Wednesday, August 31, 2016


"And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." - Luke 4:4 KJV

Each Rhema (Strongs G4487) of God... every Rhema of God... not a written code. God had men who were inspired by the Spirit write so that we could have rhemas... living connected thoughts.

That is the way to live today. Bread is wonderful but it is consumed and then it is gone. Rhema is forever. It was and is and is to come.

God... fill us with your Spirit so we can live and think in the realm of rhemas today... redemptive thoughts... things that won't pass away.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Who Is Listening?

The topic on my mind this morning is 'Who is listening?'

The Bible gives an interesting answer.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

The chapter directly before this one is the 'heroes' chapter. The chapter begins with people that are talked about in length in the scriptures but end with a group of unknown size that also walked by faith comprising a cloud of witnesses who are looking forward beyond the length of their life. They are talked about here.

"And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets-- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-- of whom the world was not worthy--wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." - Hebrews 11:32-40 ESV

That is just the cloud from the old testament. What about the new Testament saints? Then there are those that have gone into eternity before us and those who live around us and witness what God has done for us in this life.

It could make us uncomfortable knowing that this many eyes are on us but it shouldn't. The vast majority of them are invisible to us and I think they have a limited vision as well.

"...that apart from us they should not be made perfect." - Hebrews 11:40b ESV

What an interesting passage. It speaks to me of grace. Grace perfects after all. God saves by grace and finished what He started by grace.

I am a big fan of taping messages. Some might say, 'Why, No one is listening?' but the passages above say otherwise. God will bring people to the grace message. As we seek God brings them and then someone will find that tape or obscure YouTube video and it might be the difference between life and death for them. It might be the thing that matures them to the point of release from a long-standing bondage.

The majority of the cloud of witnesses around us are invisible and they could care less about our failures or our secret sins. (Ha. There are none by the way. Nothing we do is in secret. I'm sure Eve felt all alone when she took that fruit and hers is one of the most publicized acts in Human history.) Secret or not those invisible people don't care about that. They are just like us in that way. They failed and God saved them. They had a go at this life and now they are made complete by the continuous unfolding of the finished work of the cross in our lives.

I have no problem raising my voice and shouting to a crowd that has mixed interest because I know that my redemptive whispers are already shouted to a much larger invisible crowd.

Don't get me wrong. We are little people with a big God. When we speak grace words God puts a microphone in front of our faces so that all eternity can hear it. The much-publicized speeches of pompous blowhards will be forgotten but the quiet conversation of two broken people that magnify God will never be forgotten.

So I want to amplify the message. I want to spread it far and wide in as many mediums as I can. It isn't because I am important but what I am saying is very important. I speak because I am confident that nothing can separate me from the love of God and by God's grace nothing will shut my mouth.

Who is listening? It's hard to say. I think we will be shocked at how many were listening.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Anticipation For Autumn

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.
'Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of me, O Israel!' " - Isaiah 43:19-22 ESV

This morning I am claiming this promise for the autumn season. A stream of newness that cuts through the wilderness and affects those who are wild and causes them to begin to praise God.

I took a drive by myself yesterday and had a good conversation with God. I talked very candidly to Him about how I felt and what I was thinking. I asked Him questions and voiced my joys and my frustrations. I asked for help and acknowledged His plan was a good plan.

Then I began to think about newness. I remembered how I felt when I was young and a movie I was looking forward to was coming out. I remembered the excitement and anticipation I felt after getting a phone call about a car I really wanted and finding out that it would soon be mine.

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" - Isaiah 43:19a ESV

God has newness planned but do we see it? I think it is very possible that we don't see it. There are many reasons for that but God says in verse 22 that Israel got weary of God and stopped asking.

So in the solitude of my car I started asking God for newness.

I believe God gives us what we need and not always what we want. I also believe that there are moments when we can ask and He will answer. We mix faith and a promise from the Bible provides the structure for something to form. Our future can be like rock candy forming on a string.

God knows the future but our lives are not set in stone. I want to live in anticipation for the next season and there are times when we must stir up our hearts in love and faith. We lay it all out before God and actively trust Him.

Let's believe together. I don't know how your spring or summer has gone. Perhaps it was better than you expected and perhaps not but God is doing a new thing this fall but it is going to happen out in the wilderness. If we stay close to home we might not see it. We must venture out by faith to see what God is doing. Our prayers can bring us to the wilderness places. Our feet can move out of our comfort zone.

Oh God. We want to see this new thing you are doing. Plug us in. We are seeking you with an expectation. Let nothing hinder us. Thank You God.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pattern Recognition

A word that has been on my mind lately is the word 'intelligible'. It is a great word really. It rates understandability. If something is intelligible it means that it has a high understandability rating. Patterns are recognized and meaning is ascribed by the mind.

Many find the opposite sex unintelligible. There is an attraction and a level of appreciation but the patterns are not recognized fully.

A scientist can only be a scientist if the subject of study is intelligible to the mind. Ignorance misses the patterns and meaning. Insanity finds patterns and meaning in things that lack that order in reality. People can even suffer from a group delusion if they all agree to on a pattern or meaning that is false.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age," - Titus 2:11-12a ESV

Grace teaches us. It makes our humanity intelligible in ways that would otherwise be impossible.

"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." - Romans 7:14-20 ESV

Grace taught the Apostle something amazing. He sees a pattern of contradiction and instead of condemning himself for what he sees he comes to a great conclusion. His flesh is disqualified from being his identity. His flesh can't please God and it can't ultimately please him either.

"Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." - Romans 7:24-8:2 ESV

When we keep receiving grace we also keep seeing certain patterns. We learn to let God love us. We accept that He will never leave or forsake us. Our contradiction doesn't drive us away from people or cause us to condemn ourselves. We are like every other person on the planet, lost without God, but found in Jesus Christ.

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." - Romans 8:5-8 ESV

This is why believers seem insane to non-believers. A believer sees patterns that are hidden to an unbelieving mind.

Believers also wrongly interpret meaning. Everyone does at one time or another. We build logic on a false foundation and come to wrong conclusions. The miracle is that we are right about anything.

There are patterns to be seen in our day today but we will only see them if we receive grace. Then we can walk by faith in what the Spirit reveals and our faith will be pleasing to God because it is the evidence that we agree about what is important to Him.

By faith we can refuse to condemn ourselves and it will please God. By faith we can have compassion. By faith we can walk in a vision to find and preserve that which is lost and God will be right there with us because that is what He doing also.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Breath Of Heaven

I have many thoughts this morning. The primary one is this.

God hasn't given you that spirit. He has given you this one. He has given the Holy Spirit.

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me." - 2 Timothy 1:6-12 ESV

"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD." - Isaiah 11:1-2 ESV

Spirit is the same word for breath and wind. We live as breathing beings in a world where the wind shifts and moves.

There are ways to move and live but God gives His Holy Spirit and tells us how His Spirit is different.

I want to have the right Spirit. Jesus had the Spirit of counsel and might resting on His life and we have the Spirit of power, love and self-control to function in if we receive His counsel and wisdom.

There are other spirits that could influence us. Like a wind that howls outside our window or a scent that sparks our imagination.

We brush our teeth and that helps us to have clean breath but what are we inhaling?

Prayer is a thought that comes to mind. Perhaps we see it as talking only but it is an inhale and exhale exercise. In it we look to one Spirit. We commune with God with His Spirit.

Maybe you have been with people and they pray but the air is stale and strange but then at other times the prayers are simple but there is a freshness there. Grace is manifested there because Jesus is known and His gift has been received once and then over and over again. Vision causes circulation and purposed movement

The gift purifies. The Holy Spirit rests on Jesus Christ and we can move and breathe in that atmosphere of love and acceptance.

God help us to discern the spirits today. Give us the power to say, 'Not that spirit. I won't inhale that.' and, 'Yes, Lord I sense You by faith and receive the gift of life into my lungs today. Thank You. You are so kind to give me what I could never deserve.'


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Visualizing Wonders

This morning I am thinking of the portion of the mind where we visualize objects in memory or in dreams. That room that seems to sit next to the warehouse of memory where we store the content of our thought life. It is where ideas take form. It is where we 'see' what we are thinking.

Myth has made it a place but is it a place? Is the chamber of actual chamber. Is it a stage with scenery? If it is then some of those props have gotten a lot of use over the years because we have themes in our dreams that reoccur again and again. Perhaps for some, the dreamscape is used less than others or the use is remembered less at least.

Is it a library or a theater stage? Is it a movie theater or an island in a sea of other islands where other people dream or think. Maybe it is just a construct of our organic mind that only has reality inside of each individual brain.

I know some folks say that we are just animals and nothing more or less but the Bible makes another claim. After all animals dream of running and playing. They think and make decisions. They remember.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." - Genesis 1:27 ESV

"In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." - 2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV

Those two passages speak volumes to me.

Unlike animals we are made in the image of deity but accusation blinds the mind to that fact. The blindness removes who Jesus is from the mind also. There is an empty slot where that book should be.

God spoke to the prophets at times by showing them things.

"This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand." - Amos 7:7 ESV

"Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen." - Zechariah 1:20 ESV

"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him." - Zechariah 3:1 ESV

These were visions God gave men and these men could see them because they were made in the image of God.

There are volumes to say on this subject but let's end with one thought...

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Does the landscape of our mind include the Savior? Are we blind to who He Is? If so then we are blind to who we are also. But if we see Him we can also properly see ourselves.

If the content of our warehouse of thoughts and memory is filled with truth then the visual aspects of our inner mind will visualize wonders.

As sons and daughters, we can think with God. Human beings can think like God but when we are born from above we can think 'with' Him.

"You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar." - Psalm 139:2 ESV

God already knows what we are thinking. Isn't is wonderful to consider that we could know His thoughts?


Monday, August 22, 2016

A Glimpse Of A Page

What if you had one chance to look at a page of the Bible then it would be taken away. Maybe you would never see that page again in this life. Just a few hours and then never again... What would you do? No cell phone camera. Just eyes and a mind.

I want to read the Bible that way.

I choose to look at my wife that way. I have a picture in my mind of how she looked last night that I treasure today. My beautiful precious wife.

Truth is precious. Love is precious. Time is precious.

I imagine Christians imprisoned for their faith who long to have a Bible or see a loved one again.

What will we do with our freedom? It is precious.


Destined To Disobey

Do you have a good auto mechanic? Are they honest and thorough? What about a good doctor or dentist?

"if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
'Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.'
Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,
'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.'
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed." - 1 Peter 2:3-8 NKJV

To the person who understand the value of mercy and forgiveness Jesus becomes precious. Here is the last part of verse eight in a different translation.

"...They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do." - 1 Peter 2:8 ESV

Yes. Just as a person who does not have a good auto mechanic has an automotive destiny of sorts. A person who does not have a good doctor or dentist when they need one is 'appointed' to suffering.

I spoke to a friend yesterday and he said, 'I have been meditating on forgiveness and the 'medicine' is finally starting to take effect. I see the need for forgiveness everywhere around me. Sometimes I realize that my problem is that I don't have a person in my life to forgive to stir me up in the application of forgiveness.'

Wow. To that man Jesus is precious.

Jesus has a vital role in each individual life and no one can take His place. No one has what they need unless they have Him. If that sounds radical it is because it is a radical statement but it is a clear biblical teaching.

God... If we did not have Your Son we would all be stumbling in ways we could not even imagine. He is precious to us. We can recover because of Him. We can cope because of Him. You have given us a physician for our soul. Thank You God. We are so glad that You take on new clients. There are many rooms in Your house and You desire to fill them. Thank You God. Please bless our week.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Grace Doesn't Evaluate Our Performance

It is amazing to be with someone who is not evaluating your performance. It becomes clear that you don't need to apologize for who you are or how you acted or performed. They care about more important issues.

That is one of the things I love about outreach with mature believers. People are at ease because the emphasis is fellowship and not behavior. The team is fellowshipping and they are inviting people into the fellowship. Grace is known and experienced in such a group.

Many are turned to righteousness in such group. The Hebrew concept of righteousness is 'uprightness' or standing upright with your face up because you have dignity as opposed to looking down in shame.

Grace gives us every reason to stand upright. Our behavior is no longer the issue because Jesus 'behaved' for us and His good behavior is put permanently on our account.

God's love transcends what we are doing or not doing. When we are bathed in that love it changes our actions but that is a side effect and not a requirement.

Grace relationships are 'safe' relationships. They are greenhouses for spiritual growth. Surgery is done in a sterile environment. Recovery happens in warmth and safety. Vision is born there. Creativity thrives there. Love abounds there.

So friends... what you are doing or not doing is not high on my list... really... I just want to fellowship with you.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Mercy Is Better Than Magic

It is interesting to me how people try to make sense of the world around them. Pagan cultures. Monotheistic ones. Post monotheistic ones. Atheistic ones. Each culture views the world differently and then there are fringe groups inside those cultures that have one of the other belief systems.

Historically science flourishes in monotheistic cultures. Discovery and innovation happen in all of them but systematic discovery needs a scientific community.

I have heard again and again that faith and science don't mix and that faith is an enemy of science but history says otherwise. Even in religious cultures that have suppressed science as heretical there have been amazing scientific minds that rose up and were published because the culture was based on a rational God who created nature in a rational way.

We live in a time where people hunt for creatures they can only see through their phones. It is it's own brand of paganism. Instead of hoping to catch a glimpse of a nymph of dryad by a waterfall in the woods people look for pokemon in the park. The magic is techno-magic.

One of the things I love about God is that He Is orderly and has made an ordered world that can be explored and understood on many different levels. Magic can't be studied but nature can be.

I am in no hurry to make God magical. I pray for healing and I have seen people healed. I have been healed in different ways. God heals and sends angels but these beings follow guidelines that He has set in motion.

People like the idea of magic because it opens possibilities but it lacks order. The God of the Bible is orderly in ways we just don't understand but would understand in we had all the facts. That is why science has developed in cultures that believed in Him.

I am going into my day believing that there is an order to the world and that my God is the King who rules over an orderly world. Parts of it are in seeming disarray but I know the creator and He knows me. Problems can be solved. Lost things can be found. Broken things can be remade.

Mercy is better than magic. Grace and love are more powerful than human invention. Thank You God. We aren't going to fall through the cracks. There are no accidents. You are in control and we have hope.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Flaming Sword

"Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever--' therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life." - Genesis 3:22-24 ESV

There are a few mysteries in this passage aren't there? This morning I am thinking about banishment and change. Life is filled with endings and forced beginnings.

We can only tell from the context of the passage but it seems that eating from the tree of life would have been bad for Adam in some way. Living forever doesn't sound bad but it would have been bad for Adam. There is one mystery.

Then there is the flaming sword 'that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life'. How was that manifested?

There is no biblical record of anyone returning to Eden. Adam's children must have known it's location. The world changed after the flood but what about the time before the flood.

We aren't going to get these answers here. I for one am planning on consulting Heaven's library to find some of these things out.

But banishment... perhaps we can all relate to that. Things end and disappear. The way back, if there is one, is guarded by a flaming sword.

Haphak (Strong's H2015) is the word translated 'turned every way' and it could have also been translated 'transformed itself.' Whatever it was... It was an adaptive obstacle.

Excuses are adaptive obstacles aren't they? They stop us from heading down a certain path but then they adapt and turn in a different direction.

"A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit." - Proverbs 15:4 ESV

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates." - Revelation 22:14 ESV

"...and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." - Revelation 22:19 ESV

Interesting. Change the book and access is blocked. Clean robes is a qualification for entrance.

"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

That excuse that blocks your path... Oh, You know the one I'm talking about. The one you don't want to think about. The one that keeps you on the outside. Reason with God about that very thing. Ask Him. Look in the scriptures. If you use the scriptures to support the excuse you alter them in subtle ways and the obstacle is just reinforced.

Is it guilt? Is it fear? God washes us as He reasons with us. In truth if we know Him he has washed us. It is our dirty feet that stop us from passed over the threshold.

Jesus. Here we are. Wash our feet. We surrender to Your process. Change our minds. Give us the way around our well reasoned excuses. Engineer circumstances so that we will not be stuck in our faults. You are the Savior of the world. We trust you to save us from our own thought life and elevate us to know your mind. Give us courage Lord. We know we will need it for what lies ahead. We trust You. We Worship You.

Thank You Jesus.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Blessing Of Aaron

"The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.' " - Numbers 6:22-27 ESV

I'm looking at this amazing passage this morning and marveling. The three phrases in the middle all start with a verb in the Hebrew...

Bless LORD

Face and countenance are the same Hebrew word. The word is Paniym (Strongs H6440) and it is plural. The many facial expressions of God all shine grace. When His face is lifted toward us we have peace. We sense Him looking at us and we have peace. The LORD who blesses also keeps.

God wants His 'name' to be upon His people.

How do we bless people? Is it by making comparison? Is it by giving? Is it by remembering? Is kindness, as wonderful as it is, the same as blessing?

God told Aaron to say this as a blessing and it is a profound blessing outside of man and his or her doings.

Bless LORD and keep
Make Your divine face to shine in graciousness on us
Lift Your divine face on us and we will have Shalom


I worship this morning and pray this is the blessing that would be on your house and mine. That we would know that God's eyes are on us and that his expression is the expression of an all powerful friend.

I seek your face God. It is like sunshine for us. Thank You God. In Your Son Jesus we see Your face shining clearly. In His words we find Your mind. We look to you this morning. Thank You LORD.

Make us a blessing today.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Stabilizing Vision

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer. Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him." - Proverbs 29:18-20 KJV

I also liked the way the ESV translates this passage (mostly verse 19) so I will include that also.

"Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands, he will not respond. Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him." - Proverbs 29:18-20 ESV

Proverbs is indeed a book of wisdom. I look at this passage and see a blueprint for pre-planned action. Words and actions that mesh together.

A vision is no pie in the sky kind of thing. There are steps taken one after each other to get to a goal. A prophetic vision describes the plans God has made and often includes a promise of a certain result.

We talk about 'the finished work' of the cross and rejoice that God sent His Son to die for our sins. Sin has been paid for and God's vision is still unfolding for us. God has plans and because of that humanity will not perish.

God didn't just tell me to do something. Words would never had corrected me. He did something. The cross has corrected me and will correct me. God's act of mercy wasn't just mere instruction. I had to make a decision about what to do with this spectacle of love.

God has plans and so do we. Planning is a fundamental part of life.

If you want to get into a good school there might be a waiting list or certain deadlines. Submitting the papers before the deadlines action long before the first day of school. It requires things to happen in advance.

If we are wise we plan in accordance with God's plans.

What will it be like when we stand before God? The thief on the cross next to Jesus had little time to make any plans. His strategy was simple. He asked Jesus to remember Him.

"And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.' " - Luke 23:42-43 ESV

It was this thief's last heist and he stole Heaven. This man asked Jesus to include him is His 'vision' and Jesus reassured the man that because of His faith recognition he was going to be included.

Without a vision I will perish. Without a plan my Bema seat (the time when we stand before God and He hands out rewards) will not be what it could be. I'm not going to strive but I am also not going to be passive and let life take me where ever it wants to all the time.

God is God and He can change my plans. I understand that dynamic. I don't want to be so attached that I can't let go and adjust.

Let's walk in a redemptive vision that has 'the finished work' of the cross as the cornerstone of the structure of our actions. That means we don't just talk about things. We submit the paperwork and start putting the resources aside. We pray that God would move but we act by faith as though He is going to move.

The faith vision will have sustaining and stabilizing power. Moving in it will provide momentum.

God... We get glimpses of Your vision in the scriptures and we are in awe. You set the sun, moon and stars in the sky and they move with clockwork precision. You sent your Son and He did a marvelous work in paying for our sins. We want to plan according to your plan. Give us a vision that 'glorifies Your Name' if we don't have one. Keep us functioning in plans that line up with Your plans. We want to keep taking steps for the rest of our lives so that those around us will have a stabilizing vision to step into. We are little and often shortsighted. Help us God. Guide us. We trust that you will. Thank You Lord.


Monday, August 15, 2016

He Is Our Abba

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself bears witness that we are children of God" Romans 8:15-16 ESV

You see a special side of a man when you see them with their young children. He speaks in simplicity and kindness. If he has a softer side that is when it is seen.

The Spirit shows us this side of God. He is our, 'Abba'

Today is Monday but you are no slave. The Spirit will say something different. God is your, 'Abba' today. Children with an affectionate compassionate father are blessed children... We are blessed children.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Flee Youthful Lusts

"So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." - 2 Timothy 2:22-26 ESV

If you don't sound a retreat from certain situations then 'the slanderer' will have certain latitude to affect you. It is that simple.

In a way it is a good picture of repentance... turning away from one thing to pursue another. A young bachelor who likes having one pretty young thing on his arm after another until such a time as when he decides to settle down is a wrecking ball for young female souls. Youthful lust destroys things and then leaves room for the slanderer because (figuratively speaking) He get a whole notepad full of material for accusation to use and reuse later.

But then when that same young person has a new identity in Christ they heed a different voice... this mature voice talks about value and not escape... It highlights full grown ideas... it isn't looking to set fire with matches or with ideas just to watch something burn... that is what little boys do... peace becomes important because death is no longer abstract.

"...along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." - 2 Timothy 2:22b ESV

This kind of pursuit requires companions who are doing the same thing. Iron sharpens iron. The womanizer's conquests are solitary fleeting satisfactions but the one who pursues righteousness is like an Olympic athlete. The whole country rejoices with each win. Even competitive teammates rejoice that their team took home a medal even if they weren't the ones to do it.

Do we know how to retreat? Can we say, 'I'm out of here.' in certain charged situations. If we don't then it is very very profitable to learn. Youthful lust is just a few clicks away in an internet browser. It is an isolated conversation away with a needy vulnerable person.

Don't do it! Run away.

Pursue righteousness. I would say, 'No one ever regretted pursuing righteousness.' but I'm sure some have because of deception. I will say that when a person stands before God any regret is going to flee because He loves it every time we seek Him or His priorities. He is blessed beyond measure by the smallest expressions of faith. When we are finally in His presence we will see just how much it means to Him in a much fuller way.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Way To Process Pain

God doesn't ignore or discount blame. Pain should be processed. If we don't process pain then we just repress it. He provides a scapegoat as a healthy means to deal with blame.

"Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel... And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.

Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and shall take off the linen garments that he put on when he went into the Holy Place and shall leave them there. And he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place and put on his garments and come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people." - Leviticus 16:7-10, 20-24 ESV

Jesus is my scapegoat and it is because of Him that I can minister.

There are two goats in this sacrifice. Which one is He? First He satisfied what justice demanded and then He took on the role of removing iniquity from our consciousness.

We might say, 'The goats didn't do anything... how can they be a substitute.' They are a perfect example really because Jesus didn't do anything either. He was spotless but we can lay our blame on Him and send that blame away into death where it belongs.

Unlike those goats... Jesus rose from the grave because of His innocence.

If we don't put the blame on Him we will blame someone else. We can process our pain with self blame and grow sick because of it. We can blame others. We all know about that. Lastly, we can blame God but where does that deception get us?

Jesus is God's scapegoat. He took on the role willingly. He wants to be that for us also. Can we take Him up on His offer? Send your iniquities (the source of bad emotions) away on Jesus so they can get lost in the wilderness. They will stay out where He went when He died. They will be as far away as the east is from the west. Then you can bath, be clean and minister.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016


This morning I am thinking of the desires people have and the scripture is speaking to me. I know it is a long passage of scripture but please look at it with me and let it speak to you.

There are three people involved with different needs and desires. The rich young ruler, Peter and Jesus.

"When Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, 'How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.' Those who heard it said, 'Then who can be saved?' But he said, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'

And Peter said, 'See, we have left our homes and followed you.' And he said to them, 'Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.'

And taking the twelve, he said to them, 'See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.' But they understood none of these things.

This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said." - Luke 18:22-34 ESV

Do we grasp what Jesus is saying? We look in hindsight and see the cross but Jesus is speaking about more than that historical event isn't He?

Rich young rulers have a wide range of possibilities open to them. Perhaps of all the groups in humanity they seem to have the best options but human satisfaction in a tricky thing.

I identify strongly with Peter here. Perhaps I was a rich young ruler for a few minutes a long time ago but now I am much more like Peter. I have gone in the faith direction. Peter sees in part and understands in part. He sees benefits but he also sees that he does not have anymore to give. He has given all... up until this point.

Then there is Jesus. Wow. Jesus. He is looking to the cross. Nobody understands his direction. They all want something. But Jesus has something. He has a life to give. He sees his mission as a scriptural mission.

{I go back and read the scripture a few more times.}

The rich young ruler says, 'What should I do?, and Peter says, 'Look at what we have done.' but Jesus is the only one moving with hope into the future knowing death awaits Him but that life will triumph over death.

"Those who heard it said, 'Then who can be saved?' But he said, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.' " - Luke 18:26-27 ESV

The world exalts rich young rulers.

Looking at Jesus this morning I am saved from myself. Man couldn't do that for me.


Not what was. Not even what is. I have hope for what will be starting right now. I shake off the dust of my expectations, regrets and personal evaluations and venture down the road to an empty cross. Jesus died there but now He sits at the right hand of the Father.

Where He goes I follow. His satisfaction can be my satisfaction.

Jesus felt sorry for the rich young ruler.

We have choices today. We can live wanting or regretting or we can shake those things off and follow Jesus into the future with hope.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

We Are Entrusted Ones

God entrusts us with the Gospel.

That gives us strength. Our identity must be linked to that trust and that good news and not what we have done before this moment. Our identity is a 'right now' identity.

If you read this next passage carefully you will see that Paul is not accusing people or justifying Himself. He is talking about the power of being entrusted with God's divine message for mankind.

"Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Timothy 1:8-17 ESV

The law was given for those who have an identity outside of faith but notice how Paul numbers himself inside that circle before he encountered the good news and then talks about grace overflowing toward him to give him a new identity that he embraced.

'Jesus came to save sinners.' is the trustworthy saying that is entrusted to us. A sinner is someone whose identity is outside of God and his Gospel.

Who am I? I am someone who God trusts with a precious message.

Grace overrides our worthiness or worthlessness. It overrides our state and status. Gender isn't an issue. Age, race or nationality are overshadowed by the trust.

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." - 2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV

If you want to experientially escape the corruption that is in this world then evangelize the world.

A mailman is entrusted with our mail. His function is deliver our mail. He doesn't hold onto it forever.

We are given the Gospel to give it away. God trusts us to give it away. It isn't a demand. We don't strive or beat ourselves up. We just have a certain focus and we find that we will see miracles happen when we live this way. If we are passive about what we have been entrusted with then we will be influenced by the desires that caused us to have our former identities. God will always see us as who He has made us to be but our light will be under a bushel as we blend in to the world we live in. We will get caught in desires and cycles of confession where we sin and confess it again and again until we take on that sin as our identity and disqualify ourselves.

We have been given the grace message. That is our identity. We are sent ones like Jesus was a sent one before the cross. He was sent to Earth to save sinners and we are sent into the world to tell people about the grace gift that He came to give. Yesterday has no power over that. With knocking knees we open our mouths and suddenly the rut that we were in disappears. The words coming out of our mouth to give to someone else deliver us as we say them.

Do you have to go tell people? Are you less if don't go? The message is that 'Jesus came to save sinners.' You don't have to do anything. He has done it. He is the focus not us. God isn't going to think less of us or more of us. That is the message God places into our hands and commissions us to bring to the world.

Who are you? You are someone who God trusts with a precious message. You are precious and important. No one touches the circle of people in your life the way you do. What you have is needed.


Monday, August 8, 2016

The God Of Endurance And Encouragement

Let's not underestimate the power of encouragement. The right words at the right time mean so much when they are personal and wise.

I think if God appeared to us this morning and spoke to us like we speak to each other He would encourage us and build us up.

"May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." - Romans 15:5-6 ESV

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

If you started something with the intention of glorifying God then please don't quit. If you love some wholesome thing then don't stop. Don't let years go by and then say later, 'Why did I stop?' don't live with regrets that you didn't do what was set before you to do.

"Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4 ESV

It is my conviction that when we delight in God He puts desires in our heart and then gives those things to us... but none of these things happen in a vacuum. God uses people in His process.

I have a goal this week.

I am going to look for ways to encourage people. I am going to pray that God would open my eyes to who needs a word of encouragement and how to say it creatively so it will be received. My goal is to do that to as many people as possible. I want to use all the tools in my tool belt. Humor, wisdom, inquisitiveness, simplicity... whatever it takes.

I'm also going to keep putting one step in front of the other in the things I love. How can I tell others not to quit if I have quit on what I love?

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

God is with us. He isn't leaving. He is for us.

Even if it is just one little thing scheduled everyday.

Don't quit.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Bridging The Breaking Mechanism

Just a few thoughts about racism.

"Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him," - Luke 8:1 ESV

"Now the whole earth had one language and the same words... Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.'... And the LORD said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.' So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth." - Genesis 11:1, 4, 6-9 ESV

God saw something about fallen men. They had a desire to make 'a name for themselves' and He knew that if He confused their languages that it would act as a breaking mechanism for their ambition. People would gravitate towards other people that understood them. In those language groups the desire to 'make a name for themselves' would continue. If Babel would have gone on unhindered humanity would have built a huge unstable structure that would eventually topple and kill the all or most of the people involved.

In contrast... Jesus went to all the villages and spoke to all the people he could reach. He didn't go to those that spoke his language only. He had good news and was not trying to make a name for himself or His group. Jesus sought to pass through walls without destroying culture.

Recently someone in a group brought up the question, 'What language do you think we will speak in Heaven? Will we have one language?

Of course I don't know that answer because the scriptures don't specifically say but I do see these passages.

"For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory." - Isaiah 66:18 KJV

"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;" - Revelation 7:9 KJV

I think we will have the opportunity to speak and understand all of them. I think God wants to make us larger not smaller.

Let go to every village we can and learn to communicate. Hatred only cuts us off from knowing and appreciating the beauty of what God has done. Having good new motivates us to go. Making a name for ourselves motivates isolation.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ontological Perfections - Part 2

This morning I am still thinking about 'God Proofs' and apologetics. Christian apologetics is basically explaining and 'arguing for' the faith. It can be confrontational but for the most part it deals with a deep connected understanding of God's nature and man's history.

Here is a wonderful passage.

"Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 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 3:12-18 ESV

Man wants to experience God and He also wants to understand God. These are two different extremes. Blessing is felt. Glory is know or seen. But God dwells in a realm higher than the rational and experiential. He touches those realms also but He is holy and holiness is set apart from everything that is common. We can see His signature in nature but ultimately we can't find Him there. Theologians can think wonderful thoughts but be lacking in Spirit.

Isn't it wonderful to be around people who are truly alive?

The Lord is Spirit and the Spirit is Lord. True apologetics reveals who God Is. His living perfections. One theologian I read yesterday used the term 'great-making property' and I really liked that. Grace has that quality doesn't it. God treating man with the favor that he gives His perfect self sacrificing Son. God has perfect love and He also has perfect hatred. He is merciful and yet His judgement are perfectly right. He is alive in every sense.

The cross is the ultimate apologetic tool. He reveals great mysteries through the cross. Perfect love is revealed. This love is great and makes others great.

We can talk to people and explain truth and that is needed. We can also say, 'God has blessed my life. Knowing Him has been profitable for me.' and that is also true but as believers we go beyond all that to the person who is wonderful. Glory is revealed in a face that recognizes and desires us.

God is gracious. Don't we want to know this gracious person? Some don't. That is a mystery.

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." - 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV

Life gets hard and often doesn't make sense. Perhaps you have noticed that also?

"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." - Colossians 3:16 ESV

A good apologetic allows this to happen. Even in the hard times. God's perfections remain untarnished because they are eternal.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ontological Perfections - Part 1

I was up at 3am with one word on my mind. 'Ontological'

As you can imagine It's not a word I often think of. I might not have enough time to go into the whole concept. It is a 'God Proof' word. The 'Ontological Argument' is a proof of God's existence that uses man's ability to think as a proof instead empirical evidence. I am no philosopher but here is the basic idea.

A am a little Greek boy who believes in Zeus. I believe he has all power over my life. He can have children just by thinking about it. He can change himself into an old man and fool me. He can change me into an animal or throw me into eternal torment at his whim.

All power is a 'perfection'. As a little Greek boy I can hold this perfection in my mind. A perfection is an ultimate idea. It is a great-making property. As a little boy I can only jump from here to there but I can conceive of someone who is not limited as I am. I think Zeus can jump where ever he wants to jump. There is nothing higher or greater possible than that.

Zeus is imperfect in other ways though. He gets angry. He doesn't know everything. He does love even half as well as some of the mothers in my village. He is impatient with mortals.

Then there is another child in the village who talks to me about his idea of perfect knowledge. His God knows everything. My little world suddenly gets larger and smaller at the same time.

The 'Ontological Argument' states that if we as limited human being can conceive of beings that have perfections then there must be a being that exists who is an embodiment of these perfections.

We aren't priests living in monasteries. We live in a world full of fictions. Science fiction. Horror. Fantasy. Worlds have been created by us that only existed in the mind and have been given a platform in the movie theater but they are not perfect worlds. Our characters are not perfect characters.

The Christian God is a God of all perfections. He is holy, eternal and can do everything that can be done. He loves and knows all that can be known.

If broken limited beings can conceive of such things imperfectly then He must exist and be better than we think.

Knowing He exists is a first step. Logic can't connect us to Him. Jesus is the one who connects us to Him.

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

Father we ponder Your perfections today. You are the ultimate of everything. Thank you for noticing us. Thank You for loving us perfectly. Illuminate our minds today. Your word is a lamp for our feet and a light to our path. Guide us we ask. Thank You God.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Metaphor / We And One


"And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam..." - 1 Samuel 17:7a KJV

This is a metaphor. If I know nothing about a weaver's beam the sentence is meaningless. 'Weaver's beam' might as well be 'Fubdwd Polulvue' if I have never seem or heard of such a thing. I know less then I did because now a gap has opened.

Our mind stumbles. Our mental picture has a spear in it but we only know that some piece of knowledge is missing about the spear. The sentence made us dumber. If 'Weaver's Beam' is never defined we have a closed circle... a mystery with no end... a cliff hanger with no resolution.

Math is a universal language. Simple math can be explained with rocks. Metaphors are relational. The words need definitions or else the concepts fall flat. God is far beyond math. He made math. Math is baby talk compared to what He wants to explain to us.

God is like Jesus and Jesus is like God. The cross is like grace and grace is like the cross.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. ... For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." - John 1:14, 17 KJV

If Jesus isn't defined we can't know God. No math will bring us there. God is lost to us without understanding who Jesus Is.

If what Jesus has done means nothing then we are cut off from understanding the first thing about God. But if we do know Jesus then we know the most vital things about God. A relationship is established on this common understanding. We become alive.

Without Jesus all we have is death because it is all we understand.



"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.'

Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' " - John 3:1-3 ESV

Nicodemus said, 'We know... '

Who is the 'we' that Nicodemus is speaking of? Is it a group present for the conversation? Is it a group of scholars who he represents? He isn't saying 'you and I' know. We refers to a group somewhere.

Then Jesus narrows it down to, 'unless one is'

A 'we' has political power but vision is singular.

"Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.' " - John 3:5 ESV

Entrance is also singular. The 'we' does not enter. We enter one by one.

Let's watch the singular and plural references in the next passage.

"Jesus answered him, 'Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." - John 3:10-15 ESV

Wow. Jesus has the 'we' of the Trinity and He shines light on this man's religion that has been spoon fed to Nicodemus by a group.

""For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." - John 3:16-18 ESV

One of the greatest and most known passages in the scriptures. One God gave one Son so that each person out of the full group that comprises all of humanity might believe and be saved.

'We' isn't going to save anyone. You must be born again. Salvation isn't skimmed from a collection of cultural ideas. Salvation is one person who is washed by a triune God because he or she believes that one Father sent one Son to die everyone's death.

"And the people came to Moses and said, 'We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.' So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, 'Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.' " - Numbers 21:7-8 ESV

Moses made a brass serpent in a time of great crisis. Each person had a choice. Israel was stuck in a herd mentality. Don't we see that around us today? People say 'we believe this' but then the next day the 'we' shifts.

God makes it simple. Where will you look? Only you can enter in. No group on Earth can go for you. Each one sees and enters individually.


Monday, August 1, 2016

In Damascus

This morning I am reading Acts 9 and thinking about Saul and Ananias.

Ananias was a believer who lived in Damascus and Saul was on his way to the city to persecute believers. If this were a story, it is a historical account and not a story, but if it were Saul would be the bad guy and Ananias would be the good guy. Saul is the hunter and Ananias is the hunted person. But the Bible describes two men.

"But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' And he said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And he said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.' " - Acts 9:1-6 ESV

God converts Paul and dazzles him to the point where he is blind and send him into the city were he was going to hunt people down.

"Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, 'Ananias.' And he said, 'Here I am, Lord.' And the Lord said to him, 'Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.' But Ananias answered, 'Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.' But the Lord said to him, 'Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.' " - Acts 9:10-16 ESV

The first 'suffering' is going to be that the people he came to hunt are going to be the people that God uses to heal the blindness.

I like how Ananias is not dazzled like Paul was dazzled. God had to say Saul's name twice but with Ananias it is an easy conversation. There is quick recognition. Ananias had to lose his life to obey. Ananias was not aware of the extent of Saul's conversion. He could have been walking into a trap.

"So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God.' " - Acts 9:17-20 ESV

Brother Saul?? What a faith statement that was!

In this account Damascus represents the 'place where Christians are' and Jesus sent Saul right into this place to get a witness of grace and healing. Saul hated these people and I don't think that mindset was instantly dazzled out of him. Damascus was a place where Ananias could find Saul and where Saul could be fed and baptized. Saul met a sent one who didn't go because of hate. Ananias risked his life because of God's love to give a grace gift.

Damascus is the Church, the bible study, the outreach group or the youth camp. A young child may go there feeling like an outcast but then they are dazzled, healed and fed.

Damascus is a place where interaction happens. Prayers are answered there. Provision is found there by interesting avenues.

I love that all of this sharpens Saul and turns him into Paul. Paul has a clear message. Paul focuses on the deity of Christ and the grace of God.

Let's meet in Damascus.

Perhaps we pray and stay home but the answer for our issue isn't going to be found there. The answer is in the fellowship. Paul was the hunter but Ananias found Paul in a place where he could be found.