Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Anxiety In Matthew Chapter Six

I love going through the Gospel's using this beautiful book my wife gave me (Ariel's Harmony of the Gospels). I am at Matthew 6 and it is mostly about prayer, fasting, money and anxiety.

Later in His ministry, He will say this...

"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. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." - John 14:26-27 ESV

But here in Matthew 6 close to the start, He says...

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:25-34 ESV

Jesus leaves His peace with us like someone who leaves their coat in our car. He is not bodily on Earth at the moment but we have something that belonged to Him.

He also gives us reasoning to use.

I was looking at different artwork last night and I saw this painting of a woman gazing at nature and the artist used the colors and textures in the nature scene around her in her color palette also. It was as if she had unity with the scene as she was gazing at it. I was thinking of that as I read this passage. I am not a sparrow or a lily but I can look at them and access the peace God has given me.

The 'kingdom of God and His righteousness' are a refuge to us from anxiety.

We can look at Jesus and take on His color palette. We can wear the coat He left in our car. He won't mind. He left it there on purpose. Funny that it fits us perfectly.


Monday, February 26, 2018

A Mind Full Of Light

I wake up and once again the Bible speaks to me right where I am and changes my focus.

"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" - Matthew 6:22-23 ESV

What is our focus? Our minds and bodies need light. Ok here is the context of the passage...

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" - Matthew 6:19-23 ESV

Our Earthly treasures are insecure so that can't be our focus. An eternal value system gives us a vision and the action of 'storing up treasure in Heaven' is anxiety free. The 'dark mind' is one that is full of anxiety and fear.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them." - Colossians 3:1-7 ESV

This may not sound practical. It is still Monday. There are still very real concerns. For many of us this does not mean we abandon our lives or responsibilities. We need to function in a world where money is needed and all kinds of other practical things need to be considered but we can choose our focus. We need to choose or it will be chosen for us.

Light. Souls. Bible. Integrity. Truth. Jesus. Vision. Joy. Peace. Mercy. Grace. Justice.

These are the lasting things. These are the Heavenly treasures. We do what we do for these things. We choose to care for ourselves, people and responsibilities but fear has no place with this focus. The dark mind is banished.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Secrets Revealed

I wasn't going to write every day this week. I planned to just read my Bible and work on my other project but what I'm reading and seeing in the scripture and in my times with God is so good.

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever..." - Deuteronomy 29:29a ESV

We went over "You have heard that it was said... But I say to you..." and now I am looking at "Truly, I say unto you..." and they are like secrets given to us.

"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:16-21 ESV

The Father will reward me?!? What. Wow!

Is this a prosperity message? No. If you know me you know how I feel about that. That message is a sham setting people up for disappointment. This is the real reward. Intimacy. Conversation with the creator. Love. Trust. A shared memory.

"Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town." - Matthew 10:15 ESV

Really Jesus? I'm leaning in to hear your thoughts. This isn't an opinion. This is perspective from outside time and space. It is a secret but it isn't some dark mysticism that sounds like a promise of power when it is really a carrot dangling in front of us with a cardboard backdrop painted to look like our wildest dreams will come true.

Oh God... I long to know the words written in red... people are dying and living in "You have heard that it was said... " knowledge thinking it is all there is but Jesus came to Earth to touch a common thing and show us the reality that exists beyond the grasp of our natural mind. We as little dust mites can do divine mathematics because we have been given identities hidden in the One who came and uttered "Truly, I say unto you..." statements that have been recorded in a book... give us a mind to memorize them and a heart and hunger to love them and share them...

"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven..." - Matthew 18:3b ESV

"Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." - Matthew 18:18 ESV

"For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward." - Mark 9:41 ESV

"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." - Mark 10:15 ESV

Those who wonder at the words of Christ and receive Him and the work He did on the cross will enter in. He will usher them in and speak to them through His book and then one day face to face. Amazing.

I didn't make the progress that I had hoped I would on my project this week. If God puts it in your heart please pray for us this weekend. I want to reach people with the Gospel. I want others to have an opportunity given to them to enter in that will reach them where they are living in a format that they might receive.

~ ~ You are loved


Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Messy Prayer Time

Shamelessly begging God this morning for people and places... for marriages and young men and women who are in trouble... asking every way I know How. Bugging Him. Pleading. Demanding He come through like a son who feels like His Father's reputation is on the line. Looking for loopholes. Reminding Him of scriptural accounts where He helped and saved people. I'm demanding supplies like an army unit on the frontline of the battle. If He were a flesh and blood person on Earth He might say, 'Get yourself together. You are barely making sense right now.' and hang up the phone but I know He won't. I know He hears. He sees my hearts cry. He sees my tears. My desires are small compared to His.

Along with prayers for others is mingled in a deep desire that He not let me be a mediocre man witnessing hardship around me but doing very little or being ineffective in my efforts. The least I can do is get on my knees but what comes next? How do I act? I run ideas by Him and make suggestions. I plan phone calls and set some money and time aside in my schedule so I can go or give.

Why even write this and tell you? In a way these posts are like notes in a bottle cast into the ocean. Today this is a small note saying. 'It can be this way sometimes.' or 'You can talk to God this way also.' it doesn't have to happen only in the time of emergency.

No. No. No. No. A thousand 'no's. To the hardships and troubles and isolation. If there is a way I want to find it with God. There are a million 'Yes's and 'Amen's in Him. He can make a way where this is no way. He brings the stream to the desert.

No offence but I am done talking to you folks this morning. I need to pound on God's door now for a few more precious minutes...


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Special Ingredient

"You have heard that it was said... But I say to you..." - Matthew 5:43a-44a ESV

Jesus uses this construction several times in the Gospels and it is interesting to me this morning. It kind of reminds me of a cooking show where the chef is cooking for the audience and he is going to present a new spin on an old dish.

The chef is white outfit says to the studio audience, 'How many of you have had french toast before? Raise your hand.' He is beating eggs quickly with a wisk as he asks and the audience is filled with people raising their hands. 'Well. I am about to make you some french toast with a special ingredient. Orange zest!' The audience explodes with applause. 'These are special oranges I grow in my orchard down in Warm-and-Beautiful, FL' The video shifts to a shot of a camera following the chef through his orchard in Florida but you can still hear him whisking the eggs now in time and space.

Jesus has a special ingredient. He has a special perspective. He brings something to the Earthly table that comes from a Heavenly garden.

"And he said to them, 'Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.' " - Matthew 13:52 ESV

Only a person who Is seated above can do this. The scribe is the student. Grace and mercy are Heavenly ingredients that put a new spin on an old concept that people are familiar with. Grace is always fresh.

As Jesus is speaking we get a glimpse of His home and the culture of His home. A 'scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven' brings that culture everywhere they go like an ambassador.

I want to be the person who says, 'You have heard it said... But this is what Jesus says... here is his secret ingredient. He wants you to have it and use it. He wants you to come with Him to Warm-and-Beautiful, FL. It is a real place. You can wander the groves and eat the sweet oranges you pick from His trees.'


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Drawn By The Father

I love the Bible! What a dance this next passage is of free-will and God moving and waltzing with a person's decision-making faculty. Hoping that a bond will form and remain.

"For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.' So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.' They said, 'Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?' Jesus answered them, 'Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me - not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life." - John 6:38-47 ESV

The Father draws a person close enough to hear the words and those words are like bread. Jesus Is the bread. He Is that Heavenly manna. But will we eat? It is our choice. Will we look and not turn away? I believe in this next passage Satan is counterfeiting the work of the Father.

"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.' " - Matthew 4:8-10 ESV

I believe the Father draws us out of the forest of ideas and shows us His Son. We momentarily have an option that was not there a moment before and may not be there a moment later because we will again be living with a mind that is at enmity with God.

"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." - John 20:30-31 ESV

We were musing with this next idea on outreach this last Saturday.

"And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' ... And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, 'You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." - Mark 10:17, 21-22 ESV

We know Jesus loves people but this is a very specific instance where the Bible says it explicitly. This man called Him 'good teacher' and used the Greek word for good that implies Heavenly good. I believe it was flattery but does Jesus look at this man and hear these words and say in his heart, 'Look. My Father Is drawing this man. He says things no one can know now.' This man was brought to the place of decision and Jesus saw that and loved him in part because He saw that His Father loved him.

"Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' " - Matthew 16:16-18 ESV

Peter was drawn by the Father and taught by the Father. The rich young ruler was drawn but turned away choosing to cling to his personal possessions.

We get a glimpse or glimpses and we have a real choice to make. We have that moment when a friendship could form but then off we go traveling in our own circles again prehaps never to see that person again.

"Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision." - Joel 3:14 ESV

We have this one day. We have this one life. What will we say about Jesus? Who is he? Was he just a man like us or was He the 'good teacher'? Was He manna from Heaven?


Monday, February 19, 2018

A Fan Or A Friend

Last night I listened to a long video podcast that Tim Hawkins, a very funny comedian who often travels and performs at Churches, did last year on his tour bus with his group and John Crist. It was long but very funny and illuminating also.

At about 25 minutes in these two men who have done hundreds of shows talked about the difference between speaking at Churches and at other secular venues. John mentioned that his joke placement was different at Churches because if you hit the audience with 'hard stuff' early on you might lose your audience. You need to 'win' a Church audience over first but if you win them you then have great latitude in what you say as long as you don't use profanity. Tim agreed. Once you win the Church people they can become warm and loyal friends.

Secular venues just want you to entertain them. They likely need to buy tickets to see these men and go because they are on the ticket. That may also be true for Church gatherings but many might be there because it is a Church event and they buy the ticket knowing the money is partially going to the Church or maybe they just want to bring their children to something fun.

I asked God last night, 'Why the guardedness? Why are Church groups different?' This morning as I sit here two opposing ideas come to mind. One is that these folks might be a bit guarded toward people who oppose their beliefs which can be spiritual or it can be carnal and legalistic. The other is that these Church folks are looking for some kind of 'password' before they let you in their heart. Once you are in some send you gifts and write you notes. They opened some of the gifts they got at the last show on video. It was very sweet.

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already." - 1 John 4:1-3 ESV

"...That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." - 2 Thessalonians 1:12 KJV

"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man." - John 2:23-25 ESV

Jesus was guarded because He knew something and I am guarded also.

Perhaps you are an unbeliever reading this and saying, 'Look he thinks we are second-class citizens and knows better because of a relegious superiority complex.' but in truth I just think I have embraced this open secret and light has come into my very undeserving life. I want everyone to have this light and see because it is valuable. Jesus imparts life that survives the grave and that light has an illuminating glow.

Or you may be a believer in Jesus who is saying, 'Amen brother.' but I sit here thinking that we could have our ears closed so tightly that maybe we don't hear the heart cry of the person in front of us who does not believe... yet.

The name (character and nature) of Jesus is a kind of 'passcode' if a person does not present that name I can't label anything they say as spiritual. Christ is the definition and 'way in' to all that is Heavenly. What a person shares that is personal is important. The person standing in front of me is the most important and valuable person in the world in that moment. They merit respect and attention because God values them. I only really can know that because I discern it. The same sense that keeps me guarded also shows me value.

If we compromise with truth we will also eventually compromise with value. Soon we will just want to be entertained and not really care how it happens or who does the entertaining. We pay them and maybe we become 'a fan' but one that lacks divine love.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Abide And Believe In Him

"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." - John 20:30-31 ESV

Words were given about who Jesus Is. The reason they were given was for you to hear them and have an opportunity to believe them. If you do believe them you also get 'life in His Name (character and nature)'.

"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


If God gives you these words and you reject them but take other things from Him and form false conclusions those 'possessions' will one day be taken away.

"Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us - eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie - just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him." - 1 John 2:24-29 ESV

Some use this passage to say we don't need leadership but in context I see it as talking about the need to believe and abide in Jesus and His ability to remove unessential issues from our life. Our spiritual life grows under certain conditions and shrinks under others.

Abide (live with) Jesus and Believe in Him and the subjective guidance will be there. God may use removal as a tool. We believe in the love and truth that has been revealed and we are led into the next thing knowing that what has been true before is still true now.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

You Are The Salt Of The Earth

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." - Matthew 5:13 ESV

You are the salt that can be lost. You are needed. The real you. The healthy you that has a focus on God and practices His presence and seeks His mind.

Just thinking of a fisherman in ancient culture taking a sandy substance that was naturally filled with salt to pack their fish in to preserve them until they got to market. If that sandy salty mixture got rained on the rain would dissolve the salt and leave a less salty mix. Those fish would go bad before they got to a person's kitchen.

We are needed today. Exposure to influences can water down and drain away the knowledge of who God says we are until we are just dirt or sand with little preservation power.

That fisherman would need to go to his or her source of salty mixture often and get more if last weeks or last months mixture was used it wouldn't preserve as well.

We need to go to our source often to remain salty. If we wander away and stay away the elements take their toll on us but if we go morning by morning we remain potent.

You are a force for preservation just by carrying God into your situations today. The salt you have is needed. The identity you have in Christ is rare and Heavenly in origin. That salt wasn't detected by sight it was discerned by taste. It doesn't matter what you look like it matters who you look to. If you are looking to the God of the Bible seeking His actual mind you will be a salty person.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

-- A NEW PROJECT -- Changes are coming in 2018

Well... Things die and get buried but if they are of God sometimes that is not the end.

I have picked up a project that has been on my heart for several years. It involves graphic arts and video and I'm hoping to reach a new (and broader) audience with the Gospel of Grace. That means less time on my blog. I plan to keep posting but it will not be daily during this coming season. I hope over the next month, or two, to settle into a new schedule. If you are one of my readers that has a prayer life I'd ask that you keep this project in your prayers.

Thank you all for your love and support for the blog over the years. A new adventure is about to begin.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Powerful Scriptural Triads - Part 6

We have a reset button with God.

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." - Isaiah 1:18 ESV

Maybe we see this in relation to this passage...

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9 ESV

But I think it is more. When we reason with God who we really are gets revealed. Our calling gets restored when it was obscured by another color.

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." - 2 Timothy 4:2-4 NKJV

Do you see the triad there? If we stop hearing sound doctrine from someone else, who has been given as a gift to give us sound doctrine, we heap to ourselves teachers who never challenge us with the cross and our ears itch, then we turn our ears away but find that we get turned by some other power towards fables.

King David didn't have itching ears...

"And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he cursed, 'Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.' Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, 'Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.' But the king said, 'What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, 'Curse David,' who then shall say, 'Why have you done so?'' And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, 'Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today.' So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust." - 2 Samuel 16:6-13 ESV

Wow. David was 'like wool' wasn't he? He was reasoning with God and looking to Him for what was to come next.

Sin can become a distraction from our identity but 'good things' can distract us from our calling.

You have a calling! It is high. It is Heavenly. It is holy!

Confessing what we do or don't do that is not full of faith is important but our actions are only surface things. Reasoning with God is more than that. We reason with Him and discuss what is real and what comes next. What happens next isn't based on the 'success' or 'failure' of past ventures. What comes next is a joint venture with Jesus that can't be evaluated in those terms.

"In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness." - Isaiah 29:18 NKJV

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." - 1 Peter 2:9 ESV

Hit the reset button with God and return to your calling.

"To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." - John 10:3 ESV

The many fictions we entertained to keep us entertained get left in the dead end where they belong and we walk with the One who has made us white as snow.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Surrender To Love

Free will. We have it.

"Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' ' " - Matthew 23:36-39 ESV

Wow. Can we fathom this? The all-powerful God wants something but He does not get it because we can choose and we often make the wrong choice.

God made free will agents and loves them (us) hoping they will love Him back knowing scores will hurt Him and spurn His Love.

"And he began to tell the people this parable: 'A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.' And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.' When they heard this, they said, 'Surely not!' But he looked directly at them and said, 'What then is this that is written: ' 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.' " - Luke 20:9-18 ESV

Fall on the Rock today. Do it this weekend. You have a choice. Just let God love You. If you harden your heart again and again you may lose your capacity to say, 'Yes' and that is a scary idea. Say, 'Yes'... surrender to love.

Beleive in the Son. Honor the Son. He cares for you and He Is your last and only chance at making sense of this life.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

That Old Rascal

I'm reading Genesis chapter 32 and 33 this morning and I am amazed at how stubborn and deceptive Jacob is.

"Then Esau said, 'Let us be on our way; I'll accompany you.' But Jacob said to him, 'My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die. So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.' Esau said, 'Then let me leave some of my men with you.' 'But why do that?' Jacob asked. 'Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.' So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth." - Genesis 33:12-17 NIV

Did you catch the lie? I don't think I ever have before. Jacob told Esau he would meet him in Seir but he never goes there. He goes in a different direction to Sukkoth and stands up his brother.

This is right after Jacob wrestles with God in the chapter before.

"When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, 'Let me go, for the day has broken.' But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' And he said to him, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Jacob.' Then he said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.' Then Jacob asked him, 'Please tell me your name.' But he said, 'Why is it that you ask my name?' And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, 'For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.' " - Genesis 32:25-30 ESV

Jacob knew he was dealing with God because he couldn't manipulate this person. Very interesting how God blesses a person who is trying to con him.


It's all grace

God has to change Jacob's name because Jacob is a rascal and is going to be a rascal no matter what you do.

Jacob has a new perspective after chapter 32. He really has a peace he didn't have before. He could meet his brother and deal with the situation in a peaceful way after his encounter with God but it isn't because he is a changed man. It is because he has seen God and gotten the 'blessing'.

The identity shift would come much later.

I have known some Godly rascals in my time. I am one. My old man is slippery but I have a new identity in Christ and that guy isn't a rascal. He really Is all that God says he is.

God really blessed me the other day. No. Really He did. I was like Jacob dreading what might come next and now all that is gone. I spoke to Him and He moved in a mystical way I can't explain and lifted my burden. He didn't have to do it but He did.

Today I am very aware of my need to put on Jesus Christ.

"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. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." - Romans 13:12-14 KJV

Yes. Old Jacob gets another nail in his coffin.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20 KJV

As an old friend would say...

Ding. Dong.

Yes. That is my choice. I know who I am in Christ and I know what I can be if I don't put on this person and this truth. Today is a new day and a fresh chance to live in a new identity.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018


I was listening to a news report about the drought in Cape Town, South Africa and it brought me to this passage.

"And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit," - Ephesians 5:18 NKJV

The word translated 'dissipation' here is asōtia (Strong's G810) and it speaks of an erosion or evaporation of integrity or wholeness.

This city had water but then the drought started. Things got worse and worse. Now water is precious and everyone is looking for new and better ways to reuse their 'gray water'. Soon the city may run dry and according to that broadcast, they would be the first modern metropolis that large that has done so.

If you have an abundance dissipation seems like no big deal but when you have very little that little bit becomes precious.

I am rich in Christ but proximity to Him reveals my poverty. I can no longer separate myself from the terrible things people do. I am just like them. Jesus died on the cross as us in full identification with the sins of the whole world. Innocent but poor beyond understanding. Stripped of everything in our place. I have an inheritance in Him. Believers are hidden in the person of this Savior. I am rich but if I am honest I am also as poor as the poorest person in true identification.

" 'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up." - 1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV

Many things are pleasurable but they dissipate and I just can't afford that. I feel like I imagine Cape Town must feel (if a city feels anything). Every drop of water has become important to the inhabitants of that city. It wasn't before but it is now.

"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." - Matthew 26:27-29 KJV

One day we will raise a glass with Christ and it will be in true celebration. There will be no dissipation because that will be a thing of the past. I look forward to that day. Jesus is abstaining so I abstain with Him. Jesus identifies so I identify. Jesus is holy and I sit with Him in His holiness. That holiness is precious and important.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Blessed Are The Poor

"And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets...' " - Luke 6:17-23 ESV

Has anyone ever spoken quite like this?

I was thinking this morning of verse 17 and how it echoes the incarnation. Jesus came to Earth to be a man and stand on a level place with us to tell us He doesn't demand greatness. His blessing are on the poor.

That comforts me today.

He Is the healing in our midst. Our power is to receive grace and recognize the kingdom of God represented in the person of Christ.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Powerful Scriptural Triads - Part 5

"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.' (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, 'Follow me.' " - John 21:18-19 ESV

A newly converted person believes but has an identity and a motivation based on self. They wear the fashion that they identify with.

Age, or spiritual maturity, bring in a triune mindset where we worship and find ourselves carried into a different identity that isn't self oriented.

Jesus was talking to Peter and at this point Peter was very young and unstable but many things would happen in Peter's life and in the end, Peter became a mature grace believer who wasn't living in self-preservation. Church history tells us that Peter was martyred. We can imagine that this passage likely had great significance to the early Church because of it's prophetic content. We have the option of growing in maturity because of it. We can lift up our arms in worship and follow Christ today. We can wear the pure identity He gives us as heirs, sons and ministers of reconciliation. We can wait on God and be moved by His Spirit into situations and glorify God as we pick up our cross.

As I was meditating on this passage I remembered Watchman Nee's commentary on Ephesians 'Sit, Walk, Stand'. Being clothed is sitting in our 'position'.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." - Ephesians 1:3-10 ESV

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," - Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV

Yes. Then we walk and stand in Christ because we now follow Him and wear an identity derived from what He says about us.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." - Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil 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 firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints," - Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV

Being young isn't sinful per se. We all start out young but then hopefully we grow up. Jesus is who transforms us into maturity. We look to Him and follow Him and He becomes our life in very practical ways.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Powerful Scriptural Triads - Part 4

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." - Galatians 5:22-24 ESV

Three triads. Our upward relationship (Love, Joy, Peace), our outward one (Patience, Kindness, Goodness) and how we function as a person (Faithfulness, Gentleness/Meekness, Self-Control).

Notice who comes first and who comes last. I think it is in that order for a reason. Why would we have self-control if this was all flipped? This self-governance involves decision making in the light of eternal perspective and who has that if we are alone and self-occupied?

"Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law." - Proverbs 29:18 ESV

The law there is Torah (Strong's H8451) and it isn't the rules and regulations. It is divine perspective on reality. Blessed is he who has divine perspective and lives in it.

God saturate us with Your Love, Joy and Peace. Then let that overflow go to others and lastly let what is flowing flow down into our inner person and color and self-image and our self-actions. Give us gentle inner voice that functions in a consistent faith, rebound and all the while choosing in the light of eternal rewards.

The world is our garden and we are God's garden. Amazing.