Thursday, December 28, 2017

Not Void Of Power

Verse thirty-seven caught my eye as I was reading.

"And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God. And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren. For no word from God shall be void of power." - Luke 1:34-37 ASV

'The 'rhema' of God nullifies the impossible.' would be an acceptable translation. Elisabeth was part of the Rhema. Mary knew Elisabeth. Mary goes to live with her to sidestep the pressure put on her for having an impossible birth.

"And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned unto her house. Now Elisabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son." - Luke 1:56-57 ASV

"And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid: For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; And holy is his name. And his mercy is unto generations and generations On them that fear him. " - Luke 1:46-50 ASV

Mary saw God's promise working in Elisabeth.

Power isn't what we think it is. God spoke something in private to Elisabeth's husband in the temple. The house they lived in became a special place Then Elisabeth's life became something that verified a dynamic to Mary so she could 'process' the miracle in her life.

I have people in my life that are like this. They verify a dynamic that I can't put my finger on. They are part of sustaining a hope in the power of truth.

It is very easy to look at our life in a faithless way if we are living in a spiritual vacuum. Mary made her great faith confession in front of Elisabeth in part because she saw what was happening with Elisabeth.

Rhema is linked to fellowship.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Starting Ariel's Harmony of the Gospels

I have a new study book. It was a Christmas present. It is a hardcover and bound very well. This morning I carefully opened the book from the front and then the back. Then I flipped through all the pages and wrote my name and the month and year in the front of the book. A study book needs to lay open flat with other books. I have found that doing this helps the binding in the long run. I also wrote that it was a gift and the person's name. I treasure these books. To me, they represent hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours of study, preparation, meditation and editing. I plan to read this book from cover to cover but we know how that goes don't we? Many study books never get read. The binding of the last chapters or middle chapters never gets 'broken'.

Many Bibles are treated like that also. People cherry pick passages quoted by someone else but never read the book cover to cover. A list of names or the account of battles become a mountain range that never gets crossed. It is so easy to skip ahead to familiar chapters or concepts of interest. What treasures are missed when we take that approach? I want every drop of what God has to say.

One of the great things about this book I am starting ('Ariel's Harmony of the Gospels' by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum) is that it follows the order of Jesus' life as presented in the Gospel of Luke then correlates parallel scripture references from the other Gospels. As you read it you move through the life of Messiah in the order that events happened with a full view of what happened in Christ's life during His incarnation.

"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught." - Luke 1:1-4 ESV

Yes! Here we see Luke's Spirit led motivations. He is writing to give clarity. He sees the generation he is living in just like we see ours. People need certainty and clarity where it can be found and Jesus provided that for so many things to His disciples. Luke wants the foundations to be preserved so that we could have what was given to him in 'an orderly account.'

Luke writes to Theophilus. The account is written to one person but that name translates as 'God lover'. Luke wanted each 'God lover' to have an account of what happened and was seen by eyewitnesses.

I was taught by my pastor that a man is only as strong as his study habits. I believe that is true. Personality, talent and inherited wealth will only carry us so far but if the middle chapters get the same treatment as the rest of the book we have substance in our soul that can be gained no other way.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Heavenly Calling

"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." - Philippians 3:10-16 KJV

We press forward because someone divine has known (apprehended) us. We want to know Him also. We do know Him but we want the next adventure with Him so we can know Him more.

At times we get distracted from this perfect grace mindset of hungering to be with Him by faith as an individual in a group of those who know Him.

This 'pressing forward' is in response to a subjective 'calling over.' A 'come follow me' into situations and endeavours. We aren't attaining anything by effort. We are taking possession by faith of what Christ has won for us. It was His effort. He finished the work of reconnection. Our bodies don't look or feel resurrected but we function as if they will be because we have a promise that they will be. Jesus' body was.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." - Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV

Press forward by faith.

It pleases God when we do that. It requires faith to do that. It is a faith that can only be accessed by looking to the one who knows everything about us and loves us. That love rises above the muck. It puts us above the details and seeming contradictions. We see Him in glimpses and believe moment to moment and that blesses Him.

One day it will be different but now it is this. Press forward today. Go Heavenward.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." - Colossians 3:1 ESV

This is our calling.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Finishing Is Good For Our Soul

In the ministry I am a part of we focus on Bible College and the church is linked to that college. The Pastor is an instructor at that college. The college offers degrees that serve as 'accomplishment points'. Ordination can only happen, though it isn't set in stone, after finishing a specific four year course of study. Of course, if the office of Pastor is recognized and the person is operating in that role, there are exceptions. There is flexibility. This provides a 'finish what you start' mentality to the ministry. Tackle the project, endure the hardships and then finish the course which in missions is vital to establish a work. Finishing doesn't necessarily mean staying forever and encouraging growth. Maybe it does but it may, and often does, mean passing the baton to another leader to tackle another project.

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. 'Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.' " - Luke 14:28-35 ESV

Once you discover your approval you can take things on.

We should take things on and then finish them. It is good for us.

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.' " - Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

A disciple has a lifestyle that goes further. If we have been in one nation we go to the next. If we have built a church we train others in the process so they can go or take over when we go.

Perhaps there are a few out there who are condemned by the talk of 'finishing' because they have many 'unfinished things' in their life. There is no condemnation in Christ. Finish what you can finish and be involved in projects that have a start and end date to gain a momentum of finishing.

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

We have a Savior who finished the work of salvation. The completion of that grand project means everything to us. We are hidden in the person of 'The Finisher' and we can have His mind dwell in us.

I plan to finish 2017 well. No striving. Just making it to the finished line. Then I will tackle some new ventures and finish those also. I find that my soul thrives in those new endeavours. The less 'loose ends' the better.

God, please help us in this. We don't want to live powerlessly surrounded by unfinished business. Give us the strength to finish what is before us so we can start a new chapter with You.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sons Of The Father

This phrase caught me this morning...

Only a Son of the Father could do this.

"...God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons..." - Galatians 4:4b-5 KJV

Now the larger concept in a more modern translation.

"I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?" - Galatians 4:1-9 ESV

If we don't operate as children of the Father we will return to operating as subjects to rules. We had to be freed by 'the Son' and become children.

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:9-14 ESV

We are no longer under 'a power'. We are in God's organized government as heirs to a throne with a King sitting on it that will never die.

Our 'Abba' is the King.

I marvel at that. It is the sweet spot of true freedom yet at the same time a son represents his father and is a reflection of Him to others. What an honor.


Monday, December 18, 2017

Invisible Warfare

I was thinking yesterday about the angels, both fallen and righteous, and how because they are 'invisible' to humanity spiritual warfare is often discounted or missed in situations.

The first step in spiritual warfare is discerning that it is happening.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." - Ephesians 6:12-20 ESV

A big chunk of scripture there. I notice that the writer isn't blaming these 'cosmic powers' per se. I have met Christians that see demons and devil behind every hardship. They blame speeding tickets on 'the devil' and personal responsibility is deemphasize. This writer knows they are sharing a mystery and that there is mysterious resistance to that activity. The armor he recommends is all invisible also. He isn't prescribing a tin foil hat.

How does a blind man or woman 'fight a good fight.'

"By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible." - Hebrews 11:24-27 ESV

"Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit... (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" - 2 Corinthians 5:5, 7 KJV

Forgiveness and the promise of eternal life are invisible also. The promises are 'spiritual down payments' that motivate us to move forward.

I understand entirely why if a person even mentions angels and demons folks might shake their heads but seeing the invisible is a key to 'not battling against flesh (people) and blood (our own genetics)'.

God give us eyes to see this week. We want to discern the battle so no one gets hurt by friendly fire. Bless our families and friends. Open eyes to the salvation won for us by your Son Jesus. Give us clarity in our thinking and open doors no man could open. We trust you as we look with our sanctified imagination in Heaven's direction and pray to the Father we can't see with our eyes but know with our spirit. Thank You God. Amen and Amen.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Can A Possession Be Blessed?

Yesterday I was thinking a lot about 'relics'... do objects carry a spiritual charge of some kind? Can we be blessed or cursed by ownership or proximity?

"Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that 'an idol has no real existence,' and that 'there is no God but one.' For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth - as indeed there are many "gods" and many 'lords' - yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist." - 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 ESV

"...we know that an idol is nothing..." - 1 Corinthians 8:4b KJV

That passage holds the key for the spiritual person who is in Christ and yet it seems that demons get obsessed and attached to people. They feed superstition and impersonate the dead having memorized details about their habits and behaviour.

"The LORD God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life...' " - Genesis 3:14 ESV

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground..." - Genesis 2:7a KJV

Demons are attached to mankind like we are attached to our food sources. God basically said, 'You have messed with mankind now you will be entangled in their affairs.'

Objects don't have power. Beings have power. Objects act according to their attributes. Places are governed by who is in power over them. A radioactive object can hurt us but it isn't spiritual. We don't do well with things that have that attribute.

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." - Genesis 1:28 KJV

"Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours. Your territory shall be from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea." - Deuteronomy 11:24 ESV

We can own what God has given us. Those places don't own us. We own them as stewards of God's nature and character.

"In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him." - 2 Kings 18:1-5 ESV

That bronze serpent was considered a 'relic' in certain circles but a godly king destroyed it see the water wouldn't be muddied up. It isn't things or places. It is God and the God of all grace loves people and gives them the authority to tread on serpents and live above the base desires to worship things.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Heaven Has All The Children

Many many years ago King David had a sick child. That child didn't grow up to adulthood.

"David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, 'Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.' But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, 'Is the child dead?' They said, 'He is dead.' Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, 'What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.' He said, 'While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, 'Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?' But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.' " - 2 Samuel 12:16-23 ESV

On the basis of verse 23, it is my firm conviction, that all children go to Heaven. Heaven has all the children.

Hell is filled with adults who say 'no' to God. These adults never said 'Yes' to God. Who can share a house with someone who never agrees with them? How does that work in the long run? There must be some basis of agreement. The first thing we ever agree with God about is His Son Jesus.

One day we will go to see God in His house and it will be filled with children and adults that all agree about one thing. They won't be there because they are good. They, we, will be there because God is good.

I'm praying this morning for all those who are weeping and fasting for a child. They want to see that child grow up to adulthood and prosper. We weep with them and pray with them.

One day all the tears will be wiped away.

"And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken." - Isaiah 25:7-8 ESV

We will dance and play. Joyful laughter will echo on shining streets of gold.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

As I get older I miss people more. Not just 'people'. I miss individuals in an individual way. Younger me wouldn't understand if I explained it to him.

I love the contrast in this next passage. Joy, but also a sorrow in Jesus that only someone with foreknowledge can have.

"As he was drawing near - already on the way down the Mount of Olives - the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!' And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, rebuke your disciples.' He answered, 'I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.' And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 'Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.' " - Luke 19:37-44 ESV

I want Christ's emotional state to instruct my sometimes cold heart. Jesus has always had a hot love. He longs for people. He misses individuals and nations. He knows that how they respond to him determines their fate.

I'm praying for the living this morning. It is vital that we don't miss 'the visitation' of God. He misses us when we are 'gone' in an absent-minded way.

Later we will understand what we can not know now. He loves us seeing what was and what will be. That is beyond us.

'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!'


Monday, December 11, 2017

Having True Joy This Christmas Season

Good theology shrinks the gap between perception (how we see the world) and expectation (how we would like the world to be). The larger that gap is the more frustrated we are as human beings. If nothing is as it 'should be' for long periods of time we can live in 'prevailing unhappiness'.

Holidays can amplify this undercurrent because of all the expectations involved.

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33 ESV

Yes. The overcomer isn't unhappy.

You may say, 'Who are these people?' but if you have believed YOU are an overcomer.

"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 8:36-39 ESV

What is this Christmas going to be like? What will this next year bring? Part of the equation is this gap. Are you living in a lost world that needs Jesus or a movie where the good guy wins at the last minute and the girl always ends up with the man who will love her selflessly?

"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." - Hebrews 13:9 KJV

That means we expect that we are going to get negative things at times but that we are given a perfect position by God. Not only does he see us as perfect because of His Son. We also get a stream of provision from our Father just like His Son had a stream of provision when He was walking on the Earth.

I want you to have a Merry Christmas. It would be great if we all have one but there is a deeper issue here.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." - Romans 14:17 ESV

Eating and drinking with people you enjoy and enjoy you is momentary merriment. Peace and Joy with God's essence coursing through us is deeper. That can be had in prison if this gap is small.

God help us to live expecting to get 'what we don't deserve'. We deserve Hell but we are getting Heaven. We merit isolation but we have been given at least one divine person who loves us with an everlasting love.

I hope you see Jesus this Christmas, the Risen Christ and not just the tiny plastic baby in the manger. In His presence the gap between 'how it should be' and 'how it is' fades down to nothing. He Is 'how things should be'. Let Him hold you in His embrace.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Seniority And Service

"Now I urge you, brothers - you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints - be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer." - 1 Corinthians 16:15-16 ESV

Seniority and service. Two things that matter.

I really value the people in my life that have believed and have done it for longer than I have. I study a lot and the danger of that is that a person can begin to think they are an expert but before will always be before. A person that still serves... no is addicted to service... because they believe has something.

I'm not talking about old legalists. No. Paul knew 'the household of Stephanas' and he pointed to them. The grace preacher endorsed them as people to look at and be 'subject to' likely because those folks had humility and would never demand the submission of anyone.

When a culture begins to break down one of the first things that goes is a reverence for the elderly.

I want to value my 'fellow workers' who rest in grace and the finished work. They would never demand it but the one who have been around the block a few times and are still at it have secrets that need to be gleaned if any of us are to also have longevity.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Enter His Gates

"A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." - Psalm 100:1-5 ESV

I really like this Psalm.

I didn't want to make 'a joyful noise' to the Lord when I woke up. It has been a hard couple of days for me for whatever reason. Motivation is a little harder to find.

Then I followed the progression of this Psalm...

The Lord is God.
He made us.
We are his people.
We are cared for like sheep.
There is a gate we can enter into.
Enter it!
Pick the attitude of thanksgiving when you enter.
Thank Him personally.
His Love is a forever Love.
He was faithful. He is faithful. He will be faithful to ALL generations.

This Psalm changed my mind and my heart began to follow. I found a motivation that is strong. I found it inside the gate of His property.

"I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me." - Psalm 119:93 KJV


They can enliven us because there is a kingdom right behind, beneath and above them. Evil ones can kill us but God's Heavenly ones can bring us into the gates where there is life.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Come Unto Me

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28 ESV

"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 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 4:11-16 ESV

The Apostle Paul says a lot in the Ephesians passage but I see it all as pointing back to Jesus' 'Come unto me.' statement. Leadership is to bring people to Jesus. Leadership points people to Jesus. Leadership teaches people who Jesus is and how accessible His Is. It is always going to be needed because there are always people new to the faith or a generation coming up that need this kind of direction.

I can measure today's success very easily. Did I go to Jesus? Did I point people to myself, or themselves or to a gracious Saviour?

It is amazing how a person can wake up and be 'heavy ladened.' I'm going to Him and laying those burdens down. I suggest you do the same. They will only get heavier as the day goes on. He wants to be your burden bearer. He wants to wash your feet. He wants to spend the day with You.

Let's grow into this together.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Work Of An Evangelist

"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned...' " - Mark 16:15-16 ESV

Sometimes when we go out on Saturday (or other days) for evangelism and someone reacts to us telling them about Jesus I will pose this question, 'Do you know the difference between and preacher and an evangelist?' Then, if they care and don't just want us to go away, they will say, 'No. What is the difference?' then I say something like this, 'A preacher tells people the good news and an evangelist brings people to a place of decision. We are here to present the Gospel clearly so that you will make a decision, either 'Yes' or 'No' but we hope for your sake it will be 'Yes' '.

I would rather someone say, 'No!' than for them to smile and nod just to pacify me. It is better for them to look me in the eye and say, 'No!' because I believe God can use that as their life unfolds. 'No' today may become 'Yes' later.

The Gospel is good news. Sin has been dealt with by Jesus on the cross.

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you - unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures," - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV

"...because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." - Romans 10:9 ESV

I said 'No! several times. I just didn't trust that what people said about God, or Jesus, was true. People write history for their own reasons and I wasn't sure we could trust any account of history. Jesus, if He existed at all, could have been a good man that people turned into a god but the 'good news' worked on me. Sin paid for? Really? My sins paid for? I came to a point where I knew I needed a Saviour and this historical figure I was unsure of was available to me today through people. I eventually said 'Yes' and I got dunked in truth and stained by it's vivid colors.

"As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." - 2 Timothy 4:5 ESV

Yes. Let's fullfill our ministry. It is something we are sure not to regret later.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Love And Mercy Make Greatness

Love and mercy make greatness.

"He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip." - Psalm 18:34-36 ESV

" 'You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' 'But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 'For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 'If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 'Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5:43-48 NASB



Thursday, November 30, 2017

Different Flavors Of Caring

Yesterday I had a good meditation about the many forms of showing care for people.

Initiators often show care through a command. Responders strengthen connections. Most people do both to one degree or another but some people lean hard to one side or another.

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

Isn't this passage such a unique blend of both styles!

Jesus initiates strongly but it is a connecting initiation.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." - 1 Peter 5:6-9 ESV

People who care won't be passive in their caring but at the same time a know people struggle with how to express their affection.

"Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." - Romans 12:13 ESV

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." - Hebrews 13:2 ESV

"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." - 1 Peter 4:9 ESV

This care has no command and it isn't seeking to connect per se but it is just as powerful. It is the care of a host and it can only be done with the 'home field advantage.'

1 Corinthians 12 verse 28 lists 'Helps' as a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word there is antilēmpsis (Strong's G484) and it means to view with understanding and minister. Some people have a gift for this but it is something we can all be involved in. We all have a ministry.

"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." - 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ESV

Maybe people get bossy because they care. Sometimes not but sometimes that is the case. They see a crisis and they jump right in and start directing traffic.

I don't know about you but I want to identify love when I see it. If we know God we always have the home field advantage. His presence grants us that in every situation.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Deals And More Deals

Jesus' last words before His death were, and are powerful words.

"...He said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness - his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth - that you also may believe." - John 19:30b-35 ESV

I was thinking this morning about Jesus' 'It is finished' statement and how important it is.

The Romans are just going about their business. The politics of religion doesn't miss a beat. They send everyone, including the prisoners on the crosses, home early to keep things moving.

'It is finished' doesn't change anything for the politics of religious folks but it changes everything for God. Sin is paid for. The debt is wiped out. God can move forward. The past can be buried. Jesus soon will rise from the grave in glory. One day soon after He will ascend into the clouds to sit at the right hand of the Father. All the while people will be making deals and concessions in backrooms. Politics will continue.

I find it interesting that the Bible fills us in on the deal the religious hierarchy had with the Romans. God knew what the political climate would be and it didn't hinder His redemptive plan a bit.

On one level or another, we deal with pressures brought on by circumstances. This one makes a deal with that one and we need to take a detour of some kind but 'It is Finished!' echoes in our ears as believers.

"He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you" - 1 Peter 1:20 ESV

"...although his works were finished from the foundation of the world." - Hebrews 4:3b ESV

The Romans may have been planning on ending things early for the Passover but God had been executing a plan since before the beginning of history. On this day all transgressions would be paid for. That payment is for you and for me. It is for every person who has no idea that Jesus' ever existed. It is finished! We are made alive by God when we believe that the payment was made for us. Those who never believe are never quickened.

"'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." - Matthew 22:32 ESV

"Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him." - Luke 20:38 ESV

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

God wants to come in to where we live and make us alive. The first time we answer we will be changed and adopted by God. Then each time we answer the door after that God adds a layer to the relationship.

In the coming weeks we will witness many politically motivated transactions and those decisions have a weight in the world. Power will shift as deals are made.

My primary focus is on the divine transaction that was completed 2000 years ago. That is the one people need to know about. That is the one that can bring life.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Satisfying Needs Isn't Your Calling

'The need does not justify the calling.' -Unknown

This was a phrase I heard more than once in Bible College but as I sit here now searching I can't find a specific source for that quote. It is a small statement that has profoundly shaped my life.

"Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." - Exodus 19:4 KJV

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." - John 14:3 KJV

Our calling is not a set of actions. We are called unto God Himself.

Needs are all around us. We create them and we are also used at times as a provision to meet them but that does not define our spiritual calling. If it did we would be easily manipulated.

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

Your calling may lead you into seasons where you are continually surrounded by great needs but those needs still won't define your calling. The suffering you suffer is not your cross. Jesus' cross is your cross.

Jesus' life is our life.

Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?
My beloved has gone down to his garden to the beds of spices, to graze in the gardens and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies." - Song of Songs 6:1-3 ESV

Worship is part of your calling. Following. Pouring out your heart. Seeking His mind. Walking with Him, and others, as a disciple is the calling. Getting and answering to your new name (identity) is the calling.

Jesus said this when crucifixion day was close at hand.

"For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me." - Mark 14:7 ESV

Let's pick up His cross and live in a salvation that is finished and walk with our Messiah. He Is close at hand and our attention and focus can be on Him. Then we can have His glory in what we are doing instead of wrongly thinking we are 'doing something for God.'


Monday, November 27, 2017

Listen To The Commision

"And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff -no bread, no bag, no money in their belts - but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, 'Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.' So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them." - Mark 6:7-13 ESV

What happens to employees that stop hearing what their employer asks them to do? What happens to marriages when initiations from a spouse go on deaf ears. God wants us to hear Him even if it is something we think we do not have a capacity to do or accomplish.

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

This morning I am listening to the great commision.

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.' " - Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

God gave the Apostles authority. That authority is now on us in our generation.

Are you listening. I'm not asking if you are going. I'm just asking if you are listening.

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." - 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

If we look and listen our capacity will change. Doesn't matter if you or I are seven or seventy. Listening is key. Then we will see our moment and our feet will move as we choose by faith to move them.


Friday, November 24, 2017

One Hidden Hope

I awoke thinking of the time in Israel's history when the line of David, which was also the line of Messiah, was whittled down to just one boy hidden away in a back room.

"Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family of the house of Judah. But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king's sons who were about to be put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram and wife of Jehoiada the priest, because she was a sister of Ahaziah, hid him from Athaliah, so that she did not put him to death." - 2 Chronicles 22:10-11 ESV

Those months and years Israel must have felt abandoned by God. David's throne was supposed to be forever. This child was kept a secret so most people had no idea David's dynasty was being preserved.

"And they went about through Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the heads of fathers' houses of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. And all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And Jehoiada said to them, "Behold, the king's son! Let him reign, as the LORD spoke concerning the sons of David. This is the thing that you shall do: of you priests and Levites who come off duty on the Sabbath, one third shall be gatekeepers, and one third shall be at the king's house and one third at the Gate of the Foundation. And all the people shall be in the courts of the house of the LORD. Let no one enter the house of the LORD except the priests and ministering Levites. They may enter, for they are holy, but all the people shall keep the charge of the LORD. The Levites shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever enters the house shall be put to death. Be with the king when he comes in and when he goes out. The Levites and all Judah did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men, who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, for Jehoiada the priest did not dismiss the divisions." - 2 Chronicles 23:2-8 ESV

Then when Athaliah was defeated and Joash was crowned king he was too young to really be considered competent.

"Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest." - 2 Chronicles 24:1-2 ESV

How could He lead? He was just a naive boy!

Joash was and is a type (picture that represents some aspect) of Jesus. Every hope was placed on one seemingly hidden person. Then once He is revealed can He really do the job in a dog eat dog world.

Yes, He can. All seems lost but it isn't. It looks like mankind will poison itself to death or push the planet past it's resources and let's face it... we could left to ourselves but there is a Messiah hidden in a back room that only a few priests knew about.

If you know Jesus then you know the world has a Saviour. What hope! What a sacred trust that is!

Our faith is an open secret. We have hope a folk who don't have it must see that little boy to believe that there can be a happy ending. This innocent One does have the wisdom to lead well. We don't have to resort to the wisdom of the world. Jesus' way is right and God approves of His innocent ways.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Prayers For A Edifying Thanksgiving

"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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." - Ephesians 4:29-30 ESV

Wow. What a great passage. What we say and do can 'build up' but it is grace that really does the building.

I have been praying all week for the coming Thanksgiving holiday. People will be with people and it is an opportunity to build in an unusual setting.

God bless us as we are with people. It is a day to be thankful to you. Bless our interactions. We worship You God. You are the God of all grace. Orient us to your mind. These events can be interesting ones for so many people. Touch those who are grieving and those who are rejoicing and everyone inbetween. Thank You Lord.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Speak To Us

"...Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..." - Psalm 95:7b-8a ESV

That little phrase was spoken this weekend and it has stuck with me. It speaks to me of availability and rest.

It is easy to talk but we must learn to listen and process what we are hearing from the people we love.

God, we have not always been available to hear what You have to say. If you have something to say to us we want to listen. Your words are life and truth.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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!


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.


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.