Friday, January 30, 2015

Where God Walks

God's forgiveness has all the qualities of 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV

"He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." - Micah 7:19 ESV

I like that the verse in Micah treats sin as if it is an object outside of us. It is something God handles and moves around. It is something heavy that sinks when He casts it into the sea.

Our sin is so heavy and God removes it from us but His love is so light.

"Let us go out early to the vineyards and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love." - Song of Songs 7:12 ESV

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him." - 1 John 3:1 ESV

"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." - Proverbs 10:12 ESV

His love is like a crisp warm bed sheet that settles down over someone and covers them.

"Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness." - Genesis 9:23 ESV

This is how God is loving us. I am amazed by that.

God is so honorable. He will never mention our sins. As far as He is concerned they are gone. He came in backwards and took them away from us because He loves us.

"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." - Colossians 3:3 ESV

We live a life of favor because we are hidden in the life of His Son. He didn't sink into the sea... He walked on it.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Graced Out Forgiveness

In my study this morning I keep thinking about how 'sin consciousness' is my enemy.

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." - Colossians 3:12-13 ESV

The word used for forgive and forgiving is charizomai (Strong's G5483) it comes from the same root as grace but it is a verb. It can be translated 'give grace' or even 'gracing' which sounds a bit strange to our ears. It is also used here:

"Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ," - 2 Corinthians 2:10 ESV

The idea of forgiveness can have a sin oriented focus but this word has a grace oriented focus. When we give grace we give a favor that is divorced from performance good or bad. It is outside of that.

When we put on Jesus Christ we give grace. If we became a lion we would roar like one or if we became a fish we would swim like one. When we put on Christ we give grace like God does. God is not thinking with a sin focus. Sin is paid for and has been put away. God is free to lavish grace.

When we have a complaint we shift into grace mode. That does not erase the complaint or sweep it under the rug per se. We just don't focus on the issue and get blinded by it. We focus on the relationship and deal with the person like Christ has dealt with us.

There may be people in our lives that give us a lot of trouble. They may just rub us the wrong way often but instead of thinking, 'I need to just forgive this idiot again.' we function is the grace that has been given to us. Forgiveness is rolled up into that grace package. We give that person the favor we would give to anyone because God has given us great favor hasn't He?


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Narrow Passageways

We don't want to block the flow of forgiveness.

"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." - Matthew 6:14-15 ESV

Sometimes when I see narrow stretch of road, a one lane roundabout or a new narrow on or off ramp I drive on it and think, 'I hope no one breaks down here. How will anyone else get by if they do?'

Somehow if we block a person's access to what we freely receive the access is blocked off for us as well.

Like a morning commute... forgiveness is a shared but individual experience.

As I have said before, grace is something that flows one way from God to us. It isn't a two way street.

Imagine us blocking this narrow road in our own mind out of spite so another can not pass but at the same time we are prevented from going anywhere?  We keep a person prisoner but get stuck with the job of being their jailer in the midst of honking and beeping and it is all happening inside our soul.

God's grace is flowing out from Him in every direction with the possibility of it reaching every person or situation if the opening can be found for it to come in. Like water it goes to the low places to fill them to overflowing.

"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." - John 7:38 KJV

I want to live in the emotional release of forgiveness as a conduit of that flow not blocking it.

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." - Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV

God seems to like these narrow passageways. Perhaps it keeps life a little more personal.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Taking Out The Trash

Where I grew up we had a trash room. We lived on the 15th floor of an apartment building and I, or one of my siblings, would take the trash to this room down the hall and open a bin door in the wall of the trash room and put the trash bags in. Then the trash bag would drop some distance and be disposed of with all the other trash by men who worked in the building. Once we let go of that bag and closed the bin door that trash was gone. We heard the bag falling but we were to high up to hear the thud. As a young boy I would listen for it but I don't think I ever heard it.

I was thinking this morning about letting things go and forgiveness.

"I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you." - Isaiah 44:22 ESV

When the cross is my mental trash bin then what I bring there need never be seen again. What if I just drop things as I go? Then they just blow around like trash on a congested urban street. It gathers and forms like a floating island at the center of the ocean. When my trash is not burned up at the cross I either keep it or it litters my world in some way that is seen by me, by others or both.

We may not hear the thud at the cross but we know what we brought there is gone forever.

"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." - Colossians 1:19-20 ESV

"For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." - 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 ESV

We may be conscious of the need to forgive but we still need someone to collect what we have discarded and take it away. God did that at the cross.

"As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." - Psalm 103:12 ESV

I am so glad for that. It makes my life a clean happy place.


Monday, January 26, 2015

We Know God Hears - We Know God Answers

"And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." - 1 John 5:15 ESV

I am reading 1 John chapter 5 and seeing it with laser focus this morning. I have looked at this verse in many ways before but this morning I am looking at in context. Who is saying it and why? The Apostle John is saying this. This man was all about the people. This man was a soul winner. He was all about revealing what had been revealed to him and loving people like he has been loved. When he walked into a room the people were the artwork he admired. He spent his life asking for people and he stood and sat with people who had never asked God for anything and prayed salvation prayers and healing prayers with them.

Let's look at the verses that come before this one.

"If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." - 1 John 5:9-13 ESV

When a man or woman who knows Jesus talks about Jesus there is voice behind that human voice and a written record beyond the human record that is speaking.

The Apostle John heard God's voice at the mount of transfiguration.

"He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.' When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, 'Rise, and have no fear.' And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only." - Matthew 17:5-8 ESV

John spent the rest of his life obeying that instruction and when he spoke that message was at the core of all that he said.

'Hear Jesus.'

"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life - to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." - 1 John 5:14-20 ESV

John spoke to unbelievers and said, 'Will you pray with me? God will hear us.' Some were broken by the presence of God and stood trembling at the edge of the light and others I'm sure said, 'Sure. Why don't you pray to your God old man. I can use all the help I can get.' but they lived in sin that was 'unto death' because they would not mix faith with what they were hearing and resisted the Gospel message.

The prayer of a soul winner standing with a person wanting to receive God is always heard. No hurricane could keep it from God's throne. It goes up like incense goes from the holy place into the holy of holies. God smells a sweet smell when those prays come to Him. A pleasing smell.

It seems clear to me this morning that 'you have whatever you ask' is in the context of 'I write these things that you may know that you have eternal life.'

I highly doubt John owned very much in the way of personal possessions or asked for much according to that realm. He got whatever he asked for because he spent his life asking according to God's will. He lived as a soul winner. He lived as a minister of reconciliation. He lived as one who knew the person of truth and was hidden in Jesus Christ.

I have asked God for things and not gotten them. I have asked for outcomes that never came to pass. But when I am standing with a person asking for their soul to be saved I am sure I have what I am asking. When I am standing with someone who wants to be free inside and we come to God together I am sure that God's remedy has just at that moment begun to be administered.

It is Monday and we can spend the day many ways. I want these verses to sink in deep and change me. I want to live this way. The cares of this life can choke out this seed but let the words of 1 John fall on tilled soil that is ready to receive it.

If you are reading this I am praying for you... and I know God hears my prayers. {smile}


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Asking Permission

I used to ask God's permission all the time.

We ask permission to use something that isn't ours but if something is given fully to us then we don't need to ask permission.

I think many times we ask God's permission when is fact He has given us authority to do things. I don't ask if I can come into God's throne room. I just go in.

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:16 KJV

People treat God like He is their boss. That is what the word Lord means. But our King is our Father and our Saviour is our brother that is why He calls us brethren.

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." - Mark 9:42 KJV

"Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand." - Romans 14:4 ESV

"'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up." - 1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." - Luke 12:32 ESV

We have no right to judge someone or to act as if someone else's life belongs to us. Those are clear boundaries.

It is funny. I'll ask my friend if I can borrow his car, my boss if I can take time off and my neighbor if I want to put a sign in his lawn but God has already given me permission for everything He wants me to be able to do. I don't need to ask.

Tyranny is when people demand we ask for something that God has given us a right have. Tyranny should be answered with protest and not submission.

What is His will? His will is for us to live in grace and thank Him always for the permission He has already given us. His will is that we possess our possessions and give the words and authority that has made us free to others so that they can be free also.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Prayer That Fills A Space

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time." - 1 Timothy 2:1-6 ESV

There is so much packed into these few verses. Each word and the voice tense and mood of each verb is so telling. The God of the Bible is a God who desires salvation for all people. This God says that our prayer lives matter and that everyone needs prayer. Peace, quiet, Godliness and dignity are linked to prayer for people and for leaders. Our mediating ministry is linked to Christ's mediating ministry.

I think prayer is so much about awareness. People condemn themselves for their own prayerlessness but that is the opposite of what a prayer is. Condemnation blocks us and makes us double minded. Our awareness of a gracious God must meet the awareness of the soul of another person and only in the living Spirit filled soul of the believer can that intercession happen. Spiritually blind people can't navigate prayer. The words are just an overflow of knowing someone and trusting what we know about God. The words are a hand on the rudder of a sailing ship that is being moved by a great wind.

"Rejoice always, 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 5:16-19 ESV

Those four words... supplications (Deēsis - Strong's G1162), prayers (Proseuchē - G4335), intercessions (Enteuxis - G1783), and thanksgivings (Eucharistia - G2169) are great words to study.

In a way they are four aspects of prayer. Seeking, public open air asking, conferencing and thanking from a heart overflow of recognition.

People can pray for us but no one can pray as us. The prayers we pray for a person are special to God. Nothing can take their place. Prayer fills a space. Prayer makes a space.

The picture I get is of blowing up a balloon with one person's name on each balloon. The air is grace thinking and grace asking. Soon the room is filled with balloons and the names are large and easy to read. Today the people we know can go unnoticed by us or we can fill our room with floating representations or their names. We can mention those names to God again and again.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

We can't know God's plans for people but we can think the way He thinks and mediate in communion with the great and only true mediator. We can say on Earth what Jesus is saying in Heaven when we think in grace and purpose to notice people and actively believe that God has a desire to save and impart hope in each and every circumstance.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marching Around The Walls

This morning there is a chapter in my booklet about the mission of the Church (p 20 of 'The Release of the Priesthood') and the writer talks about how outreaches like bus ministry, evangelism and Sunday school will never be a profit-making endeavors but the sacrifices of many go into the storehouses and then there is a fund that helps supply (in part) for these things and to help those in need like widows and those in desperate situations.

At one point Luke 19:10 was cited but I think this whole passage speaks volumes.

"He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.'

So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, 'He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.'

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.'

And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.' " - Luke 19:1-10 ESV

Whenever The Spirit names a location in the text the whole history of that location comes to mind in the context of what is happening in that moment. Jesus comes from Jericho and that was the place where Israel walked around the city for seven days (see Joshua 6). They likely did it in discomfort since all the now adult men were circumcised just before that (see Joshua 5).

Jesus walked like those men walked around Jericho. They were to walk day after day but they walked quietly until Joshua gave the signal for them to shout and when they did the angels pushed the walls to the ground.

Jesus walked the city and when He saw prudent Zacchaeus, who always turned a profit, in a tree to get a good vantage point to make his time profitable He called to him.

That man's walls came down at the sound of Jesus' gracious words and actions. Jesus threw his reputation, such as it was, out the window when He publicly announced a visit to a hated tax collectors house.

Today I leave my house to go to work and turn a profit but my going is a walk around Jericho kind of going. I'm looking for the man in the tree who climbs to see something.

God give us words of grace and sacrificial lives that take what we have and put it in to the storehouse so that we can be a part of the great works you are doing close by and on foreign soil.


The God Of No Shortcuts (A Late Night Prayer)

I am very thankful God doesn't take shortcuts.

Thinking about teachers all over the world that took their work home tonight and refuse to take shortcuts. The surgeons who take the time to dot every 'i' and cross every 't' to make sure everything that can be done is done. The parents who pray, love and lead with all their might.

Thank God for flawed people that have heart and integrity but even more I thank a unflawed God for His unwillingness to compromise.

He went the extra mile that no flawed man could go. The cross is the absolute limit of unlimited love. Innocent but falling backwards into our darkness. That was no shortcut. He is free to love us without condition because He refuses to compromise. He took all the necessary steps without omitting one.

People inspire me. People I know inspire me but God Is the light I see by. Without grace the log in my eye of perception would turn my attention inward and my criticism outward. I would only see a body and not a soul.

There is so much that is hidden from me but what I see of God when I get glimpses is a perfection that I see nowhere else.

God bless the second and third shift tonight... teachers, mothers, nurses, 24 hr phone line operators, police officers driving down dangerous night time streets. Please cover and protect the unknown and seldom thanked heroes that do all they can day after day and night after night. Reveal to us your Son who did all He could and all He could was enough for our situations. Reveal Him in lives that exist today without a knowledge of His all sufficient sacrifice..

Let the almost empty factory be filled with your glory as one man gives his life to You because of the gospel message he heard over the radio as he works. Save souls tonight. Redeem families. Transform lives. Tell us a thousand stories later of what You did on just this one night.

I go to change a light bulb tired from my workday and I'm tempted to take some kind of shortcut but who Is this perfect God that notices me when I'm standing on that wobbly stool? I've only scratched the surface of knowing Him and He has promised that for the next million years He will only be getting started in His care for me.

Good night friends. Sweet dreams. {smile}


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Need For Space

The last few days I have been thinking about 'structured living' and how useful it is. The trains run on time because there is a structure to the process that many people adhere to. The train schedule we see is just the surface schedule that is seen by the passengers behind that schedule are maintenance schedules and a hundred other schedules only a select few see. But, the result is that at 10:03am the door opens, we get in, and we sit down to go where we need to be.

We need structure so that we can have order but we also need to have space.

"Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me." - Psalm 18:15-19 ESV

When the schedules behind our visible schedules are revealed we are overwhelmed. God must structure our lives with grace is order for us to function according to our design. He must bring us to the wide place of freedom. No program is going to get us there.

Perhaps the 'strong enemy' is the program that wants to swallow us up and spit out a little drone that just functions well in the systems of the world... be here... do this... say that... lean right... disagree with them.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.

Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch, so is he who gets riches but not by justice; in the midst of his days they will leave him, and at his end he will be a fool.

A glorious throne set on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise." - Jeremiah 17:7-14 ESV

The tree that sends out roots by faith looking for the water has a structure but that structure is not imposed on others. The tree looks for water and we send roots out to the sanctuary that we are given. It is right beside us. In times of drought it is right there and full of life that will result in fruit season after season.

But, If we sit on the eggs of our own structures or ones that have been imposed on us those eggs may hatch but they won't be ours. Those birds will fly away and become little Ishmaels (mocking children born of our effort but not of faith).

God's wide place produces fruit like Isaac and those children are of us and they become a heritage.

I want structure. It is useful but the most important structure is the one that directs me to put down roots by faith. It is the redemptive structure that consistently seeks to save with seeds of grace words and Gospel hope.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Grace On The Island Of Patmos

"John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." - Revelation 1:4-6 NKJV

A royal greeting to people who have been made royal. John is the one passing this greeting on from God to us but listen to how he describes himself.

"I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." - Revelation 1:9 NKJV

John is our brother who is in trouble just like we are and in the kingdom just like we are. He is not comfortably enjoying the lifestyle of a royal person either. He is in prison on an island but He comprehends the reason that he is there because he has seen Jesus and has been given a message.

This king and priest reference is used again later in the book.

"And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." - Revelation 5:10-12 KJV

I was thinking this morning about how in a contest a panel of qualified individuals are chosen and appointed as judges. Those individuals then rate the contestants or competitors.

Patmos doesn't seem to be a great place. John is not vacationing there. It is a prison island filled with crazy people. We could very well be thinking like David thinks here is Psalm 13.

"To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, 'I have prevailed over him,' lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me." - Psalm 13:1-6 ESV

But when we see Jesus Patmos fades into the background. It does not go away but it has it's place and we see the perfection of God's plan. On a scale of 1 to 10 we will give God an 11. That is royal thinking. Somehow by the miraculous transfer of grace we worship now in Patmos like John was worshiping when he wrote this book.

To be very transparent... I don't always like my circumstances. At times I feel limited and stymied like a person trapped on an island filled with crazy people. I am just as crazy... arguing with God like a subjective lunatic while He remains calm, cool and objective. 'Taking counsel in my own soul' will make anyone crazy after just a short while when you are on Patmos. Patmos is filled with people who do that and instruct other how to so that also.

The sound of grace is a trumpet that raptures us up and puts us in the presence of God. There the past and future come into focus and God calls us His royal people. In that place God is our loving Father and our thinking ceases it's stormy circular motion and becomes calm and linear again. Glory overwhelms us and we begin to sing a new song.

God gave the Book of Revelation to John at Patmos and God gives us grace right here and now in the midst of our life. Today we can sing a new song with new royal lips. We can live amazed by grace when we see the King high and lifted up.


Friday, January 16, 2015

The Time Travel Prayer

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." - 1 Peter 2:9 ESV

I was thinking this morning of what I call the 'Time Travel Prayer'. It is when someone is so invested in how past events may have happened that they ask for prayer that God would somehow change them but they are so emotionally energized that they are blind to the fact that is what they are asking for.

"Please pray that I didn't drop my car keys in the driveway.'
- or -
'Pray that they got on that bus. It was the last one leaving the city!'
- or even -
'God, I hope what I said went over well with them and they didn't take it the wrong way.'

I understand those prayers. I'm sure I have praying them or ones like them. But, Doesn't this sound so much different?

"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." - Matthew 6:10 ESV

Doesn't Jesus' prayer have a rest in it? It has a confidence that God's Heavenly glory will be made known right down here where we live.

I think it is funny that 1 Peter 2 talks about the priesthood but it doesn't mention anything about prayer. The new testament priest are to 'proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light'.

"Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." - 1 Peter 2:10-12 ESV

There is a peace in knowing that whatever may have happened, no matter how devastating it might be, God made excellent decisions long before that event. Before time was recorded God set a plan in motion that had our past, present and future in plain view when it was constructed.

There is a rest in knowing that we can live now and pray for what is about to happen in the very near or very far future and those prayers are heard.

God can help us find our car keys or make some other provision. He is present to protect the traveler. We can call or write a person and communicate love and God can be right in those future words no matter what has gone before.

It was what it was. But we can live as one who have received mercy right now with hope of future visitations from God that redeem whatever has happened in the past.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Blind Spots

Blind spots are interesting things. The effects of them are seen but the cause is not seen. Those effects can be frustrating because lack of sensory input makes it impossible to anticipate or avoid what is hidden from us using our vision.

Not only do our senses have blind, numb, silent, tasteless and odorless spots but our perception as a whole has them. Our feelings have them. They can be natural limitations or they can be caused by trauma.

Not to play into stereotypes but a woman might ask a man how he feels about something and get a blank stare in return. That man may have to turn his head in order to see into the place where that blind spot is in order to see his feelings on the subject. They are there but not in view. Some folks are to stubborn and stiff necked to ever turn their head to see anything but what they are focused on.

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." - Romans 10:17 ESV

The 'word' in that sentence is Rhema. The Rhema of Christ gives us something that we were blind to before. If it were Logos it would be education but it is the illumination of understanding that comes from a perspective that we could never turn our head far enough to see.

Our spiritual ears give information that our eyes and other senses are blind to perceiving.

"Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see! Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the LORD? He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear. The LORD was pleased, for his righteousness' sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious." - Isaiah 42:18-21 ESV

Jesus came into the world very aware of the blindness and deafness of His humanity. He was Spirit led. His Father's Words did not just aid His eyes. His Father's Words were His eyes.

A Rhema of grace accompanies the Rhema of Christ. The Bible is one dimensional and two dimensional at best without the illumination of grace. Grace opens up God's character and makes Him accessible. It reveals God's motives even if the details of His plan remain hidden from us.

"Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face." - Job 13:15 ESV

Many quote this verse but it reveals a man with blind spots. Here is a person groping to trust in God's mercy but unable to let go of His own arguments because grace has not penetrated that area of His thinking.

"Then Job answered the LORD and said: 'I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. "Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?" Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. "Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me." I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.' " - Job 42:1-6 ESV

Grace shatters our old perceptions in their rigidness of duty and moral strength and gives us new humble ears.

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear." - Matthew 11:15 ESV

This is the place where some would say that God gives power to overcome our personal blind spots and we get victory over every wound that has ever caused us to have sensory deficits but I'm not going to say that. This is not a prosperity message. That is a road that leads to mania, self delusion and disappointment. The men who shout prosperity the loudest are the ones who want it the most but do not have it yet and are hoping that it will change if they speak louder.

God in His sovereignty may speak details that supplement our self perception like a coach does. The Spirit is our comforter and counselor. His purpose is not self illumination or empowerment. He makes us alive so we can be alive and fellowship with the Trinity.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." - John 14:26 ESV

Instead of sharpening our blurry focus He is going the turn our spiritual heads to look in the direction we would not look in before and become our vision. Like Moses turning aside from his shepherding tasks to examine a burning bush that is not consumed we are turned aside by the wonder of grace to hear God's voice call us and send us on a redemptive mission. God heard Moses when he pointed out his own limitations. God knew all about it and sent him anyway as a limited man. Moses outgrew some of those things and others he carried to the grave but those limitations became small things in comparison to the great deliverance at hand.

Today we can hear the voice of God and let grace turn our heads to explore what we can not see and function in that eternal perspective. If God wants to change something that Is His business not ours. Grace has shut our mouths and given us ears to hear.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015


"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." - Philippians 4:4-6 ESV

The King James says 'Be careful for nothing' in verse six and I like this better... maybe because it doesn't carry all the psychobabble connotations that the word anxious does.

Prudence is good. Wisdom is prudent. A prudent person is in it for the long haul. They want to have words and actions that contribute to something lasting. Instead of living only in the moment they are living in the future as well.

Being 'careful' is fear based. Being prudent is wisdom based. Carefulness is born from fear of failure or exposure but prudence is sourced in desire for success.

Wounds make us careful people. Actions and words are buried out of fear.

Prayer changes that. Thanksgiving can be transforming.

We take the words we tempted to bury and give them to God. We take the actions we are responsible for because we acted in passion instead of principle and give them to God.

Wisdom isn't holding back. Wisdom is moving forward by faith because we have an outcome that we desire to see accomplished.

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you." - Philippians 3:8-15 ESV

If we know God then we have a calling to reveal God in the world to people and walk with Him in peace. Today is another day that calls for prudent action and not 'careful' avoidance.

God fill us with your Spirit and make us wise by reminding us who You Are and who you have made us to be. Send us out into our day and give us wisdom to make bold decisions that are based on 'long haul' thinking. We love You. We trust You. Amen.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Using Recycled Spiritual Materials

"Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." - 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 KJV

This is a great verse with so much packed into it but what caught my eye this morning was the word stubble, Kalame (Strong's G2562) in the Greek. The word is used for the stalks left over from a corn harvest or the inedible leftovers of a grain harvest.

Gold, silver and precious stones are durable lasting things. They are mined, purified and cut into shape. These are wonderful things... beautiful things... a picture of eternal things.

Wood and hay are natural logical building materials. They are flammable but logical. But using corn stalks to build just smacks of recycling the memories or leftovers of an old harvest.

It is funny that we can build on what God did in the past or the harvest that has just gone past and use that as a substitute for who God is right now. Why dig for gold or search for precious stones when we have this field full of corn stalks right here to use?

But those things will burn later when we face God.

The gold, silver and precious stones are of a different kind of substance. They have already gone through the fire of purification and they are what survived the heat of life.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Coming Clean

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." - James 3:17 ESV

It seems that guilt can make us sick.

"There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes - it also has gone from me." - Psalm 38:3-10 ESV

It is better to come clean than it is to hide when we fail or make a mistake.

The Psalms are poetic. The psalmist reports his feelings. The Psalms at times report the feelings of a person but they don't always get the doctrine right... understanding that is important. They are the inspired account of how men think at times. The epistles reveal God's thinking.

There is something sickening about hiding our mistakes with the awareness that on some level that they are being seen anyway. That combination of guilt, shame and a spectator's awareness seems to have a detrimental affect on our soul which then affects our bodies. But, On the other hand there is something amazing about coming clean.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." - 1 John 1:9-10 ESV

God is full of mercy. People may or may not be but God Is. When God's mercy meets our transparency there is a kind of purging that happens. There is a freedom because God will never condemn us. He can't condemn us. Christ was already condemned in our place.

If people only knew that.

If we know it today what freedom we will have. We may fall but we are not setting ourselves up for failure.

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" - Romans 8:31 KJV


Friday, January 9, 2015

Traveling In The Wake Of Forgiveness

"Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.' " - Exodus 34:6-7 NASB

There so much packed into these two verses. The Hebrew brings out nuances that are amazing.

The Lord God is full of grace, love, compassion and is very slow to get angry. He forgives (Nasa - Strong's H5375) but does not acquit (Naqah H5352). He attends (paqad H6485) to the iniquity of the fathers and how those iniquities affect future generation.

The seeming harshness we see in verse seven is not there in the Hebrew.

God carries away iniquity, transgression and sin but he won't declare something pure that is not pure.

He loves people and is aware of the fall and all the terrible consequences people face. He won't compromise and at the same time He Is full of compassion and truth (manifested as faithfulness).

"Then Moses said, 'I pray You, show me Your glory!'... Then the LORD said, 'Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.' " - Exodus 33:18, 21-23 NASB

Moses asked to see God's glory and God showed him His back after He passed by and told him what we first quoted above in verses six and seven.

God goes ahead of us as a forgiving and loving God. As we stand on the Rock we see that. Grace becomes audible and the finished work becomes visible. Jesus has gone before us. We are behind what He has done and our eyes are following His back. God forgives us and we travel in the wake of that forgiveness.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Light Of Life

There are times when everyone who has believed in God has asked the questions, 'Has God abandoned this situation?' or 'Has God left me?'

It isn't if we have asked the question. All of us have or eventually will so don't condemn yourself or live in denial when it happens. The key is to understand that kind of thinking and not linger there.

"But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.' " - 2 Timothy 2:16-19 ESV

There is a Hell but no one who has believed in Jesus and accepted His gift will go there. The glory of the Lord can depart from a situation but He will never leave or forsake a person who knows Him.

"The LORD said to Moses, 'Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'To your offspring I will give it.' " - Exodus 33:1 ESV

There is a time to leave Egypt. God did wonders there but comes a time to leave.

"And the cherubim mounted up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the Chebar canal. And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them. And when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels did not turn from beside them. When they stood still, these stood still, and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in them. Then the glory of the LORD went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim." - Ezekiel 10:15-18 ESV

The anointing of God is going to move with to the place where the word of God is preached with power. God is going to leave the threshold of the house and His glory will hover over the four faced cherubim we spoke of yesterday (the four faces representing the four Gospels).

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

God will never leave us. No matter what our feelings say but the cloud moves with the Ark (see Exodus 13) and we must be ready to pack up mentally and move with it. That can mean many things depending what season a person is in but in this context it applies to being exposed to a ministry of the word of God.

Without objective touchstones relationships can get very subjective can't they? When emotions are riding high with no reigns people end up far from home and a believer without the Bible can easily start walking by sight because there is no other light to guide that individual.

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." - 2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV

No. God has not left you. He never will. You just need God's thoughts. The situation is lacking God's glory so we need to be proactive to be bathed in the place where God's glory is manifested.

There are many voices out there that focus so much on an individuals walk and how much God loves the and is for the individual but neglect the reality that people are lacking because they have no place to belong where God is magnified and the finished work is the basis for culture of social interaction. When the Bible is preached revealing grace and mercy it is truly amazing the healing that can happen. That is a place where people can connect and fellowship around objective truth.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." - Psalm 119:105 ESV

"For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life," - Proverbs 6:23 ESV

"For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness." - Psalm 18:28 ESV

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


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Two Faces Of Temptation

One wrong thing after another comes at us at times. We are like Jesus led into the wilderness. We hear, 'If you are...', then we say, 'God says...' and put the thought aside or cast it down.

God has a shining brightness and we pass through dark thinking as if it is a cold cloud that will dissolve like an illusion to get to that bright warmth.

In Matthew chapter 4 and Luke chapter 4 Jesus passes through three temptations. The temptations are listed in a different order in those two books but the both indicate the same locations.

"And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." - Luke 4:3-4 KJV

This temptation is listed first in both gospels and takes place as wherever Jesus was at the time. He is not transported for it.

"And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." - Luke 4:5-8 KJV

In Matthew this is listed last and angels come to minister to Jesus (see Matthew 4:11) but notice where Jesus is. He is taken to a mountain..

"And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." - Luke 4:9-12 KJV

This temptation is listed second in Matthew and is at the pinnacle of the temple.

Each Gospel is different. They are written to address four minds or mindsets. We see foreshadows of them in the Hebrew scriptures.

"And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness... As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies." - Ezekiel 1:5, 10-11 ESV

Matthew is the Lion. Mark is the Ox. Luke has the face of a man. John is the Eagle.

Matthew addresses the Hebrew mind and focuses on what Jesus said. Mark shows Roman action. Luke meets the thinking mind of the Greek. John gives God's mind as seen from above.

To the Hebrew, or religious, mind the temple comes right after your need for bread and the wonders of creation and civilization come last. But to a Greek thinker the pinnacle of the temple is last.

The temptations even end differently. Here is what God says to the religious mind.

"Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." - Matthew 4:11 KJV

Now what He says to the Greek rational mind.

"And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about." - Luke 4:13-14 KJV

We worship God alone on the mountaintop and we refuse to cast ourselves from the pinnacle of the temple. We live on more than bread alone. Angels minister to us. Theory becomes power. Our resistance born of facing God and focusing on Him and His word translates from a solitary life of faith to a ministry in Galilee and the regions beyond.

Dispel the accusations. They are only smoke.

We are not what we see. We are who God has made us to be. We can be honest about what we have done and move on because of what God has done. God has a perfectly fitted answer for every mindset. We live in those answers by faith.

We live in Jesus, who is the answer, accepted just as we are forever.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Our Mind As God's Vineyard

It is so vital that we think with grace and have the fruit of grace thinking in our lives.

I'm reading this morning and recoiling at some of the things I'm reading because I see a progression I don't like but it is one I need to understand.

"When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully." - Mark 12:2-4 ESV

"He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard." - Mark 12:6-8 ESV

These passages are conveying a principle and it is a very convicting one. If we do not think in grace we will eventually, either in a passive or active way, be in rebellion to bonafide authority then that rebellion will turn into a competition. In that competition atrocities big and small can be justified.

"And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away. And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk." - Mark 12:12-13 ESV

Jesus' parable did reflect the history of Israel and it did expose the thinking of those religious people but exposing that thinking did not resolve the issue. Competition just doubles down when exposed.

Grace is unlike any other treasure. When you have it in abundance you just want to give it away.

I was thinking about the servant sent by the master as a person in need or a wounded person. It is not a hard stretch. They are just people doing their job to come collect something. If they don't get what they were sent for it complicates their life. They have to go away empty handed and face the authority who sent them and explain the situation.

Is there fruit in my vineyard for hurting people. I want there to be because those 'servants' are going to keep on coming as life goes on and what will I do when I meet them? Will I say, 'Why are they coming to me anyway? Let them go to someone else.' or will I have grace in my life.


People need the fruit of grace thinking. They don't even know they are sent by God to get it from us. They are just living their lives doing the best that they can trying to survive.

Our minds are God's vineyard. It is His possession. We are stewards.

Can we see everyone who comes to us as a person sent by God to Get some grace?

Our boss... our child... our wife... our husband... the hurting person... the homeless person (who really should be out working somewhere)... do we bang them on the head or do we give them the fruit that has been growing in our vineyard?

Help us God. Really... We need it. Seed our garden and water it. Give us a bumper crop of grace. Let competition and rebellion born of wounds be a thing of the past in our lives. Grow grace in us. Establish our hearts in it more and more so that gracious words are on our lips that point people to You and what you have done on behalf of all mankind.

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


Monday, January 5, 2015

Traveling In Time And Space

In a way knowing the finished work makes us time travelers. Strangers trapped in time and space with knowledge of the far future and the distant past. Grace is the attitude we adopt when we see things from eternal perspective.

If we walk only by what we see or by how we feel, we will never understand life. Life is given by God and it is a puzzle that is missing pieces if it experienced by the senses alone.

"Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit." - Matthew 15:14 ESV

Someone must see beyond the situation. A grace person is visionary. They look for something that only God sees and receiving something from God that only God gives.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," - Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV

"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

Jesus, Eternal God, was born as a baby and had to learn who He was. We are born again and have to learn who we are. Just as it is heresy to say Jesus was not human in every way it is error to say believers are somehow more but a spiritual sense that was dead is made alive when we first believed. Our spirit responds when we hear grace and our spirit prompted by the Holy Spirit sees with eyes of grace in situations that add an element that the five senses could never pick up.

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." - Colossians 2:8-10 NKJV

"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 'For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." - 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV

We all know people who are very good at puzzles. They can do a lot with the pieces they have to survive and come to complicated conclusions. By predicting human nature they can forecast outcomes with degrees of accuracy. But faithless forecasting is spiritually blind and provides blind leadership.

Grace is the missing puzzle piece. It is what makes sense of human history. It is what makes sense of our personal life.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14 ESV

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NKJV

How can love be this way? It can be this way because it understands beyond the five senses. It originates outside of time and space but is manifested in the moment.

"so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us," - Ephesians 3:17-20 ESV

The cross was a defining event in history. It changed the potential course of every human life. The broad road leads to destruction but this road paved by the cross is narrow but it leads to eternal life. If we know Jesus it is because we took the road less traveled and have an awareness of that alternate road.

Today is another day to walk as called out ones thinking and dealing with people and issues as if we have read the last page of the book. Our senses can rule us but if we are stirred up in the truth we can also live another way and function in the grace and mercy that will outshine time.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Scaling Issues

I read recently about the business concept of 'scaling'. It is when a business can increase it's revenues while keeping it's costs steady. Growth disproportionate to investment. Online businesses have great potential for this to happen.

A paper book takes work and materials to produce. If there is demand or a new edition more must be printed and distributed it takes resources. An online book has an initial investment but one million copies can be sold almost as easily as one hundred can and new editions are easy to distribute. The revenue potential is much higher. Of course people are willing to pay more for a paper book than they are for a digital one.

Increased revenue sounds great but if something 'scales' too fast there are pitfalls. Things become impersonal very quickly. The reliability of your distribution can come into question. How do you handle all the potential correspondence or complaints? etc...

Aside from business we see scaling issues in our own lives. Perhaps lonely people would love to have more friends like a new business owner would like to have more customers.

How does a great grandparent keep track of all their grandchildren? In growing families do you buy everyone presents or do you switch to a different method? Can a Pastor know each person in his growing assembly?

Jesus seemed to have these issues also. At times He seems to say statements designed to thin out the crowd but those that remained grew in intimacy with Him.

The Trinity had plans to build a Church and that would require something new...

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." - John 16:7 KJV

"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever... But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." - John 14:16, 26 KJV

"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:" - John 15:26 KJV

Is one of the reasons God sent the Holy Spirit to deal with scaling issues? It sure seems that way. Now God can be personal with each one of us. He can supply to all of us at once.

"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:22-25 ESV

"And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." - Ephesians 1:22-23 ESV

The Church is part of God's plan to cope with relationship scaling. Every relationship supplies something vital because the Holy Spirit is in the midst causing there to be a unique dynamic that can be found nowhere else.

God is good at everything. He is also a master businessman. He knows how to grow His startup business. We see that in the book of Acts. He also knows how to make his local startups a success and keep them personal and impactful.

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." - James 4:8 ESV

The is a individual drawing near but that concept is also has a real world application that requires humility. Can we draw near to God's people?

Let's draw near to where the message is proclaimed and people who believe are gathering. Let's have our mind renewed and be connected in ways that don't leave us lonely or that thin out our resources because we are trying to sustain too many relationships without the proper resources.

Let's go to Church and worship in the midst of other worshipers. God sent His Spirit to be with us there in a special way.

"And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle." - Revelation 1:13 KJV

Where two or more are gathered He is there. God walks in the midst of His candlesticks, those assemblies that shine His light, and He is personal to each one of us there.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Receiving The Position And The Provision

We don't have anything to give unless we first receive. Some things we receive once like a name or a title of some kind and other things we receive over and over again like food or money.

A job is a perfect example. On the interview you walk in as one category of person but if you are hired you suddenly become another. Suddenly you belong. You have received a position and will start receiving a pay check.

"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32 ESV

"For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." - John 1:16 ESV

God only gives to us based on grace. Instead of us going on the interview... Jesus did. Instead of us getting evaluated by our performance... Jesus Is. We can receive because of what Jesus did and who Jesus is. Jesus' position and performance are fixed. He Is sitting at the right hand of the Father in a position of rest and acceptance.

"By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world." - 1 John 4:17 ESV

Can we fathom the implications of this! It is such good news. No Heavenly interviews... no evaluations in this life... no conditions... no probation... no lasting failures that hinder progress... We walk right past the front desk as if we belong and go boldly into the throne of Grace for help.

The only way we can be cut off from our provision is if we stop receiving it. Our position remains ours even if we disqualify ourselves and our provision remains available and waiting for us to start receiving it again. Once we start receiving we build momentum. That momentum can be lost and might take time to be regained but even that is not our work. God might just use our failure to propel us forward at an alarming rate.

"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." - Ephesians 1:6 KJV

God has given us acceptance. We don't need to get it again and again.

"Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word," - Ephesians 5:25b-26 ESV

"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

We do need daily mind renewal. We are washed but our feet get dirty and need to be washed often in order to stay clean. God does that work for us. In humility we receive even that.

I don't want to go into this year forgetting what has happened to me because of what Jesus has done on my behalf and yours I don't want to leave my daily provision on the counter at home.

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

The Apostle Paul refused to stop receiving what was freely given from God. We can do that also.