Monday, January 30, 2017

You Will Have Friends Now

"And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, 'Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.' And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled." - Mark 5:17-20 ESV

Go tell your friends?? How many friends do you think this man had? In the passage before he is described this way...

"And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him." - Mark 5:2-6 ESV

I think he ran to Jesus because Jesus was the one light in his very dark world.

"And crying out with a loud voice, he said, 'What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.' For he was saying to him, 'Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!' And Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' He replied, 'My name is Legion, for we are many.' And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, 'Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.' So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea. The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid." - Mark 5:7-15 ESV

Those people were so afraid of this man because of the history that they had with him... no friends there. He had burned those bridges. They were afraid of Jesus because this man seemed to behave around Christ and even that scared them.

'Go tell your friends.'

I love it.

This man was going to have friends again. Maybe for the first time in his life.

This man begged Jesus, He said, 'No, I want to come with you.'

But Jesus said, 'No, Not yet. Later. Now I need you here.'

Jesus was barred from Decapolis because of what happened to the pigs. This man had a mission and on this mission he was going to find friendship.

People abandon their calling to work a vocation and pursue pleasure but God has friends waiting out there. Really... He does... They won't be the friends we have chosen. They are the friends He has chosen.

When it is time for you to go home to Jesus you and I will gladly go but we are needed here now. That is why we are still alive. We are to go where Jesus has been outlawed. We go as transformed people. We go as cleansed maniacs. We go as trophies of grace.

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Convicting The World

"And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come." John 16:8-13

Amazing.

The Spirit convicts. He does not condemn. He shows us truth. Jesus isn't here but people who have believed are given the righteousness of a Savior who sits in Heaven.

We can grieve The Spirit but He still won't condemn us. He will encourage us to believe and not align ourselves with a dark kingdom that is under judgement.

I think many times we confuse the sound of our conscience with the Holy Spirit and say, 'God said.' When in truth God is only going to declare Christ's righteousness. We sense He Is grieved and then jump to conclusions. We try to amend our behavior in a pleasing way but behavior can't please God. Only faith pleases God.

The Spirit points to Christ and says little about Himself. He urges us to believe and be detached from darkness. Will we listen or will we keep sweating on the treadmill of performance?

Our conscience needs to be cleansed of dead works.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Not One More Weight

This morning I approach you the reader and the scriptures cautiously and reverently. I dare not put a burden on you. Grace is all I want to give you.

Theologians have called Soteriology (the study of salvation) the essential doctrine which makes all other scriptural teachings secondary in importance.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God," - Ephesians 2:8 ESV

There is so much in life to learn and unlearn but this one idea... this core idea... is essential... God sent His Son to remove our burdens not to weigh us down. He sent Him to sent us free not lock us up. He sent Him to pay the price. He sent Him to die in our place. Why? So we could be free and remain free.

"So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, 'I believed, and so I spoke,' we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:12-18 ESV

Paul is getting pummeled in his life but he knows he carries a treasure.

Life has weights and burdens but this message doesn't. It is glorious and different and unique. It is from Heaven and the more people hear and receive it the more glory God gets because it is beautiful beyond comparison.

The world is going to weigh you down but I don't want to put another speck of weight on you.

If we carry a false burden then we are prone to weigh others down. I fear I have done that. I know I have done that... but not this morning. Jesus bore our burdens. He already carried our sins so that if we believed in what He did we would be free indeed. That is the essential message.

Oh Lord! Let this be at the heart of our thinking. If what we know or think adds something or takes something away from this truth help us to unlearn it. Unravel the grave clothes so we can truly be free from the life that was and enter into the freshness of the gift You have given to us. You have been so patient with us. So patient and gracious. Thank You a thousand million times for this unspeakable gift.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Finding His Voice

"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force." - Matthew 11:12 ESV

Some very interesting stuff in the Greek for this passage. 'Suffered violence' is biaz┼Ź (Strong's G971) and it could be translated 'crowds into' like shoppers streaming into a store for a sale.

The same word is used here...

"The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it." - Luke 16:16 ESV

John came on the scene and God used him even before he was born to stir things up.

"But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.' And Zechariah said to the angel, 'How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.' And the angel answered him, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.' And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute." - Luke 1:13-22 ESV

It makes me think of how God invades people's lives with divine ideas and those ideas displace something which causes discomfort. The angel said, 'You will be happy when the boy is born.' and it was a prophetic statement. But that man was old in his thinking and the kingdom of God was rushing in all of a sudden. He became mute but the muteness was an external manifestation of his internal state. Later he recognized God's work.

"And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, 'No; he shall be called John.' And they said to her, 'None of your relatives is called by this name.' And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, 'His name is John.' And they all wondered." - Luke 1:59-63 ESV

Naturally speaking things were about to happen but Zechariah suddenly found his voice. It took time but it happened.

That is happening all around the world today. Seeds have been planted that are suddenly sprouting. We can plant more today. The Gospel is a forceful seed that declares God's love and invades a person's life.

I remind myself because I want to be conscious of it. What we see by sight at first isn't the end. God has a plan. We carry the Spirit and the Spirit carries us. If we are Spirit filled then the Spirit Is rushing into the room when we walk in. If that is true then wonderful things are about to happen because of the message we convey. There will be reaction but in the end there will be joy and laughter.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Provoking Prophet

"Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." - Matthew 11:11-15 ESV

Looking at this passage this morning and considering John the Babtist's life. He was an interesting character. He was provoking as the last prophet of the age before Christ came. He insulted power with truth and it cost him his life.

God's kingdom invades our comfort zones and sometimes we react. Some react more than others.

The least person in Jesus' age is greater because of grace. John wasn't a gracious man and he had questions at the end.

"And when the men had come to him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, 'Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'"
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In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 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.'
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When John's messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: 'What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings' courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.' " - Luke 7:20-28 ESV

Grace gives us something truly powerful. God used an offensive man to pave the way for the gracious one. Jesus had nothing but good things to say about John.

Very interesting.

Grace doesn't condemn the reactionary. Grace doesn't condemn anyone but if we are lacking grace all that is left is condemnation.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What Does God Look Like?

A little child who is taught about God will eventually ask the question, 'What does God look like?'

It is a good question.

"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain." - Exodus 20:4-7 ESV

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.'
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Philip said to him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.'
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Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves." - John 14:6-11 ESV

What strikes me this morning is Philip's blind neediness. The only person to satisfy His need was standing right there answering his question but Philip lacked the eyes to see Him that way.

Peter and John saw Jesus more clearly at the mount of transfiguration...

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him." - Matthew 17:1-3 ESV

Jesus knew Philip never saw Him glow like that but He was confident that Philip had seen someone he just didn't recognize.

If we see grace and truth we have seen the Father. When we try to define God He ends up looking like an image of something we have seen in the Heavens, on Earth or below the Earth but that representation just doesn't match who He Is.

Let's make sure those children have a true representation of 'the Father.' We need that. Our co-workers need it. The world needs it.

"In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 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 4:4-7 ESV

Yes. It is going to take a miracle for blind eyes to see. Our God is the miraculous God.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

The Perfect One Loves Us

Jesus was perfect.
He Is perfect.

We can't copy Him successfully but we don't need to copy Him. We just believe in Him.

God set it up this way on purpose.

We are exactly who we need to be when we believe in Him. God is perfectly pleased by that faith.

"Do not fear, only believe." - Mark 5:36b ESV

If is a focus on someone outside of our self who Is completely 'on our side' in love. The 'perfect one' loves us and remains perfect while doing it.

This thought sparks worship in me.

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." - 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

That suffering could be circumstantial because of the actions of others. It could be because of failure. It could even be because we tried to be something we were not.

Grace takes us to the place where Jesus is all and in all. He loves us outside of performance. The perfect One loves us and that is what establishes us.

I wish I could communicate this truth in a way that people could hear it but I know that for some it is going to take some more suffering before it sinks in. The lies and false focus have to be shaken or melted away because our eyes have been blinded to what Adam and Eve instinctively knew before the fall.

If we never let Jesus love us then we are never changed by God's love. All we are left with is our own judgment worthy imperfection.

Let's walk with Him in the cool of the morning. Ultimately He has things under control. We share the Gospel and trust that it is a seed that may take some time to sprout and when it does come to life it does so in the most surprising places.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Holy Discretion

The last few days have been interesting ones. I usually live a very transparent existence. I say what is on my mind and share what I am studying freely.

It is my conviction to have a purposeful life. If something is put down it is there for a reason. Words should have weight. If something is said it should be said with purpose. If it is withheld it also has a purpose.

Purposefully transparency is a great way to live but every season demands some variation and I have been convicted these last few days to withhold some of what I am thinking and not share all that I am studying because edification and growth is my ultimate purpose.

I hope that makes sense. This isn't a comfortable way to live but at times it is a necessary one that we don't speak about. Liars withhold until they are infected by their own lie and even begin to believe them. Many people withhold for the wrong reasons but there is also a right kind of withholding.

"But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth." - Psalm 86:15 KJV

God endures in longsuffering.

"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." - Deuteronomy 29:29 KJV

He has secrets that He doesn't share.

I find myself asking the question, 'Why do I feel compelled to withhold this or that?' because not sharing sometimes feels like a burden.

Embarrassment isn't a good reason to withhold nor is shame. Those are not spiritual motivations.

I think God shows us some things purely for our prayer life. We don't say anything about them to anyone but God and that is right and true because those 'spoken words' would not do anyone else any good.

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." - Galatians 6:2 KJV

This is an amazing verse. Perhaps in the context of this topic we can look at others and realize that people carry things they can not or will not talk about and we can be prayerful for them knowing that we also have things we don't say or do because the timing just isn't right.

"No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away." - Luke 8:16-18 ESV

Yes.

Can God trust us? All will eventually be revealed but can we live in a holy confidentiality because we have a redemptive purpose?

God help us. Give us transparency in what might be embarrassing about ourselves but give us discretion in matters of edification. We are Yours and all that we do (or don't do) is Yours also. Keep us from false burdens. Help us to know when to be quiet and when to speak. Teach us Lord. Thank You God.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Reading And Rereading Jeremiah Chapter 30 - 31

This morning I am reading chapter 30 and 31 of Jeremiah and I am marveling at God's mind.

There is so much here in these chapters. His people are in a bad state but God doesn't abandon them. He Is neither liberal or conservative. I read it again and again and I marvel at the loyal unsentimental love of God for His people.

"The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the LORD, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.' These are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah:" - Jeremiah 30:1-4 ESV

What comes after this is really shocking. Israel and Judah are almost described as rebellious teenagers who keep getting in trouble and God is a Father who Is determined to see His child grow up into a prosperous adult.

This book was written long ago but Israel was in the news just this week and will be again and again. That land is our object lesson. Those people are God's people.

Amazing.

One thought before I close...

"Thus says the LORD: 'Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country. I have heard Ephraim grieving,

'You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the LORD my God. For after I had turned away, I relented, and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth.'

Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD." - Jeremiah 31:16-20 ESV

The KJV has Ephraim saying 'turn me and I will be turned' and I like that phrase.

We all need restoration from time to time. We need God to change our mind.

"For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." - Romans 7:19 ESV

We need restoration. We need grace. We need someone who is never ever going to give up on us.

God is that person. Jesus came from Heaven to connect us to the God who will never give up on us.

Thank You Lord. You are the one who restores. You are the Saviour. You are the gentle healer.

Restore Lord! Restore us. Restore the people around us. Turn the stubborn. Bring us into the land that is our heritage. Thank You Lord.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Dignified And The Efficient

What do you do when you just can't get along with someone?

"I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord." - Philippians 4:2 ESV

Watchman Nee's take on the book of Philippians is that Paul has the conflict between these two women in his mind as he writes this whole book. The book isn't about them. It is written to everyone but this conflict is a primal human conflict. Two women who just can't agree... not because one is right and the other wrong... no... they are just people and people just don't get along sometimes.

They can't work it out with each other but the Spirit gives them different advice...

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me." - Philippians 2:12-18 ESV

Walter Bagehot wrote a book in 1867 about the British Constitution and in it he breaks that document into two great ideals. He says that all great documents about governance can be broken into these two parts. The 'dignified' and the 'efficient.' The dignified represents glorious ideals and timeless truths. The English Monarchy should, in the Victorian mind, represent the dignified. Advising but only when ideals are involved. Ruling as examples of dignity. The efficient aspect represents the action of governance. The practical day to day work of completing tasks or making necessary changes. Both need each other and both must be in balance.

The British Constitution isn't scripture but we can see these two concepts in scripture can't we?

Jesus dying on a cross is the ultimate dignified act done by the ultimate person. He was and Is dignity incarnate and His dignity dignifies us if we let the Spirit work efficiently in us.

Paul points these two women, and all of mankind, that struggles in conflict to the dignity of the cross. If that dignity is the advising example then we can be governed by love efficiently because The Spirit of God works in us and is always in tune with the dignity of the Trinity.

We can rejoice in a crooked world that amplifies conflict and division if we behold the cross and 'work it out' with God.

"...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." - Philippians 2:13 ESV

If the cross is our point of reference we can find a way past every obstacle because God does it in us and through us.

One day we will be face to face with the dignified One. He Is full of grace and truth. Let's stand and rest with our eyes fixed on Him as we deal with what must be dealt with in our day to day lives. He makes all the difference in every situation. His finished work counsels us in amazing practical ways moment to moment.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Live With The Loyal Friend

As I read this next passage this morning two concepts come to mind... friendship and loyalty...

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." - John 15:4-9 ESV

Our position and our experience can be so different, can't they? The passage above speaks to our experience. If we are cut off from nourishment we will wither like a branch on a tree but our mind can be nourished... our soul can be fed... our spirit can be renewed.

"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

God asks us to live with Him in our thinking. We are living in His thinking. He never forgets us.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

"The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us," - 1 Kings 8:57 ESV

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' " - Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Accusations come but will they get us to give up our residence? No. God is loyal. Jesus was and Is a friend who loves until the end. He gave up His life in friendship and He hasn't changed.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

The Mystery Of Menopause

As far as we know there are only three species that experience menopause... humans, killer whales and short-finned pilot whales. Every other living thing reproduces until the end of their life.

The whole concept of menopause baffles evolutionist thinking because this mindset is based on the idea that the goal of life is to pass your genes on to the next generation. If that stops then why should a creature keep on living? Why is there a biological process in place to support such a state?

The best answer I have seen is that God made us this way.

I'm not bringing this subject up to solve a scientific mystery. This issue points to the uniqueness of man. We are made in God's image and we have a special place in creation.

"...For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace..." - Hebrews 13:9b KJV

Grace makes us free to give and receive support. We don't live to perpetuate ourselves. We live to glorify God and grace glorifies God.

You might be young and just starting a family or you may be past that stage of your life but you are very precious to God.

God, please establish us in this truth. We are not important because of what we do. Your love gives us worth and you love each one of us so richly. Thank you God.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Quickened To Be Involved

Knowing Him...

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." - Philippians 3:8-12 ESV

God has given us eternal life. In one moment of faith the introduction is made and a relationship is solidified that can never be severed. But the 'power of his resurrection' can be experienced again and again in time.

I want to know Him. To know Him we must spend time together. I must hear what He is saying. There must be interaction.

Do I know God well enough to know what is important to Him? I want to. I want to know what He thinks. I want to be involved in what He Is doing. I want to know Him.

Simple.

I'm sitting here thinking of a number of people. I know them but I don't really know what is happening in their lives. I want to be involved.

"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." - Romans 8:11 ESV

God, please quicken us to be involved and proactive. We want to know you and we want to be involved with each other in a holy ongoing way. We need quickening to do that.

Thank You Lord.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Planting Surprises

When I was younger I used to purposely leave money in my coat and blue jean pockets so that I could find it later. Maybe it was $10 or if a was doing well I left a $20 dollar bill. It was because I found money in a pocket before and it really blessed me so I decided I could 'surprise myself.'

When we heard the Gospel we gained knowledge of a past event that had potential impact on our present and future experience. It was like a wrapped gift or an unopened letter.

The conversation at Church I have been speaking about most of this week was about sobriety but we didn't mention alcohol. It was more about what we think we will be like as old men because of how we are living now. We talked about our 'wallet table'... the place where we put the things we need in our pocket as we go out the door.

We live in a debit card age and I don't plant $20 bills anymore. It's still a great idea but I'm not in that mode anymore. I put ziplock baggies filled with Gospel tracts in my coats and I keep a stack (that keeps spilling over) on my wallet table so I remember to take them as I go out the door. They are little gifts I can hand out at a moments notice.

I refilled and arranged that table and my coat stash just this weekend. After a friend talked about how he found himself without tracts on a recent trip.

The Gospel is like a pleasant surprise God plants in a person's future... more really because it is life-saving... future saving... transforming. I want to be able to reach into my pocket and find it to give to someone at just the right moment.

If I live in this sober way now then that is the kind of old man I will be. I plan (if I am given the time) to be that old man who extends a shaking hand with a tract in it to strangely dressed young people. If I live that way now then I am more likely to live that way later.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." - John 3:16-18 KJV

What a glorious gift. Thank you God.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Something To Cast Into Bitter Waters

"When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, 'What shall we drink?' And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them..." - Exodus 15:23-25 ESV

Interesting.

Did God bring them to Marah? Yes.

The tree represents the cross.

"...saying, 'If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.' Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water." - Exodus 15:26-27 ESV

Israel had national mandates but we have grace.

"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." - Romans 6:14 ESV

We have a tree to cast into the bitter waters.

Sober thinking has a tree for the bitter places. Then we move on to Elim. Before the tree goes in the water Elim doesn't look possible but both places are in God's plan.

We have all been damaged along the way but the LORD (Yahweh - Strong's H3068) is our healer. Eygpt doesn't have him. Eygpt resists Him in futility because He Is irresistible. That tree is a sure remedy for all who take it and cast it into their situation.

There are theologies that claim that if you have enough faith you will never get to Marah but that isn't how it is. Marah and Elim are both destinations we will visit. The tree is what we look for when we get there. The tree is what we prescribe for those who have nothing but bitterness to drink.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Sober And Available

I had a short but powerful conversation with a Godly man before Church yesterday where we spoke about 'sober' living...

"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." - Romans 12:3-15 ESV

Intoxicated judgment has a strange self-image. Just like a person might be a 'happy' drunk or an 'angry' drunk. Inhibition is lowered and there is a mismanagement of spatial relationships.

Sober living lives with faith as a resource and because of that, there is a role and purpose for each person in every group.

"And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD." - Isaiah 11:2 ESV

The sevenfold ministry of God's Holy Spirit has liberty to operate.

"Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. 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 1:9b-10 ESV

The faces of these angels represent four temperaments of ministry. The compassionate man... the royal lion... the faithful oxen... the soaring eagle...

"Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit," - Ephesians 5:17-18 ESV

The conclusion we came to is that 'sober' living is a good way to live. That measure of faith is the ingredient that pulls us out of our native personality and shapes us so that we are useful. We get our cues from God.

God may call us to be a bold lion today that is filled with compassion. Perhaps today is a day that calls for a cheerful eagle or maybe a merciful human being. The sober person isn't impaired with a fantasy so they are flexible and attentive to God's leading.

It is a new week and new mercy is waiting for us. There is manna to collect right outside your door and it will fill and satisfy your household. Let's go get it.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Survival Instinct

Wow. I love Watchman Nee. Every paragraph is so dense with truth...

'Do we crucify ourselves? No. “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin” (Rom. 6.6). It is not that we crucify ourselves, but that our old man was crucified with Christ at the time He himself was crucified. This is an objective fact. Your eyes must be fixed on the Lord. Were you to try to crucify yourself, you would discover how wicked you are and how impossible it is for you to die. The greatest mistake made by believers is right here: although the Bible says that I was crucified with Christ, I look at myself and find myself as hard and corrupted and undisciplined as I ever was. Even so, I try to crucify myself; yet I cannot make myself die. And that is where the mistake begins: you begin with yourself. You should keep in mind, instead, that all real beginnings lie with Christ. You do not die because you have seen yourself dead. You only become dead because you died when Christ died.' - Watchman Nee

The objective truth of the cross must become real in our subjective experience or else Christianity is utterly unmanageable. We say, 'I am dead to this.' but in truth we are very much alive and there is an instinct that kicks in to push us to keep ourselves alive.

God says that we died when Christ died and we were raised when He was raised. He is seated in Heaven and we ARE seated in Heaven. Can we mix faith with that truth so it will become alive in our experience? If we do then when the moment of temptation comes we will have practiced God's thoughts many times in preparation.

I have been deeply convicted this week. This clay pot has deep cracks. It isn't just cosmetic. My old man has incurable wounds. Situations just reveal that to be true but that is not my identity.

The believer is a new creature...

"For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them..." - Galatians 6:15-16a ESV

Let this peace and mercy be upon you today. It is finished. Jesus has done something objectively on the cross and the Spirit can take the veil off our eyes. We were blind but now we can see what God already sees if we walk by faith in what Jesus has done.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Idea Of An Anchor

"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." - Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

I'm just sitting here thinking about those big anchors they have on the big boats and then of the one man fishing boat and the anchor that one man may have.

What a great idea an anchor is. If I don't have one I will drift. I can safely take a nap if I have an anchor and not lose my position.

Those big anchors plunge into the depths of dark seas but we have an anchor to the eternal holy place. We are never lost because this anchor holds. We can rest without worrying that we will be swept out to sea.

The storms of life may move us but we won't go very far and we are never out of Heaven's reach.

Thank You God. I am little and often foolish but You have connected me to Heaven and I am thankful. I'm going fishing today and it won't be fish I am looking searching for. I will fish unafraid knowing that I won't be swept out to sea. Thank You God.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Spirit Has Been Given

God gave Jesus first and then He gave the Spirit. All of who God Is has been given to us. The Spirit is the 'last' person of God to be given. Father, Son and Spirit are all accounted for.

"For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority." - Colossians 2:9-10 ESV

The fullness Jesus had is the fullness we have. There is more to learn but we have everything. We have everyone. Some meetings can't begin until all the members are accounted for but this meeting can commence.

Oh Lord... What do you have planned for today. No one is missing. I stand ready not as a qualified person but just as a person present at a full gathering. There are a few issues on my agenda but I lay them at Your feet. What is Your vision? What is Your heart? Jesus came to reveal You and now the Spirit Is here to reveal all that Jesus has done.

Thank You God!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

You Are Clean By His Word

"Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:3-5 ESV

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." - 1 John 1:8-10 ESV

If you are clean it is because of the word He has spoken. His word becomes a habitation.

If we say, 'You are not qualified to tell me anything.' or 'I don't need you.' then we have nowhere to live with God and God has nowhere to live in us.

Simple.

My history was not been clean but my present is and my future is. His word comes in and overrides the past. We are washed in places nothing else can reach. The depths of us become clean. God declares it to be so legally by decree.

God has a place for us where we are accepted, loved and appreciated. We can live there.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Soul Power

Soul Power. It is the influence that a human soul can have but that influence has no divine essence. This influence might be in the name of God but God isn't in it. Influence and leverage because of an energized genetics. People who have soul power influence the emotions and minds of others. They make others want to have power they can't have because of differences. People admire the soulish person but the admiration isn't of God.

Genetic qualities get magnified because they meet a certain type or formula. The person who has this power may not even be aware that they have it. They could be good moral people or they might be immoral malicious people. People have an unconscious desire to copy them so that their formula will have elements of this design that appears to be successful.

Soul power magnifies lust. God's power never does that. Never. Never.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." - Proverbs 17:17 ESV

"How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms," - Isaiah 14:12-16 ESV

The source of soul power will be brought low. Don't fall for the scam that an angel of light perpetrates.

You don't need the power that man seeks. You need the love that God gives. That is enduring power that has no envy. That is the power that transforms. Soul power only conforms while it consumes and destroys. It's glory is fleeting.

Love will endure beyond time's boundary. Mercy endures forever.

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