Friday, September 29, 2017

Process Or Ignore

Recommendations and accusations are both verbal assessments of something. One is positive and the other is negative. One comes from a sense of 'above and beyond'-ness and the other transgressed a person's sensibilities in such a way that they feel they need to say something in order to balance the scales.

How do we deal with recommendation and accusations?

We can ignore them but that sends a message. People pay attention to those they respect and ignoring something a person says implies a lack of respect for that person (or group).

If we don't ignore the assessment then we have to process it in some way and there are several ways to do that.

"But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate." - Genesis 3:4-6 ESV

In one statement 'the serpent' accused God and recommended the fruit of the forbidden tree. Eve was totally unprepared for an accusation. It is the first one ever recorded.She was also unprepared to ignore anything someone said because she never had a reason to do that either.

Accusations have barbs. They trigger a 'knowledge of God and Evil' response.

People must know what God says on a subject. He must become the overriding voice in order for our minds to be whole. Then we can say, 'God said' and ignore without disrespect while at the same time we can recommend from a sound point of view.

If God is better than both of us we can still say, 'You and I are equals.'

That is why the attack on the Bible is so forceful. If people can invalidate that Book truth is up for grabs and no one can ever be equal. Emotionalism or intellectualism will always provide other strong winds of doctrine that blow people off course.

"And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." - Acts 20:32 ESV

Grace is truly amazing. If we live in it we can 'recommend it' and what we are saying is valid. Grace is only found in God and only communicated by His words. Grace is truly amazing. If we live in it we can 'recommend it' and what we are saying is valid.

"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." - 1 Timothy 1:15 ESV

Wow. The Apostle said this and the people who heard it knew it was true. In his former life he hunted Christians. Most speakers list some credentials so that their recommendations (or accusations) will be received. Paul's terrible past was his recommendation. Amazing. Paul is basically saying, 'You shouldn't respect me but I am not recommending myself. I am revealing God's power to save.'

We are surrounded by ideas and groups that say, 'If you don't hear us it is disrespectful.' and they are right... to a degree. If we ignore God it is also disrespectful to Him but He gives 'grace words' and no one else has those.

"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" - Psalm 34:8 ESV

"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

Accusations may have sunk down deep if our soul but God can take the 'red' and make us 'white as now'. Will we trust His recommendation?


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Faithful In Little

I started out this morning doing a study on 'taking responsibility' but it brought me to this passage and the principle was so good that I want to park here for a while.

"And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?" - Luke 16:9-12 ESV

Yes, This speaks of honesty, investment and advancement but there is a depth to it beyond the natural side.

This principle is so vital. It basically says that if you have $5 you could buy a latte or you could get 2 coffees, one for you and one for another person and that investment gives you entrance into their 'eternal dwelling place.' You access their soul. It hints that later you will have an invitation to their eternal Heavenly home, which is outside our understanding, all by using money in an eternal way. Millions would be great but just a few dollars will work also.


This faithfulness with 'unrighteous wealth' (money, power, influence, etc...) puts us in a place to be trusted with true riches.

This makes me want to be positioned so that what I have can be used well. Perhaps changes and seeming sacrifices need to happen for that to be true. Why not get a latte if no one is standing next to me? This isn't putting money into a jar that says, 'Relief for _____ victims'. That is great in its own way. We can't outgive God. But this is a one on one investment that touches a soul and the true riches are invested in our soul as peace, wisdom and an awareness of God's gracious mind. The true riches have to do with proximity to Christ and His life.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jesus' Last Thursday And Friday On Earth

This morning I am reading passages concerning the last couple of days of Christ's earthly ministry (Thursday and Friday).

Here are some passage references Matthew 26:19f, Mark 14:16f, Luke 22:13f, John 13:1f (Jesus' words) 18:13f (Events)

There is so much here but it just shocks me how much Jesus endured. He was tugged back and forth in so many ways. Physically. Emotionally. What a crazy couple of days that must have seemed like a lifetime.

Jesus knows what we go through. Of course, God knows everything but Jesus truly knows intimately. He has endured every humiliation and hardship.

We could say, 'Look how strong and noble He was.' and it would be true. No man was ever more noble. But, Even Jesus stumbled on His way to His destination and needed someone else to carry His cross. At the end of His strength, it was out of His hands. Then the words on the cross. Words of sanity and forgiveness even as He cried out to Heaven. Amazing. Just amazing.

I sit here very humbled.

"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." - Hebrews 12:3-4 ESV

Our issues look large and I am not belittling them. How will we do what needs to be done? One step at a time. One decision after another. It may be hard but are you bleeding yet? Wow.

I have a full schedule today but nothing that intense is on it (as far as I know) but even if there was I have a Savior to look to who endured far worse. Let's bear our indignities with dignity. Glory awaits us. He died but in three days He rose from that grave triumphant.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thank You God

It is a slow 'thank You' morning.

Thank You God. Thank You Lord. Thank You Jesus. Another day to say thank You. Another day to hug the ones we love and say thank you to God for life and breath and another day to live in.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Three Cords

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him - a threefold cord is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Oh, This is good.

Who are the first two people and who is the third person? There are a few answers. We could apply this to teamwork. We could also say that a family with children has this dynamic also.

I like to think that the first two cords represent communion (one person partaking of God's life) and the third person added to that dynamic provides fellowship (spiritual interaction based on God being between people in a relationship).

I have heard it taught as a comparison between natural marriage and spiritual marriage. That interpretation holds up but it never sat well with me that God would be third in any list. He Is never third in any list. He Is worthy to be first. It makes sense that He Is first not us. He was before the beginning and will be after the ending.

God. Us. Then other people who know and recognize the first cord. There is power there.

Or even better. God. Others. Us as a third cord to add strength through edification.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus," - Philippians 2:3-5 ESV

Wait! What? That's radical. Yes... and powerful.

I want to be the third cord this week. A person who strengthens those who know God. Then for those who go it alone I want to introduce the first cord into their lives and be there to add strength to that relationship.

God help us this week. You being intertwined in our life by grace has made all the difference. You warm our hearts. Thank You God.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Salvation Is Of Judah

"You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." - John 4:22-24 ESV

A great passage with rich meaning but today I'm focusing in on the 'Jewishness' of salvation. The word translated 'Jews' (Ioudaios - Strong's G2453) is an adjective, not a noun or a proper name. Some would even translate it 'Judahness' making a distinction between the northern and southern Hebrew kingdoms. Historically there was a split between 'Israel' and 'Judah'. Israel is known for making bad decisions because of bad leadership. Judah struggled and teeter-tottered back and forth. Salvation is 'of Judah' because Jesus is descended from Judah.

"And one of the elders said to me, 'Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.' " - Revelation 5:5 ESV

Jesus was and Is the best thing that was ever produced out of that land. He Is the Lion of that tribe. The Royal One.

Is salvation 'Jew-ish' or is it 'Judah-ish'. Is our spirituality? I would have to say based on the passage in John chapter 4 that it is both but it is also neither one.

In verse 9 we see that Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman who had her own somewhat warped ideas about spirituality and He was initiating life to her and saying that God is looking for present-day worshippers who have the right basis of understanding but are in their own category. They are 'graced out' ones who recieve and live in the grace of God. The Messiah was from Judah but what He brought was from Heaven and not steeped in an Earthern culture.

"So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year, they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." - Acts 11:25-26 ESV

Salvation is Jewish but spirituality is Christ-like because Christ-likeness is from Heaven. This isn't left wing versus right wing or based in morality. It isn't Baptist, Lutheran or Presbyterian. It is Jesus being manifested in the world. It is a man walking far out of His way to talk to an ostracized woman at a well and let her know that even though her concepts were wrong and she was known and cared for by just a few people on Earth... God cared for her and wanted to include her in His 'spirit and truth' fellowship.

Jesus provides hope for every person from every culture and economic background. He didn't come to make the world Jewish. He came so that the individual could be Christ-like. He came to save you and i out of all our wrong ideas and give us a new life with a new heritage.

Antisemitism has always been bubbling under the surface in culture after culture. It is no surprise. It isn't just a reaction to a people group that teeter-totters. It is a reaction to the Jewishness of salvation. It is a reaction to one carpenter's Son. Let's love that Son of man and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. That place needs our prayer.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Way Of An Injured Man

I listened to a radio program (NPR - Around The Nation - An Anti-Violence Activist Shares Her Reason For Buying A Gun) yesterday and my heart broke for this woman. A good woman trying to do the right thing and have a positive impact on the world but overwhelmed by the effects her past has on her present.

It made me think of this passage.

"I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not, and on the peoples that call not on your name, for they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his habitation." - Jeremiah 10:23-25 ESV

We see the right thing to do but often it is just past our grasp. Things have happened to us and even though we don't live in them the residue of them remains in our lives.

"A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good." - Proverbs 16:29 ESV

They say that most violence in areas with gang activity is retaliatory. Social media has amplified that cycle. People used to be able to 'talk smack' behind closed doors but now it is out there for every ego to see.

"As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!"" - Luke 24:36 ESV

"Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.' " - John 20:21 ESV

The way He sends us is the way of peace but that way isn't in us. It is in Him and He gives it to us.

"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." - Romans 16:20 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 1:3 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - 2 Corinthians 1:2 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," - Galatians 1:3 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - Ephesians 1:2 ESV

"Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - Ephesians 6:23 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - Philippians 1:2 ESV

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:7 ESV

"Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace." - 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ESV

"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - 2 Thessalonians 1:2 ESV

"To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." - 1 Timothy 1:2 ESV

"To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." - 2 Timothy 1:2 ESV

"To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior." - Titus 1:4 ESV

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - Philemon 1:3 ESV

"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." - Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV

"...according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you." - 1 Peter 1:2 ESV

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

"Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love." - 2 John 1:3 ESV

Do you see a theme here? I do. Peace comes from God through His Son. Maybe you are one of the few who have lived an injury free life and never have felt the need to lash out but this peace comes from the God-man who was mistreated more than any of us. It is a tested and proven peace that will not be overwhelmed.

"So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." - John 6:53 ESV

"Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." - 1 John 5:12 ESV

Believe in the Son and the life of the Son will be in You. Trust in His way and study and meditate on His words and His way will become your way.

"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." - Daniel 12:2-3 ESV

Choose the shining way of grace and peace. Choose the Son as Your Savior. Do it once and then let Him turn you day after day to a path you would not find yourself.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Dark Moon Before The New Year (Rosh Hashanah 2017)

Today the moon is dark and not giving off any light and I am quiet in my soul. Soon a sliver of light will begin to shine. The trumpet will sound in Jerusalem and it will be a new year.

The end of an old year and the start of a new one.

I'm sure for many in Mexico city it has been a long sleepless night. That place and those people are heavy on my heart. Storms and fires rage. Life will never be the same for many of the people in those places because of what has happened in their neighborhoods over the last few weeks.

Quietly I rehearse some of God's promises.

"... I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee..." - Hebrews 13:5b KJV

"Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished." - Isaiah 51:6 KJV

"And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near." - Luke 21:25-28 NKJV

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

"...God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn." - Psalm 46:1b-5 NKJV

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." - John 14:27 NKJV

God leaves peace with us.

Who knows what this week will bring? The trumpet will sound when the moonlight sliver is sighted and God will still be on His throne. The old year will be over and God will reign in the new one.

God, Help us to wrap up the details of this year. It seems strange to pray a prayer like this in September as an American growing up in the west but today we look up at You and the calendar You gave to Israel and take notice. Renew us in newness and help us to tie up any spiritual loose ends. Thank You God.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Zebulun And Naphtali

Looking at the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali this morning.

The disciples were all Israelites and usually, we don't focus on their lineages. Jesus' bloodline is spelled out for us but that is not so for the other disciples but we do have clues.

"And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him." - Matthew 4:13-22 ESV

Two sets of brothers... Zebulun and Naphtali. These tribes have long interesting histories. Here is something that is said of one of them.

"Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer." - Judges 5:14 KJV

The people of Zebulun had a gift for writing and Naphtali had artists.

"He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze. And he was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work." - 1 Kings 7:14 ESV

God used Peter and John to pen most of the new testament. Jesus picked fisherman but they came from a heritage that was great.

I don't know who your parents are or the heritage that you come from. It may be great or it may be quite lowly but light has shone into your life if you have believed in Jesus. You bring your family before God's throne when you come to Him. The gifts He gave to your fathers and mothers are manifested in you as you walk by faith.

"I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven," - Matthew 8:11 ESV

Many will recline at your table also.

It may not be easy to trace your family line but you represent all those that have come before you. Hold your head up high and worship with all that you possess. What you have came from someone as a gift. Let's give what we have been given back to God in gratefulness and thanksgiving.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Expectation For The Day

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

What is 'the Day'?

This is a great principle. Are you looking for 'the Day'? Do you have an expectation in your heart? What days are you looking forward to? Christmas. An anniversary. The day of your retirement from work. Your birthday. Coming home after being away a long time.

The day referred to here is a 'God' day. We stir each other up in the visitation of God. It is the day when we will see Him move. Is it judgment day? Is it the day we get to Heaven? Is it the next time we all sing together and Heaven comes down on our assembly?

Take your pick. The book of Hebrews doesn't say specifically and I think that is on purpose.

What day are you looking forward to? Get together more and more between now and then and encourage one another. Let your expectation be known. Share it. People need a day to look forward to. 'The Day' is coming. Be ready. Be waiting. Count the hours. Invite as many as are willing to come.

" 'I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.' The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price." - Revelation 22:16-17 ESV


Friday, September 15, 2017

The Time Of Jacob's Trouble

What was 'Jacob's trouble' (see Jer 30:7) in the scriptures? To understand the future we must understand what it is referencing in the scriptures.

"Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, 'I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.' Laban said, 'It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.' So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, 'Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.' So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, 'What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?' Laban said, 'It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.' Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife." - Genesis 29:16-28 ESV

Jacob loved a woman but was forced to marry her sister first and work for years before he could marry the girl of his dreams.

The Church will be raptured and go to the marriage supper of the lamb and for seven years God will accomplish much as he waits to take Israel as His bride. All at once a nation will be born in day.

"And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn." - Zechariah 12:9-10 ESV

The day of the Lord is coming soon. God will deal with evil and He will take a wife. The time of Jacob's trouble is coming at us like a freight train. The Church has been longing to see what we may very well be privileged to see in our lifetime.

"But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you." - Romans 11:17-18 ESV

"Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure' - for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, 'Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.' And he said to me, 'These are the true words of God.' " - Revelation 19:7-9 ESV

Two sisters. The wild olive branches are grafted into the cultivated tree. The Church and Israel. God loves both in a special way and is willing to wait and work just like Jacob was willing.

God isn't done with Israel... and He isn't done with you or i either. He has great plans. They just take time to unfold.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Global Perspective

Studying passages that pertain to Christ's second coming and marveling at the small details that are present.

Take this passage...

"Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 'In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.' " - Luke 17:30-36 NKJV

Many quote this as a rapture passage but it is actually speaking of Christ's second coming if we look at the context and Greek words. 'Taken' is paralambano (Strong's G3880) and according to John Walvood it is 'an association' and not a rapture.

What strikes me is the global nature of the event described. Some are sleeping and others are working. This isn't figurative language. It speaks of time zones. Jesus will return and people all over the world will know it and make decisions based upon their predispositions.

Just a small thought but it blessed me. The Bible was written with a global perspective. It isn't a book written by locals with a narrow view. It is a book inspired by the God of the universe who sees all time and space because it is His creation.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

No Hidden Fees

Ever buy something and feel like you are just getting 'nickeled and dimed' to death with all the hidden costs.

God's kingdom isn't like that.

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David." - Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV

Sure mercies. No hidden costs. There is always meat and drink and that table and God wants us to partake of what He has given freely.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Turning A Curse Into A Blessing

Yesterday, the phrase 'turned a curse into a blessing' came up in conversation so I decided to look up the phrase in the scriptures. I will never see that phrase the same way again.

In our conversation, we agreed that God is the only one who can 'turn a curse into a blessing'. People can't do that. People can make the best of something but they don't have the transforming power.

The two places this phrase is used are here...

"No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever, because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. But the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loved you." - Deuteronomy 23:3-5 ESV

"On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, for they did not meet the people of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them - yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. As soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent." - Nehemiah 13:1-3 ESV

Balaam is a mysterious person. He is not involved with Israel but he speaks to God and hears from Him also.

Numbers chapter 22 to 24 outlines the account. Israel's enemies come to Balaam seeking to hire him to curse Israel. He lets these people stay in his home and brings the request to God again and again hoping God will 'change His mind' and say 'Yes'. Balaam is seduced by the money and the challenge and tries to curse Israel but Balak brings him to three places to curse Israel but each time Balaam utters a blessing and even gives prophetic utterance about the Messiah.

"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth. Edom shall be dispossessed; Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed. Israel is doing valiantly. And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion and destroy the survivors of cities!" - Numbers 24:17-19 ESV

The talk about a 'star' and 'scepter' point to Christ and they are unique references given nowhere else quite this way. People can make the best of a situation but only God can reveal His Son to people in the midst of great opposition.

Perhaps folks want to lay low when it comes to their Christian life. They worship in their own way but at work, no one would ever know that 'they name the name of Christ' but a person who has enemies because of the faith also has this dynamic working.

"And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, and he took up his discourse and said,

'The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, the oracle of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered: How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your encampments, O Israel! Like palm groves that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like aloes that the LORD has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters. Water shall flow from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters; his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. God brings him out of Egypt and is for him like the horns of the wild ox; he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries, and shall break their bones in pieces and pierce them through with his arrows. He crouched, he lay down like a lion and like a lioness; who will rouse him up? Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you.'

And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, 'I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times.' " - Numbers 24:2-10 ESV

Yes. Sorry, Balak. God isn't ever going to curse Israel. He will deal with them but never ever curse them. You tried to curse Israel only to discover some interesting facts about the future of Israel's enemies.

"Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said, 'Amalek was the first among the nations, but its end is utter destruction.' And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said, 'Enduring is your dwelling place, and your nest is set in the rock. Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned when Asshur takes you away captive.' And he took up his discourse and said, 'Alas, who shall live when God does this? But ships shall come from Kittim and shall afflict Asshur and Eber; and he too shall come to utter destruction.' Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way." - Numbers 24:20-25 ESV

Say God's name. Use words like 'Jesus', 'The Cross', 'Heaven' and 'Hell'. If you do some will conspire against you but the curse will become a blessing and you will have special insight into Messiah and the favor of God or you can live spouting bland generalities to fit in and miss seeing how intensely God loves and favors you.

I will never see this phrase the same way again. God does turn situations and give us an advantage when it looked like we were at a disadvantage but that is not quite the blessing outlined here. The blessing is a glimpse into grace and the person of Jesus Christ.



Friday, September 8, 2017

The Theory Of Universals

The next passage reveals something interesting about Jesus' incarnation.

"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:" - Philippians 2:7 KJV

The Apostle Paul undoubtedly knew something about Aristotle. Paul was a Roman citizen and a scholar. Aristotle promoted an interesting idea about 'forms' that we call the 'theory of universals'.  I am going to oversimplify it to explain it quickly but here is the gist of it...

There is a perfect version of every idea that exists in a nonphysical realm but there are multiple imperfect reflections of it in the world we see and touch. Our mind touches this immaterial world and thinks about perfection but our body lives in the physical one. Let's use a horse as an example. There are millions of horses of all shapes and sizes but Aristotle would say that the ideal 'form' (or in Greek Eidos) of all horses exists somewhere in the immaterial realm of ideas. This universal horse is represented in all the physical horses we see and touch in the material world.

I am not promoting this philosophy. I see Greek thought as flawed in many ways and dangerous but the incarnation is mysterious and Paul seems to pluck this one concept out because it can be used as a mirror for our understanding.

God made men in His image and yet Jesus is born into the world as a man. He Is the 'ideal' man who is 'the form' of a servant. The servant who existed before time in the realm of the immaterial now being born as a person of flesh and blood like you and I but without sin. Perfect.

This concept can be taken further into angelology and demonology. In the scriptures, we see angels with animal attributes.

"As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle." - Ezekiel 1:10 ESV

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made... The LORD God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.' " - Genesis 3:1a, 14-15 ESV

"The pillars of heaven tremble, And are astonished at His rebuke. He stirs up the sea with His power, And by His understanding He breaks up the storm. By His Spirit He adorned the heavens; His hand pierced the fleeing serpent. Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, And how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?' " - Job 26:11-14 NKJV

Adam didn't name this serpent. He named all the beasts and birds in the garden but this is 'the serpent'. He was and is an 'ideal' entity that spoke ideas out of his deceptive nature. He snuck into the garden from somewhere else. He deceived Eve but God pierced him.

These angels don't look like animals. The animals look a little like angels. God doesn't look like us. Our bodies look a little like Him and once we believe in the servant of all servants we are born again having an eternal spirit made alive that quickens our soul in life.

"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." - 1 John 3:2 ESV

"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 2:4-6 ESV

Please notice that we are 'raised' and 'seated' already. The ideal version of who you are is now in Heaven outside of time. God placed us in His Son and now we have a perfection that can't be seen fully. It will be seen later but it is partially hidden at the moment.

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." - Colossians 3:1-4 NKJV

Today, I am not looking into the Greek realm of forms and ideas. I focus my mind on Heaven and Heavenly things. I want to dwell where God has placed me. I purpose to ponder Christ and all His many perfections. My feet can be firmly on the ground if my head is in these clouds.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Perception Gap

I'm reading 1 John chapter 3 over and over again and wondering at humanity's perception gap.

"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." - 1 John 3:2 ESV

The chapter really links personal sin to a lack of perception. Mankind acts in lawlessness because God's nature and character is not in view.

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him... No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God." - 1 John 3:1, 6-9 ESV

Many go through life in lawlessness in the way that a person who knows nothing about cars deals with their broken down vehicle. If they can figure out how to open the hood they do but they still have very little idea what they are looking at much less how to begin fixing the problem so they get in and turn the key, again and again, hoping the problem will just go away.

"Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us." - 1 John 3:21-24 ESV

God commands us to 'believe in the name of His Son' and see the pattern of love in Christ. Seeing Him activates us in love. We have access to the maker of all things and He shows us how people are made. Instead of 'ungoverned' patterns of self-destruction, we have other options. Revenge, hatred, envy, lying and taking become obsolete practices.

What we are isn't seen yet.

"For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." - 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 ESV

What we will be hinges on what we have seen. Have we seen Jesus? If we see Him there is a transformation that happens inside that eventually is made manifest outside in love.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stumbling Blocks

Offenses. Stumbling blocks. What happens when you or i are caught off balance? There is that momentary jolt isn't there? If we catch ourselves mid fall and recover it is one thing but if we fall hard there is often injury of some kind which takes time to heal.

A couple of passages I was looking at as I considered this subject.

"SHIN. Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure. I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law. Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous judgments. Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble. LORD, I hope for Your salvation, And I do Your commandments. My soul keeps Your testimonies, And I love them exceedingly. I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, For all my ways are before You." - Psalm 119:161-168 NKJV

The KJV translates verse 165 this way...

"Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." - Psalm 119:165 KJV

Each section of this Psalm is distinct. There is one for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet and has a theme. This one is 'SHIN' (the first letter in the Hebrew word for 'Princes' (Sar - Strong's H8269)

Jesus said this next passage to John's disciples. John's life was difficult. He was in jail and would later be executed for speaking truth to power.

"And he answered them, 'Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.' " - Luke 7:22-23 ESV

Has a 'prince', a person with power or influence, offended you? Has God's plan offended you?

You or i can only be offended if we stumble.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." - Psalm 119:105 ESV

The lamp shows us our next steps. The light shows us a strategy for the journey.

We may have already stumbled. Maybe it is a loved one that has fallen. The pain of wound recovery is real. Instead of being bitter we can keep God's precepts (spiritual principles and dynamics) and testimonies (stories about past deliverances) in front of our faces. Grace can teach us how to walk in love and forgiveness.

Jesus is doing miracles today. I want that to be my testimony.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Circulating Movement

Many thoughts this morning.

There is one conversation I participated in on outreach this weekend that sticks out in my mind. We were talking briefly about the human lymphatic system. Our heart pumps red blood cells throughout our body but our lymphatic system has no pump. It works primarily on muscle movement bringing white blood cells to where they are needed in the body.

"...for we walk by faith, not by sight." - 2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV

God has accomplished a great salvation for mankind.

At rest, my heart will still keep pumping oxygen and nutrients all through my body but my body wasn't made to be idle. We need to keep moving by faith in a purpose. That walking movement is needed.

Perhaps we tend to focus on goals and results and that has a place in our life but what about just moving by faith in the moment?

I need outreach. I am there for others but at the same time outreach provides a focused area to operate by faith in God's declared will.

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." - Luke 19:10 ESV

It might be a neighborhood or even this generation of young people that are being raised up in front of our faces that become our focus but we can move with God and all that we have is circulating in our proactive endeavors.

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

I plan to keep moving this week. I don't want to do it in vanity. I want to have God move me as I move by faith.

God, Please stir us up in love and motivate us to move in a redemptive vision. No striving but we want to progress in a progression that blesses You as we walk by faith.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Rock Hard

This morning I am thinking of the heavy boot of oppression on different kinds of soil.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2 ESV

Wet soil - A big sloppy imprint
Dry loose soil - An imprint that can be seen and tracked by those experienced at looking for patterns
Solid rock - Barely a scuff if anything at all

Transformation of the mind hardens us from caving under and being changed by external pressure. Water washes us but does not wash us away.