Thursday, November 30, 2017

Different Flavors Of Caring

Yesterday I had a good meditation about the many forms of showing care for people.

Initiators often show care through a command. Responders strengthen connections. Most people do both to one degree or another but some people lean hard to one side or another.

"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

Isn't this passage such a unique blend of both styles!

Jesus initiates strongly but it is a connecting initiation.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." - 1 Peter 5:6-9 ESV

People who care won't be passive in their caring but at the same time a know people struggle with how to express their affection.

"Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." - Romans 12:13 ESV

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." - Hebrews 13:2 ESV

"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." - 1 Peter 4:9 ESV

This care has no command and it isn't seeking to connect per se but it is just as powerful. It is the care of a host and it can only be done with the 'home field advantage.'

1 Corinthians 12 verse 28 lists 'Helps' as a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word there is antilēmpsis (Strong's G484) and it means to view with understanding and minister. Some people have a gift for this but it is something we can all be involved in. We all have a ministry.

"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." - 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ESV

Maybe people get bossy because they care. Sometimes not but sometimes that is the case. They see a crisis and they jump right in and start directing traffic.

I don't know about you but I want to identify love when I see it. If we know God we always have the home field advantage. His presence grants us that in every situation.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Deals And More Deals

Jesus' last words before His death were, and are powerful words.

"...He said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness - his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth - that you also may believe." - John 19:30b-35 ESV

I was thinking this morning about Jesus' 'It is finished' statement and how important it is.

The Romans are just going about their business. The politics of religion doesn't miss a beat. They send everyone, including the prisoners on the crosses, home early to keep things moving.

'It is finished' doesn't change anything for the politics of religious folks but it changes everything for God. Sin is paid for. The debt is wiped out. God can move forward. The past can be buried. Jesus soon will rise from the grave in glory. One day soon after He will ascend into the clouds to sit at the right hand of the Father. All the while people will be making deals and concessions in backrooms. Politics will continue.

I find it interesting that the Bible fills us in on the deal the religious hierarchy had with the Romans. God knew what the political climate would be and it didn't hinder His redemptive plan a bit.

On one level or another, we deal with pressures brought on by circumstances. This one makes a deal with that one and we need to take a detour of some kind but 'It is Finished!' echoes in our ears as believers.

"He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you" - 1 Peter 1:20 ESV

"...although his works were finished from the foundation of the world." - Hebrews 4:3b ESV

The Romans may have been planning on ending things early for the Passover but God had been executing a plan since before the beginning of history. On this day all transgressions would be paid for. That payment is for you and for me. It is for every person who has no idea that Jesus' ever existed. It is finished! We are made alive by God when we believe that the payment was made for us. Those who never believe are never quickened.

"'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." - Matthew 22:32 ESV

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

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." - Revelation 3:20 ESV

God wants to come in to where we live and make us alive. The first time we answer we will be changed and adopted by God. Then each time we answer the door after that God adds a layer to the relationship.

In the coming weeks we will witness many politically motivated transactions and those decisions have a weight in the world. Power will shift as deals are made.

My primary focus is on the divine transaction that was completed 2000 years ago. That is the one people need to know about. That is the one that can bring life.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Satisfying Needs Isn't Your Calling

'The need does not justify the calling.' -Unknown

This was a phrase I heard more than once in Bible College but as I sit here now searching I can't find a specific source for that quote. It is a small statement that has profoundly shaped my life.

"Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." - Exodus 19:4 KJV

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." - John 14:3 KJV

Our calling is not a set of actions. We are called unto God Himself.

Needs are all around us. We create them and we are also used at times as a provision to meet them but that does not define our spiritual calling. If it did we would be easily manipulated.

"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

Your calling may lead you into seasons where you are continually surrounded by great needs but those needs still won't define your calling. The suffering you suffer is not your cross. Jesus' cross is your cross.

Jesus' life is our life.

Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?
My beloved has gone down to his garden to the beds of spices, to graze in the gardens and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies." - Song of Songs 6:1-3 ESV

Worship is part of your calling. Following. Pouring out your heart. Seeking His mind. Walking with Him, and others, as a disciple is the calling. Getting and answering to your new name (identity) is the calling.

Jesus said this when crucifixion day was close at hand.

"For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me." - Mark 14:7 ESV

Let's pick up His cross and live in a salvation that is finished and walk with our Messiah. He Is close at hand and our attention and focus can be on Him. Then we can have His glory in what we are doing instead of wrongly thinking we are 'doing something for God.'


Monday, November 27, 2017

Listen To The Commision

"And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff -no bread, no bag, no money in their belts - but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, 'Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.' So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them." - Mark 6:7-13 ESV

What happens to employees that stop hearing what their employer asks them to do? What happens to marriages when initiations from a spouse go on deaf ears. God wants us to hear Him even if it is something we think we do not have a capacity to do or accomplish.

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." - Romans 10:17 ESV

This morning I am listening to the great commision.

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.' " - Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

God gave the Apostles authority. That authority is now on us in our generation.

Are you listening. I'm not asking if you are going. I'm just asking if you are listening.

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." - 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

If we look and listen our capacity will change. Doesn't matter if you or I are seven or seventy. Listening is key. Then we will see our moment and our feet will move as we choose by faith to move them.


Friday, November 24, 2017

One Hidden Hope

I awoke thinking of the time in Israel's history when the line of David, which was also the line of Messiah, was whittled down to just one boy hidden away in a back room.

"Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family of the house of Judah. But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king's sons who were about to be put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram and wife of Jehoiada the priest, because she was a sister of Ahaziah, hid him from Athaliah, so that she did not put him to death." - 2 Chronicles 22:10-11 ESV

Those months and years Israel must have felt abandoned by God. David's throne was supposed to be forever. This child was kept a secret so most people had no idea David's dynasty was being preserved.

"And they went about through Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the heads of fathers' houses of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. And all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And Jehoiada said to them, "Behold, the king's son! Let him reign, as the LORD spoke concerning the sons of David. This is the thing that you shall do: of you priests and Levites who come off duty on the Sabbath, one third shall be gatekeepers, and one third shall be at the king's house and one third at the Gate of the Foundation. And all the people shall be in the courts of the house of the LORD. Let no one enter the house of the LORD except the priests and ministering Levites. They may enter, for they are holy, but all the people shall keep the charge of the LORD. The Levites shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever enters the house shall be put to death. Be with the king when he comes in and when he goes out. The Levites and all Judah did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men, who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, for Jehoiada the priest did not dismiss the divisions." - 2 Chronicles 23:2-8 ESV

Then when Athaliah was defeated and Joash was crowned king he was too young to really be considered competent.

"Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest." - 2 Chronicles 24:1-2 ESV

How could He lead? He was just a naive boy!

Joash was and is a type (picture that represents some aspect) of Jesus. Every hope was placed on one seemingly hidden person. Then once He is revealed can He really do the job in a dog eat dog world.

Yes, He can. All seems lost but it isn't. It looks like mankind will poison itself to death or push the planet past it's resources and let's face it... we could left to ourselves but there is a Messiah hidden in a back room that only a few priests knew about.

If you know Jesus then you know the world has a Saviour. What hope! What a sacred trust that is!

Our faith is an open secret. We have hope a folk who don't have it must see that little boy to believe that there can be a happy ending. This innocent One does have the wisdom to lead well. We don't have to resort to the wisdom of the world. Jesus' way is right and God approves of His innocent ways.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Prayers For A Edifying Thanksgiving

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." - Ephesians 4:29-30 ESV

Wow. What a great passage. What we say and do can 'build up' but it is grace that really does the building.

I have been praying all week for the coming Thanksgiving holiday. People will be with people and it is an opportunity to build in an unusual setting.

God bless us as we are with people. It is a day to be thankful to you. Bless our interactions. We worship You God. You are the God of all grace. Orient us to your mind. These events can be interesting ones for so many people. Touch those who are grieving and those who are rejoicing and everyone inbetween. Thank You Lord.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Speak To Us

"...Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..." - Psalm 95:7b-8a ESV

That little phrase was spoken this weekend and it has stuck with me. It speaks to me of availability and rest.

It is easy to talk but we must learn to listen and process what we are hearing from the people we love.

God, we have not always been available to hear what You have to say. If you have something to say to us we want to listen. Your words are life and truth.


Monday, November 20, 2017

First Fruits

God doesn't want our best. He wants our 'first fruits.'

"You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me." - Exodus 22:29-30 NKJV

If you made 100 sales as a salesman last month and this month you sold 101 and set a new record He doesn't want that extra sale. He wants the first 10.

Something to think about isn't it?

God isn't interested in taking credit for your excellence. He is the foundation of all good things. Recognition is right and in order and it sets our minds and priorities right and in order.

What demands the first fruits of our time? The thing we give the first 10% is the thing we worship and love the most.

I want my first thoughts of the day to be, 'It is finished because of Jesus' Things that crowd in before that are idols to me and they must be put in their place. God is going to get my first 10% or I have determined that I need to repent (change my mind) because I have lost my sense of priority. Thanksgiving needs to be first, not last. If it is first it will linger until the end also.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Abuse Of Power

Like many these days, I've been thinking about the abuse of power. I've been looking at these passages and substituting the word 'brother' and 'elder' for 'powerful and experienced person who has influence.'

"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." - Matthew 18:15-17 ESV

"Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure." - 1 Timothy 5:19-22 ESV

In today's climate in 2017, social media seems to be a way that a group gets justice. Going alone to settle a score can be dangerous, can't it? Can you even get an appointment? Will your life be pulled through the mud as a result?

Looking at these passages I see a God who wants to give mercy and to cover matters if it is possible but it all sits on a foundation of justice.

I cringe at the abuse I see across a multitude of industries. I wish I could say the Church was immune but it isn't nor does the Bible say it is going to be.

Paul said this statement to a group just at the formation of the Church within a generation of the cross and the incarnation.

"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears." - Acts 20:28-31 ESV

There have always been those who abuse power. Nathan had to walk into the court of King David and confront the King about a grave transgression (see 2 Samuel 12:1f). Nathan had a divine covering but what he did was dangerous. I marvel at the courage a person needs to muster up to face a person in power. Powerful people also get accused of things that aren't true and have to deal with those situations on occasion also.

"Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! - Psalm 44:22-26 ESV

The psalmist captures the feeling there doesn't he?

I read these things and say to myself, 'I refuse to take the easy way out in these matters. I must be accountable and if need be make others accountable. Mercy is to great a cause. Love covers but that covering can't become a hiding place for abuse.'

Speaking truth to power has never been easy but we can live in the confidence that Nathan did when he came before his king.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 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." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-11 ESV

Let us live in the maturity of love. If God for us who can be against us?

In one of the recent high profile sexual abuse cases the reporters who broke, it said that they spent months interviewing victims but they avoided going to the man directly because they wanted to avoid 'off the record' conversations that might hinder them later. I found it interesting. Of course, the press isn't seeking to 'cover' or reconcile. Hopefully, we are.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Strange Mixtures

God doesn't approve of certain mixtures. The last part of this passage is often used by angry atheists or other folks who want to disprove or invalidate the scriptures one way or another but I find it to be very edifying in context. That is why I have included the verses directly before the often quoted passage.

"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material." - Leviticus 19:17-19 ESV

God doesn't want us to mix love and hate. He gave Israel, not us, statutes so that they would be a visual witness. The nations and cultures who passed through Israel to get to the Orient or to Europe would say, 'These people are different. They eat differently. They dress differently. They are funny people. What makes them different?'

If you have a garment made of more than one material don't sweat it. This 'statute' isn't for you. Chuqqah (Strong's H2708), the word translated statute, means custom or way of life. It was never meant to be global. It is an illustration of God's distaste for mixtures given to a nation that was to represent His mind to the world.

The world is very fond of making hybrids these days. Foods get mixed. DNA gets tossed together like a salad in laboratories. We as believers are not called to be an example of that. We are called to purity. Wear what you want. Join in marriage to the person you want to marry no matter what their ethnicity is. A joining of a man and a woman is a blessed event. God isn't asking us to have an outward conformity. His mind is pure and He loves to see us with an undivided heart and mind. He wants love that never seeks revenge. He wants pure relationships and we can only have those if we look at how He Is and what His Son has done on the cross so transformation and renewal can take place.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Structured Freedom

Still reading Romans chapter 7 and just pondering why rules don't work for us in the long run.

"So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin." - Romans 7:12-14 ESV

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh," - Romans 8:3 ESV

Ever work in a place with tight restrictive rules? A few people thrive but in most of the places I have been the relationships with management are always strained in some way. Those rules may be good rules or bad ones it. The culture is affected no matter what.

Folks teach that God is like that but He isn't. Rules were given so 'sin would be revealed as exceedingly sinful'. God isn't a micromanager.

"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.' They answered him, 'We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?' Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:31-36 ESV

God has made a family for himself and creates a divine culture in this family. It is one of freedom not oriented on restrictions.

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be dominated by anything." - 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 ESV

This isn't a legal treatise. This is just me pondering on an ordered culture of freedom that has love, mercy, grace and honour. A place where we don't marvel at or concentrate on the rules or personal failure. We don't sweep it under the rug but we also don't live focused on how someone or something should be. We marvel at the mercy and live in a vision.

Rules just are not going to 'fix' people. Love will produce the change. Structured freedom creates an atmosphere of growth where failure isn't final.

Grace is sufficient. It really really is.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Out Of The Dark Forest

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." - Romans 7:15 ESV

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I'm reading Romans chapter 7 very carefully this morning and making my way into chapter 8. It is like Paul has shown us a special pathway out of a psychic forest and out into an open place.

"For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." - Romans 7:22 - 8:4 ESV

There are forces that work on all of humanity but Jesus has put a new dynamic in our lives and it is an aerodynamic force that works in the midst of the gravity we experience because of our fallen nature.

Jesus does what we couldn't do. Jesus did what the law couldn't do. That work is finished. There is no condemnation. We have a way out of the forest.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV

If we are too strong we fight it out in the forest and never see the mountaintop. Grace is 'sufficient' but we don't know that if we are held in the struggle that everyone is held in down on the ground.

In Jesus' victory, we see that 'the law of the Spirit of life has set you (us) free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.'

We are free in the 'no condemnation' place. When it is finished we cease from introspection. We are brought out by God's power.

"In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?" - Psalm 56:11-13 KJV

There are some projects I want to tackle today and I'm not going to pump myself up to go fight in the forest. I need eagle eyes. I'm not asking for strength. I'm asking for provision and I move proactively in reliance so that I can approach each moment as a free man. 'It is finished' takes me out of the cycle and into a place where power can rest on me because my soul is resting in God's Son.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Questions About Present Choices

'What if?' must be a 'now' question and not a question about the past. The past can't be changed but asking that question about a decision that needs to be made today has a present impact.

The first four books of the Bible have many 'If you...' statements that have conditional results for the people of Israel. I have been reading some of them this morning and they are interesting to me.

"If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it." - Exodus 20:25 ESV

Look around and find the rocks. Don't change them or make them better. Don't chip off parts to make them fit. Don't edit the details of your life to sanitize or embellish it. Just find the big stones and pile them up as a place of worship.

"If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him." - Exodus 22:25 ESV

"If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him." - Exodus 23:4-5 ESV

Some moments bring big decisions and things can go either way.

"And Jesus answered them, 'Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen." - Matthew 21:21 ESV

What!?! We can believe and in a moment the terrain of a situation can change? Yes. That is the promise.

I want to live with a present tense 'What if?' statement of faith and not just a moral one.

"Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." - Mark 9:50 ESV

Is this the way to be salty again? What if it is? We can search out and look for spiritual consequences in present decisions and choose God.

"Jesus said to her, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?' " - John 11:40 ESV

We can't change the past. If we alter the stones we just defile the altar. We can do something now for later. We can believe God. We can trust Him now and mountains will move and people will gather to deal with issues. Nothing will change if we live in the past. The future is formed in the present.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Seeing And Being Seen

I have been reading some very different things lately by people who are far outside of my viewpoint. It's crazy when you read a paragraph someone wrote and think, 'Huh, We have some common ground here. That is something to consider.' then you get to the next paragraph and think, 'Wow, That is straight out of crazy town fantasy land. This person must have dropped acid. How do they function in society?'

I am very aware that people, myself included, can be seduced by a lie. As a man seduction will likely come visually. Men are especially vulnerable to be seduced by what they see (or can visualize). Men see something and then the promise of actualization (having or experiencing that thing) sucks them in.

"And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, 'To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.' And Jesus answered him, 'It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.' " - Luke 4:5-8 ESV

"It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, 'Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?' " - 2 Samuel 11:2-3 ESV

Woman have different vulnerabilities. They are sensitive to how they are perceived. This next passage is so illustrative to me of the female design. A woman is caught in adultery and the powers that be see this as a perfect opportunity to trap Jesus. He preaches love and forgiveness so they think He will make a judgement that undermines their society faced with this woman and her situation. They wants to make Him look bad but He turned the table on them.

"And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.']] Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' " - John 8:7-12 ESV

He got the men to look at themselves which broke the mob mentality apart and assured the woman about how she was perceived. She was forgiven. God wasn't seeing her in a bad light. She was loved and known. Her actions mattered because she was known.

Our youth face such challenges today don't they? They must see and be seen like every generation before them and how will they respond? If they see good sane wholesome things they will have a healthy option. If they are seen through love, acceptance and forgiveness perhaps they will have more of a willingness to reject other identifications.

Maturity is so needed. Mature men know what to look at and where to look. They must have trained eyes. Mature women have a developed self-image and great appreciation for those who see others in a certain way.

No one is immune to deception except God. I seek His mind. I travel ordered pathways knowing that the wind could easily blow me around if it is given a chance to do so.

God, Please help us. Not everything we think is right or real. Shed light into those dark areas and break down the wrong presuppositions we have that leave us vulnerable to be deceived. You are the truth. You are the fountain of living waters. We need nothing else but You to satisfy our thirst. Help us. Bless us. Guide us. Show us. We put our trust in you. We look to you knowing You see us and know every part of us.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Tree Of Life

This morning I'm doing a simple study on a phrase and meditating on it's meaning...

'tree of life'

"And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." - Genesis 2:9 KJV

"And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:" - Genesis 3:22 KJV

"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." - Genesis 3:24 KJV

"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens." - Proverbs 3:13-19 KJV

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise." - Proverbs 11:30 KJV

"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." - Proverbs 13:12 KJV

"A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit." - Proverbs 15:4 KJV

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." - Revelation 2:7 KJV

My thoughts go to Jesus meeting Mary in the garden after He has conquered death. It mirrors Eve in her garden. Mary is weeping and looking for Jesus. Her hope has died. It has been days. Jesus made a promise again and again that death could not hold Him and she is wandering at the edge of that promise. Then she finds Him.

"Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned and said to him in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.''" - John 20:14-17 ESV

He is her tree of life. God banished Adam and Eve from the garden to prevent access. Mary has access but she is told not to 'cling to Him' but points her to an attachment to the Father. She has been adopted. The banishment is over.

Words can be a tree of life. Wholesomeness. Integrity. Organization that has life. Words can kill and 'breach' the spirit but we have a tree of life.

Jesus. He Is our tree of life. He is the 'soul winner' that makes us that way. The organization of His mind can nourish us. Communion is symbolic of this idea isn't it? We eat of the reality that His body was broken for us. We drink in that His blood was shed. The words that convey that truth affect us. They free us. They win us.

We are not cut off anymore. We can't touch Him with our hand but we can live in His life and His Father is our Father because of His sacrifice.



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Merciful Mind

"Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." - Luke 6:36 ESV

Wow. That is loaded.

Jesus practised this.

"But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.' Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned and said to him in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord'- and that he had said these things to her." - John 20:11-18 ESV

We have a merciful Father. He isn't sentimental. He Is merciful. We need to see His mercy. There are merciful actions and there are also merciful thoughts. I like how it says 'be' merciful which covers both but starts with an identity of mercy.

It is easy to justify unmerciful behaviour in our minds.

"For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." - James 2:13 ESV

God give us a merciful disposition today... even if it is not our native personality... let us be purposely merciful so we can showcase your mercy. Thank You God. You are merciful to us. Give us a merciful mind and increase our capacity to think mercifully and act in mercy with an identity that lives in mercy.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sowers Of Good Seed

Seed to the sower.

"As it is written, 'He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.' He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" - 2 Corinthians 9:9-15 ESV

The Gospel of grace puts us in this cycle of seed being sown to produce bread and more seed.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." - John 12:24-25 ESV

Jesus was and Is the seed that fell into the ground and then gave nourishment to us.

We have a calling. It is to sow seed and bake bread so that the hunger will be fed. Our life doesn't have to be just eating, sleeping, working and playing. It can be more. Fill your pockets with seeds. Your generosity in sowing has an overflow beyond what you or i see with our eyes.

Thank You God. Make us sowers today. Thank you for your inexpressible gift!


Monday, November 6, 2017

Renewed Hope

I need hope to be renewed on a regular basis.

"But Naomi said, 'Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.' Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her." - Ruth 1:11-14 ESV

Naomi wasn't having her hope renewed and she was trying to fit her future into what was. The future rarely fits into that old mold. Hope gives us flexibility.

Jesus said this...

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" - John 14:1-2 ESV

Jesus has gone into this day 'before' us just like He travelled into death and scouted out a path for us. He operates from eternity. His prayers are with full knowledge of what has happened and what will happen.

"Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." - Hebrews 7:25 ESV

My hope lies in this 'uttermost' salvation.

"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 10:32-33 ESV

This is an interesting passage to ponder in this context isn't it? His timing for release is just right but 'acknowledgement' of Him plays a part in some of our situations. Hope is linked to seeing Him in our days and moments.

Naomi could only see the future through her past performance and that wasn't going to work in her present situation. Ruth would be the one that God used to save her and her family. The Messiah would come through Ruth's line. Naomi had no way to see that before it happened.

We can't know what God will do this week or next month. We have hope that He has gone before us and in acknowledging Him we become colaborers instead of spectators.


Friday, November 3, 2017

A Great White Throne

Wow. One day we will see this next scene. It isn't in the past. It is in the future and we will all be there one way or the other.

"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. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." - Revelation 20:11-15 ESV

Jesus is the ark for this flood that is coming.

There was no place found because the only safe place is Jesus Christ Himself.

"The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." - Psalm 118:14 ESV

"Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him," - Hebrews 5:8-9 ESV

"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." - John 3:16-19 ESV

Can we fathom this? The Bible makes this specific claim. Life isn't just joy and sorrow only to end in an eternal sleep. We aren't being reborn in a different body. Our souls are forever. Our actions count.

Jesus is my safe place. Is He yours? I hope so. He can be.

Only believe. His cross was for you. All you have done, great and small, that would have qualified you to be cast away was paid for on that cross. Now He Is risen and can never die again. Christ wants you to believe that was for you and take your place under His divine covering.

Some of you have believed and I pray many more of you will get into this Ark of safety.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Is Cain Fully Human?

Today I briefly explore the question:

Is Cain fully human?

Some of you may be saying 'What?!?" and it is understandable. It sounds like an idea out of a science fiction novel.

This concept is actually at the root of a great deal of hatred and dehumanizing of people groups. One of the pieces of 'secret knowledge' that closed groups reveal to their initiated. They then claim that 'not all people are people' and 'we are better'.

They use the King James language of this next passage and the fact that Cain was omitted from the Genesis 5 genealogy of Adam (with other conceptual leaps based on Hebrew word meanings) as proof.

"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." - 1 John 3:8-12 KJV

A more modern translation of this passage reads like this:

"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. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous." - 1 John 3:8-12 ESV

A little clearer. Right.

It is a dangerous idea because it brings people down a path that dehumanizes others. If Cain isn't human then he is 'unsavable', lacking a soul, then it follows that there are other people who are also. Those people are less than human. History shows us where this thinking leads.

Fortunately, the scripture is very clear on what Cain is and who salvation is for.

"Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD." - Genesis 4:1 ESV

Simple. Literal. Clear. Adam's son who is omitted from the family line because of his departure from God to do his own thing. A 'way' many others have followed also.

"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, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time." - 1 Timothy 2:1-6 ESV

The Gospel is the higher knowledge and God doesn't want it to be a secret.

All people are people. All people need a saviour. Some won't choose Jesus but it isn't because they can't it is because they won't.

I truly feel sad for those who work their way up a ladder in a false system and have nonsense like this given to them after years of life are wasted. Salvation is so simple yet impossible for the one who desires to retain an air of superiority. It is only for the humbled who are finally ready for the simple truth.