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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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Impudent Prayer

This is a passage that consistently makes me want to pray more...

"And he said to them, 'Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything'? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." - Luke 11:5-10 ESV

Jesus is telling us to pray in a way that would be annoying to any other person. He tells us to push 'the social envelope' with God.

Yes, This passage always challenges me in a good way.

We can live hospitable lives and then bug God for the substance of our hospitality or we can play it safe and have excuses for our lack.

God make us more willing to ask and keep asking so that other travelers would get a provision along their way.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Most High Will Overshadow You

Last night I listened to a voicemail from a friend who was inquiring about the virgin birth and that sparked a great meditation. God was revealed to be a father through the virgin birth. He Fathered Jesus in a unique way and He fathers us in a unique way also.

"And he came to her and said, 'Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!' But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.' And Mary said to the angel, 'How will this be, since I am a virgin?' And the angel answered her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God." - Luke 1:28-35 ESV

The virgin birth was miraculous. How was a holy child born to a fallen women? We can say the blood of the fetus remains separate from the blood of the mother and that is true but clearly Jesus was Mary's son. He had to be in order to be a full representative of the human race. It boggles the mind. This is the part that struck me this morning.

'...the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy...'

The greek word translated overshadow is episkiaz┼Ź (Strong's G1982) and this envelope of God Himself was linked to Jesus' holiness (or set-apartness).

Mary becoming a mother revealed God to be a father.

"...for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." - Galatians 3:26-27 ESV

God adopts us and His name overshadows us. We become holy.

People talk about God and say many things but to know God He must be known as a father.

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' " - John 14:6 ESV

There is a wall of holiness if anyone tries to approach any other way. As children in His shadow we are set apart ones. We can ask and He will answer. We can approach and we will never be turned away. We aren't distant admirers who want a photo with a celebrity. We are children that resemble our parent and dwell in the same residence.

Mary was a most favored woman and we are favored also. Once we believe in Jesus renames us as His own.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

A Principle And A Dynamic

Two doctrines dominate my thinking this morning. One is an anthropological principle and the other is a spiritual dynamic and each can be summed up in a phrase but those phrases need to be 'unpacked' and put in Biblical context.

The doctrine of 'internal conspiracy' is the anthropological principle and oh how freeing it is to understand.

The spiritual dynamic is the 'grace adjustment'.

"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 - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," - Ephesians 2:1-6 ESV

We know the Satanic strategy of tempt - accuse - condemn. That is an attack on our person that comes from outside but our flesh can wage a similar war. Our conscience should be our ally but it can become our bitter enemy. Like a city filled with unrest, the inhabitants can conspire to change the leadership and if they get desperate enough damage can be done to the infrastructure to make something (anything) happen.

If we have lived long enough all of us have seen people destroy themselves. Something external may have triggered a chain of decisions but the destruction came from within and as spectators, we may have tried to intervene but the conspiracy was an internal one.

If we ended here it would leave us in a hard place, wouldn't it? But it doesn't end here. There is the spiritual dynamic of adjusting to grace and with grace and it is beautiful beyond description.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20 ESV

This principle is so freeing and it might take us losing everything first before we discover it because it lies just at the edge of our self-life. We can adjust because of grace. We can nail our old identity in a coffin where it belongs and start fresh. The accusation can be shut down. The ones that come from outside and the one that comes from the inside. We can face the music and adjust. We have victory in seeming defeat. We can go through things instead of avoiding them. We can adjust because our old identity died with Christ and our present identity is new and fresh.

Our soul becomes a city under new leadership. There may be a mess to clean up but if our conscience can adjust to the new value system of death, burial, resurrection, and session (the fact that we are seated above with Christ now as far as God is concerned) it can become our ally when it was once our adversary. Our soul can become a peaceful place to live.

Woe be it unto the soul that lets the internal conspiracy go unchecked. Eventually, the walls of that city will be breached and it's inhabitants taken away into captivity. No one can win that war themselves. God has given us a way of escape in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the negotiator we need to end our internal conspiracies.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Reading The Revolutionary Letters Of John Adams

Lately, I have been looking at the life of John Adams. A founding father of the United States. One of the five men who drafted the Declaration of Independence. The second President of the United States and father of the sixth President. He wore many hats actually.

I'm at the point where I am reading the correspondence between him and his wife before and during the war for independence. In a way, it feels strange reading someone else's mail. If these people were still around it would be an invasion of privacy but because they are historical figures, who saved the letters in part to preserve a time that was fading from the public memory during their own lifetime, I feel more justified.

John Adams was a farmer and a lawyer and the idea of revolution was a scary one. They weren't rich people and there is little monetary compensation during a revolution. Freedom from tyranny would have it's payoff later for some. Others would lose fortunes. This family relied heavily on the income from their farm and that meant Abigail and the children needed to work hard and live in a frugal way.

They knew people would die and just one death was such a high cost but the felt as a colony their backs were up against a wall and they were left with few choices. Buckle under or revolt.

They were brave people. They trusted in God. The Hollywood accounts don't show or emphasize that but they were people of faith. Not all the founding father were but they were.

Here are a few passages that come to mind this morning...

"I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!" - Psalm 120:7 ESV

"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

Liberty is worth the struggle but the choices are rarely easy that is true on a national and a personal level.

We all have personal struggles. Health. Finances. Relationship. Dreams that seem far from realization. Reading these letters reminds me that others have struggled and prevailed. Freedom is rare in this world but God wants us to be free. He has provisions for those who seek freedom for themselves and others.

The Apostle Paul could say this...

"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 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 4:6-8 ESV

Jesus has won the war and has reconcilied God and mankind. What about our battles? Does His victory reach that far? It can. We can possess the freedom that is already ours.

John and Abigail Adams let truth guide their decision making. They valued human dignity and took a stand at great cost. Will we do the same?

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Feigning Weakness

This morning I have been thinking about 'feigning weakness' as a strategy. That is when you pretend not to be good at something so you won't have to do a task. Competitors use this tactic to throw off their adversaries in contests so that the opponent will press an attack in what they see as a weak area only to be taken by surprise and overwhelmed.

"And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, 'Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands'?' And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, 'Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?' " - 1 Samuel 21:10-15 ESV

David wasn't mad but he knew these people were superstitious about insanity. They didn't want to be around it or be guilty of harming a person afflicted this way because they thought the insanity might jump on to them.

Self-deprecating humor feigns weakness and is very effective camouflage. A comic pretends to be dumb for comic effect but is really quite smart.

Oftentimes our weaknesses are revealed in our speech. Tempted preachers preach hard on adultery and other sexual sins and it can make people wonder if they have a weakness in that area. Then it is no surprise when it turns out they do.

If I have a problem I'm going to talk to the person who can do something about it. In the area of weakness that person is God but not many other people need to know. In public I am going to have a faith confession in weak areas and not harp on subjects that bother me. I am determined to live in a 'faith confession' that relies on God's strength. My mind doesn't need to hear my mouth talk about what is troubling me over and over again. Putting wood on that fire is not helpful and it only gives ammunition to those who do want to exploit weakness.

Let your enemy think you are full of pride when really you are humbled by grace. Let them think you are greedy when in truth you are happy with what you have been given. Then in the moment of truth, God will be glorified in your life.

I am not saying these things to make anyone a deceptive person. We seek to live a life of transparency but knowledge about warfare is vital in this life.

"Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly." - Proverbs 13:16 KJV

Let's live lives of purity and wisdom.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Person Who Identifies

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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 4:14-16 ESV

There is something about knowing this that is so comforting.

People join support groups to have their feelings validated. Knowing this fact about Christ validates us in a fundamental way. No one is invisible to God.

We come to God and get grace and mercy. He doesn't say, 'Why are you here?' He knows exactly what is happening with us and He Is full of mercy.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

New Resources

This morning I'm pondering the great value of the Gospel message. Many don't know they have a Savior and many don't care because they haven't felt the need of one. People resign themselves to their little personal programs and 'do what they can' saying it must be enough.

That is what we have all had to do if there was no one there to help us, isn't it? We did our best and either won or lost based on that might or weakness.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed." - John 3:16-20 ESV

The Gospel changes the stakes. It changes everything. We can't say 'I am alone' anymore.

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:31-39 ESV

The Gospel says, 'Because of Jesus you will never be alone. Ony believe in Him and you will never be forsaken by Heaven or condemned by the God of Heaven. Heavenly resources become your resources.'

Believers are not immune to trouble. They might experience even more potent trouble but they are not alone in trouble. They are never alone ever again. They have a Saviour. They have resources.

"But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie -- just as it has taught you, abide in him." - 1 John 2:27 ESV

If we have owned this truth an anointing of liberty and security rests on us and the Holy Spirit will teach us what to do in our liberty. God will give us people and use them but it is the anointing oil that turned a man into a king and it is what takes a slave and makes him or her into a free purposeful person.

We all have circumstances that seem to hinder us and obstacles in our path. Perhaps we are confident we can deal with them and overcome. Perhaps we think, 'If I win I will be a winner.'

God claims we can be winners right now if we embrace the fact that we have a Saviour. Then we can face whatever is next in life as winners before the battle even happens and that makes all the difference.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

A thought from Daniel chapter 10

"In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks... Then he said to me, "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia," - Daniel 10:2, 12-13 ESV

Talk to God. He hears you. There is so much we do not see but we know He hears and answers prayer.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pondering Healing In The Book Of James

I am just going to put this passage 'out there' this morning and not say much. It is one I plan to meditate on. I want to look at each part and each dynamic because it is a wonderful provision God has given to mankind.

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." - James 5:14-16 ESV

Prayer. Healing. Interactive life.

Amazing.

This is a passage for today. It was given after Jesus ascended. It is a provision for us. Wow.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Among The Candlesticks And By The Bedside

This picture blessed me this morning. Jesus walking among the candlesticks...

"Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength... As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches." - Revelation 1:12-16, 20 ESV

He sees the everything at once. Every assembly of believers at the same time. His policy is based on the big picture.

"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

He walks with all the large gatherings in view but he is present in the two or more gatherings also.

"Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." - Psalm 139:7-10 ESV

One person and every person.

Amazing.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Brought Beyond The Natural Boundary

We had a good time on outreach on Saturday and I am still pondering seed thoughts from the lunch rap time.

Jezebel brought Ahab past his moral boundary.

"(There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited." - 1 Kings 21:25 ESV

He did evil because she incited him.

We are brought past moral good into spiritual life by Christ.

"Then he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.' And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.' And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, 'So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, 'My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.' And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, 'Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.' " - Matthew 26:38-45 ESV

Those men had reached the limit of their natural capacity. Jesus took those few steps beyond. He went to a place no other man could go and brought us with Him.

There are people all over the world being incited by the Jezebel's in their life. They do what they know they shouldn't with a little push to help them.

We can live another life and be brought past what is natural by faith in Christ. He Is the One with the power. He Is the faithful One. We fix our eyes on Him and step out on the water to come to Him and it brings us beyond morality into a spiritual life.

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Regard No One According To The Flesh

How do we look at people? In what light do we see their potential? How we see them will influence how we treat them.

"From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV

We are not to use the body as our emphasis. The soul is the focus. The spirit is the identity. The content of each soul is unique. We are not bodies with souls. We are souls with bodies.

Lust has a fleshly dimension. This change of focus hinders that avenue of expression.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world -- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life -- is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." - 1 John 2:15-17 ESV

Sensuality, materialism, and egotism are the whole ball of wax. How far does just this small principle go to weaken the whole structure what would take us down?

What does a soul have? What does it need? If we have a living spirit it has been made alive by the Holy Spirit. What is that like? What nourishes the connections of body, soul and spirit?

Will 'getting more' help our soul or is it only for our flesh?

Will attaining recognition add to our soul or is it an egotistic high that eventually sends us spiralling to the ground?

Souls need love. Souls need light. Souls need care. Souls need to be filled with good things. Souls need memories. Souls need to know their creator. Souls need healing. Souls need companionship.

This is on my mind lately. I can't know the people I know well after the flesh. It will hurt the relationship. I can't know new people that way either or things will start in an off-kilter way that will need to be fixed later.

God Help us. You are our way of escape. We need your eyes to see people. We need light about what You have done to get the light to see this way. Illuminate our perception. Change our minds. Turn us and we will be turned to see what You see by faith. Thank You God. Give us the gift of repentance in this area. We may need to humble ourselves before the people we have known after the flesh. It might take a conversation or more than one to get this to stick. Give us humility. Direct our steps. Thank You, God.

Praise You Lord Jesus. You walked in perfection as a man and yet we don't know You that way anymore. You are the God-man who sits on a throne in Heaven. You fully identified with us so that we could fully identify with You beyond our bodies. Lift us in our thinking. We know You will. Thank You.

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