Monday, November 20, 2017

First Fruits

God doesn't want our best. He wants our 'first fruits.'

"You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me." - Exodus 22:29-30 NKJV

If you made 100 sales as a salesman last month and this month you sold 101 and set a new record He doesn't want that extra sale. He wants the first 10.

Something to think about isn't it?

God isn't interested in taking credit for your excellence. He is the foundation of all good things. Recognition is right and in order and it sets our minds and priorities right and in order.

What demands the first fruits of our time? The thing we give the first 10% is the thing we worship and love the most.

I want my first thoughts of the day to be, 'It is finished because of Jesus' Things that crowd in before that are idols to me and they must be put in their place. God is going to get my first 10% or I have determined that I need to repent (change my mind) because I have lost my sense of priority. Thanksgiving needs to be first, not last. If it is first it will linger until the end also.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Abuse Of Power

Like many these days, I've been thinking about the abuse of power. I've been looking at these passages and substituting the word 'brother' and 'elder' for 'powerful and experienced person who has influence.'

"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." - Matthew 18:15-17 ESV

"Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure." - 1 Timothy 5:19-22 ESV

In today's climate in 2017, social media seems to be a way that a group gets justice. Going alone to settle a score can be dangerous, can't it? Can you even get an appointment? Will your life be pulled through the mud as a result?

Looking at these passages I see a God who wants to give mercy and to cover matters if it is possible but it all sits on a foundation of justice.

I cringe at the abuse I see across a multitude of industries. I wish I could say the Church was immune but it isn't nor does the Bible say it is going to be.

Paul said this statement to a group just at the formation of the Church within a generation of the cross and the incarnation.

"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears." - Acts 20:28-31 ESV

There have always been those who abuse power. Nathan had to walk into the court of King David and confront the King about a grave transgression (see 2 Samuel 12:1f). Nathan had a divine covering but what he did was dangerous. I marvel at the courage a person needs to muster up to face a person in power. Powerful people also get accused of things that aren't true and have to deal with those situations on occasion also.

"Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! - Psalm 44:22-26 ESV

The psalmist captures the feeling there doesn't he?

I read these things and say to myself, 'I refuse to take the easy way out in these matters. I must be accountable and if need be make others accountable. Mercy is to great a cause. Love covers but that covering can't become a hiding place for abuse.'

Speaking truth to power has never been easy but we can live in the confidence that Nathan did when he came before his king.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-11 ESV

Let us live in the maturity of love. If God for us who can be against us?

In one of the recent high profile sexual abuse cases the reporters who broke, it said that they spent months interviewing victims but they avoided going to the man directly because they wanted to avoid 'off the record' conversations that might hinder them later. I found it interesting. Of course, the press isn't seeking to 'cover' or reconcile. Hopefully, we are.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Strange Mixtures

God doesn't approve of certain mixtures. The last part of this passage is often used by angry atheists or other folks who want to disprove or invalidate the scriptures one way or another but I find it to be very edifying in context. That is why I have included the verses directly before the often quoted passage.

"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material." - Leviticus 19:17-19 ESV

God doesn't want us to mix love and hate. He gave Israel, not us, statutes so that they would be a visual witness. The nations and cultures who passed through Israel to get to the Orient or to Europe would say, 'These people are different. They eat differently. They dress differently. They are funny people. What makes them different?'

If you have a garment made of more than one material don't sweat it. This 'statute' isn't for you. Chuqqah (Strong's H2708), the word translated statute, means custom or way of life. It was never meant to be global. It is an illustration of God's distaste for mixtures given to a nation that was to represent His mind to the world.

The world is very fond of making hybrids these days. Foods get mixed. DNA gets tossed together like a salad in laboratories. We as believers are not called to be an example of that. We are called to purity. Wear what you want. Join in marriage to the person you want to marry no matter what their ethnicity is. A joining of a man and a woman is a blessed event. God isn't asking us to have an outward conformity. His mind is pure and He loves to see us with an undivided heart and mind. He wants love that never seeks revenge. He wants pure relationships and we can only have those if we look at how He Is and what His Son has done on the cross so transformation and renewal can take place.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Structured Freedom

Still reading Romans chapter 7 and just pondering why rules don't work for us in the long run.

"So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin." - Romans 7:12-14 ESV

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh," - Romans 8:3 ESV

Ever work in a place with tight restrictive rules? A few people thrive but in most of the places I have been the relationships with management are always strained in some way. Those rules may be good rules or bad ones it. The culture is affected no matter what.

Folks teach that God is like that but He isn't. Rules were given so 'sin would be revealed as exceedingly sinful'. God isn't a micromanager.

"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' They answered him, 'We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?' Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:31-36 ESV

God has made a family for himself and creates a divine culture in this family. It is one of freedom not oriented on restrictions.

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. '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." - 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 ESV

This isn't a legal treatise. This is just me pondering on an ordered culture of freedom that has love, mercy, grace and honour. A place where we don't marvel at or concentrate on the rules or personal failure. We don't sweep it under the rug but we also don't live focused on how someone or something should be. We marvel at the mercy and live in a vision.

Rules just are not going to 'fix' people. Love will produce the change. Structured freedom creates an atmosphere of growth where failure isn't final.

Grace is sufficient. It really really is.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Out Of The Dark Forest

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." - Romans 7:15 ESV

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I'm reading Romans chapter 7 very carefully this morning and making my way into chapter 8. It is like Paul has shown us a special pathway out of a psychic forest and out into an open place.

"For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." - Romans 7:22 - 8:4 ESV

There are forces that work on all of humanity but Jesus has put a new dynamic in our lives and it is an aerodynamic force that works in the midst of the gravity we experience because of our fallen nature.

Jesus does what we couldn't do. Jesus did what the law couldn't do. That work is finished. There is no condemnation. We have a way out of the forest.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV

If we are too strong we fight it out in the forest and never see the mountaintop. Grace is 'sufficient' but we don't know that if we are held in the struggle that everyone is held in down on the ground.

In Jesus' victory, we see that 'the law of the Spirit of life has set you (us) free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.'

We are free in the 'no condemnation' place. When it is finished we cease from introspection. We are brought out by God's power.

"In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?" - Psalm 56:11-13 KJV

There are some projects I want to tackle today and I'm not going to pump myself up to go fight in the forest. I need eagle eyes. I'm not asking for strength. I'm asking for provision and I move proactively in reliance so that I can approach each moment as a free man. 'It is finished' takes me out of the cycle and into a place where power can rest on me because my soul is resting in God's Son.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Questions About Present Choices

'What if?' must be a 'now' question and not a question about the past. The past can't be changed but asking that question about a decision that needs to be made today has a present impact.

The first four books of the Bible have many 'If you...' statements that have conditional results for the people of Israel. I have been reading some of them this morning and they are interesting to me.

"If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it." - Exodus 20:25 ESV

Look around and find the rocks. Don't change them or make them better. Don't chip off parts to make them fit. Don't edit the details of your life to sanitize or embellish it. Just find the big stones and pile them up as a place of worship.

"If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him." - Exodus 22:25 ESV

"If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him." - Exodus 23:4-5 ESV

Some moments bring big decisions and things can go either way.

"And Jesus answered them, 'Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen." - Matthew 21:21 ESV

What!?! We can believe and in a moment the terrain of a situation can change? Yes. That is the promise.

I want to live with a present tense 'What if?' statement of faith and not just a moral one.

"Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." - Mark 9:50 ESV

Is this the way to be salty again? What if it is? We can search out and look for spiritual consequences in present decisions and choose God.

"Jesus said to her, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?' " - John 11:40 ESV

We can't change the past. If we alter the stones we just defile the altar. We can do something now for later. We can believe God. We can trust Him now and mountains will move and people will gather to deal with issues. Nothing will change if we live in the past. The future is formed in the present.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Seeing And Being Seen

I have been reading some very different things lately by people who are far outside of my viewpoint. It's crazy when you read a paragraph someone wrote and think, 'Huh, We have some common ground here. That is something to consider.' then you get to the next paragraph and think, 'Wow, That is straight out of crazy town fantasy land. This person must have dropped acid. How do they function in society?'

I am very aware that people, myself included, can be seduced by a lie. As a man seduction will likely come visually. Men are especially vulnerable to be seduced by what they see (or can visualize). Men see something and then the promise of actualization (having or experiencing that thing) sucks them in.

"And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, 'To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.' And Jesus answered him, 'It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.' " - Luke 4:5-8 ESV

"It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, 'Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?' " - 2 Samuel 11:2-3 ESV

Woman have different vulnerabilities. They are sensitive to how they are perceived. This next passage is so illustrative to me of the female design. A woman is caught in adultery and the powers that be see this as a perfect opportunity to trap Jesus. He preaches love and forgiveness so they think He will make a judgement that undermines their society faced with this woman and her situation. They wants to make Him look bad but He turned the table on them.

"And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.']] Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' " - John 8:7-12 ESV

He got the men to look at themselves which broke the mob mentality apart and assured the woman about how she was perceived. She was forgiven. God wasn't seeing her in a bad light. She was loved and known. Her actions mattered because she was known.

Our youth face such challenges today don't they? They must see and be seen like every generation before them and how will they respond? If they see good sane wholesome things they will have a healthy option. If they are seen through love, acceptance and forgiveness perhaps they will have more of a willingness to reject other identifications.

Maturity is so needed. Mature men know what to look at and where to look. They must have trained eyes. Mature women have a developed self-image and great appreciation for those who see others in a certain way.

No one is immune to deception except God. I seek His mind. I travel ordered pathways knowing that the wind could easily blow me around if it is given a chance to do so.

God, Please help us. Not everything we think is right or real. Shed light into those dark areas and break down the wrong presuppositions we have that leave us vulnerable to be deceived. You are the truth. You are the fountain of living waters. We need nothing else but You to satisfy our thirst. Help us. Bless us. Guide us. Show us. We put our trust in you. We look to you knowing You see us and know every part of us.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Tree Of Life

This morning I'm doing a simple study on a phrase and meditating on it's meaning...

'tree of life'

"And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." - Genesis 2:9 KJV

"And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:" - Genesis 3:22 KJV

"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." - Genesis 3:24 KJV

"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens." - Proverbs 3:13-19 KJV

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise." - Proverbs 11:30 KJV

"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." - Proverbs 13:12 KJV

"A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit." - Proverbs 15:4 KJV

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." - Revelation 2:7 KJV

My thoughts go to Jesus meeting Mary in the garden after He has conquered death. It mirrors Eve in her garden. Mary is weeping and looking for Jesus. Her hope has died. It has been days. Jesus made a promise again and again that death could not hold Him and she is wandering at the edge of that promise. Then she finds Him.

"Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned and said to him in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.''" - John 20:14-17 ESV

He is her tree of life. God banished Adam and Eve from the garden to prevent access. Mary has access but she is told not to 'cling to Him' but points her to an attachment to the Father. She has been adopted. The banishment is over.

Words can be a tree of life. Wholesomeness. Integrity. Organization that has life. Words can kill and 'breach' the spirit but we have a tree of life.

Jesus. He Is our tree of life. He is the 'soul winner' that makes us that way. The organization of His mind can nourish us. Communion is symbolic of this idea isn't it? We eat of the reality that His body was broken for us. We drink in that His blood was shed. The words that convey that truth affect us. They free us. They win us.

We are not cut off anymore. We can't touch Him with our hand but we can live in His life and His Father is our Father because of His sacrifice.

Amazing.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Merciful Mind

"Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." - Luke 6:36 ESV

Wow. That is loaded.

Jesus practised this.

"But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.' Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned and said to him in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord'- and that he had said these things to her." - John 20:11-18 ESV

We have a merciful Father. He isn't sentimental. He Is merciful. We need to see His mercy. There are merciful actions and there are also merciful thoughts. I like how it says 'be' merciful which covers both but starts with an identity of mercy.

It is easy to justify unmerciful behaviour in our minds.

"For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." - James 2:13 ESV

God give us a merciful disposition today... even if it is not our native personality... let us be purposely merciful so we can showcase your mercy. Thank You God. You are merciful to us. Give us a merciful mind and increase our capacity to think mercifully and act in mercy with an identity that lives in mercy.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sowers Of Good Seed

Seed to the sower.

"As it is written, 'He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.' He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" - 2 Corinthians 9:9-15 ESV

The Gospel of grace puts us in this cycle of seed being sown to produce bread and more seed.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." - John 12:24-25 ESV

Jesus was and Is the seed that fell into the ground and then gave nourishment to us.

We have a calling. It is to sow seed and bake bread so that the hunger will be fed. Our life doesn't have to be just eating, sleeping, working and playing. It can be more. Fill your pockets with seeds. Your generosity in sowing has an overflow beyond what you or i see with our eyes.

Thank You God. Make us sowers today. Thank you for your inexpressible gift!

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Renewed Hope

I need hope to be renewed on a regular basis.

"But Naomi said, 'Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.' Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her." - Ruth 1:11-14 ESV

Naomi wasn't having her hope renewed and she was trying to fit her future into what was. The future rarely fits into that old mold. Hope gives us flexibility.

Jesus said this...

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" - John 14:1-2 ESV

Jesus has gone into this day 'before' us just like He travelled into death and scouted out a path for us. He operates from eternity. His prayers are with full knowledge of what has happened and what will happen.

"Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." - Hebrews 7:25 ESV

My hope lies in this 'uttermost' salvation.

"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 10:32-33 ESV

This is an interesting passage to ponder in this context isn't it? His timing for release is just right but 'acknowledgement' of Him plays a part in some of our situations. Hope is linked to seeing Him in our days and moments.

Naomi could only see the future through her past performance and that wasn't going to work in her present situation. Ruth would be the one that God used to save her and her family. The Messiah would come through Ruth's line. Naomi had no way to see that before it happened.

We can't know what God will do this week or next month. We have hope that He has gone before us and in acknowledging Him we become colaborers instead of spectators.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

A Great White Throne

Wow. One day we will see this next scene. It isn't in the past. It is in the future and we will all be there one way or the other.

"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." - Revelation 20:11-15 ESV

Jesus is the ark for this flood that is coming.

There was no place found because the only safe place is Jesus Christ Himself.

"The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." - Psalm 118:14 ESV

"Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him," - Hebrews 5:8-9 ESV

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil." - John 3:16-19 ESV

Can we fathom this? The Bible makes this specific claim. Life isn't just joy and sorrow only to end in an eternal sleep. We aren't being reborn in a different body. Our souls are forever. Our actions count.

Jesus is my safe place. Is He yours? I hope so. He can be.

Only believe. His cross was for you. All you have done, great and small, that would have qualified you to be cast away was paid for on that cross. Now He Is risen and can never die again. Christ wants you to believe that was for you and take your place under His divine covering.

Some of you have believed and I pray many more of you will get into this Ark of safety.

--

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Is Cain Fully Human?

Today I briefly explore the question:

Is Cain fully human?

Some of you may be saying 'What?!?" and it is understandable. It sounds like an idea out of a science fiction novel.

This concept is actually at the root of a great deal of hatred and dehumanizing of people groups. One of the pieces of 'secret knowledge' that closed groups reveal to their initiated. They then claim that 'not all people are people' and 'we are better'.

They use the King James language of this next passage and the fact that Cain was omitted from the Genesis 5 genealogy of Adam (with other conceptual leaps based on Hebrew word meanings) as proof.

"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." - 1 John 3:8-12 KJV

A more modern translation of this passage reads like this:

"Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous." - 1 John 3:8-12 ESV

A little clearer. Right.

It is a dangerous idea because it brings people down a path that dehumanizes others. If Cain isn't human then he is 'unsavable', lacking a soul, then it follows that there are other people who are also. Those people are less than human. History shows us where this thinking leads.

Fortunately, the scripture is very clear on what Cain is and who salvation is for.

"Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD." - Genesis 4:1 ESV

Simple. Literal. Clear. Adam's son who is omitted from the family line because of his departure from God to do his own thing. A 'way' many others have followed also.

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

The Gospel is the higher knowledge and God doesn't want it to be a secret.

All people are people. All people need a saviour. Some won't choose Jesus but it isn't because they can't it is because they won't.

I truly feel sad for those who work their way up a ladder in a false system and have nonsense like this given to them after years of life are wasted. Salvation is so simple yet impossible for the one who desires to retain an air of superiority. It is only for the humbled who are finally ready for the simple truth.

--

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Discerning The Body Of Christ

My thoughts this morning turn to 'discerning the body of Christ'.

I can see very easily why people would be gun shy of entering into a large or medium-sized group. Anyone who has been in such a group before knows there are dynamics that are possible that are not so pleasant to endure.

"If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler." - 1 Peter 4:14-15 ESV

It's an interesting list. Meddling seems right at home with robbery and murder because taking is involved.

Can we discern the body of Christ? Is the group holy? Is each individual holy? Yes. In God's mind, certain groups are holy because He Is present when they gather.

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

Gathering in God's name is gathering in His character and nature. It isn't a group that slaps a name of a building. It is God making Himself manifest in a particular way for a particular season.

This isn't a rebuke of any kind.

I'm just praying for different people this morning. Some suffer as victims because of a lack of discernment and other suffer as perpetrators. Both carry degrees of suffering.

Here is a different translation with verse sixteen added also.

"So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people's affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!" - 1 Peter 4:14-16 NLT

Yes. Murder, theft, troublemaking for personal gain or amusement and meddling all carry a burden of guilt. They all have echoes that bounce back for years and maybe even centuries after the event but identification with Jesus doesn't carry regret like that. That suffering has future glory and amplifies appreciation.

I find myself careful that my speech is oriented towards edification and evangelism (the two sanctioned forms or communication) and not meddlesome or careless. People need safe places.

Let the 'glorious Spirit of God' rest on us today and make us into harmless edifiers with words saturated with grace and mercy.

--

Monday, October 30, 2017

He Will Restore

Reading the book Joel this morning and having thoughts about addiction, memory and the conscience...

"The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth." - Joel 1:1-5 ESV

I also listened to part of a message from Chuck Smith and he brought out that these locusts that seem to be listed as different insects but actually they are different developmental stages of one kind of insect.

The reference to elders or 'old men' reminds me of this passage.

"And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him." - John 8:7-9 ESV

The 'old men' left first because they of all people knew they were not without sin. The cutting locust had turned into the swarming locust and they had turned into the hopping locust.

Doesn't this remind you of addiction? It is an insect that starts out small but grows.

""Yet even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? ... "The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. "You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame." - Joel 2:12-14, 24-27 ESV

When we think of addiction the substances are what often come to mind but this morning I'm thinking of the plague of trying to please God. It is widespread and damaging as it grows. The cross is the ultimate representation of how far short our performance is. Only one person has ever pleased God. Jesus. Our blessing is always and only by association.

People try to please God as children and then as young adults. They grow up and the problems compound because in that economy we have expectations that God should eventually please us in return and His perfect plan has many unpleasing things.

Yes. Heroin will eat up a person's life but so will a works program of self-pleasing, people-pleasing or God-pleasing.

We can live in 'the finished work of the cross' and have our life restored. Jesus can be all in all. He can be the alpha and omega of our spiritual life and what was devastated can be restored. I have seen the freedom people gain once they embrace the finished work. How they relate to God and others becomes healthy.

We don't need to please Him. Jesus already has. Now we can just be with Him in what He Is doing. God Is glorified and we don't steal the glory from Him. He becomes the answer we give to others. Not methods. Not actions or mindsets... just Jesus. Jesus as the Saviour. Jesus as the shepherd. Jesus as the missionary. Jesus on His knees praying. Jesus the great physician. Jesus as the brother who gives us a Heavenly Father.

Jesus as our King.

""Yet even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster." - Joel 2:12-13 ESV

So cry a little if you are trying to please yourself or trying to add to what Christ has done by trying to please God. Rend your heart and turn. It is amazing what He can restore when our eyes shift to Christ and His life.

--

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Morning Worship

Quieting myself and entering into worship this morning. Pause. Worship. Everything is about HIM just for a few moments. He IS amazing, wonderful counsellor, mighty God and King of all Kings. Full focus. There are no problems. Pain can go on a coffee break. Worry can take a walk alone outside. Just HIM. He Is all I see or care about. Obligations... none... not now. Now I just enjoy Him and know that He enjoys me because of Christ.

As I enter my day He Is with me and I am with Him. Miracles are waiting even in seemingly mundane circumstances. He becomes my Shepherd.

--

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Let Us Be Bereans

Ever go down a doctrinal detour? I have gone down many only to find a dead end.

"The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." - Acts 17:10-11 ESV

Tasty tidbits. We want some things to be true but when we look at the scriptures that is when we really find out what is what.

I spent an hour this morning looking at scriptures someone quoted to promote a certain idea and came away finding out that this person's idea didn't have scriptural traction. It relied on a nuance for a word used in the King James Version translation but the Greek didn't bear out that nuance.

It isn't uncommon.

Folks read their Bible and come to wrong conclusions because they have no, or very limited, knowledge of the original languages that the scriptures were written in. Then they go off on doctrinal detours that lead to spiritual dead ends that turn the focus away from Jesus and the Gospel of Grace.

Let's be Bereans. Not so we can argue and be hyper-intellectual. The Bible should bring us somewhere. Jesus should be visible in His magnificence. We should look and see a white harvest field if the truth is presented.

My time this morning was well spent. Now I can turn the page and move on.

--

Monday, October 23, 2017

Blind And At Peace

This is a passage I have meditated on a great deal over the years...

"Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the LORD? He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear." - Isaiah 42:19-20 ESV

'Dedicated one' is shalam (Strong's H7999) and it is a personification of the great word SHALOM which means peace, health and national tranquillity.

We live in a time where observation and sensitivity are prescribed and valued highly and closed-minded thinking is vilified and thought to be backward and contrary to progress.

This passage isn't promoting closed-mindedness. It is promoting a kind of singleminded blindness.

Jesus personified the above passage and He was and Is the most compassionate man that ever lived.

Grace is blind to people's faults but it isn't a naive blindness. The gracious person 'sees many things but does not observe them' because there is a higher favor that is given. Jesus clothes men and women in His righteousness but that garment is not visible to those that hear and see.

I was blinded once temporarily and for a week I had to wear patches over both eyes. It was very enlightening. My roommates brought me to classes and helped me.

I want to call on that experience and use it. I want to rely on God to lead me and not see what the world around me is shouting at me to see. I want to be blind and deaf but looking and listening for God's voice and cues. Living now not looking for later. Acting now and not regretting the past.

The world isn't going to tell us this. Our flesh will want more to see and more information that gives it power. The accuser will demand we look at the issues and shortfalls of ourselves and others.

Let's be blind in this way and be at peace with God today.

--

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Enjoy The Victory

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV

I'm reading a booklet and the Pastor says something interesting about besetting sin...

'Smoking is not the real issue; the issue is that this person enjoys no victory. His health is being tremendously affected. The whole issue behind his predicament is a besetting sin that he will not let go. As a result, He is limited in his blessings, in his process, and in his progress in the Kingdom of God. He has admitted that he doesn't feel right when he smokes, but he will not receive victory above his preoccupation.' -Carl H Stevens, Jr (Church Leadership)

The part that caught me this morning was '...he enjoys no victory...'

We need to enjoy victory. You might say, 'I'm not a competitive person'. Ok. I get that. But victory comes in many forms.

"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." - Revelation 12:10-11 KJV

Who did 'they' overcome in this Heavenly vision of the future? They overcame 'the accuser' who told them that their identity was something less than what it was.

The Blood of the Lamb = The reality that sin has been paid for and delt with

The Word of Their Testimony = The story they rehearsed about God's faithfulness

Loved Not Their Lives = The lived like eternity was real

Oversimplified. Yes. Maybe a little.

It isn't the smoking. It's the cycle of defeat. Jesus provides a counter spin of victory that overcomes the whirlpool of accusation. Every believer is an overcomer because of the blood but no believer will experience daily victories unless they talk truth against the current and live beyond self-love.

You are a winner. Say it. You have won because of Jesus.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:35-39 ESV

I like the 'no' in that passage. That 'no' shows a contest. Let's win that battle today and say, 'No. We (not i) are more than conquerors.' because the accusation isn't just against us and we don't live in victory just for ourselves.

--

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How Does Godliness Happen?

How?

How do we have clarity?

How do the obstacles in our thinking get removed?

How is the mental clutter washed away?

The Bible has a 'how' paragraph in the Psalms.

"Beth
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 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. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word." - Psalm 119:9-16 ESV

In Psalm 119 each section has a theme. It is an alphabetical song. 'Beth' or 'Bet' is the second letter of the alphabet and the first letter used in the Hebrew word translated here as 'How'. The Hebrew word mah (Strong's H4100) is a question word that is really more than just 'how.' It has 'what' and 'why' mixed in also.

It questions the first portion of the Psalm. Beth asks about Aleph. B asks about A.

"Aleph
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!" - Psalm 119:1-3 ESV

How?

How can 'a young man' be this person?

The Psalm gives us answers, doesn't it? Words. Focus. Jesus is the blessed One. We look at Him and not ourselves. We hang on His words and follow His steps.

We wake up to find dust, dirt and leaves have cluttered up our path. Problems seem to make devotion more difficult. Our thinking needs cleansing. How does it get swept away? How does our cluttered desk return to order so we can think orderly thoughts?

Jesus. Look at Jesus. What did He say? How did He live, die and rise again? Where is He now? He Is sitting at the right hand of the Father. His salvation work is finished and now He Is ever living to make intercession for us. That meditation sweeps away the dust and rinses out the glass so it is clear again. That is the 'How' of being blessed. That is the 'B' that follows our 'A' and makes it practical and possible.

--

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Prepared To Give A Gift

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

The two ideas are linked, aren't they? Theft and speech. We can take through what we say or we can give but it takes a kind of labor to give. A person can steal in a moment but bringing a gift takes preparation and thought.

If people have ears then they have a need. They are 'in need' of grace. They may not even know it but they are.

My work is the same work Israel had in the wilderness. I gather manna for today. I get some for myself and my household but I also get some for whoever else I might come in contact with. I used to be a thief. I took what I wanted with my words. If I come unprepared I might just live that way again today.

I don't have every word planned out. I've just received a gift from Heaven and I'll put it out there like people would put a bowl of candy on their desk. Then, in the future, if people need a mint or want something sweet and nourishing they will know where they can come to get something.

--

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Negative Influences

Human beings use different language with different people. Some folks do it more than others. People may talk to parents one way but then use totally different language, words and phrases with a co-worker they barely know. It makes sense. We have all experienced it. We can say these are 'masks' and sometimes they are but it seems to go deeper than that. Children of divorce see it in parents that remarry people who have very different personalities than their original mate. Sometimes there are radical changes and that can be attributed partially to happiness levels. They were sad and frustrated in the first marriage but now they are happier so things have changed. Mood seems to be part of it but the bottom line is that for most people personality is plastic and it changes depending on who we spend time with. People 'bring out' aspects of who we 'are' or who we want to be.

"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.' Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 'As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you...' " - Genesis 17:1-6 NKJV

God wasn't saying, 'Walk before me and be on your best behavior'. He was saying, 'I am giving you a new name because when you are with me you are blameless. In the KJV the word is translated 'perfect'.

When we walk with God it doesn't 'bring out the best in us'. No. If that is what is happening we are missing something vital. We have a new identity of perfection that He puts in us and it only comes out when we are with Him.

I think I have heard the phrase, 'I am going to remove all the negative influences from my life.' about 10 times just this week and I just can't get onboard with it. People get annoyed with me because I don't express overwhelming support but it just makes me sad and a little sick inside when I hear people try to go for a 'godless' solution that only sounds good on paper. Somehow people think that if they get rid of everything bad then only the good is what will remain and be strengthened but that is just not how life works.

Some people and situations are toxic and I am all for dealing with that if it is possible but that is an extreme surgical procedure and it is not the answer to most of life's problems. Surgery often means irreplaceable loss. People throw others away because they don't like who they are when they are with them.

The answer is to walk before God and 'be perfect'. That will mean saying 'no' to things but we are saying 'no' to the old because we have something new not because we are trying to purge the old to make something happen.

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?" - James 4:7-12 ESV

Negative influences will flee from you and if they don't you will have the power of a person who is exalted by God. If you say, 'All you people are sucking the life out of me and I deserve better.' you are one step closer to becoming a person who sucks the life out of others.

They are not the problem. They will be replaced by other imperfect people who will disappoint you in some other way. It is just a matter of time. If we walk with God He will bring people into our life we won't have to look. He will do it.

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." - John 1:12-13 KJV

I tried to use a more modern translation but they all take the word 'power' and translate it 'the right' and that just loses something. We have the 'power that authority gives us' to operate as children of God.

If we are stubborn and rigid people being around God brings out our new nature. If we are weak and wishy-washy we have a new life in God and His presence give us backbone.

God thinks you are perfect. Really. He thinks that because when you are with Him you are perfect. He gives that perfection as a gift to those who believe in His Son. If you are not 'with Him' you can't know who you really are but if you do walk with Him it won't matter what other people do or don't do... a kingdom will be walking with You.

--

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Heart And Soul - Part 4

In the last 'Heart and Soul' post we spoke a little about God's word opening us up to reveal to us our need to enter into rest. There is much more to be said about joints and marrow.

Joints speak of a person's life up until now (because their condition is affected by life) and marrow speaks of future vitality because blood is made in the marrow of our bones.

"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 4:12-13 ESV

"Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips." - Psalm 63:3-5 NKJV

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." - Proverbs 3:6-8 KJV

Joints also speak of individual relationships...

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." - Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV

Each joint works a little differently. One limb bends this way and another rotates that way. Every 'relationship' supplies a certain type of movement. Speaking the truth in love is good for every relationship.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." - Proverbs 17:22 KJV

Meditating on God, looking to Him for direction and discovering His heart of love gives us good bone marrow. We laugh with people and respecting the way the bones meet so that they are not pulled out of joint. Some toes wiggle and some don't. We can respect the boundaries while still exercising movement but our intention for each relationship is growth in grace. We speak the truth to reveal the Saviour and grow upwards into the Saviour's headship.

I thought of a few people this morning that I haven't spoken to in a while and prayed for them. I want to build them up when I see them and let them know they are loved. I want for them to have 'future vitality'. I want the 'bend' or 'turn' of our relationship to be one of honor and respect otherwise things may get pulled out of joint.

God please bless our joints and marrow today. Teach us to live. Fill us with joy and cause us to enter into Your rest. Give us wisdom for our dealings with one another and please organize laughter therapy sessions we can have with people this week. We praise You and worship You in the holiness that You have given by grace. Thank You Lord.

--

Monday, October 9, 2017

Gender Battles

Men and women have such different battles.

Women need to feel loved, covered and protected. If they sense this covering they will blossom and their creativity and beauty will shine. If they sense a lack of it... they may be covered but if they sense, or feel, they are not covered or loved they are in distress.

Men miss read the signals. Men want something else.

Men need honor, respect and affirmation. If they sense they have this... not so much by feeling because they are not in touch with their feelings in the same way as women are... but sense it by evidence that they can process. They may be respected but think they are not being respected or are not worthy of respect... they are in distress.

I see examples of these differences all through the scriptures. These principles are evident in the Genesis 31 account or Jacob, Laban and Rachel. Jacob was leaving and was led by God to do so, in part because his purpose could never be fulfilled connected that closely to Laban's house. Rachel took Laban's idols because she wanted the covering on her father's house to go with her and her new family. The idols hindered her. Idols do that but she did it out of genuine need.

God really is the one who meets our unique needs. He meets the needs of the woman and he meets the deepest needs of the man. People disqualify but God qualifies by grace. We get respect and honor in Christ. We get love and covering in Christ. Then as we receive it by grace we become representations of what we have received. Without Jesus we accept a counterfeit version of what makes us feel whole or we try to manufacture what is missing ourselves and produce a self-reliant fiction to endure living without the things that would make us whole.

I see it in music. I see it in the Bible and I see it in life everywhere.

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.' " - John 14:6-7 ESV

I told people on a street corner this weekend, 'I am not afraid of what is happening in the world today because I have gone to God's throne and He has washed away my fear and filled me with love. I don't know what I will feel a few days from now but right now that is the truth.' and yet I know that if I lose my focus on Christ. If I am 'turned aside' those needs in my soul will become driving forces again. Our soul gets hungry just like our body does. It hungers for love, respect, honor, covering, kindness and all the things that God sent His Son to Earth to give us.

Men. The women in your life have different needs but they get those needs met from the same person that you get yours met. Be a man and go to God and receive grace.

Women. I'm not going to tell you what to do. That isn't what you need from me. I will just point you to Christ and tell you He loves you and has you covered and then be a grown brother and friend in any way I can be so that you will sense you have what you need to blossom.

Thank you, Jesus, for being the doorway to the Father for us. His house has all that we will ever need. We are loved just as we are. We are valued. We have divine purpose and we have the ability to fulfil our purpose. We worship there. There is no sighing there only joy. Thank You. Thank You Thank You.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Departures With Peaceful Boundaries

I am reading Genesis chapter 31, again and again, this morning.

"So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. And Jacob said to his kinsmen, 'Gather stones.' And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. Laban said, 'This heap is a witness between you and me today.' Therefore he named it Galeed, and Mizpah, for he said, 'The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another's sight. If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.' Then Laban said to Jacob, 'See this heap and the pillar, which I have set between you and me. This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.' So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac..." - Genesis 31:45-53 ESV

We are told that the location of this heap of stones has prophetic significance in the end times. It is a boundary set up and judgement befalls those who cross it to do harm.

Reading it made me think of departures. Jacob wanted to make a life with his family away from the influence, and displeasure, of his father-in-law. The heap of stones was a way for that to happen without animosity.

Isn't it beautiful when people can part ways and not think or speak ill of one another? I think so. I would wish that parting didn't have to happen but it does sometimes. People have different visions and where ever there is growth there is also division but it doesn't have to go badly.

"...and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country.  Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home." - Genesis 31:54-55 ESV

Yes. If God is between us we can love one another. It never says anywhere that Laban was a godly man. Jacob is the one who put down the first stone. Jacob said, 'Gather stones'. Those stones could have been used as weapons but Jacob made them into a monument and a 'no stone throwing' policy was initiated.

Yes. Let's live that way. Even if there were injustices involved in the parting. Let's pile those accusations in a heap and respect that heap as a boundary to never cross with the intention of doing harm. Jesus shed His blood on a cross to pay for all sin. Let us never take up those stone again to harm one another.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Heart And Soul - Part 3

The next passage is truly amazing and it is given in the context of Sabbath rest.

"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 4:12-13 ESV

Ceremonial rest. Purposeful rest. Ceasing from labor. Enter in. It isn't the sleep we get because we are exhausted. It is purposeful ceasing from labor. The Bible will give you and I discernment about many things. The joint is the hinge. Muscles pull. They can only pull or rest. The Bible is going to show us how we are using our muscles. God already sees but the Bible cuts it all open for us.

"So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God," - Hebrews 4:9 ESV

"The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts." - Proverbs 20:27 ESV

Divisions must be made. What is God's light and what is our personality? Our soul will strive to survive and eclipse out the light of the spirit. Without the Bible that is sure to happen. We will filter everything through ourselves. We will have an intellectual, social or emotional faith. No. The Bible must cut away soul from Spirit and say, 'This is who you are. Look at those joints. You can't pull now. Your power has been cut. Now look at the spirit and rest.'

"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God..." - 1 Corinthians 2:14a ESV

The word 'natural' there is psychikos (Strong's G5591) in the Greek and it would be better translated 'soulish'. Here is more context for the passage...

"And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 'For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." - 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 ESV

Yes. Light. Grace. Rest. Jesus' mind given in a book. Not everyone who quotes the book has God's mind. That is for sure. Maybe even most don't. Jesus' mind opens things up and frees us from striving. God's mind says, 'Look. The work is done. Stop striving to please me. Jesus has already pleased me. Rest in my love.'

The soul is who we are. The Spirit shines light into who we are. Truth is that light. The Bible is God's book of light.

We may say. I don't want to be cut open and seen like that. God already sees everything. He lays it open for us to see because He Is gracious and loving.

Your soul is like a perfect beautiful crystal. Let God hang it in the sunlight so it can shine forth God's glory. Enter into the rest of Christ's finished work. He strove to get to the cross and die in our place. Now God wants us to rest in everything we do.

Shabbat shalom everyone. Have a good Sabbath today and every day.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Heart And Soul - Part 2

I have said a few times before that 'first mention' is an important tool. We learn a great deal from the first mention of a word or concept in the scriptures.

Here is the first mention for the word 'heart.'

"The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God." - Genesis 6:5-9 ESV

The Hebrew word here is leb (Strong's H3820). It is a noun referring to our central blood-pumping organ. Like in English, it also means 'central'. In Genisis 6 we see man's heart and God's heart. All of mankind has a heart problem but Noah finds grace and we get clues to why much later.

"By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." - Hebrews 11:7 ESV

Noah believed.

The heart is an organ pumping blood in one direction. It is an organ installed in a body but a soul is different. It touchs a body and a body gives it form but it is not an organ. The first mention of this word is here.

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." - Genesis 2:7 KJV

Our soul is 'God breathed'. God holiest name is YAHWEH. It is translated in all uppercase in most places in the KJV of the Bible. It is so holy that the vowel markers were all but lost over time. Men who kept the scriptures would not say it out loud. Some translate it JEHOVAH substituting the vowels from another word. Either way this name is unique because in order to say YAHWEH you must exhale in a unique way. The word is a full exhale. The infinite God only exhales, gives, He never inhales, needs anything from anyone. He spoke words to create the universe but He exhaled His life in us.

Nephesh (Strong's H5315) is the word translated soul here and it is the substance of the mind. It is flowing air. It is God's continual outward flow flowing into us. Our body is like a glove. Our DNA gives our soul form. Decisions are like a mold for what we will be forever. This air has form that will exist when our body returns to dust.

You have a heart. You and I are a soul.

Without going too long I just want to give one last passage.

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." - Ezekiel 36:25-26 ESV

The wicked heart God saw that grieved Him so much was this stony heart. (You may find it helpful to go back and look at the definition given in Part 1). Noah believed and his center shifted. When we believe once in Christ we get, at that moment, a heart transplant. Love is circulating. We come alive.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Heart And Soul - Part 1

Heart and soul. The Bible uses both of these terms extensively. We really don't want to draw our understanding from popular culture for these terms. The Bible gives definition and if we look carefully we can put the 'puzzle pieces' together and get some deep understanding about ourselves and others.

My Pastor of many years gave this definition for the heart and it is still the best I have found...

'The heart is the premise of all motivation. It is the basis for all my operational behavior. It is the communication center of all my thoughts, feeling and decisions.' -P Carl H Stevens

Our soul is all we are. Our mind, emotions, feelings, sense of self identity. Our value system and even our memory, to a certain extent, fall into the category of the soul. It is who we are if we had no body. It isn't a mystical jelly fish of light that can be sold to the devil. It is us. We are not bodies with souls. We are souls with bodies.

"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" - Matthew 16:25-26 ESV

Wow. Great questions.

This post is an introduction to a series of posts where we will search out the heart and soul. I have an expectation that what we discover will be transforming.

You are very welcome to join me on this journey. Only the scriptures can reveal what is invisible to the naked eye. Our souls are eternal and our heart determines the quality of our life. Let's look at them and see what God has done.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Process Or Ignore

Recommendations and accusations are both verbal assessments of something. One is positive and the other is negative. One comes from a sense of 'above and beyond'-ness and the other transgressed a person's sensibilities in such a way that they feel they need to say something in order to balance the scales.

How do we deal with recommendation and accusations?

We can ignore them but that sends a message. People pay attention to those they respect and ignoring something a person says implies a lack of respect for that person (or group).

If we don't ignore the assessment then we have to process it in some way and there are several ways to do that.

"But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate." - Genesis 3:4-6 ESV

In one statement 'the serpent' accused God and recommended the fruit of the forbidden tree. Eve was totally unprepared for an accusation. It is the first one ever recorded.She was also unprepared to ignore anything someone said because she never had a reason to do that either.

Accusations have barbs. They trigger a 'knowledge of God and Evil' response.

People must know what God says on a subject. He must become the overriding voice in order for our minds to be whole. Then we can say, 'God said' and ignore without disrespect while at the same time we can recommend from a sound point of view.

If God is better than both of us we can still say, 'You and I are equals.'

That is why the attack on the Bible is so forceful. If people can invalidate that Book truth is up for grabs and no one can ever be equal. Emotionalism or intellectualism will always provide other strong winds of doctrine that blow people off course.

"And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." - Acts 20:32 ESV

Grace is truly amazing. If we live in it we can 'recommend it' and what we are saying is valid. Grace is only found in God and only communicated by His words. Grace is truly amazing. If we live in it we can 'recommend it' and what we are saying is valid.

"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." - 1 Timothy 1:15 ESV

Wow. The Apostle said this and the people who heard it knew it was true. In his former life he hunted Christians. Most speakers list some credentials so that their recommendations (or accusations) will be received. Paul's terrible past was his recommendation. Amazing. Paul is basically saying, 'You shouldn't respect me but I am not recommending myself. I am revealing God's power to save.'

We are surrounded by ideas and groups that say, 'If you don't hear us it is disrespectful.' and they are right... to a degree. If we ignore God it is also disrespectful to Him but He gives 'grace words' and no one else has those.

"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" - Psalm 34:8 ESV

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

Accusations may have sunk down deep if our soul but God can take the 'red' and make us 'white as now'. Will we trust His recommendation?

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Faithful In Little

I started out this morning doing a study on 'taking responsibility' but it brought me to this passage and the principle was so good that I want to park here for a while.

"And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?" - Luke 16:9-12 ESV

Yes, This speaks of honesty, investment and advancement but there is a depth to it beyond the natural side.

This principle is so vital. It basically says that if you have $5 you could buy a latte or you could get 2 coffees, one for you and one for another person and that investment gives you entrance into their 'eternal dwelling place.' You access their soul. It hints that later you will have an invitation to their eternal Heavenly home, which is outside our understanding, all by using money in an eternal way. Millions would be great but just a few dollars will work also.

Wow.

This faithfulness with 'unrighteous wealth' (money, power, influence, etc...) puts us in a place to be trusted with true riches.

This makes me want to be positioned so that what I have can be used well. Perhaps changes and seeming sacrifices need to happen for that to be true. Why not get a latte if no one is standing next to me? This isn't putting money into a jar that says, 'Relief for _____ victims'. That is great in its own way. We can't outgive God. But this is a one on one investment that touches a soul and the true riches are invested in our soul as peace, wisdom and an awareness of God's gracious mind. The true riches have to do with proximity to Christ and His life.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jesus' Last Thursday And Friday On Earth

This morning I am reading passages concerning the last couple of days of Christ's earthly ministry (Thursday and Friday).

Here are some passage references Matthew 26:19f, Mark 14:16f, Luke 22:13f, John 13:1f (Jesus' words) 18:13f (Events)

There is so much here but it just shocks me how much Jesus endured. He was tugged back and forth in so many ways. Physically. Emotionally. What a crazy couple of days that must have seemed like a lifetime.

Jesus knows what we go through. Of course, God knows everything but Jesus truly knows intimately. He has endured every humiliation and hardship.

We could say, 'Look how strong and noble He was.' and it would be true. No man was ever more noble. But, Even Jesus stumbled on His way to His destination and needed someone else to carry His cross. At the end of His strength, it was out of His hands. Then the words on the cross. Words of sanity and forgiveness even as He cried out to Heaven. Amazing. Just amazing.

I sit here very humbled.

"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." - Hebrews 12:3-4 ESV

Our issues look large and I am not belittling them. How will we do what needs to be done? One step at a time. One decision after another. It may be hard but are you bleeding yet? Wow.

I have a full schedule today but nothing that intense is on it (as far as I know) but even if there was I have a Savior to look to who endured far worse. Let's bear our indignities with dignity. Glory awaits us. He died but in three days He rose from that grave triumphant.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thank You God

It is a slow 'thank You' morning.

Thank You God. Thank You Lord. Thank You Jesus. Another day to say thank You. Another day to hug the ones we love and say thank you to God for life and breath and another day to live in.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Three Cords

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him - a threefold cord is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Oh, This is good.

Who are the first two people and who is the third person? There are a few answers. We could apply this to teamwork. We could also say that a family with children has this dynamic also.

I like to think that the first two cords represent communion (one person partaking of God's life) and the third person added to that dynamic provides fellowship (spiritual interaction based on God being between people in a relationship).

I have heard it taught as a comparison between natural marriage and spiritual marriage. That interpretation holds up but it never sat well with me that God would be third in any list. He Is never third in any list. He Is worthy to be first. It makes sense that He Is first not us. He was before the beginning and will be after the ending.

God. Us. Then other people who know and recognize the first cord. There is power there.

Or even better. God. Others. Us as a third cord to add strength through edification.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus," - Philippians 2:3-5 ESV

Wait! What? That's radical. Yes... and powerful.

I want to be the third cord this week. A person who strengthens those who know God. Then for those who go it alone I want to introduce the first cord into their lives and be there to add strength to that relationship.

God help us this week. You being intertwined in our life by grace has made all the difference. You warm our hearts. Thank You God.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Salvation Is Of Judah

"You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." - John 4:22-24 ESV

A great passage with rich meaning but today I'm focusing in on the 'Jewishness' of salvation. The word translated 'Jews' (Ioudaios - Strong's G2453) is an adjective, not a noun or a proper name. Some would even translate it 'Judahness' making a distinction between the northern and southern Hebrew kingdoms. Historically there was a split between 'Israel' and 'Judah'. Israel is known for making bad decisions because of bad leadership. Judah struggled and teeter-tottered back and forth. Salvation is 'of Judah' because Jesus is descended from Judah.

"And one of the elders said to me, 'Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.' " - Revelation 5:5 ESV

Jesus was and Is the best thing that was ever produced out of that land. He Is the Lion of that tribe. The Royal One.

Is salvation 'Jew-ish' or is it 'Judah-ish'. Is our spirituality? I would have to say based on the passage in John chapter 4 that it is both but it is also neither one.

In verse 9 we see that Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman who had her own somewhat warped ideas about spirituality and He was initiating life to her and saying that God is looking for present-day worshippers who have the right basis of understanding but are in their own category. They are 'graced out' ones who recieve and live in the grace of God. The Messiah was from Judah but what He brought was from Heaven and not steeped in an Earthern culture.

"So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year, they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." - Acts 11:25-26 ESV

Salvation is Jewish but spirituality is Christ-like because Christ-likeness is from Heaven. This isn't left wing versus right wing or based in morality. It isn't Baptist, Lutheran or Presbyterian. It is Jesus being manifested in the world. It is a man walking far out of His way to talk to an ostracized woman at a well and let her know that even though her concepts were wrong and she was known and cared for by just a few people on Earth... God cared for her and wanted to include her in His 'spirit and truth' fellowship.

Jesus provides hope for every person from every culture and economic background. He didn't come to make the world Jewish. He came so that the individual could be Christ-like. He came to save you and i out of all our wrong ideas and give us a new life with a new heritage.

Antisemitism has always been bubbling under the surface in culture after culture. It is no surprise. It isn't just a reaction to a people group that teeter-totters. It is a reaction to the Jewishness of salvation. It is a reaction to one carpenter's Son. Let's love that Son of man and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. That place needs our prayer.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Way Of An Injured Man

I listened to a radio program (NPR - Around The Nation - An Anti-Violence Activist Shares Her Reason For Buying A Gun) yesterday and my heart broke for this woman. A good woman trying to do the right thing and have a positive impact on the world but overwhelmed by the effects her past has on her present.

It made me think of this passage.

"I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not, and on the peoples that call not on your name, for they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his habitation." - Jeremiah 10:23-25 ESV

We see the right thing to do but often it is just past our grasp. Things have happened to us and even though we don't live in them the residue of them remains in our lives.

"A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good." - Proverbs 16:29 ESV

They say that most violence in areas with gang activity is retaliatory. Social media has amplified that cycle. People used to be able to 'talk smack' behind closed doors but now it is out there for every ego to see.

"As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!"" - Luke 24:36 ESV

"Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.' " - John 20:21 ESV

The way He sends us is the way of peace but that way isn't in us. It is in Him and He gives it to us.

"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." - Romans 16:20 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 1:3 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - 2 Corinthians 1:2 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," - Galatians 1:3 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - Ephesians 1:2 ESV

"Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - Ephesians 6:23 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - Philippians 1:2 ESV

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:7 ESV

"Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace." - 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ESV

"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - 2 Thessalonians 1:2 ESV

"To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." - 1 Timothy 1:2 ESV

"To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." - 2 Timothy 1:2 ESV

"To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior." - Titus 1:4 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - Philemon 1:3 ESV

"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." - Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV

"...according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you." - 1 Peter 1:2 ESV

"May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." - 2 Peter 1:2 ESV

"Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love." - 2 John 1:3 ESV

Do you see a theme here? I do. Peace comes from God through His Son. Maybe you are one of the few who have lived an injury free life and never have felt the need to lash out but this peace comes from the God-man who was mistreated more than any of us. It is a tested and proven peace that will not be overwhelmed.

"So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." - John 6:53 ESV

"Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." - 1 John 5:12 ESV

Believe in the Son and the life of the Son will be in You. Trust in His way and study and meditate on His words and His way will become your way.

"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." - Daniel 12:2-3 ESV

Choose the shining way of grace and peace. Choose the Son as Your Savior. Do it once and then let Him turn you day after day to a path you would not find yourself.

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