Friday, January 29, 2016

The Servant Of The Lord Shall Not Strive

Jesus is an excellent teacher. He did not just present knowledge to people in the Gospels. He gave life giving perspective.

"Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.' And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.' " - Luke 10:38-42 NKJV

"Then Jesus said to them, 'You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.' Peter answered him, 'Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.' Jesus said to him, 'Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.' Peter said to him, 'Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!' And all the disciples said the same." - Matthew 26:31-35 ESV

Peter was confident in his own loyalty and Martha was weary from functioning in her own strength. Both people were striving.

Striving is contrary to the finished work of Christ. Both Peter and Martha were sincere in their efforts. They were trying to be loyal and helpful but they were just wearing themselves out in what was right.

Jesus was being renewed in what was real.

Oh, We need what he gave to them or we will wear ourselves out also.

We need to hear God's words. We need to accept His work on the cross. Our own thinking apart from the Bible will bring resentment. Our own efforts to be loyal will result in self loathing because of our failure or even worse... self righteousness because of our success.

Jesus does not strive.

"So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." - Hebrews 4:9-13 ESV

The sharp sword of the scripture cuts away the things that cause us to strive. It breaks the attachments that make us think we should be strong in ourselves.

I choose what Mary chooses to do. She rests at Jesus' feet and basks in His word. Then when it is time to act she has what is needed.

It is finished! What good news that is. That is the truth we find when we find Jesus. When we see him we find that we have a place to rest.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Logical Fallacies - Part 6

I am back looking at my list of logical fallacies and it is very instructive and challenging for me.

A common error is the BLACK OR WHITE one or to put it is more modern terms the RIGHT OR WRONG fallacy. This argument boils everything down to two choices. A good one or a bad one. It has people looking back and making moral decisions they they likely didn't make at the time as they are cross examined about the past.

We can do this to ourselves. Some folks are very prone to this. Why didn't I do this? If I only did that then this other thing wouldn't have happened. One decision is demonized and the other one is glorified.

Sure. There are clear cut decisions we make that follow this pattern. Temptation and pressure of some kind is often involved. It is an error to think that every decision we make is either a good one or a bad one.

"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 3:15-18 ESV

Sad to say... There are Churches today where the 'law of Moses is read.' There are homes like this. People blame religion but read this next passage carefully.

"For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them" - Romans 2:14-15 ESV

Fallen men accuse or excuse. Religion has little to do with it. Systems form around this very human tendency. Only a judge has this right. God's mercy has prevailed over His judgement at the cross. He is not accusing or excusing. In His mind that stage of Judgement has passed. He has made a ruling. Those in Christ are in one category and those who are not are in another. End of story.

God gave the law for a purpose and it is holy but it was not given to be tool of conformity only. It was given to reveal the fall of man to those who had become familiar with it's affects.

"Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." - Romans 3:19-20 ESV

The law makes a category of things BLACK OR WHITE.

"What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, 'You shall not covet.' But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead." - Romans 7:7-8 ESV

Then we realize that once we know something is wrong will still want to do it. We might even want to do it more than before. It reveals something crucial to us. We are broken and can't fix ourselves. We need a Savior.

Making every decision a good or bad choice is dangerous because it makes manipulation very possible. It awakens our fallen nature that looks for favor to cover it's transgression.

God has a different economy for us to function in.

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

This example uses food as the example. The chapter deals with food sacrificed to idols which was a common practice in Rome at the time. Did the fact that certain food had been sacrificed to idols taint it for consumption? Did someones else's actions turn a neutral action into a BLACK OR WHITE decision?

The scripture does not turn to the law to get an answer. No. The shift is made to love and care.

" 'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be dominated by anything. 'Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food' - and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." - 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 ESV

" 'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor." - 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 ESV

Some make seeking other people's good a new law but it isn't. We are free. All ten commandment are reiterated in the new testament. The Sabbath went from a day to a continual state of mind but the other nine can be found almost exactly as they were given to Moses.

Still. We are free. We are not under law. Those who believe are under grace.  We can just make choices by faith within the framework of The faith. That leaves us a large free space.

"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 18:16-19 ESV

The current can drag us in a direction but God rescues us from a 'this way' or 'that way' mentality. Grace places us in freedom. Fear is removed. Liberty is assured.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Person We Can Trust

"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

I was thinking this morning about the picture of the man of God being a man who is trustworthy as a wholesome confidant. Some people have no one to trust with their faults or misdeeds. They can't tell family nor do they feel they can tell their friends and yet they are burdened by fears, guilt and shame.

In the catholic tradition they could tell their priest and that secret is kept confidential.

We all have a marvelous provision that everyone should take advantage of.

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:8-9 ESV

I talk to God everyday and rely on the provision found in this passage. God is faithful. This is primary and irreplaceable.

At the same time parallel to this it is wonderful to have people that do not strive. They are not quarrelsome. They can be trusted. The are not accomplices who share a secret. They are people who can teach us how to do the thing that would set us free from our burden. They travel a wholesome road and welcome company on that road for the journey.

"From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV

Isn't it wonderful to be with a person who sees you as new even if your faults have been made known to them. What a treasure that is. If we have family members like that we are very fortunate. If we have friends like that we are rich people.

The finished work of Christ allows us this perspective. Old things have passed away and all things have become new. A nail pieced hand reaches down into the pit of shame and guilt and pulls us out into the light to live lives of freedom.

Depending on the error that might not mean a release from all consequences. It is good for us to face the music for certain things. It is needed but it does mean freedom from the bondage of guilt, shame and the loneliness of isolation. Maybe all any of us need is a companion who will go with us and encourage us in Christ's stead because they have His mind.

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." - Galatians 6:1-3 ESV

I think this morning of children who are not equipped to bear the burden of their parents but instead of going to someone outside the family the parent has loaded something on their child that is heavy and smothering for them to bear. I pray for those situations. If only someone with knowledge and experience with God could be brought in then both parties could be set free.

For some issues it is best if the minister of reconciliation is someone unaffected and has a little distance so that the counsel can be free from a personal agenda.

The key to freedom from wrong knowledge is right knowledge. The cross of Christ is that right knowledge. Jesus died for the sins of man. It is finished. Mankind has a provision of forgiveness. Once that provision has been received we can die to self so that others can live.

"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." - 1 John 3:8b ESV

He has destroyed those works at the cross and the cross is still active to destroy those works in people's lives. Let's take up His cross and live in the cycle of resurrection.

Help us God. Help us be trustworthy people. Help us to face the music if that is what is needed. We know You know us and love us. We are so grateful for that. You see all who believe as clean and perfect in Your Son. Thank You God for for loving us and making a way of escape for us.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Power Described In Acts Chapter One

"So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.' And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight." - Acts 1:6-9 ESV

What a picture this is. When you are taught a new skill by an instructor that instructor often gives a demonstration of what they are going to teach you.

The power God gives us is a witnessing power and part of the demonstration of that witness is our ability to rise above situations because of our Heavenly position. We don't rise into the air like Jesus did but we have a place in Heaven because He did rise. No matter what happens on Earth that can never be taken away from us.

Those who believe in Jesus and talk to others about Him in an evangelical way are very aware of this rising above power. Those or you who don't know Christ or do and but keep this knowledge to yourself aren't going to have this dynamic active in your life. The power spoken of here in Acts 1 is a soul winner's power.

A person who takes a self defense class is no longer powerless because they have been shown and they have practiced proven techniques. They have more options in a situation than someone who has no exposure. The same principle is true for the believer.

I'm not saying this is some 'second blessing' of some kind and that those who don't go are missing out. We were given fullness at the moment of our salvation. This is an area where we can ride the wave. Jesus tells us to go. There are rewards now and later for taking special heed to His words. If you read the passage again you will notice that this isn't just a suggestion. He wants us to rise above with Him and this is the place where we have the power to do it.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Some Spiritual Gift

Spiritual leaders have the privilege to impart something special.

"For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you - that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." - Romans 1:9-12 ESV

This spiritual gift goes beyond time, care and words. It is an intangible 'something' that can't be replaced.

"Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." - 1 Timothy 4:14-16 ESV

We live in a time where this is downgraded and minimized. People can focus on falsehood and flaws to the point where this is lost but this is a real dynamic. It is a vital dynamic.

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." - James 5:14 ESV

Why does it say the elders? Can't anyone do this? No. Not just anyone. Not all the time. Some healings are a witness to the assembly that has gathered because of spiritual leadership.

"Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,' and, 'The laborer deserves his wages.' Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses." - 1 Timothy 5:17-19 ESV

Spiritual leaders can't act alone. Most will anyway to the best of their ability. Like an ox they will lumber forward. A muzzled ox isn't going to be able to get to the places they need to go.

Double honor isn't for manipulation. No. Never. Not one time.

Double honor is the second look where you pause and say, 'This person has something special from God.' Then you act on that recognition. It isn't bowing and scraping. It isn't worship. Worship is for God alone. It is tangible lasting recognition and support.

Let's look at the first passage again.

"For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you - that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." - Romans 1:9-12 ESV

Who is doing this? Who has this mindset? Only a few people do. There are only a handful of people that care for your soul and dig into the storehouse of their life to give something to you. Mark them. Take notice. Give support to them and i'm not just talking about money.

"For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain," - Titus 1:7 ESV

The Greek word translated overseer here is Episkopos (Strong's G1985) and it means 'one who is looking over' the situation. They are a person who sees past the natural. They are a shepherd who is planning past the present pasture to move the sheep into a safe harbor for the next season. They see beyond the marital and financial problem. They give eternal perspective. They yearn for expansion.

Yes. A spiritual leader has something to impart. Help them to get to where they are going. These are the kinds of things that will come up at the reward seat of Christ. It will matter then to God because it matters now.

God. Open our eyes to see beyond ourselves. Help us to be people who nourish a vision. Make us people who honor, love and support others. Give us a larger world that goes beyond our small circle and make us a blessing to those few who labor to make that circle larger and larger.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

The High Mountain Winds Of Freedom

We are born into unpredictability.

"Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." - John 3:7-8 NKJV

Our directions change. Our intensity changes. On a natural level people expect moral consistency but what a spiritual person has is spiritual buoyancy. Freedom.

"If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain," - 1 Timothy 6:3-6 ESV

Knowledge can puff up but grace understanding and emphasis ushers in contentment. Godliness isn't gain. It provides stability on a level above normal consistency. Grace can have or give all that it has away if that is what love would do in each situation.

"And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." - Isaiah 35:8-10 ESV

Wind blows in unpredictable ways up on that high path of holiness. High up as it is there is safety there. There is freedom there. The view is marvelous there. Let us worship returning as ransomed ones. Let's boldly go to the throne of grace. God is always on His throne waiting to be gracious to us.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Thief

"I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." - John 10:9-10 ESV

What does the thief come to do? Steal, kill and destroy. That is an interesting order isn't it? Naturally speaking we might think killing would be last in order of magnitude but it isn't.

A thief must cover their tracks and they use destruction to do that. They must destroy a reputation. They must start a fire to remove any traces of incriminating evidence.

Jesus came to give, impart life and build something in you and around you. He isn't a thief. He never was and never will be.

The thief wants to take Jesus away from people. He wants to destroy God's reputation by lies and diversions so that he can hide and operate in secret. The thief cares nothing for people and if they get hurt in the process he doesn't care.

I don't want Jesus to be stolen from you. I need to see Him and sometimes He becomes obscured in my life. In those times I look for Him until He finds me.

If you look for Jesus He will find you. It doesn't matter how far away you think you are. He wants to give you life.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Taking On The Identity Of A New Nature

This is a very loaded passage because there is a big difference between having a religious identity and 'learning Christ' in a new nature.

"But that is not the way you learned Christ! - assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." - Ephesians 4:20-25 ESV

There is truth in Jesus that can't be had in a old identity. This truth is new identity truth. Jesus renamed Simon and called him Peter. He renames us also and in that new name we learn of him. We may answer to the name our parents gave us but we don't have to live in the nature that they gave us. We have a new nature.

"Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." - Colossians 3:9-10 ESV

This new self can speak the truth in love if it is taught to speak in love. The parent teaches the child to say 'please' and 'thank you'. When we learn Christ we learn honest in a new identity. We learn unity in holiness. We learn Agape (self sacrificing) love. It isn't automatic. The capacity is there but it must be taught.

Jesus and the disciples called Simon by his new name and gave him a new identity. People who didn't walk with Christ but knew this man only knew him by his old name. In time Simon became Peter in his experience even though it only took a moment for Jesus to give him his new name.

Anyone can get a new name in the world. Cults do it. Entertainers reinvent themselves every few years to showcase an old talent in a new light. Jobs call it a title. Universities give out degrees that add to your name. But when God does it in Jesus it is the description of a new nature that only He has the power to give. It isn't just a fresh start. It is a declaration of citizenship.

Jesus renamed Simon but he didn't do that with all the disciples. The new name was a tool to reveal a new nature to Peter. All the disciples had a new nature given to them. God is going to use these tools to show us what He has done but they are handcrafted to our experience.

We may answer to the name we have had since our youth but lets live learning Christ in the name He has named us. He calls us free and forgiven. He calls us family. Speaking the truth in love becomes the way we communicate as we live in this new life.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Because He Was Before Me

"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 bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.' ") For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." - John 1:14-16 ESV

What a great statement that gives us insight into the incarnation! John chapter 1 is an amazing chapter.

What caught my eye this morning was the phrase, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.' What an honorable way to think. People who came before us 'rank' before us.

John knows that Jesus is eternal but what about the others that came before us? Do we know more? Are we of a higher rank because we stand on their shoulders? John the Babtist would say that they rank before us also because he was a humble man.

We have a Bible in our hands. Most of the 2,000 years of Christianity did not have this privileged and yet I say we rank lower not higher.

I rank lower than my father and his generation. Does this mean we do what they said without question? No, It means we have honor in our hearts for those that came before and sacrificed so that we can have what we have now.

"Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise)," - Ephesians 6:2 ESV

This commandment has a benefit built into it. It is a promise that reaps a dividend if it is observed. A generation that honors will raise up one that will return to those values also.

Jesus came before me. He came before all of us.

"And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you" - 1 Peter 1:17-20 ESV

He is older than the world. He is eternal. His age does not tarnish Him. He has glory. Our honor for Him transcends the honor of time and space.

I don't want to be familiar with Him or with you. I don't want to walk around thinking I know more than Him or you. If I have any authority I want it to be His and not mine. Grace words are backed by a kingdom that has been new for a very long time. It was new from the first sunrise and it is new now.

Lord, Fill our hearts with honor. John the Baptist was a great person because he recognized greatness. Make us people that see greatness in those who have come before us and those who stand by our side now. Thank you God for people who have walked by faith long before we ever recognized You. Thank you God.

Our honor speaks loudly to the credibility of what we say. A sober person will hear what is said in honor and receive it as weighty. It is good to remember that if we want to reach people with the truth that has been given to us.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Heat Or Light

Why do toaster coils get hot?

The wires in a wall are usually made of copper (or some highly conductive substance with low electrical resistance) but heating coils are a mixture of metals that have a higher resistance like iron mixed with nickel and chromium. A popular substance is used is called nichrome. It has high resistance (it converts electricity to heat), it also has a high melting point (approximately 2550°F), it doesn't oxidize and it also doesn't expand very much when it heats up so it it ideal for a heating coil. It also turns electricity mostly into heat but it also turns some of it into light so you can see the coils glow but they don't melt.

While you might want toaster coils in your toaster you wouldn't want them in the walls of your home or in an outlet that you plug things into would you because they might cause a fire.

I was thinking this morning about how the character of God is conductive to truth. He has no darkness in Him and his light is pure.

When we live in a lie truth gets converted to heat. The higher the resistance is the hotter the substance will get until it hits it's boiling, melting or oxidizing point and begins to burn. A soul is forever. It will not melt away to nothing it is either going to have power pass through it or that power it going to heat it up in very uncomfortable ways.

Believers are designed to produce light but a liar and a slanderer produces mostly heat and smoke.

"But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out." - Numbers 32:23 ESV

Yes. The cooling system will eventually fail or be unable to compensate for the heat that is being produced.

Grace and truth lay down new wiring in our soul if we have been quickened by the Spirit of God. Once we believe in Jesus we enter into a new economy. He begins to rewire our soul.

"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 3:18 ESV

Yes. We become people who give off light even if we were people who only gave off heat before. We learn about forgiveness and our thought become established in grace.

That very first faith transaction created something wonderful in us. We became eternal light broadcasters in one moment.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." - Philippians 1:6 ESV

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." - 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

"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 2:9-10 NKJV

In the end we will glow with light. He has finished the work of salvation and we are already complete in Him. Thank You God.

There are situations to face today and those things can either be dealt with using light or heat. I want the a good low resistance connection to God's life so that I can face the situation producing light and not giving off heat.

You must do this in us God. We want to be available to this process. Give us eternal content in our thinking so there will be a clean connection. Thank You God.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The School Of Faith

Are you in the school of faith?

Angels can never enroll in this school. They are in the school of salvation.

"Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look." - 1 Peter 1:10-12 ESV

Angels peer in to look at salvation. It is a marvel to them even though they see God and move easily from Heaven to Earth.

So much is still invisible to us. Grace is still our teacher we just attend a different school.

"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, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," - Titus 2:11-13 ESV

We look to God and wait on someone we can't see with our eyes but He Is someone that we know with our hearts and minds.

School is in session. The cross is our frame of reference and by faith we take it up.

"And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" - Luke 9:23-25 ESV

His cross is our cross. We take up what has been done and God teaches us.

The world has lessons for us also. Shame, guilt and fear are some of it's instructors. You learn to weigh this against that and trust only in yourself. It's lessons are hard and burdensome.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

We have the great privileged to take up our cross today and walk with God believing in what He has already done. There are lessons waiting for us today.

I am eager to see what wonders are about to unfold before my eyes.


Saturday, January 16, 2016


How many of us are where we thought we would be when we were younger?

"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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." - Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

What a great promise.

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

Does this mean that God is going to give us what we want or that He is going to change what we want? I think it is both.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Raise Up A Platform

"And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen,' lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground." - Nehemiah 8:4-6 ESV

Fourteen men on a raised platform made so that the people could see and hear them. A platform made to hold that many people had to be sturdy.

"Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court, and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven... As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple." - 2 Chronicles 6:13 & 7:1 ESV

A cubit is approximately eighteen inches. So this platform was 7 1/2 feet long and 4 1/2 feet high.

It is good to have a platform to present the message because if we are going to reach more than a few people there must be a platform of some kind. These platforms were not holy. God did not give specific instructions about how they were to be built or with what material they should use.

These pulpits were sturdy enough to hold the people who stood on them. They were made for prayer and to explain (and proclaim) the word of God to people.

We need men who will make a platform and then stand on it to proclaim the Gospel. This platform isn't a pedestal. You can still reach these men. They aren't standing there to be seen. They are standing there to be heard.

Some might say that there are to many people doing this already but I say there should be more not less... more humble men... more men with the grace  message from Heaven that does not originate from them.

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' " - Luke 4:16-19 ESV

Jesus stood and read this. He was the fulfillment of that prophecy. This is the year of the Lord's favor. God has unbarred the doors of Heaven and men can go there because of what Jesus has done. Let's go to cities and tell them the good news. The platform we use is our choice. It should be sturdy and not to high. It should work for the setting. It might be the radio or the internet. It might be a homeless shelter or a Thursday night meeting in the back of a pizzeria. It might be flyers out on lampposts or lawnsigns. Let's pray and then see what reaches people.

Thank you God please make us creative people who don't leave the old landmarks but are brave enough to stand on something to make your message known.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Walking To The Car Alone

The human experience is varied and last night I was thinking of one very specific experience... walking to the car alone... the solitary traveler. Maybe some of us rarely do this because of companionship of some kind but for others it is a very common. People carry groceries alone. They leave work alone. They leave church alone.

For a few years in Bible college I went to night school and I hung out at security between classes and walked people to their cars. It was a ministry of sorts.

It is funny what can happen going from here to there isn't it. My longtime Pastor (who is now home with God) used to warn us about losing the message in the parking lot of the Church. It is a very real danger. It might get lost in idle chatter but you can lose it all by yourself also.

"But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself;The LORD hears when I call to Him. Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah." - Psalm 4:3-4 NASB

Some folks can't be alone because they can't be with themselves. Introspection is to possible in those times. Others love to be alone. Then there is the group that is often alone but doesn't want to be.

"Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness." - Leviticus 16:21-22 NASB

Jesus was the lamb who was brought to the wilderness to take a lonely journey. The sin bearer was a solitary experience. Those who carry sin today do it alone. Shame and guilt are solitary burdens.

"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb." - Psalm 19:7-10 ESV

The fear of the Lord is clean. We can walk to the car in awe and there is a companionship that comes with that holy reverence. If we leave Church this way we won't lose what we received there. We can lay on our beds and not be consumed with self. God is with us.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." - 1 Peter 5:6-8 ESV

There are burdens we are not meant to carry. Jesus has already traveled the lonely road to Calvary bearing our sin. We make a short trip to the cross and leave our burdens there.

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?' Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:5-8 ESV

God never leaves us. Once introduced we never walk alone. Truly we discover that we never really did. God was waiting all the while to be our life long companion.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Ones Who See All Things As Pure

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

The statement seems to describe two kinds of people.

The naive person thinks all things are pure because their imagination can not yet fathom the depth of deception and evil in the present circumstances. It might be because of lack of exposure but it might also be the pair of rose colored glasses they wear. This person is dangerous in their simplicity.

The second type of person described is a Godly person who is well aware of evil and trouble but sees God's hand in each circumstance. The purity this person sees is not the illusion of the purity of man... it is the purity of God.

"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?" - Jeremiah 17:7-9 ESV

It is amazing how those ideas mesh together in that passage. The wise person has roots that touch an underground stream. The water up on top can be quite polluted but there is water below out of sight for those that believe.

There are so many people that mean well that just have deceitful hearts. They may even want to help people but in the end the get things all twisted up because a crocked person can only get things straight by mistake.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones." - Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dark Currents

Today's thoughts have some darker shades but if we discuss sunlight we must also eventually mentions the shadows. People hide in them. They can gravitate toward them.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life - is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father." - 1 John 2:15-24 ESV

Hedonism, materialism and egotism are the downfall of men everywhere. In the shadows these currents are strong and moving people in all sorts of directions.

The Apostle John is a loving man. He has the heart of a shepherd. He speaks of one future Antichrist but he is also warning people about the little antichrists that have left his assembly. People who function in the shadows and draw others into the shadows also. These antichrists swim in unbelief because they were never converted by the truth they were exposed to.

"But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) "or 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);" - Romans 10:6-8 ESV

I'm not saying every bitter ex-Church member was never converted. It isn't my place to say that. But a bitter person who is crusading is not one who is has a word of faith. They may be a believer who is vexed in their soul.

Either way John has some advice for his people we also need to heed. He reminds his flock to return to that first first beam of light that shined so brightly into their once dark existence. Grace is the beam that pierced the darkness. Grace always encourages faith in God and his faithfulness. If the word of grace abides then the Father and the Son abide also.

I never want to run anybody down. I don't want to function in the pettiness of running people who have left what 'I am in'. Just because someone is no longer in my group doesn't mean they have left God's group. I want to love and pray for people. At the same time I need to be aware of the shadow life of bitterness. Hedonism, materialism and egotism breed in these environments and they can ensnare our souls in unhealthy and time wasting detours from what is truly important.

The Gospel of grace is light held in a seed of words. I want to spread that seed where ever I go. I want my mind the be bathed in that light or the difficulties of living in a fallen world will exhaust me and might pull me into subtle expressions of the shadows that I had previously been released from.

God help us. There is no darkness in you. The walls between us have been removed by Your Son. Bath us in light and shine light into the hearts of the bitter people in our lives. Convert them. Revive them. Help us to be ministers of reconciliation in the places where that is possible. We love You Lord because You have been such an expert in loving us. You have made us to bear precious seed. Thank You for that privilege.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Just A Little Sunshine

My booklet this morning has a great word picture in it of people being like trees that need sunlight. It is winter and the trees are full of sap but are not so great to look at because they have no leaves. Some trees, like evergreens, have leaves all year round but others are barren until they get some sunlight in the right season.

There are people who are struggling with addiction but if they had a season of warmth and sunlight they might just blossom.

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

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Faith is a gift and a fruit produced by the sunshine of God. There are no rules against it just as there are no rules against an apple tree producing apples. If conditions are right there will be apples.

Sure. People can resist. But all some folks need is a little sunlight and the years of past investment is activated and they blossom.

Some marriages need sunshine. People can get caught up in materialism. Life can become about having more or doing more and the couple loses track of an eternal value system based on love so the relationship gets barren.

Jesus said...

"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." - John 9:5 ESV

He was sunlight shining into a dark place when He came to Earth.

Now He says...

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

Maybe a young person just needs a season of sunshine. Maybe an older person forgotten in a nursing home needs some sunshine. Maybe that is all a discouraged person needs.

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." - 1 John 1:5 ESV

"Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment." - Isaiah 50:11 ESV

People can make sun lamps and grown plants under those lamps but there is no substitute for the light that our soul needs. We need the grace gift in order to blossom. We need the love of God that shines from people and from His mind imparted to us to produce life in us.

"But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall." - Malachi 4:2 ESV

Yes. We need to be free from the prison of shadow. Jesus has healing in His wings.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

God Is For You

God is for you this morning.

"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." - Isaiah 30:18 ESV

"For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth." - Psalm 26:3 NKJV

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings." - Psalm 36:7 ESV

I'm picturing myself going to the DMV. It is a long tedious wait and the people there don't know me and they are a bit cold and self oriented. People are seen as numbers and inconveniences. But then you meet one warm happy person. They find out your name and they are kind to you and exude life in the midst of the dull exercise.

God is like that. He is kind. Once He meets us He remembers our name. He finds out what our favorite sandwich is. He champions the cause of our well being. He adopts us into His family and dusts us off when we fall down with humor and love.

"All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:27-30 ESV

Yes. God cares. The moment Jesus says, 'Father this is my friend.' We are welcomed into the family with open arms and never forgotten.

Perhaps you don't know God and think maybe He doesn't know you either. Call out to Jesus. He will make the introduction and you will find a forever friend in the maker of all things.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Wise Leisure Time

It is Saturday. Like many it is my first day off. I don't go to work and earn. Instead I can do what I choose to do.

"Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it. Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it. Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise." - Proverbs 11:25-30 ESV

This is a great 'day off' passage because Today is a day when I can trust in riches for myself. Leisure is a rich mans pleasure after all.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing. We all need it.

I see people who live their lives giving back and they are blessed people. They find joy in 'watering'. Souls are what is important to them.

I am going to go on evangelism today. I'm not going to make God happy or as a duty of some kind. Jesus has already done that on my behalf. I just see it as a wise way to spend my time.

"And he said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed him." - Matthew 4:19-20 ESV

These men became 'waterers' they were no long seeking to gather only for themselves. Instead they found joy in laboring so that other could have and be blessed.

Don't get me wrong. It is going to be a fun day. I am going to eat nice food and laugh a lot in the midst of these activities. Just as I want to be wise in my work I also want to be wise in my play. I don't want to use this day off as an escape. What are we running from anyway? I want to use it to enter in to things. I want to use it to enter into people's lives near and far and give them what has been given to me.

I think the baseball coach who works a job and coaches kids doesn't regret living that way. He invests in a dozen young lives a season involved in a game he loves and it is a good way to live... the doctor who volunteers at a clinic... the family that visits a nursing home long after the grandmother who was staying there has passed on.

It is never to late to make a shift to a different lifestyle.

Investment is wise. Loving is good for our souls. It a a good fun way to spend our time.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Three Principles Of The Overcomer

"And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.' " - Revelation 12:10-11 ESV

Repentance (recognizing the power and redemptive merit of the blood of Christ), confession (professing Biblical eternal truth as it pertains to life and circumstances) and not loving your life so much that you won't lay it down (having the life and mind of Christ functioning in your day to day experience) are the marks of the overcomer.

I was refreshed in this doctrine last night at coffee. P Butch Veader was so exercised in this truth. I could only stay for a few short moments because of commitments but wow! I was so glad for those few moments.

"Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." - Matthew 18:19-20 ESV

This truth does not need my endorsement but here I am endorsing it once again. With just a handful of people much can happen. If one or more of them are overcomers then watch out! The atmosphere of a place is overwhelmed by glory. People can't help but pay attention when they 'overhear' eternal words.

Thank God for people who will lay down their lives. Thank God for those who recognize the power of the blood of Christ. Thank God for ones who won't put a bushel over the candle of truth.

The accuser will one day be put down. That is what Revelation 12 declares. We have the privilege (and challenge) to function today as overcomers. It won't happen by force of will or strength of personality.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." - Zechariah 4:6b ESV

Let's turn to God and win the souls of people as ones who don't love their life so much that it must be preserved at any cost. Only God can do this in us. Only grace can reveal to us this new and living way.

Help us God. Give us backbone. Gather us and make us people that will spend the time to hide Your word in our hearts. Thank you for friends who function as brothers because God has purchased them with His blood.

Thank You God... really... Thank You.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Recipes Of Faith

I can't tell you how many times I have bought fresh vegetables only to have them go bad in my refrigerator. I have two lemons on my counter right now that if a don't use soon I will have to throw them in the trash.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:33 ESV

This verse is given in the context of worry and supply but this morning I think about abundance and use.

Opportunity is like that lettuce waiting to be used. If I don't plan a recipe that uses lettuce then it may just end up in the trash. I could make a salad or a sandwich. There are a dozen ways that the lettuce could be used and a dozen way that it will remain unused.

"For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." - 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 ESV

A tree takes a lifetime to grow. Hay comes up in a season and stubble is what is left over from a harvest.

There are a dozen recipes that include Jesus today. There are also a dozen that don't include Him. Gold is His character of royalty and divinity. Silver is his purity. It is what remains when silver ore is heated and the dross rises to the top and gets skimmed off. Precious stones are individuals born in fire and carved out as friends.

"'They shall be Mine,' says the LORD of hosts, 'On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.' " - Malachi 3:17 NKJV

"...among whom you shine as lights in the world," - Philippians 2:15b ESV

My faith is in my cupboard but will I use it this week. Mercy is new this morning. It is like manna that has come down from Heaven.

"When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, 'What is it?' For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, 'It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.'... Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted." - Exodus 16:15-16, 21 ESV

The manna came with the dew. It didn't float down like snow. It formed like dew forms on leaves from the mist of morning.

Just as some of us rarely see the dew in the morning some rarely see God's mercy because they aren't up early enough to gather it.

I'm not going to strive but I do have some recipes planned for the ingredients I have been given. Not everything can go in the freezer after all.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Seeds Of Faith

When it come to faith it isn't how much you have it is what kind you have. The Bible speaks of faith being like a seed. Seeds can be eaten or they can be planted.

"He put another parable before them, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.' " - Matthew 13:31-32 ESV

"He said to them, 'Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.' " - Matthew 17:20 ESV

Faith in self is a kind of faith. So is faith in people or things. Faith in God is unique. When you plant this faith it grows large and strong and fragrant.

The birds of the air speak of angels. Good ones and fallen ones. The structure that grows from this faith leaves branches for both kinds to nest in.

If you choose to plant the right seed in the ground then your faith will have power. Why? It is then that we will ask God for things and He will do them. We can't move mountains with our own effort no matter how much effort we muster up. God must move those things.

Jesus said...

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me." - John 14:1 ESV

"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

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." - John 14:12-14 ESV

This is mustard seed faith. We say the words to God and bury the seed in the ground of the situation. Then God moves as He sees fit to move.

"You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." - James 4:3 ESV

We can eat it or bury it. It is our choice. I plan to bury seeds this year. I plan to cast my bread out on the water. I plan to mix faith with God's words. These seeds may be small but what a wonder they are once they begin to grow.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Love Tells A Better Story

No matter what people say or how it looks Karma isn't happening in the world. There is no cosmic balancing force. There is a personal God who Is righteous and just.

"Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering - since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." - 2 Thessalonians 1:1-8 ESV

It is wonderful to see a person grow in faith in the midst of their circumstances. Their growth may start out with a foxhole kind of cry where people in danger look to God and ask for help who might never otherwise look to God but then you see the spark of faith turn into a blaze of faith when grace is revealed.

God is going to balance the scales in surprising ways. I think people see things happen and call it Karma but they are mistaken.

"Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart." - Jeremiah 12:1-2 ESV

The rich get richer and the powerful gobble up more power but there is also a faith and love dynamic in the world. When people mix faith with the truth about God's character and nature they grow and start loving one another.

People often put the cart before the horse and say, 'We should love one another.' but that isn't how it works. The scripture reveals a different hidden dynamic.

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:1-5 ESV

The King James version says this love is 'shed abroad' in our hearts in verse five. I like that phrase.

This love isn't natural. It isn't the compassion we feel when a commercial flashes on the television screen asking us to give money to feed malnourished children. No. This is love that grows even as it is felt. It is God's love that is connected to 'the grace in which we stand.'

Ever try to love people? I have. It doesn't work for very long. Even if I could do it for a lifetime it wouldn't be long enough.

Revenge doesn't work either. It isn't the justice God has in mind.

"...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." - Hebrews 10:22-23 ESV

Yes. That phrase 'full assurance' is the Greek word Plerophoria (Strong's G4136). Only grace can grow faith like this because it relies on God's gracious character. The one who sent His Son (who He loves with matchless love) to die also was faithful to raise Him from the dead with glory.

Whatever our suffering is... one day it will turn into a good story. God will raise us in glory.

If there are 'bad guys' involved they will get what is coming to them. Even better they may just believe also and get mercy like we did. Wouldn't that make for a better story anyway?


Monday, January 4, 2016

Saved By The Arm Of Grace

Is there anyone among us that doesn't want to be strong?

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV

I think we all make a shift when we walk by faith.

"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me." - 2 Corinthians 12:7-8 NKJV

The Gospel message brought trouble also. Paul was given a weakness.

"When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him... The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob's hip on the sinew of the thigh." - Genesis 32:25, 31-32 ESV

Jacob wrestled with God and walked with a limp for the rest of his life. Jacob was a liar before he wrestled with God. He used words to maximize appearances. But God changed him after that experience. He had something else to boast about.

God had a whole nation refrain from eating a portion of animal in honor of what happened to Jacob.

Grace really is amazing. I don't want it to be eclipsed by my strength. We may feel less adequate because of our weakness. We may think it hinders us because we seem to have fewer choices.

"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

Our infirmity make us learn this again for this new season of our life. None of us has ever lived in 2016 before.

"At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, 'As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.' " - Joshua 3:2-4 ESV

In our weakness we must let God go before us and open up the river so that we can pass over. There is no other way for the Jordan river to open up. If we were strong we would try to forge the river using our own strength but in faith even the smallest and weakest will pass over chilly Jordan.

"The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." - Isaiah 52:10 ESV

Jesus is the arm of God. He reached into time and space to save us. He will reach in again and again using this same arm to preserve us also.

If I only have a few option I want to make good choices. I choose to believe God and trust him once again today. He Is my Rock. He Is my Salvation.