Friday, December 30, 2016

Sevenfold Leadership

Last night at coffee we spoke about Jesus' amazing responses to people and the uniqueness of His, 'Come follow me' leadership.

We touched on a few of the subjects that we have discussed here in this early morning blog. I am always amazed at what God does. Nothing is wasted. Not only that... God has multiple uses for things he puts in our life.

"Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow." - Isaiah 30:26 ESV

I love this passage. It is a 'finished work' passage... seven always speaks of completion... creation and the rest that took place afterwards took seven days... so many sevens in the scripture.

The moon has the night time reflection of the sun. We could say the sun is just brighter but God makes it seem like all seven days worth of light are shining at once.

"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:30 ESV

Jesus' whole full life was shining in this moment and it is our healing. It makes even our nights brighter.

Thank You God!

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Find Mercy

Many thoughts this morning.

One was, 'giving people assignments'...

Jesus did it here:

"And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' But when he heard it, he said, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.' " - Matthew 9:11-13 ESV

Only a disciple has a desire to, 'Go learn.'

Learning about mercy is what separates the men from the boys.

The Pharisees sought to delegitimize Jesus as a teacher but Jesus gave them the essence of what a teacher Is.

Oh God... teach me mercy... it seems I need to relearn it again and again. Each time it becomes fresh I turn away from critiquing and focus on healing. Healing Is Your focus.

I want to be very careful who I give assignments to. It can really turn people off. At the same time I want to very available to God's assignments... finding mercy is always going to be one of His top priorities.

--

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Truth In Equilibrium

'When the objective truth maintains equilibrium with the subjective truth (and vice versa), there comes forth much fruit.' - Watchman Nee

"Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." - 1 John 2:7-11 ESV

Jesus is the light that dispels darkness.

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17 KJV

Objective truth must be brought into our experience. Jesus does that for us. A friend who walks in the light does that for us. Fellowship is when 'objective truth maintains equilibrium with the subjective truth' and multiple people are involved.

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." - Matthew 18:20 ESV

Yes. The name of God is objective understanding of who God Is and what He has done. He is not just the reason for the gathering. He is the subject discussed or expressed. Objective truth is balanced with subjective experience. People are told they are loved and they also feel they are loved because the actions are compatible with the objective truth.

Perhaps the feelings come later when they remember the actions and the context of the actions. Later they might say, 'Wow. I was loved and accepted.'

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

When the lamp is on the stand then 'objective truth maintains equilibrium with the subjective truth'. One isn't out of balance with the other.

Grace is a perfect balance of the objective and the subjective. It is the channel used to express all of God's other attributes. If we receive grace then truth becomes sweet to us. When we give grace it can create a capacity in others to receive truth.

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world.' 2,000 years ago. It is believed that He said this on Hanukkah. That is recorded in John 8:12 but then in Matthew 5:14 He said to His disciples, 'You are the light of the world.' On Hanukkah candles are lit in a progression. One candle the first day... two candles the next... and so it goes. If we take His statement about His disciples in the context of Hanukkah then we are those candles.

God is filling the world and His home with light... more light each day.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah everyone. Jesus is the candle that lights every other candle. You are the light of the world. {smile}

--

I won't be online much for the next few days I hope everyone has a joyous holiday!

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Two River Gateways

Thinking today about the Egypt, red sea, wilderness and Jordan river progression in relation to the gate versus pathway principle, that was outlined briefly on Tuesday.

"On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands." - Ezekiel 20:6 ESV

God speaks of it almost in a summary but there were two rivers (gateways) and a fair amount of wandering that was sandwiched in-between. Most of those who left Israel did not pass over chilly Jordan.

I want to respect the process God has in a person's life. I don't want to hang on to an assessment that was made that falls short of God's promised end result for a person.

God has gateways for us to pass through... all of us. Impossible barriers that get rolled back or parted by His power. Transformation and renewal are happening during the wanderings. The old generation is dying off and the new generation is coming of age.

Those who pass over Jordan are not the ones who made the golden calf at Sinai.

I was thinking of a man recently who I love but He really got under my skin at one point. He is a charismatic person who misused the scripture in his preaching and hurt people I love. I haven't seen him for a while. His wife recently died and he is preaching again after a time of being utterly devastated and humbled.

God convicted me heavily that I shouldn't know this man after his flesh or his past. God only sees Eygpt and the promised land in our lives. We shouldn't know people after their wanderings. It isn't God's mind. Moses was an angry man in Eygpt but by the end of his wanderings God made him into the meekest man on the face of the Earth.

God has gateways for us. On the other side we will find ourselves in a new place. I want to respect that process and pray if someone is wandering and in a conversion process. I want to have mercy for myself if that person is me.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Watered

Just a bright thought about a well watered promised land.

"For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you." - Deuteronomy 8:7-10 ESV

Water flows in the promised land. It flows in the hills and in the valleys.

In the scriptures, water speaks of truth that promotes life.

"I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it." - Isaiah 41:18-20 ESV

God can water us and make a barren life into a promised land. Water is the key then everything else will follow.

The Bible is my irrigation system. I open it and God reveals His Son to me and then the water flow happens. Green things stay green and barren places become ready for seeds to grow.

Thank You God for giving us water. We don't know where we would be without it.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Knocking Savior

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." - Revelation 3:20 ESV

This is a continuation of the gate versus pathway thought from yesterday.

The knock on the door is a gate that gets our attention. The knock comes and the dog goes crazy and barks. Someone is right there outside... just on the other side of the door and they are calling to you but nothing has changed inside. Your location and environment stay the same (except for the dog that is).

When we go through the gate we change location but this is a challenge to let God in to our home life.

Some folks have a big problem with the phrase, 'Ask Jesus into your heart.' and I understand the conflict. A relationship starts with trust and belief. We 'only believe' and that births a relationship with God. We believe in Jesus... who He Is and what He did on the cross. Telling people they must 'ask' implies they must do something.

But Jesus is a knocking Savior. We don't ask Him to knock. That is who He Is. He isn't just out there somewhere as some theoretical theology. If that is all He Is then there is no active relationship. Conversion accompanies communion. God wants to eat with us in our home just as we will one day live with Him in His home after this life is over. We must participate in communion by opening this gate.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." - Revelation 3:20 ESV

Do we hear His voice? Are we going to ignore Him or are we going to answer the door?

--

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Gate And The Way

"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." - Matthew 7:14 ESV

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." - Isaiah 30:21 ESV

There are acts of faith. Those are like passing a through a doorway but then there is a walk of faith and that is like traveling on a path. Staying on a path is a longer process.

Both require a reason to make the decision.

Jesus' gate is a narrow gate. His grace motivates us to pass through.

I see people striving in their walk and agonizing about decisions. I do it also at times but then I focus in on Jesus again and clarity comes because freedom is ushered in. No matter what the pressures are Jesus will not reject me. He has already finished the work of my salvation.

We choose to enter doorways and walk on pathways but God has this hidden narrow doorway that He is willing to show everyone but many don't want to see it. The doorway is Jesus himself. There is no striving on His road. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

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Come Boldly And Leave Through A Different Gate

I had a wonderful thought last night. It was a 'glimpse of a scene' thought. Often when I have thought about coming boldly before the throne of grace I have pictured entering a doorway and standing in a grand room with the king in a large chair. It was a room with one entrance that was also an exit. It was a place to linger and then leave but tonight I pictured something different. It was more like a parade that stops before a grandstand. People streaming in from one direction and then exited a different way. Some lingering but few leaving through the same entrance they entered.

"When the people of the land come before the LORD at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate: no one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered, but each shall go out straight ahead." - Ezekiel 46:9 ESV

It was a grand vision for me because it spoke of progress.

If we don't exit the way we entered that means we pass through the throne of grace and end up in a different place because we went there and had an audience with God.

Wow. I don't think I will ever see Hebrews 4:16 the same way as i did before.

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:16 ESV

Thank You God. I haven't seen Your throne with these eyes. I have only pictured it in my imagination but what a glorious place it must be. I go by faith now but one day we as a group will stand there beholding what we can only imagine now. Still just imagining it does something to us. We enter one way and we leave another way.

Hallelujah.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Build An Altar In Bethel

Put away the other stuff and focus in on the right God.

"God said to Jacob, 'Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.' So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, 'Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.' So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem." - Genesis 35:1-4 ESV

It is funny that God is saying, 'Make an altar to the God who appeared to you.' as if there are other options. God isn't saying, 'Make an altar to Me.' He is acknowledging that Jacob has other options and He is challenging Jacob to act on one of many options.

'Which God will you choose Jacob?'

Jacob chooses the God who answered him in the day of his distress. Television, movies and music don't answer you. Food, sex and vacations don't give a living response. They can be a temporary escape but they don't change a person and they can only mirror back what is in the heart. They have no power of transformation.

When Jacob ran from Esau that was the first time he really struck out on his own and left his family behind. Mom wasn't there to help him. He didn't need to worship his father's God anymore because he wasn't under his roof. He was on his own in a cold world and God met him there to show him He wasn't alone.

You may find yourself at a crossroad or a brick wall may be in your path preventing you from going forward. Stop and decide to make an altar to the correct God. Identify the idols and put them away. They only help you to waste time while you are stuck in your present location. They are not of any real use. They just distract.

"And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother." - Genesis 35:5-7 ESV

Then God opens a path for that altar to be built.

Without a mission Jacob would have never made it to Bethel. When he decided to identify the right God then God acted on Jacob's obstacles to open the path up for Jacob to make a lasting impact on the world around him.

Now Bethel has an altar that it didn't have before. Jacob had a ministry that left a mark on a place because he chose the right God and put the other ones away.

--

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Little Meditative Exercise

Deep breath in... Deep breath out...

"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." - 1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV

Mercy and love come in with the air and anxieties get exhaled.

It is a true meditative state. We don't empty our mind. We focus our eyes on Heaven and purposely relax with God.

It's easy to worry. It's like breathing without thinking about it. It just happens. Things have been set in motion but will the details all fall in place? What about this and what about that? Is the gift going to get there in time? Will they like it?

Deep breath in... Deep breath out...

Do the next thing.

Anxiety paralyzes.

Casting our care oxygenates our soul and spirit.

--

Thursday, December 15, 2016

More For The Rich

I'm praying for different people this morning and thinking of this passage...

"For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." - Matthew 25:29 ESV

It is a concept that is repeated five times in the Gospels (2x Matthew, 1x Mark, 2x Luke).

At first glance, it seems brutal but then as you ponder the concept it really makes sense if it is referring to wisdom and not Earthly possessions.

I'm praying this morning for people with vision and true wisdom. I praying that God would add what is needed to that compliment vision. I'm also praying for those who have small goals that are ill-conceived... not by my standards but by God's standards... I'm praying that God would drain away the little they have so that they would change their minds and enter into a true abundant vision from God.

Jesus' idea of wisdom distribution was the opposite of Robin Hood's view of wealth distribution... 'Rob from the poor and give to the rich.'

If people are rich in grace and truth (and everyone that sees Jesus as divine, holy and precious is rich beyond measure)  God is planning to give more to those folks. Let that be us this Christmas season and in every season.

--

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

God Told Me?

'God told me what He Is going to do about _____.'

I've been thinking the last few days about that statement. Why do people say it? When do they say it? This passage came to mind...

"The LORD said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?...' " - Genesis 18:17-18 ESV

But we don't hear a voice or have a visitor come to our tent door and sit in our favorite chair and speak to us.

I find this next version in my life...

" 'I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.' They answered him, 'Abraham is our father.' Jesus said to them, 'If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.' " - John 8:38-40 ESV

Jesus is talking to a group of relegious people who claim to have status with God because of Abraham but Jesus' claim is shocking.

" 'Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.' So the Jews said to him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple." - John 8:56-59 ESV

Jesus didn't say, 'God told me this or that.' or 'God wants me to _____.'

Jesus sees what the Father IS doing as a spectator outside of time.

What Jesus has already done is the key. That is what matters.

I have had strong impressions of God's direction. I have seen the weather and correctly predicted a storm. But I have never had God tell me exactly what He was going to do. Even Abraham didn't know that. God has given me promises from His book and then come through with those one-sided commitments. Abraham walked with a God who treated him like a friend. Abraham predicted what a Holy God would do if He investigated Sodom and Gomorrah so he pleaded with God for mercy.

God doesn't owe me knowledge of His actions any more than I owe you that. I'm not telling you everything I'm going to do today and God isn't telling me what He Is going to do.

I can follow Him and watch though... I can plead with Him for mercy for the people He Is going to survey...

Those wise men didn't talk to baby Jesus and get some great secret about their future to go home with. He likely smiled and made baby noises like other babies do.

If I want to see the future it is wise if I keep my eyes on the One who saw the Father's actions. I want to be led filled by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. I want to decide and go with a vision of integrity before my eyes and then be accountable for what I decided to do. I want to cast down every thought that would make God a scapegoat for my disappointment.

I don't know what the future holds but I know who holds my future and today that is enough for me.

--

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Uninterrupted Renewal

This morning I was thinking of the little things that steal our joy when it is supposed to be a time of joy.

"HER BROTHERS
Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.

THE SHULAMITE WOMAN
My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies." - Song of Songs 2:15-16 ESV

The Song of Solomon is an amazing unique book. It is all about the marital union But it is also about our relationship with God.

Here is a very broad progression of the book
1:1 - 3:5 Falling in Love
3:6 - 5:1 The Wedding and Marriage
5:2 - 7:10 The Struggles of Love
7:11f Growing in Love

This love has cycles. We love but then our love is renewed again and again as it deepens. The brothers represent the spectators to the intimacy process but they also speak of our 'detached self'...  the part of us that views and critiques the situation with detachment.

The details of life (the little foxes) can interrupt our love affair with God if we get distracted by them. The brothers are saying, 'Hey, I know you have a boyfriend but we have vines to worry about here. Get your head out of the clouds. We have issues to deal with now in this season of life.'

The Shulamite is focused on the character of her lover and is occupied with possessing him and the fact that he wants to possess her.

This season can be a season filled with 'little foxes that spoil the vines' but it is meant to be a season of renewed love.

If our focus is right then doubts and details don't have to ruin our love affair with God. Jesus was born in a manger 2,000 years ago. He came and died on a cross because He wanted to possess us and woo us in a permanent union.

Let's draw near to where God Is. He is with His flock among the lilies. He is walking with His disciples near the sea of Galilee teaching and laughing and healing people where ever He goes.

God, Some of us need a time of renewal. We need a time of love and the renewal of love. Give us eyes to see in the midst of the details of life. We worship You. Thank You. We are so blessed that you want us. Teach us to put our inner critic in its place as we command our souls to rejoice in the Lord.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Let Me Not Wander From Your Mitzvahs

I'm asking God to fill me with His Spirit as I read His Bible.

"With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:10-11 ESV

The word translated commandments in the Hebrew word mitzvah (Strong's H4687) and these are not legalistic actions. A mitzvah is a blessed kind action filled with mercy and love.

When we love people we store up knowledge about them so that we can be a blessed to them and not a curse. Our well-meaning actions can be a 'sin against them' in they are done without knowledge.

Other than 'imputing sin' to one another the next best way to kill a relationship is to function without knowledge towards that person.

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."" Mark 12:30-31 ESV

It is very easy for us to wander away from a mitzvah-filled life.

Let's seek God's mind and ponder His words. Let's be filled with the Spirit that is compatible with the new nature we received at our new birth and live a life of understanding love. The Holy Spirit will kindly show us if we have eyes to see it. It doesn't require a high IQ to do this. It requires a laid down life of attention and imparted understanding.

--

Friday, December 9, 2016

Quit Ye Like Men

Many thoughts this morning...

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV

The KJV says 'quit ye like men'.

It speaks of emulating the best qualities of the men you admire as you stay alert and present in firmness and in strength.

Oh, That is a good thought.

Put away the mirrors. It isn't a time to look at yourself. Look at Jesus and let his character and actions motivate a firmness and watchfulness that results in loving action.

Being all you can be isn't enough. Jesus was, Is and forever will be more than enough.

We have what we need when we are motivated in a vision of who Christ Is.

--

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Filthy Language - Colossians - Part 52

The next unique word used in Colossians is the Greek word aischrologia (Strong's G148) and it used here as 'filthy language'...

"But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth." - Colossians 3:8 NKJV

It is a good translation. The word it comes from means filth related to shame. That is an interesting concept. Filth is something that is thought of as preventable so people brought up around cleanliness often associate filth with shame. Company can't come over unless the house is spotless.

Filthy language is littered with curse words and obscene ideas. Littered is the operative word. It is speech that is preventable in clean society.

Let's move to the verses that follow.

"Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." - Colossians 3:9-15 NKJV

Wow. The shame economy is gone.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you." - John 15:1-3 ESV

We don't clean up our act. God does. That is profound.

Jesus bears fruit is us and through us. There is no division. Everyone who believes is clean. Our feet get dirty but we have been washed clean.

If we are self-regulating our words then our source of strength is our self. God will give us words if our minds are set on things that are above (see Colossians 3:1)

--

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Same Tired Pathways - Colossians - Part 51

Have you ever felt that you have 'trodden this territory before' and not just once but many times? I have gone over this book several times the last few weeks and as I approach the passage I thought, 'Haven't you written about this before? Should you just move on to something else?'

I think that is a common theme in life. I for one get tired of rehashed ideas. I get weary of walking the same walk from my car to work in the morning. I get tired of chicken cooked the same 10 ways.

But, The Bible is different because it is a living book. Yes, I may have read the passage before and studied it thoroughly but that doesn't mean I know it. We can take the same keys and unlock the same door in the same worn keyhole and come away surprisingly refreshed.

" 'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things that all perish as they are used) - according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." - Colossians 2:21 - 3:4 ESV

There are several unique words here in verse 22 there is 'used' and verse 23 has 'self-made religion' (translated will worship in the KJV), 'severe treatment'and 'indulgence' all very interesting words.

We seek above thing in what may be the mundane routines of life. The world, the flesh and the devil (the accuser) are our constant adversaries. They don't change but the do fade into the background unrecognized if familiarity sets in. We set our minds on Jesus who sits on the right hand (the place of approval and honor) and we are seated there with Him.

It makes me want to knock on the doors I knocked on a few years ago. Part of me says, 'Why go back? That is the past. Move forward or you will stagnate and die.' No. Evangelism is different. It is fresh and alive and the people behind those doors may have changed or they may be the same but more ready to hear the Gospel because of what the routine of life has done to them.

Joseph woke up in prison every morning for years and years. He ate the same food and saw the same faces. He was the son that his father loved and his brothers hated. He should of had a good life but the middle of his life was spent in prison. He was a young adult when he got there and a middle-aged man when he was finally promoted and made second in command of all of Eygpt.

How he spent those mundane years made all the difference.

Let's usher freshness in by looking at God. We rehearse we don't rehash. We return and preserve the old landmarks. We live in newness with God.

--

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Soul Ownership

"Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine..." - Ezekiel 18:4a ESV

Perhaps we all make the mistake of believing that our soul (mind, emotions, will, conscience and self-consciousness) belong to our self or even to someone else. Children don't belong to their parents... it is a stewardship. Women don't belong to men or vice versa. Slavery is a lie.

All souls belong to God. He owns everything.

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." - Romans 8:14 ESV

Shocking really. God adopts men and women to set them free.

--

Monday, December 5, 2016

Submit To Regulations - Colossians - Part 50

The unique word is chapter 2 verse 20 is translated 'submit to regulations'...

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations - 'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things that all perish as they are used) - according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." - Colossians 2:20 - 3:4 ESV

Wow.

What a challenge this is for us. The rules seem like our best recourse to keep the unruly in line but this passage suggests something else.

We have a hidden life with God and when Christ is revealed that life is revealed also.

We imagine that we have our own story straight but I think we will be surprised. God's account is from the 'hidden in Christ' perspective. It won't be about how much or little we regulated ourselves.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Not Like Gehazi

This morning I am reading 2 Kings chapter 5 again and again. Four people stand out.

Here are the first two...

"Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, 'Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.' So Naaman went in and told his lord, 'Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.' " - 2 Kings 5:1-4 ESV

Naaman is a great but leprous man and then there is this little girl.

"And the king of Syria said, 'Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.' So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, 'When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.' And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, 'Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.' But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, 'Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.' " - 2 Kings 5:5-8 ESV

The third person is Elisha. He is a great man also but in a different way. Naaman saw opportunity to be healed and acted on it. Elisha saw opportunity for God and acted on it.

Then we have the fourth person. He is the one we don't want to be.

God heals Naaman...

"Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, 'Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.' But he said, 'As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.' And he urged him to take it, but he refused... He said to him, 'Go in peace.' But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, 'See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.' So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, 'Is all well?' " - 2 Kings 5:15-16, 19-21 ESV

Each of the four saw opportunity and that is what made them noteworthy people.

If you keep reading the account Gehazi ends up with Naanam's leprosy because of what he did with what he saw.

Can't we contrast the little girl with Gehazi? Gehazi was a great failure. The little girl was a great success.

God is at work today. Do you see it? What will you do with that knowledge? Will you be healed or infected from touching what you shouldn't have touched?

I get something from all four people. I can be a catalyst like that little girl. I also see myself in Naaman. I desire to be heroic in faith like Elisha who has no fear but sees God doing something where other men have given up hope. I can also be a small minded and selfish as Gehazi who sees the work of God as an avenue to feed his ambition.

Oh God! Let grace frame our thinking today. You are here. If we wallow in our limitations and remain isolated in our thinking we will live an anonymous mundane existence that is not even noteworthy enough to be recorded. Billions live that way. But greatness is right here before us if we discern Your work in expectation. Let these four people frame our thinking and guide us.

Thank You God. Praise You Lord.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Defrauding and Taking A Stand - Colossians - Part 49

"Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind," - Colossians 2:18 NASB

Very interesting study this morning.

If you have ever read 'The Screwtape Letters' you know what it's like to march through the muck of evil. I liked that book but I had to keep putting it down and coming back to it because you can only handle evil's perspective for so long before needing a shower.

Passages like these are that for me. I don't gravitate towards them. I'd rather talk about hope, grace and mercy but then I do a study like this that is systematic and I can't avoid the mud puddle. The boots go on and right through the center I go.

The unique Greek words here are katabrabeuĊ (Strong's G2603), translated here as 'keep defrauding' and embateuĊ (Strong's G1687) translated 'taking his stand' and they are actions that are continuous. The person in evil keeps defrauding, in part, because they keep taking a stand on what they see. Natural evaluation causes a vicious circle. Faith makes an entrance and an exit but walking by sight always cycles a person into a deficit. People become takers because they 'worship angels' and walk by sight. They deprive themselves and then deprive others in the name of what is good but it isn't God's good.

That word 'visions' is thrown in there making it seem spiritual but in the Greek it just means 'things seen' that inflate the mind. Communism was such a concept. Large groups imbraced an artificial system that they thought would better mankind but it brought destruction. People 'saw' a coming eutopia but it was a mirage based on natural reasoning.

It is amazing how wrong smart people can be. This year I am amazed again about how wrong so called experts have been about so many things.

God's mind is proven.

"For no word from God will ever fail." - Luke 1:37 NIV

(translated 'For with God nothing shall be impossible' in the KJV but it actually says the Rhema of God will accomplish it's purpose)

The God of all grace isn't going to defraud you. Jesus' Father is that God. The God of men's philosophies is a pale comparison to this glorious person. The Father can only be known through the Son. If there is no Jesus at the center of the concept it can't be trusted. It is just fruit from the tree or the knowledge of good and evil and that has proven to be a deadly place to get nourishment.

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