Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Oasis Of Grace

This is a core truth. This truth is an oasis for the self-image...

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain..." - 1 Corinthians 15:10a ESV

Whatever you 'are' since the moment you first believed can only be understood in God's grace. Every other lens is deceitful.

I have met some awesome people. I'm thinking of a few of them this morning. These people are radically different from one another in so many ways. They look different. They have different personalities and tendencies. Some are so talented and creative. It shocks me. Some are steadfast and patient. Others are quiet and I feel I barely know them because who they truly are is only partially on display while other wear their hearts right out there where everyone can see.

I sit here comfortable in my own skin because I am what I am by grace and I know that is true for each person I love and admire.

I often have wished I had other talents and abilities. I have wanted to be something or someone else. But God's grace is an oasis from all of that. In that place called grace, YOU are loved and grace given is never in vain.

We can seek to understand, praise and affirm people and that is needed but giving and explaining grace by living in it has no substitute.

I pray for the ones in my circle that are so different from me and each other. I pray that God would make me a minister of reconciliation. A priest. A friend. A fellow traveler. A broken man made whole on display.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God's grace..." - Hebrews 13:8-9a NLT

Yes. Yes, It does.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Restoration When He Appears

This is what happens when God visits you...

"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." - Joel 1:2-4 ESV

""Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. "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.  "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit." - Joel 2:23-29 ESV

Jesus will return as a king coming for His bride and He will bring personal restoration with Him. It could be this year.

"And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." - Matthew 24:31-37 ESV

Yes. He Is going to return but He visits us in this age. He makes His presence known in gatherings...

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

He also comes in the scriptures...

"Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me," - Psalm 40:7 KJV

When He comes He restores something. His full arrival will bring great restoration but His 'visitations' also have a restorative quality. He meets us in our spirit that has been made alive and our sanity is restored. Our emotions get renewed. Our thinking and perspective get aligned.

I want to be where God is visiting. I open my Bible or a booklet that was transcribed from an anointed message and God visits me. Scripture correlates with scripture and a piece of my time is restored. The space where I am sitting becomes holy and reclaimed for those moments. When God gives me an appointment with a person that is divinely scheduled and I have my 'feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace' that time is a time of restoration.

You and I may have experienced great loss in our lives but God can restore in ways beyond our imagining. His arrival mystically does that.

The Apostle Paul said this:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." - 2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV

Yes. A crown just for those who want God to visit. It becomes their lifestyle. They invite Him. Amazing.

--

Monday, July 24, 2017

What Abounds More?

"Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." - Romans 5:20-21 ESV

Who is the better athlete? Is it man's sinfulness or God's grace? The work that grace does in a person 'abounds' more than what sin is capable of.

Sin reigned (past tense) in death but grace reigns in right standing which is vital to eternal life. What a statement!

Grace gives right standing in one faith transaction. Believe in Jesus and all of a sudden a person is right with God forever and reigning in righteousness eternally in their standing.

Sin brings shame (self-hatred) but grace disarms and undoes that work in it's continual multiplication.

" 'Ah, stubborn children,' declares the LORD, 'who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin;...' " - Isaiah 30:1 ESV

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

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you." - 1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV

Sin is added but grace multiplies.

Sin can reign in a person's life until it kills them and brings them into a Godless eternity. It is powerful. More powerful than a person's will or human goodness but it is small potatoes compared to God's grace.

Grace is the winner!

What will happen in our situations this week? Will we believe God and let grace do it's work or will we just live in the addition of sin in our experience? We have the option to believe and operate proactively from rest and we will be amazed at the eventual outcome.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

The Priestly Ministry

"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," - 1 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV

This is so good. People need prayer and we need it also.

As communication has become easier criticism has also.

I can't hate someone I am praying for. Those kinds of things dissolve in the presence of a holy loving God. Leaders are easy to hate. They make impactful decisions and those decisions are going to affect a percentage of people negatively.

People do stupid, crazy, thoughtless and dangerous things. Let pray for the idiots in our life. They need it and we need it. It is part of the ministry of the believer priest.

Only the priests could enter into the holy places of the temple in Israel. Everyone else brought sacrifices and their access brought them to the brazen altar (which for us is the cross). The priests washed in the laver, a large polished bronze bowl that was filled with clean water. They saw their reflection in that hypnotic bowl. They were cleansed subjectively and objectively. They felt clean after they washed off the blood. They smelled the show bread and the oil burning clean in the menorah. (Exodus 30, Leviticus 24)

If we have no priestly ministry we never get past the cross.

We need the cleansing of the laver. We need to smell the smells of Heavenly thinking. The flicker of the light of the burning candlesticks give us hope like nothing else can. Those lights are forever. They never go out.

Let's pray for those in 'high positions'. They need it and we need to don the light linens of the priest. It will give us an oasis in a crazy merciless world. It will keep us sane.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Third Option

This parable has been on my mind lately.

"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."" - Luke 18:9-14 ESV

Parables are interesting things. They are stories designed to illustrate one point. They aren't accounts of events. If you read too far into them you may miss the point. Verse nine says that Jesus told this story to 'some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt' to drive home one idea.

Still. 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' rings in my head. This man won't get 'close' he stands far away and says this.

We need mercy but we also need proximity. The Pharisee was close but far away in his thinking and that is so dangerous.

This is a story and it illustrates a point. Don't judge with contempt because God doesn't think that way but as I sit here I see a place available that neither of the men in the story had. A close place where mercy has been and is received.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace..." - Ephesians 2:13-14a ESV

The tax collector went home and back to his life but we have a new home and a new life.

I cry for mercy today also. I need it but I am not beating my breast. I do lift my eyes. My thoughts are not introspective. I worship because I know there is mercy for me. There was mercy and there Is mercy.

Jesus' blood has brought me near. Knowledge of my depravity is gravity but I am not stuck on the ground. I worship and fly in an aerodynamic of faith.

Thank you for mercy God! Thank you. Let contempt be far from us as we draw near. We don't want to be close but miss your heart and we don't want to be far away because of introspection. Draw us. We want to see your glory. We worship you. You are near to us now and we are so grateful.

--

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Identity And Provision

Do you ever just not feel like doing something? Then you start rehearsing excuses in your mind.

I'll just say, 'I'm sorry I didn't have time to do that.'

We have all had the urge. Of course, we have. What stops you and gets you going again? What snaps you out of it?

When I became a believer that dynamic changed for me. It was consequences and obligation. Now, It is about identity and provision.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." - 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

Now, When that urge to be lazy comes I can say, 'No, I am not a lazy person. I have liberty in what I do or don't do but I am not lazy.'

Temptation can't stick to that in the way it does to other things.

We are not what we feel. We are not even what we do. We are who God says we are.

Good. Huh.

Those confessions interrupt the sin and shame cycle. Excuses are not needed. We have liberty and we choose to live in a royal identity. There is quickening in an identity like that because it is in agreement with God's mind.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

His Words Have Life

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." - John 6:63 ESV

Many people have clever things to say but Jesus' words are different. They have life. The person of God speaks the words and the Spirit of God gives.

Our body is great for certain things but not in this. We need more than what our body can tell us. We need what only Jesus can tell us. He alone has the missing puzzle pieces.

Simple. So simple.

I wonder who it was who thought to make a 'red letter edition' of the Bible. I'd like to shake that man's hand. He knew something special.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

It Will Never Run Dry

"...his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22b-23 ESV

'Never come to an end' is the Hebrew word tamam (Strong's H8552) and it means 'to not be consumed.'

I can't fathom an endless supply of mercy that keeps replenishing everyday generation after generation but that is how God's mercy is described in the scriptures.

"They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy." - Jonah 2:8 KJV

It is very possible that we could forsake the mercy of God. We stop going and drawing from the river of supply.

Any theology that puts mercy under lock and key is false theology. It is free and unlimited. We can take as much as we want and it will never run out.

I need mercy this morning. You need mercy also. It is available. Get it from God. He is very willing to give it. In humility receive the mercy you need. It will never run dry.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Lead Me

'Lead me.'

What a good prayer that is!

"Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me." - Psalm 5:8 ESV

"Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long." - Psalm 25:5 ESV

"Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!" - Psalm 43:3 ESV

"from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I," - Psalm 61:2 ESV

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!" - Psalm 143:10 ESV

Can we be led?

A prayer like this assumes that God will give guidance if we ask for it. It is a prayer of faith with an awareness of leadership and all that involves.

I'm praying this prayer this morning.

If he leads we will end up if places we would never be in any other way. We will meet people that He Is visiting.

His leading. His visitation. His will. His provision. His power. His plan. Our victory.

--

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How We Process Blame

I'm just sitting here thinking about how a child's perception of the world is so different from an adult. Children have something magical that adults need to see and adults have stability and perspective that children need. God was so wise to give us overlapping generations.

Adults have a responsibility to the children or their generation. If adults get cut off from that magic something is lost. One of the responsibilities that often parents take on is to teach courtesy and responsibility. That is so needed because if this is done right (and that may be very different for each unique family situation) then those children will have a  good transition into adult life.

"For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." - Romans 2:14-16 ESV

This seems like an odd passage to quote but I think God must teach us how to process blame. Children will often blame themselves for a tragedy and then secretly harbor that blame and carry it into adulthood. A trusted adult needs to reassure a child that tragic events are 'not their fault.'

We don't know how to forgive. God sent Jesus to teach us how. He died on a cross to give us an 'instrument' of forgiveness.

We need God to bring us out of 'accusing or even excusing' ourselves and others. We don't know how to forgive. We don't have the power or authority to leverage forgiveness off of our self. God forgives because of the cross. He makes a reckoning and says that because Jesus shed His blood we are forgiven. If we see the cross as God does we will leave the 'accusing' or 'excusing' economy far behind.

"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. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:11-13 ESV

As adults, we can still have the wonder. If we become spiritual adults we can have it all. We can have faith, hope and love. We can have a healthy way to process responsibility that has liberty. We can be free.

--

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sit Near Me

Let us imagine that James is speaking of humor, talent or charisma in the next passage and not money...

"For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, 'You sit here in a good place,' while you say to the poor man, 'You stand over there,' or, 'Sit down at my feet,' have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?... If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it." - James 2:2-4, 8-10 ESV

"You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor." - Leviticus 19:15 ESV

Wow.

The passage in Leviticus that James quotes is limited to matters of law but James takes it up a notch doesn't he?

'Sit near me.' is a bit more personal than a case in a court of law.

Convicting, isn't it?

God's mind must have the preeminence. We are all guilty of 'the whole law' our natural thinking proves it again and again but grace gives us a way to rise above and walk with God. There is great value in living above our preferences and living in our convictions about grace.

The poor man or woman knows when they are being passed over for someone else. God is glorified when there is 'a space' where things aren't like that.

Is the space around us a place where everyone is welcome? God is glorified in a space like that.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Brush Those Teeth

There are many things I could write about this morning but the theme that keeps coming to me is this one...

'Keep brushing your teeth.'

No matter what happens... solar eclipses... political upheaval... trouble or prosperity... keep sowing, watering and reaping and taking care of the long term things.

People get very excited or very scared by what they see and they let go of the rope. Later they regret that they did.

It doesn't take long... once in the morning... another time in the evening... brush those teeth... Make the call to the loved one... put a few dollars away... read your Bible... skip a meal and pray instead for what is happening now and the next season of life.

"And he told them a parable: 'Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.' " - Luke 21:29-34 ESV

No matter what is happening 'being in God's word' is a good investment... I want to have my teeth for as long as I need them and I want to be ready to say something whenever that is needed also.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

More Alignments

I am still thinking a great deal about alignment... people... stars... mindsets...

"For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate." - Luke 15:24 ESV

Jesus tells a story in Luke chapter 15 involving a sheep that was lost, a coin that was lost and a family. The father thought his son was lost. None of the lost ones knew they were lost. They coin could care less where it was. The son had a destination.

The Father knew his son was lost but the son was misaligned in his thinking. I have written about this passage before in more detail but this morning (and this last weekend) I have been thinking about it in a new context.

The son had a place at his father's table. He was lost but he returned.

" 'Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!' And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'' " - Luke 15:25-32 ESV

One brother's realignment reveals another brother's misalignment.

Do we value what God values? Do we look at people like He does? The Bible was given to us so we could be realigned to God's mind. Jesus came to find us and show us that we have a place in His family.

The prodigal son 'came to himself' one day and began a journey to return to his place. God wants that for everyone. He wants a house full of joy and laughter.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Alignments

A key fits and opens a lock because someone designed it to align with that lock and overcome the obstacles put in place to keep someone else out.

We have ways to be aligned and we have times when alignment is possible.

"... Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" - Luke 18:8b ESV

Rest has to do with alignment. Faith does also. Are we aligned with God's vision for a family or a marriage? Is our body aligned?

"He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, "Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!" And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, 'Deliver me, for you are my god!' They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, 'Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?' He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?' " - Isaiah 44:14-20 ESV

Is our life like this? If it is then those areas are not aligned. The key won't open the lock.

Grace thinking aligns us. God thinks this way and then he gives it to us through His Son. All that we have is given to us outside of performance. We have by faith and our lives get aligned by faith in rest.

If we hold something crooked in our right hand (a picture of approval) as we feed on ashes we won't think with God. The lie blocks our perception.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." - Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV

In Jesus, we are aligned. We can't beat ourselves into the right shape. There is no need. Jesus is forever aligned and we are, right now, aligned in Him.

Cook your food and warm your family but do it with open hands of worship. Jesus Is who we look to and in God's time, other alignments will open doors for us to walk through. If we have eyes that see we will act when the moment is right.

--

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Reading Passages That Involve Sleep

This morning I am reading scriptures about sleep and it is very interesting.

The Bible uses the concept of sleep in interesting ways.

"And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose," - Matthew 27:52 KJV

"And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow," - Luke 22:45 KJV

"Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." - Ephesians 5:14 KJV

Sometimes it speaks of 'checking out' and being absent but one of the Hebrew words (yashen - Strong's H3462) means to 'store up' or 'remain a long time'.

I try to start and end my day with God. That has been my custom for a long time. I am not always successful in that. There are times when I have wonderful thoughts just before I fall asleep and I wonder, 'Will I remember this later?' I don't think I do remember it all. That state is a different state. In a way, it is like a sunset. Sometimes day seems to just turn into night but on other days there are colors and memorable patterns.

I know many of you out there have problems with sleep. It is elusive for one reason or another. It could be pain or thinking that just never allows rest. It could be other things also.

I am centering my prayers on that today.

If you are having sleep issues I urge you to read all the Bible passages you can about sleep and rest. Then ask God to 'give' those passages to you in understanding and in application.

We have rest in Jesus and that is an amazing gift. Oh God, Please bless those who need a little more physical rest. We pray that you would give them a breakthrough in this area. Thank You God.

--

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

God's Delivery System

I like thinking of grace as a channel or a delivery system. God has many attributes but grace isn't an attribute. Angels don't get grace. Grace is for people. Grace is how we experience what God is like.

"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. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." - Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV

Salvation is more than, 'You don't go to Hell' in the same way as saying life is more than, 'You don't go to prison.'

Heaven is Heaven because the people there know God. Life is full of joy because of relationships and connections.

This is another morning where I focus on grace and marvel. If grace is not in our thinking we isolate ourselves from God. We can't access who He Is even though He never leaves or forsakes us. Grace isn't natural and our native personality can't create that bridge. Grace 'saves' us once when we first believe and then again and again by reconnecting us to God's mind and heart.

If you feel cut off grace will reconnect you. Jesus will look for you like a lost lamb and reconnect you to the Father by His work.

If we focus on Jesus we will see the Father. He Is the One who connects us to the divine eternal attributes of God.

--

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Everything Everywhere

"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." - 1 John 2:1-2 ESV

The whole world is everything everywhere. All time. All thoughts. Every culture. Every family dynamic. Everything.

That alone is mind boggling.

John's reasoning for telling us this is so that we 'may not sin' because every action taken without this knowledge is flawed in some way. It isn't a command to keep pure. It is a declaration that pure individual faith actions are now possible because of this knowledge.

Secondly, If we do sin we have an advocate with a divine person who is now our father. Jesus is the propitiation for sin, all sin, that has turned God's anger aside.

That dark part of your soul that you hide has been dealt with by God. That injustice that shapes your world that no one seems to care about or do anything about has a solution in Christ.

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 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 -" - Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV

People are dead in sin. Sin killed them but Jesus makes people alive again in this truth.

By grace we are saved if we believe in this grand all-encompassing truth.

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

He isn't the God of the spiritually dead but the hope is that the dead can be made alive if this truth is presented and received.

Keeping silent isn't an option. This is to big and wonderful.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Living Faith

James is such an interesting book. This writer uses language differently than the other new testament writers.

In the following passage James is basically saying, 'Kindness is King.'

"For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." - James 2:13-17 ESV

People turn this into a theological treatise about salvation but it is much more about human relationships and personal testimony. God is merciful. That is very true but are we?

I see mean merciless people quote scripture and I wonder, 'What Jesus are they talking about? Not my Jesus. Not The Jesus.'

Jesus fed people and died for the sins of the world.

When James says, 'works' he isn't saying it like anyone else in the new testament. Elsewhere it is spoken of as 'actions to please God' but James speaks of works as 'actions that affect other people.'

Jesus physically fed people and trained His disciples to do the same but then right before He went to the cross He said this...

"And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." - Luke 22:19-20 ESV

He loved us until it killed Him. His love feeds us and clothes us. It connects us to God and that connection also provides 1,000 other provisions for every need in life.

I look at Jesus and my faith comes alive. Without Him I am a selfish rascal. I might talk a good talk but it is only because of Him that I have any kind of walk.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Shallow Breathing

Jesus' ministry...

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion - to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations." - Isaiah 61:1-4 ESV

This passage really speaks to me today. I focused in on one small part of this passage.

'...the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit...'

'faint spirit' in Hebrew is Ruwach (Strongs H7307) Keheh (H3544) and it means dim or shallow breathing. That is replaced with a mantle of praise. There is a quickening because of joy.

As I read the whole passage again and again and my pulse begins to quicken. My breathing deepens.

This was and Is Jesus' ministry. We get locked up but He sets us free. He has done it and He renews our mind to show us again and again.

This passage has both past and future in it. Verses 1 and 2 are written directly to us and the people Jesus touched as He walked the Earth. Verses 3 and 4 are to a future Israel that He will comfort and quicken but we see who our Saviour Is and what He does for people and for nations.

Maybe you are 'fainting' today. Your spiritual breathing might be shallow now but look to Jesus. He has a garment picked out just for you to celebrate.

He has finished the work of salvation. He did that on the cross. Now history is unfolding until He returns to restore Zion.

Behold Him and breath in the grace and goodness of God. Take one deep breath after another and sing a song of praise.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Coffee Can Contributions

This morning I'm thinking of 'coffee can' savings accounts. Put a little in and a little more and a little more. Lots of deposits but very rare withdrawals. Then when the big day comes those cans get opened and all the little sacrifices become one big party.

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." - Matthew 12:33-37 ESV

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" - Matthew 6:21-23 KJV

Notice in each there are two varieties of treasure. Grace treasure and dark treasure. No gray. No combinations. You either know God and have a coffee can of light or you don't and have a coffee can of darkness.

"Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat." - Hebrews 13:9-10 ESV

Grace is directly linked to Jesus. No Jesus. No grace. Know Jesus and know grace.

This morning I am refocused on the big party coming later. I will be there because of Jesus. Just looking at Him adds something to my life that is contributing something to the party later on. Every faith thought and every time we value grace as something to receive, give and live it adds a degree of light to a treasure of light.

Amazing.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Rhythm Of The Scriptures

I'm reading Proverbs chapter 29 this morning and I find that jumping back and forth from idea to idea is very comforting somehow. A topic is introduced but then another is given and another. Then the writer returns to the first topic and you see it in freshness.

I truly believe that God had men pen the scriptures in such a way that our thinking would be ordered and restored by the words and the 'rhythm of words'

"[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." - Psalm 19:1-14 KJV

Yes. We have secret faults but God has given us words to realign our thinking and we can continue as flawed people living in a perfect provision.

Thank you God.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Quote From A Booklet

A quote from the booklet I am reading this morning...

'The Holy Spirit is God's Spirit, revealed in the love of God and the grace of God. Zechariah 12:10 calls Him 'the spirit of grace.' Galatians 4:4 speaks of the Spirit of the Son. Philippians 1:19 speaks of the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:15 says we have received the Spirit of adoption. Romans 5:5 says that God's love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:32 reveals the spirit of forgiveness, while Isaiah 11:2 and 3 refer to Him as the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, and of knowledge and reverence toward God. In Romans 1:4-5, when we received Christ, we received the Spirit of holiness for obedience, and we have the same Spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13). When we walk in the Holy Spirit, we are walking in God's life. We have amazing protection, indescribable provision, unfathomable wisdom, perfect peace, and divine guidance, Romans 8:14. Romans 8:2 tells us about the law of the Spirit of life that overcomes the law of sin and death. John 10:10b calls it abundant life.' (What Spirit Are You Of? by Carl H. Stevens Jr)

Wow. Fill us with Your Spirit today God. Speak to us. Guide us. Thank You God.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Other Woman - Part 5

I'm reading Genesis 38 over and over again this morning and I see so much of modern culture in the account of Tamar. While Joseph is off in Egypt Judah is living the life of a rascal. He is married but has a girlfriend in a village. He has children with this woman and all kinds of intrigue follows.

Tamar marries one of Judah's sons but that man dies and the culture of sleeping around continues. The scriptures are quite graphic in their description of deception and sexuality.

The account makes me think of this passage...

"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." - Matthew 5:31-32 ESV

Not a passage often preached on by 'grace preachers'. It seems to forbid remarriage. It doesn't. It uncovers the reality of what broken relationships can do.

If you read Genesis 38, and I suggest you do, you will see that Tamar has needs and the double standard in her culture puts her in a difficult situation. She used her sexuality to get what she needs and what everyone knew she deserved in that culture. Was it right? No. But Judah set an unjust standard and everyone became a victim of his compromise.

The women in our culture need men to be men. It is easy to condemn a person for their loose ways but what made them that way? Nor should a husband who is married to someone who was married before condemning his wife for bringing what 'was' into what 'is'.

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." - 1 Peter 3:7 ESV

She has battle scars. Respect her. Love her. The hard hard world hurt her and she had to adapt. Be a covering and a friend. She is on loan from a God who cherishes her.

Jesus paid for all sexual sin on the cross. He died for the victims and for the people who caused a wild west culture.

As men let's look at Judah and Joseph and make wise choices. Who will we be?

"He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away." - Proverbs 6:32f ESV

Amen.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Mercy For The Faulty Father

If you are a father who has messed everything up with his children... God's mercies are new every morning.

If you are a child who has been hurt by a parent... God will adopt you as His own child and be the Heavenly parent that you need.

Jesus died for deadbeat dads. Jesus was raised for children of every age.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." - John 14:18 ESV

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

Maybe your faithfulness has been lacking. Join the club. It has millions of members.

If in humility you and i will receive mercy and forgiveness then we can have the strength to make the hard choices. If you are breathing it isn't too late to initiate a relationship or a reconciliation. Pray and show love expecting nothing in return. Pray and do it at the right time. Stay built up in God's love. It isn't too late to stop hiding.

You may get rejected but at least you can stop living like a coward and face your fear. Once the fear is faced down the power it has just drains away.

Thank God for all the wonderful fathers out there that did so much for their children. God loves them and He loves you also. If His love was based on our merit we would all be in big trouble. We are loved because of Jesus. We are reconciling because of Christ.

There is new mercy today and it is powerful. It can cleanse away the deepest stain. We have a new day with fresh opportunities.

I want that mercy. Nothing can hold me for very long because of it. Thank You God for that fresh mercy!

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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Other Woman - Part 4

Some men will shower women with affection but in and of itself that behavior isn't spiritual. The fall has made men into people who 'satisfy' and 'deprive'.

"I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 ESV

Satisfying others, including a spouse or lover, is just an advanced form of self-satisfaction.

Mankind is made to glorify God. Men and woman do this in overlapping ways.

A woman needs the subjective experience of being, 'holy in body and spirit' in order to feel complete. A man can never do that for her. He can contribute to an environment where that can happen. He can be a covering and a catalyst but he can't satisfy her in that deepest need of her soul.

"Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." - Genesis 2:18 ESV

Likewise, one woman can help one man to be the man he was meant to be.

"Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct." - 1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV

This subjection is not subservience. It is a present and loving participation in the union. The fall has created in women a need for continuous validation. A believing woman knows she is holy because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. She Is seated together with Christ in Heavenly places no matter what her circumstances may suggest. Other people can reinforce that and provide a hedge for that to be learned and experienced.

A Godly husband points his wife to the holiness she has in Christ and a Godly wife says, in word and deed, that she is with her husband as he pursues his sometimes elusive calling.

"And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him - a threefold cord is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV

The 'other woman' is attracted to the stability of a man who seems to be pleasing someone else. She doesn't know that by defiling herself she only moves farther away from true satisfaction. Holiness is the only thing that can give her true 'wholeness.'

The man sees another way to satisfy himself by satisfying or depriving another human being but he also destroys his own soul in the process because it is a soul attachment that creates a present and future distraction (because of guilt) from realizing and experiencing his identity in God's calling.

Marriage, the only sanctioned sexual relationship, is a good place to glorify God but it is not the only place. If God gives us this, the closest of unions, so be it. It will never provide the ultimate satisfaction. God Himself Is that wholeness. Jesus came to give that to us and it is ours if we have Him and dwell in the covering thinking with Him provides.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Other Woman - Part 3

"Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, 'I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.' ... When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren." - Genesis 29:16-18, 31 ESV

At times I have wondered that western civilization has moved in the direction of monogamy. So much of the Bible, and history, shows men with more than one wife but in God's economy, there is no 'other woman' each woman is the apple of His eye. She stands and sits alone in that she is irreplaceable and precious.

Rachel and Leah were each a wife and the 'other woman' at the same time. Rachel had her husband's love and desire but Leah gave him children and the need she met produced tangible results.

The other woman may be a sexual predator or she may be a very kind person who believes that the man she is with will change or make a change to eventually put her first. The man may dangle that status in front of her eyes. The third scenario is that she just doesn't know she is the 'other', even though she may suspect it, and then at the point of discovery decisions need to be made. Perhaps she is slow to make them because of the emotional consequences of separation.

As I read these accounts I marvel at God's grace and mercy. You could say, 'Why did He even allow situations like these?' but clearly He lets us be who we are and these biographical accounts instruct us don't they? Who among us hasn't not felt second class for one reason or another? Perhaps we console ourselves that at least we contribute something even if we are not 'the special one'. Then in other areas we are in Rachel's place loved but useless. Our production is off and our self-worth is wrapped up in our 'doing'.

"I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings," - Psalm 17:6-8 ESV

Let me say it again. God has no 'other' in relation to you. You are the apple of His eye. You are what He looks at. If you get close enough to Him you will see your reflection in His eye as He looks lovingly at you.

Knowing God spoils us for manipulating scenarios. We are no longer victims nor do we feel the need to victimize. Grace and love fill a void and we can make hard choices to swim against the current. When you are special you can do that.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Other Woman - Part 2

It is always valuable to look at the 'first mention' of any subject in the scriptures. Most, but not all, subjects are introduced in Genesis and then wrapped up in the book of Revelations.

The first 'other woman' scenario we see in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 16 with Abraham, Sarah and Hagar.

"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, 'Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, 'May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!' But Abram said to Sarai, 'Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.' Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, 'Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?' She said, 'I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.' The angel of the LORD said to her, 'Return to your mistress and submit to her.' The angel of the LORD also said to her, 'I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.' And the angel of the LORD said to her, 'Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.' So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, 'You are a God of seeing,' for she said, 'Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.' " - Genesis 16:1-13 ESV

Wow, There is so much here isn't there? Human nature is on display. God's love and mercy is also. Men and women make bad decisions out of need but God is merciful to us.

The last mention is darker. Society itself has become adulterous.

"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.' And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: 'Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.' And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly. But the angel said to me, 'Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her... And the angel said to me, 'The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.'' - Revelation 17:1-7, 15-18 ESV

This 'other woman' concept shows the systemic failure of the natural person to cope with their needs apart from God. Problems compound into even more complex problems with a victim until the system consumes itself in the end.

But there is hope. God is merciful and has a merciful provision for the individual. The system... not so much.

Hagar found out she was not God's 'other woman.' He had a loving provision for her.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Other Woman - Part 1

For the last few weeks, I have been thinking about the concept of the 'other woman'. In a way, it is a taboo subject but it is an important one to know and understand because it applies to our relationship to God and His relationship to us.

Who is the other woman and why does she exist at all? Someone only becomes the other woman because mankind is fallen. Fallen men fantasize and can lead dual, or even multiple, lives and fallen women are placed in pressurized situations and they settle or opt for choices that allow benefits that have extreme compromises that damage their souls.

"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.' " - John 8:31-32 ESV

"You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." - James 4:4 ESV

This is a multi-part post and we will dive deep into this subject and I believe it will be very edifying and life changing for both the reader and the author. This is only an introduction and not as satisfying perhaps because a subject is introduced but not concluded with a clear thorough application.

Let me just say this...

Jesus has given us a solution for any connection to 'otherness.' The bonds are broken in Him. Each of us is loved with an everlasting love that resolved the needs of men and of women in a pure a satisfying way without compromise.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

God Loves Freely

In Hosea 14 verse 4 God says He will love Israel 'freely'.

But in chapter 11 He declares that they will need to go into captivity first because their inward bondage is not apparent to them.

That so speaks to me this morning. Grace is free love and yet we have restrictions on our lives don't we. We have things that hold us in. Responsibilities, debts, concerns and compromises are a part of every life I know. In order to have this we must endure that... or so it seems.

"Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to him, "Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses; and we will say no more, 'Our God,' to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy." I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit. Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them." - Hosea 14:1-9 ESV

In this world love comes with a price tag but God loves us freely and that is amazing.

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Fan The Holy Flame

Fan into flame the gift of God. He hasn't given you the spirit of fear. His Holy Spirit came with the gift of salvation and His Spirit is clean and full of love.

"As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." - 2 Timothy 1:4-7 ESV

Most of us don't 'fan' things today. When you fan something you are directing air on it. The Greek word pneuma (Strong's G4151) is the word for Spirit and for wind. Pneuma is moving air.

Think with God and be alive today. Fan the flame of faith. Fear freezes us or causes a reaction of fight or flight. God instructs us to fan the flame of faith and live in power, love and self-control. New life is a gift and there is power that came with that life. We have God's Holy Spirit intermingling with our human spirit.

I plan to go into this weekend stirring up love and directing spiritual life so that holy fires are ignited and enlarged.

Others (like Lois and Eunice mentioned in the scripture quoted above) have believed before us. Now it is our turn. We have been given new life because of what Jesus did on the cross. Now we can fan the flame of that good news in our hearts, in our circles of influence and beyond.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Remembering Today

Histories are written and edited. I often think that way about our personal histories also.

"For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes... He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." - Revelation 7:17; 21:4 ESV

What if our memories will only consist of what we did by faith and everything else just falls away on the cutting room floor to be swept away.

What will be remembered from today? Will it be remembered at all? Perhaps some days will be very short or even missing from our memories. We get up go to the bathroom and realize that there is no toothpaste and 'poof' everything else is gone from that day. We are just waking up again the next day.

The Gospel is such good news. We are forgiven.

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." - Hebrews 11:6 ESV

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." - Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV

Most of all can't recall large portions of our lives. There will come a day when everything will come back into focus like we can only dream of it now. Our mind will be fully reclaimed. Our soul already is. God has purchased us and will one day restore us to a glory we can only imagine. We will see things that are invisible to us now.

"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. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." - 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 ESV

If we redeem the time we will have the clarity of participation. We can stake a 'grace claim' on time and space. This day can either blow away like chaff in the wind or it can be a day of gold, silver and precious stones. Will adversity steal our memory? Will disappointment? No. We can live by faith in what Jesus has done and get all of today into the final cut of the redemption story.

Thank You God.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

We Have Toiled All Night But At Your Word

This is a passage that was spoken about at the men's getaway just a few days ago and it stuck with me...

"On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.' And Simon answered, 'Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.' And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking." - Luke 5:1-6 ESV

If you have been fishing all night and have caught nothing the last thing you want to do is go back out.

This brings many things to mind but at the moment I am thinking about Godly leadership. Jesus asks to speak from their boat. He asks them to go out again. He doesn't demand it but He Is believing His Father in Heaven and speaking about divine things.

Who will talk about grace? Who will introduce God into the conversation? Who will say, 'Let us go out into the deep? I know it isn't convenient right now but I'm going let's go together'?

My outreach leader makes phone calls to the team every week on Saturday morning and if people are doing something else he just encourages them in what they are doing but that call means something. He is a man willing to stand in the boat and preach. He is willing to say, 'Let's launch out into the deep and fish.'

"They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.' For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken..." - Luke 5:7-9 ESV

Peter said that then but he later became the man who stood up to preach when no one else would. Church history tells us that Peter died a martyr with great dignity as a man of faith and leadership.

Thank God for the men and women who are willing to talk about Jesus and say His name when everyone else just speaks in bland generalities of goodness and morality. Thank God for the people who will say, 'Let's go and see what fish the Father has waiting for us' just past our comfort zone.

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Power For Change

God will give you the ability to adjust and transition into your new situation. He will give you power.

That is what He did at Pentecost for the Church and He does it for every individual person also.

" '...And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.' And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven." - Luke 24:49-51 ESV

Jesus had died and rose from the dead but they weren't ready to be without Him. His time walking and talking among them must have seemed dreamlike and then as soon as it had started it ended and these men and women would need to adjust to life again.

They were to stay in Jerusalem and power was coming.

"When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language." - Acts 2:1-6 ESV

To read that... It is shocking to the mind and it was a one time only historical event but this happens to us. We have no capacity but then suddenly we do. We can speak in a language that is understood. Death has worked in our life and a transition was needed but God was faithful to bring us through. It wasn't instantaneous. We waited a period of time and those days must have felt like an eternity.

'Jesus is gone. What will we do now?'

'My job is gone.'

'My loved one is gone.'

'My life will never be the same after this.'

Yes, That is true but God will send power. Tarry in Jerusalem. Don't wander off in your weakened state. Stay close. Be in the Book. Be with the people even if you seem numb. Power is coming. Joy will return and when it does you will be able to talk to people you could never speak to before. They will be bewildered that someone like you speaks their language.

Grace will transition you. God will carry you. This is how it is for all of us at times. You are not alone. There is always a whole group going through the same thing somewhere.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

The Impeccable Life

Last night we spoke about 'the doctrine of impeccability'. Jesus was both God and man... fully human and fully divine... God by nature is not sinful so on one side of the coin of the incarnation Jesus would not sin. Satan did however tempt Christ and in full identification with us Jesus made choices and chose not to sin. He was and is impeccable. Both sides of the coin reveal the fullness of Christ's divine person.

The result of that impeccable life has been placed on the account of people who believe in Christ.

"And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption," - 1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV

We can say 'yes' or 'no' or we can walk in a powerful liberty that has been given as a free gift.

"As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us," - 2 Corinthians 1:18-21 ESV

Every promise God has made you and I is given through Christ and in Christ. The perfect life of God is found in Him.

All the 'should's of life have been accomplished in Christ. It is finished! Now we have the liberty to live in a 'Yes and amen' life in Christ.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Morning Thanksgiving Session

Thanking God this morning. Thanking Him for people and events. Thanking Him for the objects in my home... temporal stuff that might be owned by someone else after I am gone or just discarded as trash but right now it is mine to use and appreciate. Thanking God for hands, feet, eyes and ears. Thanking Him for birds and trees and springtime quickening. Thanking Him. Praising Him. Appreciating Him. I am not just thanking the air I am thanking my Heavenly Father. I know God hears it because I have access to His throne through Jesus Christ. I can only imagine what an infinitely holy God thinks of my thanks. When someone thanks me it means something to me and I am a puny dusk speck living on a spinning dust speck.

Thank You God for bringing this dusk speck close and making me aware of your holy attention and care.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace..." - Ephesians 2:13-14a NKJV

I am so aware that if I got what my choices should have brought me. I would have so much less and I would be far not close. Thank You God for giving me good things I don't deserve every day again and again.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Understand The Will Of The Lord

Many thoughts today...

"Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." - Ephesians 5:17-21 ESV

Maybe we can look at this phrase 'understand what the will of the Lord is' and it translates in our mind as 'knowing what to do next' but really it is 'knowing how to live life'.

Wisdom creates a priority system that excludes regret. It is value system. Wisdom lets us respond instead of react. Wisdom gives us a way of escape so we don't have to live in self-medication. Guilt has a solution.

"Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." - Proverbs 4:5-7 KJV

Jesus Is the Living Word. He Is wisdom incarnate. Knowing Him will shape our value system. He reveals God as gracious. His good news is pure and powerful. It doesn't bring people into bondage. It frees hearts and minds.

The Gospel is the 'will of God' for mankind.

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

That is God's will for this moment in history. Will we embrace it and enter into an experience of His favor or will we drift with nothing to sing about in a continual pursuit of vain pleasure that can never satisfy the deepest needs of our soul?

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Loving People Who Don't Receive Us

Reading a booklet by Dr Stevens (the Pastor who founded the ministry I am apart of) and thinking about life.

This passage comes to mind.

"Now John answered and said, 'Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.' But Jesus said to him, 'Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.' Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?' But He turned and rebuked them, and said, 'You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 'For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.' And they went to another village." - Luke 9:49-56 NKJV

Jesus is on a mission of redemption but the disciples are conditioned to label people as 'us' and 'them'.

They didn't know what kind of life source they were drawing from (spirit they were of) they had fellowship and conditioning that came from a fallen spiritual source. Anger brought them into a spiritual mob mentality.

Then we look at Jesus who is the picture of a lamb. He loved the Samaritans but if they had other plans that didn't change Jesus' mind about them nor did it change His direction. He would still go to Jerusalem but He just made a grace adjustment and moved on to a different village.

I think we have all gotten hurt because people didn't receive us for one reason or another. We have all been excluded from things but we can move on to the next thing without accusation and still love people.

"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," - Philippians 2:4-5 NKJV

We can have the mind of Christ and that mind loves in maturity seeking restoration and reconciliation. Let have spiritual life from above. Let's travel with Christ and go where He goes. He went to a cross and we go to His cross and pick it up as our own. That is the place where our past died and a future was made possible. That is the place where the sins of the world were paid for and justice was satisfied. Let's go there and then we will have a capacity to love people.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Fresh Curiosity

Curiosity is a big part of my life and I see it as essential to being a good husband, man and disciple of Christ. It is not the main thing that makes me good at my job but it is essential to my work. I long to open my Bible because I want to see what God will say to me. I study my wife because I love her and think she is fascinating.

American culture often associates curiosity and lust as being synonymous but one is pure and childlike and the other is possessive and controlling.

Bondage kills our curiosity. We dread that what was will be again. We flinch at the future but grace produces fertile ground for our healthy desire to explore and know what is knowable.

"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers." - James 1:13-16 ESV

God didn't make beauty to tempt us but when we move from appreciation to a desire to have and control we experience death. God must become our satisfaction again. If He has never been our satisfaction He must have that place or we will all slip down that slippery slope over and over.

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV

If we have God we can live a life of constant exploration. We can be fascinated even by the familiar because the need of our soul has been satisfied by God's love, mercy and acceptance.

"Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit." - Psalm 51:11-12 ESV

David lived at a time before the cross. Men weren't sealed with God's spirit at the point of salvation. He saw Saul, his King, lose his joy and security and enter into lustful pursuits and feared what might happen to him in his own life if he wandered too far away.

We live after the cross. If we have believed we are sealed forever but we sometimes need the joy restored. God will give us our innocence back if we seek His face and then we can rediscover the world like little children.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Perfect Priorities

To be utterly transparent... I dropped the ball on something important this week. It happens. Sure, There were obstacles but if my priorities had been right I could have overcomes those obstacles. They weren't correct and I didn't have the momentum I needed to be where I needed to be.

As I sit here rebounding with God in preparation for dealing with the person I let down this passage came to mind...

(Stephen gave a long speech that I left out because it is Jesus I am focusing on)

"Stephen said: "Brothers and fathers, hear me...

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.' " - Acts 7:1-2a, 54-56 ESV

Jesus positioned Himself to be there in Stephen's time of need.

He Is where He Is right now because that is the perfect position to be there for us when it counts.

Jesus sits in Heaven now as our High Priest.

"...since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens." - Hebrews 7:25b-26 ESV

His priority system is perfect. He may not act when you want Him to act but He will always show Himself faithful at the key times when it counts.

Some of us are more faithful than others...

"Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? The righteous who walks in his integrity - blessed are his children after him!" - Proverbs 20:6-7 ESV

Yes.

I look at Jesus this morning and I ask God to teach me. There is no condemnation.

Jesus' positioning is on our 'account' if we have believed in Him.

"But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness," - Romans 4:5 NKJV

It other words we don't strive to please God. God is pleased with those who believe in Christ. God has 'placed' believers right where they need to be.

I want to think like Jesus thinks so that I can be in the right place at the right time here on Earth. I want to think 'with' God. God is already pleased. Now I want to represent Him so that others will see His attributes on display.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Reading And Rereading Proverbs Chapter 24

I am reading and rereading Proverbs chapter 24 this morning and it is so refreshing.

"My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off." - Proverbs 24:13-14 ESV

I so identify with what is being said in this chapter.

"If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, 'Behold, we did not know this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?" - Proverbs 24:10-12 ESV

We can have seasons where we are so bombarded with issues and concerns that we just don't have a capacity anymore to hear about more tragedy. Unless we get a break, rest and be renewed we will begin to turn a 'blind eye' to need.

"I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man." - Proverbs 24:30-34 ESV

Yes. This is wisdom. It is practical.

We can read and reread and be washed and realigned. None of us know what the future will bring but there is wisdom that imparts hope.

We can deal with a few weeds and take note of weak places in our wall that need repair. If we are not overwhelmed we can do little things here and there and live with compassionate eyes that see, acknowledge and love.

If our strength is small there is no condemnation we can be realigned in grace and mercy.

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." - Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV

Yes. Amen.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Some Thoughts On Ministry

Many thoughts this morning of ministry, vision and singular leadership.

"The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd." - Ecclesiastes 12:11 ESV

"The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil." - 1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV

"For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." - Titus 1:7-9 ESV

The word 'overseer' (sometimes translated Bishop) is a word linked with nurturing. The oversight is given for care to be administered.

A vision is something that must be nurtured. A ministry is not first and foremost an organizational term it is a vehicle for nurturing. God shares something with a person and that person experiences it as a 'vision'. That vision might be dramatic or it may be a quietly growing desire. Then the person makes choices. A vision can become a ministry. One of the confirmations of a vision is that other people walking with God in a nurtured relationship will give confirmation when something is truly of God. The 'vision' will have Biblical compatibility.

"And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them." - Acts 6:5-6 ESV

The Church is God's vision and it is an amazing one but we are all individual gardeners... nurturers... overseers... under the Master overseer of all. One person can nurture. Each of us can have a ministry as we are a part of a larger ministry.

What has God given you to nurture? If 'doing' is the focus then a shift needs to happen. If we are cut off from God's care what resources will we have to care for anything He has given us?

Let's draw near to God and nurture what He has given us. No condemnation, greed or envy just care for the precious things and people.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

The Light Burden Of Appreciation

Several potentially disappointing things happened before Jesus says this at the end of Matthew chapter 11...

"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

John the Baptist seemed trapped in his situation and sent people to say this to Jesus.

"Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, 'Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?' " - Matthew 11:2-3 ESV

Then Jesus spends time in the middle of the chapter addressing the lack of response that certain areas He visited were showing...

"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you." - Matthew 11:21-24 ESV

But, Jesus' yoke was easy and His burden was light. He wasn't sweating it. His performance (a perfect one) wasn't producing overwhelming results but Jesus was free in His thinking. Why? I think we see a clue here...

"At that time Jesus declared, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.' " - Matthew 11:25-26 ESV

This reminds me of the artist who makes art and then continues to make it even if it isn't well received.

The Trinity was making a masterpiece of love, mercy and gracious redemption in each place they went.

People were critical but this Is what Jesus saw...

"And Jesus answered them, 'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.' " - Matthew 11:4-6 ESV

Jesus' yoke was easy and His burden was light.

We have grace and mercy and the pressures of life don't have to invade the walled in garden of our soul. Our existence is a redemptive work of art. Let's live in freedom as we appreciate God's work in simplicity.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Reigned For One Thousand Years

Taking a look at the millennial reign this morning. Most people focus on Heaven as being our 'life after this life' but a literal translation of the scriptures points to a robust and diverse future. God is not done with our planet after the apocalypse (seven year time of Jacob's trouble). Israel is going to see it's nation in full bloom like an olive tree producing oil and fruit. We see governmental Israel restored now but God is going to make Israel the center of the world.

Sukkot (the feast of tabernacles) and Solomon's life are pictures of the millennial reign. Solomon is a type of Christ and his reign was a shadow of the kingdom to come. He even sits on a 'great white throne'.

"The king also made a great ivory throne and overlaid it with the finest gold." - 1 Kings 10:18 ESV

"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." - Revelation 20:11 ESV

Yes, Heaven is amazing but God is training us to reign with Him.

"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:" - 2 Timothy 2:12 KJV

"Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." - Revelation 20:1-4 ESV

"Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD. On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. For seven days you shall present food offerings to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work." - Leviticus 23:34-36 ESV

"You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful." - Deuteronomy 16:13-15 ESV

In the garden of Eden Adam had this organic unity with God. When it came time to name the animals He just knew by observation what to name them. When this corruptible puts on incorruptible we will think with God in an adult way. Our childhood will be resolved. Our weakness will be filled in with strength. Our sin consciousness will be replaced with glory and integrated thinking.

What we operate in now will be the template that our future will be framed with.

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." - 2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV

Could it be that the choices we make today affect our activity and even responsibility for 1,000 years? The feast of tabernacles isn't far away on the prophetic calendar. We have more to look forward to then harps and clouds. There will be the reclamation of our world and the glory of God will be on display like never before. Angels will be visible. There will be territory to take and victories to be won. The dominoes of what happened at the cross will still be falling and every loose end revealed in the book of Genesis will be tied up again in the end.

Are we spectators or are we participants? Do we have a template of wood, hay and stubble or is our life built on the gold, silver and precious stones of Christ's life and accomplishments?

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thoughts On Victimless Crimes

I have many thoughts this morning and many are hard to communicate in a clear way. A dominant concept is the idea of a 'victimless crime'.

There is great debate as to whether or not such a thing even exists but I find it interesting that God mandated the Sabbath for the nation of Israel and then instructed that there be punishment if the Sabbath was broken.

We aren't under the law. The law isn't for individual believers it was given to a nation and it was for that nation.

"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?" - Romans 6:14-16 ESV

You could say that no one was hurt by not keeping the Sabbath or you could saw that the individual wasn't hurt but the fabric of society was hurt. You could even say people hurt themselves by not resting as mandated by God but we are not under law... even this law...

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." - 1 John 1:7-10 ESV

Perhaps these thoughts would just provoke us. I want to walk in the light today and that means coming under grace. That isn't 'not hurting anyone' and it also isn't, 'just taking care of myself'. It is having an open communication with God.

"...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin." - Romans 14:23b KJV

Faithlessness seems like a victimless crime but is it?

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