Friday, July 21, 2017

The Priestly Ministry

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior," - 1 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV

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

As communication has become easier criticism has also.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Third Option

This parable has been on my mind lately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Identity And Provision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good. Huh.

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

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

His Words Have Life

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

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

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

Simple. So simple.

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

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Monday, July 17, 2017

It Will Never Run Dry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Lead Me

'Lead me.'

What a good prayer that is!

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

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

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

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

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

Can we be led?

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

I'm praying this prayer this morning.

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

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

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

How We Process Blame

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

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

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

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

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

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

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:11-13 ESV

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

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sit Near Me

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

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

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

Wow.

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

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

Convicting, isn't it?

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

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

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

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Brush Those Teeth

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

'Keep brushing your teeth.'

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, July 10, 2017

More Alignments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Alignments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Reading Passages That Involve Sleep

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

The Bible uses the concept of sleep in interesting ways.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am centering my prayers on that today.

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

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

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

God's Delivery System

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

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." - Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV

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

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

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

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

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

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