Friday, September 28, 2018

Access To What We Are Standing In

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." - Romans 5:1-2 ESV

This is such a loaded passage.

We have access to the grace we are standing in through (and because of) Jesus Christ.

Because of the fall people get disconnected from things they are standing in all the time. They lack access. They stand in a place but miss the beauty of their surroundings. They stand in a family but they are cut off from the warmth and connection of what a family is (or should be). They stand in marriages but lack intimacy.

We gain access to grace through Jesus Christ. We gain access to the knowledge that God is thinking kind thoughts about us. We are connected to the fact that we have favor with God based on the work and character of His Son. This access causes us to rejoice and have hope that God's 'glory' will be manifested in the world.

I see people get disconnected all the time. If the isolation happens and is sustained for long periods of time people start to get strange in their thinking. It is like they have spiritual oxygen deprivation.

Jesus is our access to intimacy. He is the master key that opens all doors. He is how we can have access to what is real and not imagined. Faith in Him can heal our other connections. Peace and justification come into our lives and we get restored over time.

"For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband..." - 1 Corinthians 7:14a ESV

Yes. Holiness can enter the home, workplace or nation because of one believing person who has access to what they are standing in.


Friday, September 21, 2018

A New Energy Source

God's approval becomes an energy source for our identity.

"Thus says the LORD: 'Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.' " - Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV

We boast about the thing that gives us power.

Jesus is the love, justice, and righteousness of God manifested in a man. He is the divine One who was born as the perfect person. Jesus is God's delight.

If we have believed our boast becomes that we are somehow hidden in Christ and a blessing has been put on our life because God sees His Son when He looks at us.

Wisdom, might and riches are what the natural man goes to as it's power source. That is the boast of our natural self apart from God. The person who lives in the approval that only comes from an exchanged life has a different source because they have access to a different identity.

Jesus has done this for us. We were His enemy and He set this up before the world began and in the fullness of time He came and died on a tree so that He could rise from the grave and take us with Him.

That is my boast today. I boast in the cross. My wallet, my method and my huge biceps are not my real power. Knowing the LORD is my power and it has become my identity.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Statement That Fills The Void

This is what fills the God-shaped hole in every human heart.

"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'" - Matthew 25:21 ESV

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." - Romans 1:18-21 ESV

We need an infinite person to say 'Well done!' but the fall of man has made that seemly impossible.

If we don't get this the 'logic of the market' prevails. We start to look at relationships like profit/loss statements. Does this person help me? Does this person pull me down? A parent may say 'well done' and that means something but it is not enough. A person we respect greatly may say it. We can say, 'Well done.' to our self and other people can say it but this is a big statement said by small people. It doesn't fill that void. Our soul can't believe it because the boat still leaks and takes on water when trouble comes.

"And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.' He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.' " - Matthew 17:2-5 ESV

Those men must have been overwhelmed. They just heard what all of creation has been longing to hear since Adam was expelled from the garden. They heard the infinite God approve of a man. They heard what every person longs to hear and angry people who turn their back on God think they will never hear. The hopelessness that comes from thinking that void will never be filled is really at the root of why they are angry.

"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' " - John 8:31-32 ESV

Part of the truth that frees us is that Jesus has won approval back. He came to represent all mankind and satisfied the anger of God and satisfied the standards of God. We can now hear the words 'Well done!' said to us in Christ and because of Christ.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

If the perfect, approved of, Savior saves us because we believe we are truly saved. If it is based on our effort our soul knows that that effort is flawed. Our performance can never produce something that will fill the void. It doesn't merit a 'well done' from an infinite God.

Jesus really is 'the praise' for all mankind and the right response from us is praise for Him and what He has done for us.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Few Thoughts About Faith

"And without faith impossible to please ..." - Hebrews 11:6a ESV

I put in brackets the words that don't appear in the Greek but the translators added so it would make sense to our English speaking minds.

In the passage before this, the writer talks about the pleasure God had in Enoch so we know that the the writer is referring to is God by context but we can also say that this is a universal principle. The word impossible is adynatos (Strong's G102) is a negation of the word dynatos (Strong's G1415) which can be translated possible or mighty or able. It is an adjective. You could translate this:

'... without faith powerless to please...'

Enoch had faith and God was pleased with him.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1 KJV

Another universal principle this time describing what faith is. We may not be able to see the wind but we can see the effects the wind has on something like a tree waving back and forth and we see evidence that the wind is active.

"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

Whose faith do we live in? What faith gives pleasure to God? What is the evidence that Heaven is at work and that we have a reason to have hope? The faith we want is Jesus' faith. It is the faith 'of the Son of God'. We internalize His belief system and make it ours. We trust in Him as He trusts the Father.

Ok. Last passage...

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." - John 14:6 KJV

Faith brings pleasure in relationships but Jesus is the only way we can interact with God. This faith is linked to Heaven's King. When people witness this faith they see something happen that only interacting with Heaven could produce.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Times Of Refreshing

"Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago." - Acts 3:19-21 ESV

The people of Israel needed this after the crucifixion and we need personal 'times of refreshing' now. Not just one time every once in a while. We need it like we need to wash our bodies or brush our teeth.

People think the word 'repent' means to be sorry and judge ourselves for our actions but the word means 'to turn'. We turn to God and while we are doing that we are also turning away from all those things and identities that are not in Heaven's direction.

Turning to Jesus 'blots out our sins' from our mind's eye. They are no longer our focus. They move into our peripheral vision and then out of sight as we are captivated by the glory of God.

Heaven must receive Jesus. Not only is that true prophetically it is also true on a practical level.

"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." - Colossians 3:2-4 ESV

God must also receive you but if we don't turn to Him we won't experience the refreshing. If we isolate ourselves from reminders we might forget we have this provision and live outside of what Jesus bought for us with His own blood.

I need the water of the word. I need to be around people who have this water. I need to be a part of a vision that floats on this water. If the water isn't present I get dusty.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Needing To Be Noticed

Dressing or speaking to be noticed is an unholy desire.


Unholy = not sactified

"I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness - with good works." - 1 Timothy 2:8-10 ESV

"Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." - 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV

Everyone wants (and needs) to be seen and heard. It isn't wrong that we want that. God sees us and hears us.

Perhaps men yell to be heard and sometimes women dress to be seen. It could be the other way around at times. Men dress to impress and women can need to have the last word.

I am speaking to myself this morning. I like to look good. I want people to read these posts and be blessed by them. When I speak I don't want to be ignored or disrespected but I am I operating out of some need? Do I hunger for some approval or respect? No, By God's grace I don't because God approves of me and loves me just as I am.

"Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat." - Hebrews 13:9-10 ESV

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." - Psalm 23:5 ESV

The beautiful thing is that God does sometimes put people in our life who reflect His love. No matter what we say or how we look they will love us. If we are free we can be those people to someone else. Isn't that a great privilege?


Friday, September 14, 2018

He Said, 'Teach Us To Pray'

"Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.' " - Luke 11:1 ESV

This morning I picture myself in the disciples' shoes watching Jesus from day to day. John the Baptizer told people what to do. He gave clear instruction all day long. Jesus wasn't ordering them around. Jesus talked to His Father and lived His life in front of them.

I imagine this one disciple longed for the clear direction he saw John's disciples had. He also must have been intrigued by Jesus' life of intimacy. Maybe he just wanted to compare methods and see how Jesus' 'method' of prayer compared to John's 'method.'

They must have been surprised by what Jesus said next. I have read and heard this many times but I am surprised again this morning.

"And he said to them, 'When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.' And he said to them, 'Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything'? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, 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. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!' " - Luke 11:2-13 ESV

It is powerful, isn't it? You could look at every word and phrase here and get something, couldn't you?

I like the 'lend me three loaves' portion this morning. Jesus paints God as a friend but says that God doesn't answer prayers like this one because of friendship. Friendship may be an access point but it's not the reason God answers.

I also like the recognition of God's character, holiness and majesty and Jesus' grace attitude. John said, 'Repent!' as a command but Jesus said, 'When you pray...' almost as if He was saying, 'I pray but you may not be thinking that way but if you are going to do this of your own free will because you desire communication...'

I have been praying for a long time. It isn't a new concept to me. I've been a prayer chaplain. Still. I feel I need to relearn this. If I am going to talk to God I want it to be real and satisfying for Him. I don't have to talk to Him and He doesn't have to talk to me but as I sit here putting myself in Jesus' disciples' shoes looking at Him pray I marvel at His relationship and power and I long for His leadership.

"You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." - James 4:2-3 ESV

This passage describes how I am sometimes but Jesus isn't this way. He never 'asked amiss'. I have a lot to learn and Jesus is the One who can teach these lessons. His life, death, resurrection, ascension and session are lessons in themselves.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Passage With A Few Promises From 1 Corinthians Chapter 15

Some wonderful promises in this next passage. I am savouring them this morning...

"For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." - 1 Corinthians 15:53-58 ESV

Monday, September 10, 2018

Who Is My Neighbor?

"But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' " - Luke 10:29 ESV

What a question. Mercy doesn't ask this question. Here is Jesus' answer.

"Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?' He said, 'The one who showed him mercy.' And Jesus said to him, 'You go, and do likewise.' " - Luke 10:30-37 ESV


"...'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.' " - Luke 10:27b ESV

Who deserves respect?

Who is more important?

Jesus pointed to a man who was beaten and laying on the road to get this man to answer this question himself.

I am convicted more and more that it is what I do and not just what I talk about that is the measure of my impact on the world around me. I don't want to strive but maybe it would be good if I imagined bloody people laying on the side on the road more instead of having a fine-tuned sense of categorizing people as worthy or deserving based on appearances.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Destabilization - Part 1

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:8-11 ESV

The roar is meant to be 'destabilizing'. The roar is meant to disorient potential prey.

"They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates." - Judges 5:11 KJV

The sound of arrows passing close to a person's head is meant to be destabilizing. People would drop their water and any other possessions to get to safety but there is a group that is delivered from that noise. The ones that 'rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD' those same people can also understand what Peter is talking about because they have a firm faith that isn't based solely on their present feelings.

"Jesus said to them, 'Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?' " - Matthew 21:42 ESV

Jesus is the cornerstone that was rejected but has been recognized by a group of people and that knowledge gives them stability. No roar or sound of an arrow will affect them because they have a stability that comes from understanding who Christ Is and what He has done.

Don't get me wrong. That roar is no joke. The roar of cancer. The roar of rejection. It makes a person want to run in a thousand directions at once just to get away but Jesus is above all that. Build on Him.

"For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward." - 1 Corinthians 3:11-14 ESV

My faith isn't built on a moral code or even a specific outcome. It rests in a person. Jesus knows me and He loves me anyway.

"At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.' This phrase, 'Yet once more,' indicates the removal of things that are shaken - that is, things that have been made - in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." - Hebrews 12:26-29 ESV

The things that can be destabilized (shaken) will be destabilized. I want to build on the Rock that can't be moved. It is the wise place to build. It doesn't seem like the most convenient place but it is the most stable place. When the storm comes those who built on the Rock will have continued stability.