster place now... they need grace to run and not be weary and to walk and not faint... they are young but they need wings... their strength is not enough... grace must carry them to where they must go... our brave, beautiful, talented children need grace... do they know it?... they need more grace... they need to learn to give themselves grace and more grace.

Jacob is limping after meeting God but he is mindful of the sheep now. He needs grace and knows it. I curse my limping flesh sometimes. I'm slow and it's painful but would I even be looking around at others if I didn't have it? I don't know. I doubt it. God loves a selfish rascal wearing the 'hairy arms of Esau' when He loves me. He Is blind to my old nature and feels His Son when He reaches out to touch me. He gives more grace. I put my arms out and He lays His hand on my head and blesses me.

< Stopped to listen to 'The Glorious Impossible' >

Jesus is the glorious impossible One. Grace is our glorious impossible provision. It ignores all that is covered under the blood and dares us to look up at the One sitting on the right hand of the throne.

We don't need to change ourselves. We don't need to strive. We are wise to just enter into worship. To hold out our arms that are covered because we have put on Jesus Christ and let God bless us. What we need is more grace and it is right there. Like an ocean it is right here.

A little time. A little rehearsing of truth. A little worship and newness flows in. Strength comes when it comes. We can move in a minute or two. We need to sit before we can go anywhere. In our weakness we have wings.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Light Turns To Warmth

I got stranded the other day at the shuttle stop that takes me to work. Other people were waiting in cars but I knew that the first shuttle was going to be very full because of the delay so I waited at the stop to be first in line. It was just me and a mailbox covered in ice. I watched the ice melt and had a good time with God.

It was morning time and the mailbox was a dark blue so the sun began to heat the mailbox up. First there were little drips. Then water began to form under the ice and drip faster drawing air into the vacuum forming beautiful patterns. The water and air had a kind of dance. The mailbox was curved like a upside down 'U' so as more water formed under the ice it pulled the air down the sides but the air fought to rise again to the top of the arch. Then when the ice started to melt faster the air was gone and it was only water under the ice pouring in little streams down the sides finding the lowest path like water is prone to do. Soon big chunks started to fall off.

My shuttle came before the ice was completely gone but it made me think...

'I wonder what a man's soul looks like as it is thawing out?'

I remember what it was like when I got saved. The world started dripping off of me. Little by little I didn't do what I did before. God's warm light was getting to me and warming me under my thick atmospheric coating. When big chucks fell off of me is was messy and it affected those around me.

A man I dearly love called the Church 'An incubator of Love.' What a great thought that is. It is place to thaw out. It is a place where life can thrive and grow in safety and under the right conditions.

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

Those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit are stained the color that absorbs God's light. Light turns to warmth.

When all the ice melts off that mailbox it will just be a mailbox. When we are warmed with God's light we grow. When we are washed by God's word the grime of other things is taken away. What is left when the ice is gone is us. Us as we are. Us as God has made us to be. Ripened by sunlight.

It may be cold outside. Heck, It might be cold inside. The welcome we get in some rooms is far from warm but we can bask in God's love and have warmth. We can go to God's hot box of love and grow some leaves and branches.

Warm fruit trees are bound to produce fruit when it is the right season.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Spinning Servant and The Written Servant

"Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants." - Psalm 119:89-91 ESV

'They' are God's servants. The word and the Earth both fall into this category.

The sun rises and sets. The season come and go. The Earth spins on an axis. We have poisoned our planet but we have not changed it's appointments.

The Bible also expresses God's judgments and decrees. It reveals creation, human and angelic history and the incarnation. Careless men have handled it. Evil men have tried to destroy and quarantine it. Men have not changed it's appointments.

The Bible has outlived it's enemies and will continue to do so.

If the real purpose for speech was so that man could communicate with God in the garden and the real purpose for music was so beings could worship God then perhaps the real purpose of the internet is to house God's word. Like language people use it many other ways but I'm interested in seeing what will be written in God's history books about the subject.

How many purely spoken languages have been given a written form by Bible translators. I dare say most of them. Rome thought it was building roads to conquer the world but it was eventually conquered by the word of God as missionaries like Paul traveled those roads bearing good news.

"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 55:10-11 ESV

Grace sets me at ease. I can rest. God has already judged Christ in my place. God treats me with the favor He gives to His Son. God's grace and God's word together is an explosive combination. The word without grace is deadly but the word with grace is life. Jesus is the embodiment of grace and truth functioning in harmonious union.

We can be sure that God's word has appointments today and every day. It will do what God's sent it to do with or without us. Here we are with the Bible dwelling in us. It is going to do the work. God will do the work through His word. The living word came to die on a cross and do the work of salvation. The Gospel of grace will do what needs to be done day to day in our lives.

The question is if we want to be right in the thick of that work seeing it change lives or on the sidelines hearing about it later because we refused to mix faith with the truth we were given.

God, We surrender to your love and mercy. We marvel at your grace. You are holy and You have made us holy people. Move us today. Fill us. Help us. We want to see the way and the path as it is illuminated by Your truth. Our confidence is invested in You and You alone.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Tyndale, Coverdale and Rogers

"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." - Psalm 138:2 KJV

I have been reading this morning about men who suffered and died to translate the Bible and make sure that it was available to people... not just rich, powerful and privileged people but to common people... all people.

Great men and great women... William Tyndale, Miles Coverdale and John Rogers...

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." - Matthew 10:16 KJV

I got so caught up looking for information about John Rogers that it left me little time to write my blog this morning.

I find it exhilarating to dwell of the lives people who would pay such a high price to live magnifying Gods word. These people died almost cheerfully... clearly God had His hand on them and His power shielded them, and countless others, in supernatural ways.

While I cherish the generality of the statement, 'God loves me.' I also cherish the specifics that can only be found in God's word.