Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Powerful Scriptural Triads - Part 3

This triad idea is so huge. I find that making lists can be helpful in studies like this one but there is a point where you realize and say, 'Wow, This is going to be a very long complicated list.'

Here is one gem I found this morning that I hope is a blessing.

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." - 1 John 2:16 KJV

"This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." - 1 John 5:6-8 KJV

Three things that are not of the Father but then there are three that are witnesses here on Earth and in Heaven.

Lust and pride involve self-orientation apart from God. They are three very deep things that came with the fall of mankind. God didn't design creation and include those things. They are a dynamic added after Adam exited the garden of Eden.

The three witnesses on Earth came after the fall also but center in on Christ Himself. They are Christocentric witnesses involving His incarnation. God becoming a man produced three visible witnesses that can speak to us.

Who will we listen to? Will it be lust or will it be redemption? They both call to us and pull us in different directions.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." - Romans 12:2 KJV

The good, acceptable and perfect will of God is that we take heed to the three witnesses we have been given.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Powerful Scriptural Triads - Part 2

Two books come to mind when we start thinking of triads. Matthew and Jude. They are both filled with them.

I am looking at Matthew this morning and I am overwhelmed by the volume of them. The whole account of Jesus' life is full of threes.

"Pray then like this: ' Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.' " - Matthew 6:9-13 ESV

Two powerful triads.

Parables are given in threes. The magi had three gifts. There are three Messianic fulfilments.

"And Jesus answered them, 'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.' " - Matthew 11:4-6 ESV

There are three parables that use plant life (Matthew 13:24-33). Three groups of people come up to Him and ask for help (Matthew 15:21-28). The list goes on and on. Triangles inside of triangles inside of more triangles. You can even split the book into three parts.

There are four Gospels and each one is unique. Matthew is loaded with three reference triads and is special in its own way. It is divinely inspired. The others have their own unique qualities and if ywe look and God opens our eyes we see special things about them. The Bible is a living book written to us to reveal God's heart. There are layers upon layers and yet the simplicity of it is striking also.

"And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him--a threefold cord is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV

Yes. A triangle is a strong structure. It can bear weight. You can put a lever on it and move things. It is powerful. The incarnation was God muscling His way into mankind. Jesus leveraged His death and took the keys to death and Hell. This lamb broke the curse that was on mankind. He opened a new and living way. His life is a miracle of threes.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." - John 10:10 ESV

The thief comes to do three things but Jesus came to do one... give life.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Powerful Scriptural Triads - Part 1

"Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you." - Jude 1:1-2 ESV

Two triads. You are called, beloved and kept. Secondly, we are given mercy, peace and love as a multiplied provision.

The triads in scripture are very powerful. God Is triune. Time is also (past, present and future). Space on the surface appears that way (length, depth and height).

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." - Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV

God is united in oneness but we perceive three aspects or dimensions of who He Is and love Him out of our triune nature (heart, soul and mind).

Can you recall some scriptural triads?

How about this one?

"And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.' " - Revelation 12:10-11 ESV

We overcome in three dimensions.

"...and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:21-25 ESV

Draw near. Hold fast the confession. Consider how to stir one another to love and good works.

Very powerful.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Living God

"...we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." - John 6:69b NKJV

'Living God' caught my attention this morning. He isn't theoretical or outside of our reality so as to be detached from life. He Is Living. Jesus Is alive and has a living Father doing what living beings do but eternal, holy and undefiled.

"As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, 'O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?' " - Daniel 6:20 ESV

Our God delivers like a living person. He isn't impersonal or distant. Our prayers aren't languishing on some answering machine that hasn't been checked in a millennium.

"To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion." - Psalm 84:1-7 ESV



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Grace Upon Grace

"For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. And this is the testimony of John..." - John 1:16-19a ESV

Here is another translation that is not literal but carries the spirit of the passage (verse 16)...

"From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another." - John 1:16 NLT

In context, grace piling upon grace speaks about God sending people to model something. Moses was a saviour sent to bring Israel out of Eygpt. John the Baptist was sent before Jesus. Jesus represents God the Father.

The Father has an overflow that comes from His fullness. Salvation has an overflow. Jesus finished the work on the cross and we benefit from an overflow that happens because that channel is connected and functioning.

We have now become witnesses. Grace will get piled upon what we show people. We love with God's love and then His love gets revealed. His grace is on display somehow through us and then people have a bridge to a direct flow from God.

"Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God," - Psalm 62:11 ESV

A friend says something but then we realize God used them to reveal a concept from Heaven. A friend is gracious and we are connected to God through that grace to His grace.

The law was a great gift from God given through a man who was 'a type' (reflection / fore-taste) of a saviour then God's grace came as a greater gift out of the completeness of the finished work of the cross. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law and as a quickening Spirit He makes us alive which the law had no power to do.

Gift upon gift. Blessing upon blessing.

God make us a reflection of You today. We can seem like dusty people in a fallen world but we know You have put treasure in this earthen vessel. We pray people would see You somehow by Gospel words, actions and attitudes. We don't have the power to give life but You do. Make us into bridges that live in the overflow of redemption. Thank You God. We worship You. All blessings flow down from You. Thank You.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Capernaum And Jerusalem

"This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days. The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables." - John 2:11-15 ESV

It is an interesting timeline. Jesus goes to the wedding then he walks 8 hours northeast to Capernaum, which is on the top of the sea of Galilee. Spends a few days. Then walks over 39 hours (4 or 5 days) south, down to Jerusalem, during the Passover season only to overturn the money changers tables during their most prosperous season.

So He went downhill and out of His way to Capernaum first for a few days after the first miracle. We see Him return here time after time.

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. ... Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum..." - Matthew 4:1, 11-13a ESV

Here is a passage much later in Jesus' ministry...

"They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.' But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, 'What were you discussing on the way?' But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest..." - Mark 9:30-34 ESV

Jerusalem is far away.

"And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, 'Is not this Joseph's son?' And he said to them, 'Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself.' What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.' And he said, 'Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown...' " - Luke 4:22-24 ESV

Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law here (see Luke 4:38f) and he also healed the Roman Centurion's servant from here (see Luke 7:1f; Matthew 8:5)

"And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay." - Mark 2:1-4 ESV

So much happened in this small lakeside city.

"And a scribe came up and said to him, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.' " - Matthew 8:19-20 ESV

Nazareth and Capernaum seem to be the closest thing Jesus had to a home and He returned there often but Heaven was really His home.

" 'But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.' And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight." - Acts 1:8-9 ESV

Why didn't Jesus say Capernaum, Judea and Samaria, and to the 'uttermost parts of the Earth'? Jerusalem was the place Jesus died not where He lived.

I think in part because that is where He told the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to fall upon them. It wasn't going to happen in Capernaum (at home) it was going to happen in their mission field 39 hours away.

Something to think about.


Monday, January 22, 2018

God's Desire To Bless

It is Monday and I don't know who has a capacity to hear this on a Monday morning but this passage keeps coming to mind. It explains an invisible dynamic.

Job's wife seems to fall into the trap but not Job.

"And the LORD said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?' Then Satan answered the LORD and said, 'Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.' And the LORD said to Satan, 'Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.' So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD." - Job 1:8-12 ESV

"But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.' And the LORD said to Satan, 'Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.' So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. Then his wife said to him, 'Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.' But he said to her, 'You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?' In all this Job did not sin with his lips." - Job 2:5-10 ESV

Grace is a beautiful thing. We may say, 'Wow. I hope that never happens to me.' and I think that is a good natural response but then we see something about God. He wants to bless us. He blessed Job and then after this trial He blessed him even more.

"And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job's daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days." - Job 42:12-17 ESV

Times of uncertainty are part of it. God is interrelational. He allows things but His activity is blessing. His joy is to bring blessings. He loves us and trusts that grace can and does create a deep abiding bond that goes beyond sight and material things.


Friday, January 19, 2018

The Glow From The Armor

It's very much a 'thankfulness morning' for me today.

"The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." - Romans 13:12 KJV

We can 'put it on' like it is garment handing on a hook nearby. This armour illuminates things and circumstances so we see them as God sees them. If we see them in pale moonlight we see one aspect. In bright sunshine we see another but in divine light we have every reason to be thankful.

Thankfulness is a light others see on us also. It is grace on display. Did we forge this armour or weave a robe of righteousness? No. Never. We couldn't. It has been given to us by God because we are citizens and special guests.

If we look at the world without this light it will look different. Paler. Darker.

"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" - 2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV

"We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything." - 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 ESV

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints" - Ephesians 6:10-18 NKJV

Heaven sees the glow. So does the accuser. Darkness has no power to penetrate the armour of Heaven. Find it. If you have believed in Jesus you own a garment of praise and righteousness. The armour is the doctrine that your local assembly should teach. Read Ephesians 6 again and again. Learn it. Know it. Wear it. Raise a hand and vocalize the thankfulness you feel when you see the world according to God's glow.

I believe that is how the martyrs of old died a good death and that is how we live a good (Agathos - Useful) life.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Always Invite This Person

This is such a great account of an event and it is only found in one book. Some stories are retold in different ways in different books but not this one. I love Jesus' anonymous standoffishness...

"On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.' And Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.' His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.' Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water.' And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, 'Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.' So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, 'Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.' This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him." - John 2:1-11 ESV

Inviting Jesus is always a good idea is one thought I got from this.

Another is that the host seems to know that there won't be enough wine but invites Jesus and His disciples anyway. This is Jesus' first recorded miracle so there is no way they could have thought He would help them but they wanted Him there because He was there in the time of need joy was manifested. Wine often represents joy in the scriptures.

Perhaps we think, 'If we are going to have people over we must have more than enough food and get extra so there will be enough.' That isn't a bad thought. It is very practical but Church life often seems more like a potluck affair. Everyone brings something and Jesus is there so whatever might be lacking emotionally is provided for. Jesus makes the joy in the vessels designed for sanctification.

Lastly. Jesus had disciples and even though He did what He did in a very incognito fashion so that the master of the feasts attention was on the bridegroom these disciples knew who was really responsible. I want to be the person who looks and sees what Jesus does. It is easy to evaluate based on sight and sound and perhaps criticize the details but I want to be the one who recognizes God in the room. It really isn't about the quality of the party people throw. Is God in attendance? Yes. God is everywhere present but He also shows up in special ways at special times when people ask Him to or when a life-changing event or celebration is about to happen and He is invited.

A church is like this sometimes I think. We have invited 100 people but we only have 30 packets of saltine crackers. Jesus and His disciples are coming so we know there will be enough for everyone in the end.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Why Are You Baptizing?

"(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, 'Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?' John answered them, 'I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.' These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.' " - John 1:24-31 ESV

It's a good question coming from a self-centered point of view and John gives a good answer from a Christ-centered point of view.

John wasn't trying to make a name for himself. He was pointing to the One who could save. He was pointing to the One that was revealed to him to be Messiah.

"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.' " - Mark 16:15-16 ESV


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Understanding Fellowship Through Participation

Sometimes it is hard to listen to people who teach concepts dealing with fellowship when those teachers are clearly outside of fellowship themselves. It is like unmarried people giving advice about marriage or people who have never had children talking about raising children. Concepts are present but there are clear blindspots. What is being said might be theoretically compelling but it is going to lack the practical edge that only a participant has. You know that the people who listen and learn from them are going to suffer and that is hard to watch.

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV

This book is called 'Hebrews' for a reason. It is written to the Jewish people living in Jerusalem during the time of the Apostles right before the fall of that city in 70 AD. Persecution was active. If Jewish people associated themselves publicly with the other believers in Christ there were social and financial consequences.

Drawing near was fellowship and it has never been easy to do. Sometimes the obstacles are external to the group and sometimes they are in the midst of the fellowship. That is always how it has been and will be in this life. If we fly solo, for whatever reason, we are going to be missing something. Oneness and identification are needed even if it is long distance identification that has a longing for a future reunion. Life has those times.

"As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well." - 2 Timothy 1:4-5 ESV

Yes. We have those times.

Someone who is purposely cutting themselves off may be a fine person on one level but they have nothing valuable to say about the Church or fellowship in general. Their theology is going to change more and more over time in justification of their new lifestyle and become protective of individualism. If someone is not submitted under anyone (except grudgingly to their source of income because of necessity) then they see no value in submission. They aren't disciples and will lack the wisdom of a disciple. Discipleship has submission. It is a vital ingredient.

The Church is a big part of the new testament. I understand people taking issue with places that have problems and not wanting to fellowship everywhere with everyone but to 'throw away' the Church and Bible-centered fellowship and worship has consequences now in this life and later when we stand before God. If teachers teach individualistic doctrine there will be smoke later as the wood, hay and stubble they built their Christian life around goes up in flames. They will also be partially responsible for the smoke in other people's lives also.

If you are reading this and getting angry I understand. Perhaps you are ready to be around imperfect people again. Please pray and seek a place where they open the Bible, worship and pray. If you ask God I know He will be faithful to open doors and show you a place you can call home that will bless you and bring you just a little out of your comfort zone.

God, please keep us from adding wood (human thinking based on natural reasoning) to the foundation you have given us. It looks so pretty and practical at times to add it. It can be moulded and carved in such beautiful patterns. Show us the right way so we can be functioning in a bright eternal mindset.

"Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." - 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 KJV

Gold is your deity. Silver is your redemption. Precious stones are the people and memories you give us... relationships formed in the Earth by heat but made to shine in Your hand.


Friday, January 12, 2018

The Wrath Of Man Worketh Not The Righteousness Of God

This morning I am remembering an incident I was involved in several years ago. I was newly ordained and one of my very good friends was being mistreated by another man. This friend was an older more experienced Pastor... a very kind and giving man. I was furious because this treatment was ongoing over several weeks.

One day I got fed up and when me and my Pastor friend were having coffee all my feelings came pouring out. I normally would never tell this person what to do because he was very wise in my eyes but this day I did. I implored him to retaliate or at least defend himself through the correct channels. Part of the abuse involved slander. I'll never forget the look he gave me. He put down his coffee and tears filled his eyes. With a broken voice, he said, 'Show me in the Bible where God says I can act that way. I have looked for a solution like that because I am weary of this but I can't find one. God called me to love people and that is all I can do.'

Wow. My fury dried up in a moment and I realized my long formed concepts of loyalty among friends needed to change. The stakes had gone up. I was now accountable to a higher person.

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." - James 1:19-21 KJV

"From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, 'Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.' But he turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.' Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?' " - Matthew 16:21-26 ESV

I have to say that there are still times I feel like Peter.

My friend made it through that time. He didn't compromise his integrity. He is still serving and loving. Thank God he didn't take my advice.

The cross is God's solution for sinful, wicked and shortsighted man. The cross takes something. It interrupts. It is the gateway to burial and then resurrection and then session (sitting with Christ in Heavenly places). It will do it's work if we let it. It will work on us and on the ones we love. This cross isn't our suffering it is Christ's suffering but we get to fellowship with Him and it is a true honor. Painful but glorious at the same time. When emotions threaten to overwhelm we can go there and God will give us something special that can only be found in that difficult place. That is where Heaven meets Earth and transformation begins.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Save Yourselves From This Crooked Generation

"And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.' And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." - Acts 2:38-42 ESV

This passage was expounded upon last weekend and it stuck with me. Teaching, fellowship, eating together and prayer. This is what saves us from the corrupting influences of our generation. This is the salt we are preserved in.

I also love How Peter gave them a promise from God. If they 'turned' they would 'receive' the Holy Spirit. It was a sure thing.

If you get in water you will get wet. If you turn because of belief in Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit will suddenly saturate and seal you and you will be saved forever and have a Heavenly home. It is a promise. It is a divine post-cross dynamic.

What will we devote ourselves to? Is there a place where we can learn, fellowship, break bread and pray? Is that place baptizing new people? This is what every group of people who believe need. Otherwise, there is no buffer from the subtle corrupting influences of an adulterous generation. Guilt and shame make their way back in again and cause people to forget what happened when they turned to God.

"And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." - Acts 2:43-47 ESV

Wow. That is so good.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

John's Grumpy Babtisms

"He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?' " - Luke 3:7 ESV

This kind of makes me giggle. This was John the Baptist's opening line. He didn't preach the forgiveness of sins. No. He preached that the Messiah was going to come and save people. That was his 'good news'. His baptism was a 'you all are filthy from playing in the mud. Get in this water and wash off your filth.'

Here is his advice to three groups of people. I thought of a parent trying to navigate a car and yelling at his squabbling children in the back seat.

"And the crowds asked him, 'What then shall we do?' And he answered them, 'Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.' Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, 'Teacher, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Collect no more than you are authorized to do.' Soldiers also asked him, 'And we, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.' As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, 'I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.' So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison." - Luke 3:10-20 ESV

John's message was simple, 'Stop being jerks to one another until Messiah gets here to save you!' but people hand out the same advice today as if it has saving qualities. It doesn't. John's 'you all stink' message got him locked up in prison. He is the last prophet under the law of Moses. The law can't save anyone... even it's messenger. John died preaching his 'take a bath already' message.

I don't believe anyone in this age has a ministry like John the Baptist. We don't tell people to clean up their act because salvation is on it's way. We tell them that salvation has already come. We say that Jesus died and is risen from the grave. We preach the forgiveness of sins.

"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?' But Jesus answered him, 'Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he consented." - Matthew 3:13-15 ESV

I think this is the heart of why John was unwilling to baptize Jesus. Jesus didn't stink. He was the only one that didn't stink. John was well aware all that time as he was dunking others that he needed a bath also but there was no one to wash his soul on the scene yet.

Jesus is the only one who can cleanse our soul. His red blood meets our blackened heart and makes it white as snow. Moral water isn't enough. It never has been.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Introductions Of John The Baptist

Ethos. Pathos. Logos. Three means of persuasion.

When a speaker is introduced an argument for each is traditionally given in that introduction. 'This person is 'ethical' and you should listen.' There is an emotional appeal of some kind also and lastly logic is given to give reasons why they should have our ear. Degrees are declared. Time served is calculated and presented. It is all done in order for an audience to give a person a chance.

I thought of that this morning while reading the introduction of John the Baptist in the three Gospels where he is mentioned.

"In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.' ' Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins." - Matthew 3:1-6 ESV

"As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'' John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, 'After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.' " - Mark 1:2-8 ESV

"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." - Luke 3:1-3 ESV

Three different introductions that appeal to our minds in slightly different ways. God wants us to believe that John has a place in his order. Later we find out that John is a man just like us and is brought into a season of doubt but here the Spirit seeks to convince us that John had a ministry. A person only has that if God gives it to them and people benefit most if the ministry is recognized on some level.

All who believe today are sent ones. We have a ministry. John had one previous to the cross and he proclaimed a message that pointed people to Jesus. We have a post-cross ministry that proclaims the forgiveness of sins that points people to Christ also.

We can build each other up in our divine identities. Our conversations can leave people persuaded that they are loved and that they have divine credentials.

When I go out with someone to talk about Jesus I really enjoy creatively talking about my partner to the people we are evangelizing and saying how amazing they are. Not only does it build everyone up but it verifies the message of forgiveness. Gospel messengers who happily honor each other as they go are using ethos, pathos and logos in their simple presentations. The results of the Gospel message are on display. Love is manifested. It verifies that God has sent another 'voice crying out in the wilderness' to gather people to Himself and dunk them in His truth.


Monday, January 8, 2018

He Kept Moving

So little is mentioned about Jesus' youth. We really only have the account in Matthew chapter 2 about him going to Eygpt (which parallels Isreal's adolescence as a nation) and this passage.

"And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him." - Luke 2:40 ESV

Followed by this account...

"Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, 'Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.' And he said to them, 'Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?' And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." - Luke 2:41-52 ESV

Notice how verse 52 is much like verse 40. It is one of many Hebrew parallelisms used in the Gospels. You see this construction in the Psalms and Proverbs. Say something. Then contrast, reiterate or amplify it.

Jesus was like an army brat of sorts. He moved from Bethlehem to Eygpt, then Natzeret. It just made me think of the great advantage missionary children have. They are moving (or staying) only because their parents are seeking God and going where they sense they are being led. Those choices aren't always easy ones.

"...saying, 'Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.' And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene." - Matthew 2:20-23 ESV

They go but obstacles are in their path. They choose based on what is available but that is God's will. Jesus grew in that faith environment not in spite of it. Faith provides tension that isn't comfortable and uses reason. Going but not stepped right into the fire. Also not holding back because of danger.

These passages convict me to be full of faith and moving when it is time to move.

"Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. The sluggard says, 'There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!' As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth. The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly." - Proverbs 26:12-16 ESV

Wow. We can be too careful and maybe we can also be too careless also. Our eyes need to be fixed on the redemptive cause.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Walking And Praying

I have a friend who is in Heaven now, Pastor Bill Cannon, our relationship was primarily centered around prayer. We would get coffee and walk around the parking lot of our church and pray together. Sometimes people would join us. I'm sure he did this with many people over his lifetime.

The aspects of prayer I mentioned yesterday (Praise, Waiting on God, Opening Our Hearts To God, Praying Scripture, Reminding God of His Promises, Watchful Prayer, Intercession, Petition, Thanksgiving, Singing, Meditation and Listening to God) were a part of those walks.

He would quote scripture after scripture to God in a flow that a rap music star would marvel at. It wasn't a stale memorized list. Each time with him was unique and different. He was and is a godly man (God's godly man) and still my friend... I just won't see him again until there has been a great transition/promotion for me also.

I know my prayer life was changed because of exposure to this gifted, gentle, godly missionary man. I pray more now like I used to see him pray as he slowly walked with one arm raised, sometimes singing, sometimes quiet, sometimes quoting scripture after scripture reminding God of what was promised and worshipping his God by extolling divine virtues in a stream of sanctified memory on display.

Thank you, God for Pastor Bill Cannon and every man and woman that prays walking, sitting, standing or kneeling with other younger men and women in a pure stream of praise, worship and petition. They are changing the world. They are salt and light in their homes and communities. We who remain are Your representation of this now in the world. Let 2018 be a year of anointed prayer in groups on mountains, in valleys and across parking lots in every corner of the globe. Thank You, God.

"Pray without ceasing." - 1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV

"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." - 1 Timothy 2:8 KJV

Yes and Amen.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Some Aspects Of Prayer

This morning I am listing some scripture about prayer. Lately, I have been thinking about a hand-out given to us in Bible college that had a 'prayer wheel'. It had a circle and listed around the circle were different aspects of prayer. It started with praise and ended on it also. That alone made a big impression on my mind. Here are some of the scriptures on my wheel this morning.


Praise (Psalm 52:9, Psalm 63:3f)

"I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly." - Psalm 52:9 ESV

"Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." - Psalm 63:3-8 ESV

Waiting on God (Psalm 46:10)

"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah" - Psalm 46:10-11 ESV

Opening Our Hearts To God (Psalm 139:23)

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" - Psalm 139:23-24 ESV

Praying Scripture (Jeremiah 23:29)

"Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" - Jeremiah 23:29 ESV

Reminding God of His Promises - (Isaiah 43:25-26, Isaiah 45:11-13, Nehemiah 1:5-11)

"I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right." - Isaiah 43:25-26 ESV

"Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: 'Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward," says the LORD of hosts.' " - Isaiah 45:11-13 ESV

"And I said, 'O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.' They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." Now I was cupbearer to the king." - Nehemiah 1:5-11 ESV

Watchful Prayer (Colossians 4:1-3)

"Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison--" - Colossians 4:1-3 ESV

Intercession (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

"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." - 1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV

Petition (Matthew 7:7-8, Hebrews 13:20-21)

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8 ESV

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

Thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

Singing (Psalm 100:1-2)

"A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!" - Psalm 100:1-2 ESV

Meditation (Joshua 1:8)

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." - Joshua 1:8 ESV

Listening to God (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2)

"Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few." - Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 ESV


I hope this is a blessing to you


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Wise Men Arrived Later

In my book ('Ariel's Harmony of the Gospels') Dr Fruchtenbaum puts Matthew 2 (the arrival of the wise men / Persecution by Herod) categorically and chronologically after Christ birth, circumcision and presentation in the temple to Simeon and Hannah (Luke 2:22-38) and it makes a great deal of sense to me. It took a few weeks for word to get around. The parents waiting eight days before circumcision.

Theologically it works but in a way it messes up my Christmas story idea of the wise men walking into a barnyard scene the night of the birth with angels still singing in the background.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek... Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:" - Romans 1:16; 2:9-10 KJV

In one sense this is a fulfilment of this idea. Salvation, Jesus, was presented to these older Israelites first and then the wise men came and saw Him afterwards.

I love when the Bible breaks my structures. Ideas can crystallize but the Bible is a living book. Just being in the Bible gives God this wonderful opening to access our soul by His Spirit in an objective way.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." - John 14:26 ESV

What a great promise for those who are available to be Spirit taught. God will bring what He has taught us back. He uses people, preaching, reading, meditating and other methods to teach us but once we have it we can never lose it. God can access it at any moment and bring it 'out of storage' for us to communicate when the moment is right.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Do Not Mask Your Fear

In reading this I couldn't help but notice Joseph's perspective of his motive in contrast to the angel's perspective.

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:" - Matthew 1:18-22 ESV

The angel communicated that fear was at the root of Joseph's thoughts of purposeful abandonment. Joseph was about to make a fear based decision. The child clearly wasn't 'his' child but the child would save 'his people.'

Joseph was just and his fear was hidden behind good intentions. That is a danger associated with being a moral good person. Decisions can get a layer of justification.

The angel dared Joseph to switch to a redemptive mindset.

I think God wants us to make that shift in areas today. We must move from what is good in our own eyes to what is redemptive in God's eyes in order to see 'prophetic' fulfilment on a personal level.