Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Embracing Rejection

When you want something very badly and get rejected it hurts but when you don't want something and it is denied you it isn't so bad. It might even be a relief.

I don't think Jesus came to Earth wanting people to like him. I think He came knowing most people would reject Him but came anyway.

" He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; Saying,

The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God." - Luke 9:20-27 KJV

At that point, Jesus didn't want the disciples to talk about Him being the Messiah because He wanted to be rejected on the right terms. He wanted his enemies to hear His words echoing in their heads so that after the cross there would be conversions... and there were... some of the people that cried out for His death at the cross got converted when Peter preached at Pentecost.

Evil should reject God and the things of God. Evil isn't sin. Evil is a kingdom opposed to God that gives alternative provisions. This kind of rejection is right. It shows a person to be on a clear side... the wrong side.

I think confrontational evangelism is healthy because of the rejection not in spite of it. It is very good for those who have been rejected or have a fear of rejection. The only way to effectively deal with fear is to face and master it... not once... many times.

It is also potentially good for the hard-hearted people who do the face-to-face rejecting. When you reject someone just for loving you it haunts you and may make you susceptible to changing influences.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:2 KJV

I think the shame Jesus despised wasn't the world's rejection... It was the Father's rejection... He had the shame of the whole world on His body, mind and soul.

When someone you love rejects you that is very very painful. Jesus endured that ultimate pain so we wouldn't have to. He went to a hell we as believers will never face.

We think we need acceptance, love and support from everyone around us but maybe that isn't what we need at all. Jesus had a few close friends and a world that wanted to kill Him and He wouldn't have it any other way. That is an aspect of the the 'mind of Christ' we can have and embrace.

That is a lesson we can all learn from.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Praying In The Spirit

Reading Ephesians chapter 6 over and over again and pondering this idea...

Can a believer 'pray in the Spirit' alone or is it a corporate experience of agreement in prayer?'

I have to say that I'm leaning towards the later of the two.

"...praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints," - Ephesians 6:18 ESV

This whole chapter is about individuals functioning in Church culture. The relationships. The theology. The armor of God is not a literal armor. The doctrine taught in the assembly functions as armor. Salvation should be taught as a hard helmet and not a paper hat. Righteousness is a breastplate. Truth should facilitate movement. The Gospel gets us outdoors. Faith protects us. The sword should be sharp and useful and those who use it should be practiced in it's use.

And prayer... Oh, prayer...

Praying should be done with people for people.

We pray alone but we also pray with people and when we do it is 'in the Spirit'. Our individual prayer life affects our corporate prayer and vice versa.

There is nothing like praying together in unity or singing together as one. There is nothing like when the sermon comes with such clarity and power that every mind in earshot is hanging on every word.

If you have divisive doctrine that keeps you from assembling it might be good to question it's worth because it may be protecting you in some way but it also is keeping you from this great unique privilege.

I am no one and I 'know nothing as I aught to' but today I read this chapter and ponder the mystery of the body of Christ. Jesus Himself is manifested in the group of believers that gather and pray. A sometimes small group that asks and changes history because they did.

Amazing. Really it is.

I've had times when the group is praying and I am 'out of sync'... It serves as a barometer for my individual prayer life. It might be that the person praying is carnal but at other times it is because I am. There is no condemnation. The realization wakes me up from my slumber and gets me back in the mix.

No group. No barometer. God will use other things. He uses many things... but corporate prayer is something He has given us in this age and it is precious and vital.

It is my conviction that a healthy community is not possible without corporate prayer.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Meeting With God

We don't just wait... we agree to meet with God.

"Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing?" - Amos 3:3-5 ESV

Where will we meet Him? The throne of Grace is always just past the edge of our self-life.

"There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism," - Ephesians 4:4-5 ESV

One calling. One faith. One prayer life. One message. One body of believers that we have been baptized into that is manifested all over the world in different groups that believe in One Savior... One book.

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

Yes. We agree to meet and He will wrestle with us if that is what is needed. He will minister to us. He will wash our feet. He will love us.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Judge Righteous Judgement

An expert can spot things a novice doesn't think to look for.

"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things." - Romans 2:1 ESV

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." - John 7:24 KJV

"I tell you, her sins -and they are many - have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love."" - Luke 7:47 NLT

Our past can make our eyes keen. What will we do with what we see?

The cross can be our frame of reference. Perception can pass through the cross. If it does we will be tender, discerning and loving.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Atmospheric Rivers

Here is an interesting term I have been hearing lately... 'atmospheric river'... Our atmosphere can apparently contain huge amounts of water under certain conditions. Which brings me to this passage in scripture.

"In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights." - Genesis 7:11-12 ESV

Before the great flood there was no rain. Mist formed to water the garden. What a different world it must have been. Our first ancestors lived hundreds of years at a time when the world was young. The atmosphere must have been like an ocean not just an occasional river.

But when Noah was 600 years old the bubble burst.

It is always amazing to me how scientific discovery keeps reinforcing the reliability of the scriptures.


Monday, February 20, 2017

The Rewards Of Honor

Pondering the 'unique rewards' of honor.

"Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, 'Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.' He also said, 'Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.' After the flood Noah lived 350 years. All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died." - Genesis 9:20-29 ESV

How Noah's sons dealt with Noah's lapse became a reason for blessing and cursing. It wasn't years of faithful service. It was how they reacted or responded on one day of their life.

Also, The two brothers were blessed differently even though they honored their father in the same way. That is interesting to me. A blessing is a personal thing.

If our hearts are established in grace than we will walk in backwards on people's weakness. Such an opportunity may arise today. Such events 'make' or 'break' relationships and then honor comes in a unique form to those who will function in this manner.

As a very flawed human being I am very thankful for those who have 'walked in backwards' on my life and then continued to stay around.

God, cause us to be this way with people. This kind of honor is so rare in this world.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Hannah's Problem - God's Provision

Thinking. Reading. Praying. Planning. Looking at biblical examples. Asking God how and if they fit into the circumstances I am facing now as a person. Looking at my theological framework. Reading. Praying. Wondering what I can do for people. Wondering what to even to say to some people. Time. Money. Support. Miraculous intervention. All of the above.

My mind keeps returning to Hannah (an old testament Israelite)...

"There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat." - 1 Samuel 1:1-7 ESV

This issue went on for years... years!

Her husband loved her and did what he could to help. I look at the account and see his portion in her life. It was needed. It was real. He couldn't solve her problems but he did what he could to bring her to God's provision.

"And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?" After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head." As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, "How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you." But Hannah answered, "No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation." Then Eli answered, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him." And she said, "Let your servant find favor in your eyes." Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad." - 1 Samuel 1:8-18 ESV

There is so much here.

Do you think that God doesn't know that leaders make stupid judgemental assumptions sometimes? God uses the partial blindness of people. Notice how Hannah found peace somehow. She prayed. That was part of it but she also interacted with Eli. God used both. God used all of it.

I sometimes look at situations and begin to judge. I see impractical decisions and even what looks to me at first glance like hyper-spiritual logic and start to judge but then I have to check myself. The situation is what it is. What are we going to do now? Prevention is great but any thoughts, or comments, of that nature are not going to be helpful.

It is a long story and I'll just say for those of you who don't know how it ends... God opens Hannah's womb and Samuel is born. He is the one these books are the Bible are named after. He becomes an important figure in Israel.

God comes through for Hannah.

My mind races and I think of a dozen people in need right now. Tears fill my eyes. If each of them cries out to God He Is going to help them. He Is going to come through for them. I don't know how He will. I don't even know my place in it.

I wonder what Eli thought when he saw little Samuel in the temple. Was he reminded of his idiotic behavior towards Hannah and think, 'I am such an idiot.'... maybe... but then standing next to her is that little miracle boy.

That idiot served a great God. God Is great in spite of his mistakes. Eli did it imperfectly and so do I. So I weep. I read. I pray. I ponder. I ask. I help where I can. Money. Time. Support. Prayer. I even rarely tell people what I think... very rarely... because this life has baffling problems that only God can solve.

This morning, as I look at my theological framework and compare it to scripture it has soundness. It is based on grace. Jesus is central. The work of salvation is finished. God loves us. In areas I have slipped I get realigned.

God will give us words when we need them. We pray looking like drunken fools and God answers in miraculous ways.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Mindset Of Investment

Reading Galatians chapter 6 and asking myself, 'What is sowing to the flesh and what is sowing to the Spirit? The answers are right in the passage...

"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God." - Galatians 6:7-16 ESV

What is the mindset of a sower? I'm not talking about a child following instructions or a hired hand working for their hourly wage. I'm thinking of the farmer who has a vision for profit down the road.

I want to speak like my words are seeds.

If we tell people they need to change in order for God (or us) to accept them then we are sowing to the flesh. If we love people and tell them that what God has done transforms then we are going to have to wait a season for those seeds to turn into crops but we are sowing to the Spirit and the harvest will come in bountiful unexpected ways down the road.

Today's muddy ground can be something beautiful in a few months. Sowing is going to take energy. Let's not let weariness distract us from the good results coming in a little while.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Access Is Limited

Just sitting here thinking about Valentine's day and access to people. People want to be wanted... but access is limited. It should be limited but it gets limited in funny sometimes unhealthy ways.

Under the law God commanded Israel to keep personal access limited in certain ways. There were laws about sex. There were laws about nudity. There were laws about strangers to the land. Access was controlled.

"Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.' Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." - John 20:29-31 ESV

I think of the access that I have been given to God and I am truly humbled. I know more about Jesus than I do about most people even though I haven't seen Him face-to-face.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV

By becoming a man he gained access to our perspective and He wants us to have access to His life. Amazing.

This morning I'm praying for the people in my circle who are looking for love in the wrong places and giving people access to their lives in hurtful ways. They have real needs and limited options. God help them. Then there are others that are so closed off that no one can get in... not even God.

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

Jesus is the One who straightens all of this out. The whore finds love and stops giving themselves away and the prude finds love and opens up in healthy ways. Jesus gives rest. Jesus restores purity. Jesus fixes the access issue.

"A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed." - Song of Songs 4:12 ESV

May we live life with healthy boundaries. Locked off is some ways but open and accessible in others. Let our private and public lives glorify God.

Thank You God. You have sent Your Son to open doors to us that never would have been opened otherwise. It is a great privilege to have access to Your throne. Help us to live with great respect for people's privacy while at the same time inviting them to be involved in the spaces where we meet You. Open doors. Open hearts. Open places so that souls will be saved. Make us creative and sensitive people.

Thank You God.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Get On The Boat

It is funny when you suddenly see that there has been a 'theme' in your meditation that you didn't know was there.

I realize mine has been, 'What Jesus had and didn't have.'

"That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 'He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.' Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.' Another of the disciples said to him, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' And Jesus said to him, 'Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.' And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him." - Matthew 8:16-23 ESV

It is easy to lament about what we do or don't have. Jesus was aware of the voids in His life and yet He was without sin.

There are trade off aren't there?

Most of us are not rich but we have things that Jesus didn't have. Creature comforts. A set of mugs. Curtains. We buy the cheese we like at the store. We ride instead of walk. We get this instead of that.

Part of me says, 'There is nothing wrong with that.' but another part says, 'I want to be with Jesus... I want to be like Jesus...'

People want more but I often think people have too much. Societies have too much. Individuals are distant because what they have is blocking them from intimacy and provides temptation.

I'm not preaching poverty.

I just want to get on the boat when it is time to get on the boat. Some never pull away from shore because what they have holds them back from what Jesus has.

I identify with this person who wants to bury their father. They want time to do what is honorable. They want to make memories. They don't want to aleinate their family. I get it. Sure I do. Which one of us doesn't get that?


The boat is leaving. Jesus is moving. He Is alive and going forward. He won't apologize for it either.

I want to encourage you to go with Him. I'm not telling you to give up everything but you already know that your ten suitcases aren't going to fit on that little boat. Your plans of comfort and security are not going to work fully into that trip.

The boat is going to depart today. Jesus Is going in an uncomfortable direction. Go with Him by faith. It won't be easy but you won't regret it... Later... I promise you... we won't regret it.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Postponing Negative Reactions

A small but loaded phrase from the booklet I am reading...

'... it is always best to postpone negative reactions under the government of grace...'

Why? We have redemptive motivations.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." - Galatians 5:22-26 ESV

Patience, long suffering and self control are really thing God does in us and through us. We often have a moment of decision... a moment when we can look into the future instead of having a present reaction. A moment when the lit match that would ignite us is being held between our thumb and index finger. Will we drop it into the kindling or blow it out?

I want to keep in step with the Spirit. I choose to let the mind of Christ dwell in me richly and look to a redemptive future.

We all can have sore spots that cause us to flinch if touched but the choice to bare our teeth or not is ours. Mercy gives what isn't deserved and grace assigns favor based on God's value system. Reacting isn't going to ease the pain and God has healing in His wings if that is where we choose to dwell.

"Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities." - Isaiah 53:11 ESV

"For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering." - Hebrews 2:10 ESV

Jesus came as a servant and learned something from it. He was perfected through the suffering of his passion (his journey to the cross). That is baffling to think about but it is true. The God-man learned something this way?

He came into the journey to the cross with redemptive knowledge and a redemptive attitude and He came through it 'perfected.' Wow. God can do that for us also... on a different scale but it is the same dynamic.

Are we available for that? Perhaps our rights and opinions mean more to us than they should.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Giving A Name

People need to assign names to things... songs, books, pets, etc...

It just seems to be how our brains relate to the world around us.

If I am trying to tell someone about a song and I can't remember 'the title' it seems natural to pick out a phrase that stands out and make that the title in my mind.

'You know... the 'bye bye American pie' song...'

The person who I am talking to begins to search through the catalog in their brain to find the matching association.

"Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him." - Genesis 2:19-20 ESV

God wanted to see what Adam would call them? Interesting. The first comedy show and God was the audience.

Contrast, association, recurrence, comparison, particularization (general to specific), generalization (specific to general), causation, substantiation, cruciality, climax, repetition, dominance, proportion, balance, sequence and progression. Just a few ideas that all revolve around a label or title of some kind.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:5-11 ESV

What name will you give God's Son? God has given Him a name. Actually He has revealed the name that 'always was.' If we name Him with the same name then our contrasts, associations and progressions will begin to fall along rational and realistic lines... Heavenly lines.

Thinking 'with God' is a great privilege. It starts with agreement about His Son. He Is the Alpha and Omega of thinking with God.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Kiss The Son

God loves you.

Three simple words but some are going through life truly misunderstanding and missing the point of them. How many of us understand what love is?

"Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." - Psalm 2:10-12 ESV

Some read that and say, 'No No No. That is not love.' but, 'Yes Yes Yes it is.'

I think of the person who finds out at a high school reunion that the beautiful girl he secretly loved but was too scared to approach had a crush on him. But now they are both married to other people and have children. The window was forever missed.

Don't miss the window with God. Psalm 2 speaks of God's Son. It is no mystery who that Is. It is Jesus. Don't let theologians mix up your head with mumbo jumbo. Kiss Jesus. Kiss Him like you would kiss the ring of a King. Give Him his due. Don't die and then stand before Him and have him say...

"And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' " - Matthew 7:23 ESV

God loves you... really He does. Kiss Him while you can. No one knows how much time they have to respond. You can do it today. Consider the cross. Jesus died there for you. Resist the resistance of pride and respond to God's love... a day more may be too late.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017


"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete." - 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ESV

The Greek word in verse 4 & 5 translated 'destroy' is kathairesis (Strong's G2506). Is where we get the word catharsis which is means purge.

I imagine all those summer mornings I spent as a child cleaning off the sidewalk with a hose. It worked so much better than a broom and dustpan. All the muck, grime and sand was just washed down the drain.

God has given us words of divine power that purge.

When truth has washed everything thoroughly then we do what needs to be done.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Messiah In Isaiah Chapter 50

I am listening to Isaiah 50 this morning. The Messiah is speaking...

"The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up. Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment." - Isaiah 50:5-11 ESV

There is so much here!

The voice of reason is right there. Jesus is the lamb of God (John 1:29, 36) and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).

I don't want to say much. I just want to go phrase by phrase and let His logic and heart attitude wash over me.

The mind of The Lamb. The courage of The Lion.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Disciples Or Believers

This morning I am reading passage after passage where the word 'disciple' (Mathetes - Strong's G3101) is used.

"Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple... So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:27, 33 ESV

It is pretty clear that there are some groups that believe that the word disciple is synonymous with the word believer and others that don't. The passages above are the primary reason. Today, I wanted to read the other passages, especially in the book of Acts, to see for myself.

"Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:" - Acts 11:29 KJV

One trend you see clearly is that these disciples have unity. They band together to do things. Even when there are differences they go to God and work them out.

"Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" - Acts 15:10 KJV

Leadership was very concerned about them and they were concerned about the leadership.

"But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him." - Acts 19:30 ESV

"I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them." - Acts 20:29-30 ESV

We know that a believer is 'one' who believes. The scripture is clear on this but from the context of word usage we can see that a disciple is someone who bands together with other disciples and things get accomplished.

Missions is done by disciples.

Some believers seem to do fine on their own... others really don't. The cohesive group dynamic provides stability. The shared vision gives focus. Grace is given and received in the group. Jesus is lifted up and present in a special way.

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

Dying to self is not automatic. We pick up Christ's cross and self is negated. If we don't or won't it isn't going to affect our position in Christ but it sure will affect our experience. The group is where the rubber hits the road. The band of brothers and sisters is where words are spoken that come from Heaven.

If you know me you know I am very pro-Church but what I see in Acts isn't a Church dynamic per se. The Church has seeds in the Gospels and is defined in the epistles and this Greek word is only used in the Gospels and the book of Acts. These disciples become the engine of the Church. They are the core that makes things happen because God uses the life they have laid down in the group. The Church then serves the community and has an impact on the world. The Church gives God's work a name in that community so that people know where to go and find Him.

I decided I would be a disciple long ago and I reaffirm that decision again day after day. When the group I am with blesses me or rubs me the wrong way I decide again that I won't go solo. I will take up my cross and let God move me if that is what is needed. That is what I see in the scriptures. That is my model. If I am isolated by circumstances beyond my control then I won't go negative against the other disciples of Christ. I will pray and consider myself as counted among them. I will repent to God on their behalf and choose to love and serve. My Bible shows me a life like this. I have seen people live like this. Some have been loved and some hated but they lived before God as men and women of integrity. It is possible because God is in it.

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



Friday, February 3, 2017

Three Living Witnesses

Mulling over the concept of a 'witness.'

"A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established." - Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV

A witness is someone who saw something so they say something. God required witnesses for certain legal proceedings. A notary is a kind of witness. They sign to say someone else was present.

"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." - 1 John 5:4-13 ESV

I have to say... this is not an easy passage. For a long time it came across to me as legal jargon. I had a person tell me the Gospel. How are the water, blood and Spirit involved? Ok... Maybe I could begin to grasp how the Spirit was involved but the water and blood part made little sense to me.

Perhaps this refers to the Gospels? I think it has a dual reference... the Gospels and now. Jesus was baptized... water. Jesus shed His blood. He was born of a virgin and had pure blood uncorrupted by sin. Those things speak historically.

"For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son." - 1 John 5:7-9 ESV

This is a right now kind of believing from witnesses that are speaking now in a courtroom of sorts. That means they are living witnesses. Wow.

The Spirit is speaking. The water is living and speaking. Water is often a picture of truth... pure, clear, flowing and cleansing...

"...by the washing of water with the word," - Ephesians 5:26b ESV

Then there is the blood we spoke about yesterday. It is a living witness. It experienced all our sin on the cross and was poured out as a remedy.

"...and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." - Hebrews 12:24 ESV

Abel was the first murder victim and his blood cried out asking for revenge. Jesus' blood asks the Father if He would forgive us.

Believers in Jesus have living witnesses that speak. That is unique. No other philosophy or religion has this threefold correlation.

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." - 1 John 5:13 ESV

If we have seen and believed then we can become witnesses of redemption if we open our mouths and recount what we saw.

P Butch Veader has been speaking about this concept for the last few weeks with the Evangelistes and it is really revolutionary. The passage isn't jargon to me anymore. It is starting to sink in.

In the courtroom when a witness opens their mouth things become real. That person is alive with perceptions and feelings. Then another totally different person takes the stand with a different but correlating point of view... then another. What happens? We are convinced. We need to be convinced in order to have hope.

There are three witnesses... Hear what they say today... weight their words against your evaluations. They were there in history and they are here right now speaking.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Touch That Gives Words

I find that I have certain 'pet doctrines'. They are things I like to talk about and I could go on endlessly about them.

But then I remember the old men at the nursing home with their practiced accounts. I would go and hear the same tales again and again. Sometimes with more embellishments and sometimes less. If I live that long I will be old like those men but I want to have words from God and not just polished accounts that I pull out again and again.

If we know God then we are ambassadors for Him. We don't retire from that role. That means we need to be up on current events. Our conversation must be engaging. We are people who 'have the power to make an offer of amnesty.'

We open God's book and find Jesus. In prayer we quiet our minds and listen. We bring issues to our sovereign about the the places we are sent to.

"Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth." - Jeremiah 1:8-9 KJV

No. I won't have pet doctrines that I give to people again and again. I need the touch that gives me words.

This body may grow old but the touch never grows old.

Those men in the nursing home do have wisdom. I love to listen to them... but I want what I have to be fresh.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

White As Snow

The conscience is a funny thing.

"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" - Hebrews 9:13-14 KJV

Unlike material objects the conscience isn't cleaned by soap or detergent.

Did blood purify? Why? An eye for an eye works on the conscience. You hurt me so I hurt you and balance is preserved. Even children get this. No one needs to teach it. Children need to unlearn it.

Adam's wounds are incurable. He wounds others to balance things out. Terrible... but true.

'I'm sorry.' is a substitute but often a poor one for aching Adam.

God gave an animal sacrifice to Adam. Blood was spilled. It is terrible really it is. An innocent thing dying because of his mistake or just outright transgression... but it is that way. Innocents suffer because of mistakes and that old conscience gets stains no on can seem to reach.

If blood for blood worked, and it did to a degree, then how much more does what Jesus did work?

Like I said the conscience isn't like an object. We can clean something even if it doesn't want to be clean with soap but the conscience must believe that the substitute is good enough.

"For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,' " - 2 Peter 1:16-17 ESV

God the Father thinks His Son is good enough. He raised him from the dead because He found Him more than acceptable.

Do we?

I think we lapse in this and start to 'do things.' What things? The bible calls them 'dead works' and they are all the things that a person who has a dirty conscience does.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:2 KJV

Jesus isn't just the beginning of our faith. He Is the finisher also. We can live with a clean conscience and have it cleansed again and again.

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" - Hebrews 9:14 KJV

An eye for an eye just made everyone hurt. Jesus gives all the parties who believe peace without retaliation. No one else can reach that far into a man or woman.

No one else can clean the soul.