Friday, June 14, 2019

Acquainted with the Sacred Writings

This is very precious to me today...

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV

I've been looking at each word and nuance in the Greek.

There is so much here but a few things stand out.

One was that Paul said Timothy's exposure to the Bible and it's precepts made Timothy 'wise for salvation'. In other words, Timothy knew that people needed salvation and the way to get salvation. That wisdom oriented Timothy towards Jesus Christ.

Secondly, the word translated 'training' is paideia (Strong's G3809) and it refers to rearing a child and showing them techniques which includes correcting them if they are doing something incorrectly or inefficiently.

God breathed out words so we could be fully equipped.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Eternal Perspective

Thinking today about drawing things 'in perspective'. If you have tried to draw buildings or cityscapes of some kind you know that it is best to set down some perspective lines early or else shadows and angles that are 'out of perspective' will become evident to the viewer. The way you determine these lines is to set points in the distance (often off the page) and have those lines radiating from those points in space and intersecting in the artwork.

If we bring that concept into our thought life how do we draw those lines? Is it possible to have 'eternal perspective'?

The points would have to be far off the page of our life and out in eternity somewhere.

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." - Revelation 1:8 KJV

This is Jesus speaking.

Jesus creates the lines of eternal thought. He is every point beyond my experience that gets manifested in my experience. The Bible describes Him. The scripture exists so we can find Him and the Spirit can then give us linear thinking that isn't misshapen or exaggerated.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Reading 1 Timothy Chapter 4

I am reading 1 Timothy chapter 4 over and over again this morning. Paul said specific things to Timothy but when you look at what he says to Timothy in this chapter you see that Paul is promoting a 'culture' in Timothy's life. The different individual elements amplify each other in concert. Reading. Honor. Remembering that people laid hands on him. Avoiding 'silly myths'. Living a spiritual life like an athlete who is training...

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." - 1 Timothy 4:1-16 ESV

Paul wanted Timothy to have longevity and for him to be fruitful in 'ministry' and there is much to glean here.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

The Power of An Endless Life

Can you be something that is outside of your genetics? Perhaps when we were young we were told, 'You can be anything you want to be.' but as time went on we began to resemble our older family members and their tendencies.

Nature and nurture. Nature versus nurture.

The Bible says this about Jesus and it may not seem applicable but it is if we are 'hidden' in Christ.

"For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, 'You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.' " - Hebrews 7:14-17 ESV

Judah didn't have priests. The priesthood was genetically derived. You had to be the son of someone who qualified for the priesthood In Israel.

Jesus 'became' a priest through 'the power of an endless life'.

"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. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:3-17 ESV

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Behold The Lamb

"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world...

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 1:6-9, 29-31 ESV

It is said that this John could have been the High Priest in Israel at that time. He had the right genetics but the politics of the day had someone else in that office. John was a priest 'outside the camp'. He was calling people to turn and ready themselves for the Messiah that was coming.

One of the jobs of the priesthood was to inspect the sacrifices that came in and approve them. The lambs could not have a spot or a blemish. They couldn't be lame or sickly.

In this passage we see John approving of Jesus' perfect status. If Jesus was to be the 'lamb of God' he needed priestly approval but He wasn't going to get that approval is the priestly system.

You and I are outside the camp but inside God's camp and He wants us to inspect the lamb. If this lamb is the perfect lamb we can also approve of the sacrifice He made. If the cross is applied to our life then we don't have to die there. Jesus already did for us.

Has a sacrifice been found?

John could have been bitter and the system that rejected him and held to degrees of hypocrisy. Perhaps he was but one day he saw the perfect lamb and his whole life came into focus. He thought he knew the reason why he did what he did, baptizing people with water, but it all came into focus when Jesus came into view.

Have you seen Jesus?

Have you inspected His life and His words? He is the perfect lamb. Seeing Him is the key to understanding our own motives. Seeing Him give us insight into God's mind and heart. Seeing Him bring light into our mind. Trusting in the quality of who He Is and what He has done on the cross brings a washing that makes us white as snow.

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Friday, April 5, 2019

The Bible Says

What is the difference between 'the Bible says' and what some clever 'guru, professor, philosopher, scientist or clever person giving a TED talk says'? Is there a difference to you or me? What is different?

I must humble myself to receive what the Bible says but in order to even get to that place I must see something different.

"Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, 'Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.' " - Hebrews 10:5-7 ESV

The King James version phrases verse 7 this way...

"Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God." - Hebrews 10:7 KJV

Jesus compares His incarnation (the divine appearing to mankind as a human baby and walking and talking with people) with His entrance into a person's life through the Bible. They are similar. In some ways, Jesus seemed like just another man. But this man healed people and forgave the unforgivable. Being with Him was, and is, like being with the Father in Heaven.

The Bible seems like just another book. You can dissect it and rip pages out of it but if you spend time with it you will see something different... something divine.

It has answers. It has all the answers. It also has a powerful framework that people have and can use to shame, oppress and manipulate people with. Aren't people like the God they worship? It isn't unreasonable to think that.

I see young men and women drift away from the book and it makes me sad for them but I also understand. I was young once (long ago). {smile}

I know that if people are really looking that the God of the Bible will find them and that the words of this book will resonate in a way that no clever intellectual framework can.

Today, like every other day, is a day for humility. The Bible 'speaks' but am I listening? It would be a wise thing to do. The One who Is speaking cares for you and for me. The One who Is speaking is the same One who died on a tree and rose again.

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Gatherer

"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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 14:25-27 ESV

Who Is this Holy wind who has such access to our minds? He can gather our thought together and arrange them like flowers in a vase.

Fear and disorder are linked, aren't they? Chaos has uncertainty but The Holy Spirit restores islands of order in disorder and we can rest in the bed He has made for us.

Jesus' mind and teachings are a safe place. They are The safe place. If these thoughts are planted they will grow because they are alive. Then the Holy Spirit will use those 'materials' in our mind.

The dark mind has no flowers to gather. There are only thorns and thistles.

God help us by Your Spirit to be sowers of good seed.

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Silencing That Noise

Something has been rattling in my car lately. It seemed to be coming from the passenger side and tonight as I was driving to Trader Joes I became determined to find it and make it stop. I tugged on the seatbelt.. opened and closed the glove compartment.. opened it again and saw a loose pen.. maybe it was the pen.. I pulled it out and put it on the passenger seat. 'That pen is going bye bye.' I thought... I can't leave it in the sun on the passenger seat... out it goes next chance I get.

No rattle. Mission accomplished but then the rattle started again. I checked the cup dispensers and low and behold it was an empty Starbucks cup that was sitting on some loose change! I stuffed a napkin under the cup and... silence. The rattle didn't return.
I shopped. The breakfast blend got grinded coarsely for my French press. I got in the car to go home and, almost unconsciously, I grabbed that bad bad pen and threw it in the Trader Joes bag that had been overstuffed by some well-meaning long bearded cashier intent on saving the planet.

No. Wait.. that isn't a bad pen. That pen is useful and needed. If I get rid of it I'll have nothing to write with. 'The problem isn't the pen', My head said to my heart.

I blindly 'looked with fingers' in the bag next to me and nearly got a paper cut on my forearm finding and fishing that pen out again. It is now back snuggly wedged between oil change receipts where it belongs.

Things need to be rooted out sometimes. Sure they do but I don't want to cast out the baby with the bathwater. I'm asking God to help me with that. I want to be brave enough to make changes and wise enough to not remove the old landmarks.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Participation

"If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, Then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?" Jeremiah 12:5 NASB

If I don't know what I can handle how can I know what my 'horse', or vehicle, can handle?

The land of peace has few obstacles but the thicket has many obstacles that require preparation, gear and planning to pass.

Some may say, 'I just won't compete with horses and Jordan is too hard for me.' Nonsense talk! Who has whispered that garbage in your ear?

Don't you want to feel the wind in your face? Don't you want to see the faithfulness of God in the moment to bless a prepared life?

Life is for living not just existing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Love And Longing

Sitting here contrasting different kinds of love. Loving something, or someone, beautiful (in demand) versus loving the ugly unwanted thing. Love that is 'arranged' versus romantic (chosen). Selfish love and love based on principle.

Love versus lust. Hate and cold indifference.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV

Love is what people want and fear most.

I struggle like everyone does and everyone does struggle. This is a particularly difficult time of struggle in some ways. I wrestle with God because by sight things look a certain way but then I ponder His love... specifically the love manifested by and through Jesus and I become grounded again.

I see men trying to love women who have moved on. I see people raising children without a partner bearing life's burdens. I see sick friends and even noble people who died deaths that seemed cruel and anonymous and I struggle but love, real love, grounds me and eases my mind.

God taught me and teaches me daily how to love. I learn what to drop and what to cling to as I follow Him and the lamp of His word lights my path.

--

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Repair Or Start Over?

"The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 'Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.' So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me:" - Jeremiah 18:1-5 ESV

This is a fundamental truth about mankind and fallen systems. Jeremiah needed to see this before he could hear and understand Israel's provision to communicate that provision to them.

Are people fundamentally good and they just need training and occasional mending and healing or are they broken beyond repair and they need a rebirth?

I read the Bible and see the cross as 'an engine of transformation' because it evaporates my humanity and then I am condensed again in the resurrection. That process allows for purity and the cyclical removal of impurities.

I see philosophies and theologies that teach that man is good and doesn't need to be remade and they look good on paper but do they work in practice? No. Not for the vast majority of humanity and the Christian God can't fellowship with anything but absolute uncompromised holiness and purity.

Don't fall for the, 'Wash, rinse and repeat.' advice given by well meaning but false teachers. It isn't spiritual. They aren't hearing from God. They are warmed by their own faulty fleeting fire of a natural idea.

God remakes men.

"Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' " - John 3:3 ESV

Rebirth solves a fundamental issue.

"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! - assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:17-32 ESV

This isn't a 'look at examples of good people and be like them' theology. This is the exchanged life based on a rebirth.

"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:" - Colossians 3:10 KJV

A new person can have a healthy self-image in honesty. The old man is slowly being poisoned by things that can only be purged by the cross.

I look to God and declare by faith that practical newness can happen today. I ask Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit and let the evaporation of the cross work on me. Jesus was raised on the third day and you and I are raised with Him. His identity is intertwined with our view of ourselves and we can hear what God's wants to communicate because we agree with Him about a fundamental truth about the nature of our relationship with Him.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Specialness

Just pondering the idea of 'holiness' and how it is a pure type of specialness that is realized by an individual. We can be very 'familiar' with things and people.

Looking back now I realize that I was very 'familiar' as a child. My room. The food we ate. Places. They weren't special to me. Life just was and I didn't realize things would change or be gone. It was all about how I felt in the moment and what I wanted. Power and powerlessness. In one sense I just didn't 'know better' because I was young and naive even though I got street smart at a young age.

Holiness came into my life. I see that this doesn't happen for everyone. I link it directly to Jesus and not growing up because maturity can only account for so much. Holiness isn't sentimental. It is divine and pure. It is an unchanging specialness linked to grace, mercy, justice and love.

It isn't defiled and we all have seen what defilement is if we get old enough. My 'street smartness', if I had any, came from exposure to potential dangers.

Holiness is only dangerous to darkness. The meek and humble are at home in holiness but that sense of belonging is because of the love of the holy One. It isn't a place of carelessness because of the care that permeates the 'place'.

Jesus brought holiness out of the temple and into people's lives and we have that if we have Him. Life isn't easy but it is special.

You are special. You are important. You are not common. You are loved.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Meal Preparation

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?" - Matthew 24:45 ESV

I read this passage this morning and it hit me kind of hard.

Access to provision is an important thing and only some people have it. It is granted by someone so that distribution happens and is controlled in some way for timely use. Breakfast is served early. Lunch at midday. Dinner feeds the worker who is finally resting from their labor.

"Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." - Matthew 24:46-51 ESV

The 'faithful and wise servant' part gets me because I don't see myself as either of these things but anyone who has worked in different places has seen how this works with other resources. Sometimes the person who ends up with the keys is just the one who has been around the longest and they landed on their desk. Their 'wisdom' and 'faithfulness' is just 'knowing the ropes' because they have seen it done hundreds of times. In other places, access is guarded fiercely and those who end up with it are not the people who will use it wisely or mercifully.

Grace... I have access to the cupboard of grace... everyone who understands what Jesus is like and what He has done has access but people need meals made. Jesus is the Master who has gone on a trip.

I can go in and make myself a sandwich and leave everyone else to fend for themselves but what will 'He' say when 'He' returns?

I can lord my access over everyone.

I can tell them to go get their provision. It is free after all. They just need to read the book but it isn't that easy is it? People read the book and don't find the cupboard of grace. It isn't the same as a meal cooked by someone who was trained to cook... who has practiced cooking over many years and observed how others have skillfully used the ingredients.

My Pastor was a man who got up in the morning and made breakfast for everyone. Then he made lunch. We always got a very special Sunday dinner. He wasn't a perfect person but those meals were very very good and nourishing. Grace was the main ingredient in all the meals he made. They, along with other things, healed my wounds and got me on a schedule of getting 'what I could never deserve or earn'.

There are always going to be hungry people. There are also going to be people who just don't appreciate the food they are served. It isn't up to their standard. They are critical and make you just want to hang up the apron.

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?" - Matthew 24:45 ESV

Boom.

Why is the person cooking meals? Is it the hungry people or is it a calling? Maybe at some future date the master might say, 'Wow. Everyone said your meals were always made with great care.' or 'Suzy loved your pancake recipe.' but when He returns the main issue will be what we did with the access we were given. Did we cook on a schedule so that people could be fed or were we occupied with ourselves and the power we had acquired?

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Friday, February 1, 2019

The Authority Of Grace

"By what authority do you do these things?"

This question was asked of Jesus and it was recorded in three of the Gospels (Matt 21, Mark 11 and Luke 20). Jesus was healing, forgiving and cursing an occassional fig tree. He pointed to John the Baptist and asked them who they thought gave him his authority and they just couldn't answer for political reasons but John's ministry was changing lives and preparing people for Jesus' ministry.

People might say, 'All this grace you give and talk about. By whose authority do you give it? Who are you to say what you do.' but liberators liberate because God raises them up. They make room for healing blessing and they curse a fig tree that has no fruit here and there also so that the structure will wither up.

Grace, unmerited favor based on what God did on the cross, gives people authority. It imparts authority to people that seem unworthy of it. Be that person no matter who says, 'Aren't you going a bit overboard with that?'

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Treasure In Heaven

"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..." Matthew 6:19-22 ESV

What does it mean to have 'treasure in Heaven'. I have been pondering that for a week or so on and off.

Treasure that can't tarnish.

No moth (or biological agent) can access it to defile it.

It can't be stolen or diminished.

That sense of belonging and ownership fills us with light. We are not looking at God's house saying, 'Wow, It would be nice to live there.' No. We look and say, 'Something there belongs to me and no one can steal it and nothing can destroy it. That is my place.'

Putting things in storage is an active process. A decision is made to forego access to a thing and sent it somewhere. We can send our minutes and hours to Heaven. We can make decisions based on eternal perspective. We can be full of light on the inside.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Looking For Life In All The Wrong Places

I remember being a teenager and thinking, 'Life is out there and once I get away from here I'll find it and be free.' I didn't put it in just those words. It was more like a kind of 'angst'. I see it everywhere. People live for the weekend. They long to be married if they are single. They want to retire if they are working.

"Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." - Jeremiah 2:12-13 ESV

Oppression can cause depression and people seem to lose the ability to retain joy. Life seems to seep away and we go looking for it or perhaps we lose hope. We despair and think we will never have what we had before. We will never find that thing that will complete us or satisfy us.

"In him was life, and the life was the light of men." - John 1:4 ESV

I talk about Jesus a lot. You may have noticed. I'm not looking for a soulmate or the fountain of youth because I have Him. I have come to believe He Is that thing that was missing in my life. The Greek New Testament informs me that this is so and I have found it to be true. I still get dissatisfied with things, places and institutions. There is much I don't understand or even agree with about how life seems to be but He adds flavour to every dish. He floods my heart with joy when it becomes a barren wasteland. He causes me to love people even after having to drive next to them on the highway.

"But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." - Acts 13:51-52 ESV

Actually, It is the Holy Spirit who does this. He Is this filling and is involved in it because of Jesus and Christ is the focus of it.

"But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me." - John 15:26 ESV

People who have everything and those who have lost everything can still have this and this is no 'second place' thing. The stuff won't mend that cistern. People can't either. God may use people in the process but Jesus is the key ingredient.

Jesus says things like this...

"All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." - Matthew 11:27 ESV

That is why I talk about Him so much. He is my favourite subject and I also worry about people who seem to be happy (and unhappy) without Him.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The First Chapter Of The Gospel Of John

I'm reading this again and again. God became personal.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, 'This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.' ') 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." - John 1:1-17 ESV

Not much to say really.

I just want to buy 10,000 little gospels of John and give them out saying, 'Please just read the first chapter and if you have any questions just ask me. I put my contact information on the back page.'

Just these 17 verses are so loaded with truth.

This is truth we could never get by looking at nature or exploring the inner reaches of our minds. We had to be told this.

The English translations don't even do some of this justice. The Greek is so much more elegant and specific.

I love how the writer doesn't even give Jesus' given name until verse 17. He leaves it mysterious. The ideas are so large and expansive. Light and darkness. Creation and nothingness.

"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God," - John 1:12 ESV

The writer isn't going to say his name until verse 17 but at the same time he is saying His name because he is explaining the 'nature' of this person we call Jesus.

Every word here is pure. It is like divine poetry. I would sell all that I have to have this. That is the worth of this information and yet God gives it to us freely.

Thank you God. Thank You for showing us a relationship that was happening before you spoke the universe into existence. Thank you for revealing 'the life' that is the light of men.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Some Won't See It Coming

"...you did not know the time of your visitation." - Luke 19:44b ESV

Just thinking about God's 'visitation' and it's qualities. It seems like one of it's characteristics is that some people see God in the circumstances and others don't. God visits Abraham's tent and Abraham gets that this is God but Sarah laughs in the tent. Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and people pull palm branches off the trees and throws coats on the ground he is about to ride by on but others are criticizing him.

The fact that some people 'miss' the visitation appears to be evidence that there was a visitation.

It just seems to be a trend but in a way, it is a vexing one because unstable people 'see things that no one else does' also and make claims that God visited them and showed them things.

God's visitation is like a large wake that forms behind a big vessel passing by. That wake disturbs the otherwise calm water in a very linear way. God's wake brings hope, freedom from guilt or shame, forgiveness and healing. It is orderly.

"They said to you, 'In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.' It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." - Jude 1:18-25 ESV

Yes. Wow.

We are looking for something not everyone is going to see and perhaps is easy to miss if our focus is on other things. We are looking for a 'visitation'... not a subjective delusion. We stay built up and kept in the love of God. We 'wait' on mercy while 'having' mercy for those who doubt. God is able to keep us. All glory belongs to God. All majesty, dominion, and authority do also.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

An Old Show That Made Me Laugh

I last week I was watching some older television shows while I recuperating from an illness and I caught an episode of Stargate SG-1 (a somewhat 'hard science fiction' show from the 90s). I like some 'hard science fiction'. It tries to stay true to what is known but adds some technology or ingredients to bring out human nature under those new or extraordinary circumstances.

This episode just happened to have Dom DeLuise (famous comedic actor from the 70s and 80s) on the show. It turns out his son Peter directed the episode and his two other sons also worked on the series.

I love Dom DeLuise. He has this disarming innocent stammering kind of humor. He passed years ago (IMDB says 2009) so I wasn't expecting to see him and I had no idea he ever appeared in the show. He played an innocence computer program embedded in minds of the SG-1 team who just wants them to have fun and eat food so it can record (and enjoy) those experiences and bring them back to the place they visited to get downloaded. They just want him out of their heads. A bit goofy and farfetched I know, but he owned the part and I smiled more than once.

The bottom line was that I was just glad to see him.

"So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David." - 1 Kings 2:10 KJV

"I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven," - Matthew 8:11 ESV

I don't know if I will see Dom DeLuise in Heaven. I hope so. Contrary to popular belief the bible does not make the claim that everyone will be there. I'd like to think that someone who could make people laugh and could play an innocence so well was washed in the 'blood of Jesus' but I know it doesn't work that way. He would have needed to make a decision about Jesus as Messiah and believe that 'sin' and his personal sins were paid for and taken care of on the cross... a fact that most hard science fiction omits by the way.

What a funny man. It was good to see him.

One day people who we think of as 'sleeping' will be very much awake and revelling at tables celebrating God's accomplishments on the Earth. It is going to be a grand reunion. They seem 'gone' now but we will see them again and it will be fresh and surprising.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Counting On A Resurrection

This second part of the next passage (starting in verse 11) is in a section called 'Postponed Kingdom' in Fruchtenbaum's 'Ariel's Harmony of Gospels' and it reminded me of back before I was a believer and I thought of Christianity as a weak person's theology. I remember thinking that some people needed to believe in a future Heavenly reward so that they could endure the hardships of life so they just invented it.

This next passage takes place right after they leave the house of a man who was miraculously changed.

"And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return." - Luke 19:8-12 KJV

Jesus is very clear in what He says to them. This kingdom isn't 'pie in the sky'. It also isn't all here of Earth. That day must have seemed magical. They came into town. Jesus calls a man out of a tree. These blue collar working class men eat the best food in a rich man's house who becomes a brother and changes his ways after a short time with Jesus. It must have been a very good day.

Then Jesus hits them with this 'nobleman goes into a far country' parable. Here is the full text.

"As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, 'A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Engage in business until I come.' But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made five minas.' And he said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.' Then another came, saying, 'Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, 'I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?' And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.' And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten minas!' 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.''

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem." - Luke 19:11-28 ESV

Notice the last verse says that He went on ahead. I bet He did. That parable must have hit them hard. They lagged behind and the wind of the 'good day' must have gotten knocked right out of their sails.

Jesus was the nobleman. The far country was death... a horrible death on a cross.

It is very natural to look at the world and say, 'We had better just make the best of what we have.' but Jesus paints a different picture. He is counting on a resurrection. He is living His life relying on the hope that He will be raised from the dead and He is teaching his disciples a theology that relies on them being raised from the dead also.

Jesus isn't teaching the 'If you are good boys and girls you will all get lollipops in Heaven later' doctrine I falsely thought before a was a believer. These are adult ideas involving trust, responsibility, honor and most of all faith.

The 'heros of the faith' chapter in Hebrews 11 is a long one so I will only quote the last part of it.

"... and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:" - Hebrews 11:35 KJV

Do we believe in a better resurrection?

If we do then Jesus' doctrine will make perfect sense. We will be able to celebrate the good days and endure the hard ones with a joy and peace deep inside us as the storm rages outside.

Jesus will return from that far country and there will be rewards for those who have invested wisely.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Small Statement From A Holiday Gathering

Two thoughts are on my mind this morning. I am reading and thinking about them.

The first is 'impatience'.

The second is a small phrase that a host of a holiday gathering said that stuck with me. They had serval groups of people in their home. We were at a table and she looked at us as she passed by to greet yet another group as they came in with baked goods and coats that were coming off their bodies.

She said, as she turned to face us, 'I know I'm ignoring you.' and took a coat to find a place to hang it up.

All at once I felt we both knew the opposite was true. She wasn't ignoring any of us. We were known. She cared how we all felt. She wanted everyone to feel at home and get attention. We weren't second-class citizens. I think of this passage.

"Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed." - Proverbs 19:17 ESV

In a way, we know God isn't ignoring the poor and He won't ignore us. He considers generosity to others 'a loan' but at the same time, it looks like He has ignored the poor. He hasn't. He isn't. It looks that way but it isn't true.

Ok.

Back to the first idea of impatience. We are to be 'in the world' but not 'of the world' but impatience is an 'of the world' mindset. We want to control, orchestrate or just approve of the way (or speed) something is done but things can often spin out of control. Do we have peace? Peace is an 'out of this world' thing. Calm may be natural but not deep peace. Peace is something of God and 'sourced' in God. It passes understanding.

"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 14:27 ESV

Wow.

What did Jesus have? Where did He leave his peace so we can find it?

I think it is in the knowledge of the attention and personal acceptance of our Father in Heaven. It looks like He isn't listening but He Is. We act in love trusted in His love and He sees it and treats it like a loan because He cares.

No one should condemn themselves for being impatient. No one should find a reason to condemn themselves ever but impatience is a symptom that we need to find the peace that Jesus left behind. One we find that peace we can be an oasis of peace and hospitality without striving.

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Friday, January 4, 2019

The Long Vacant Job Posting

"And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none." - Ezekiel 22:30 ESV

Yesterday I saw very clearly, in my mind's eye, the role of 'Savior of the World' as a job vacancy. Many times when a job is 'posted' there is already a candidate groomed in the wings to fill this position. Jesus was chosen before the foundation of the world but Adam could have filled the position. All he had to do was resist the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit offered by Eve. He could have waited until the next morning and spoken to God at the appointed time that they met every day. Conceivably, He could have died in her place. He didn't.

"And a ruler asked him, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." - Luke 18:18-19 ESV

This wasn't just theoretical. History up until this moment had proven this to be true.

Jesus was challenging this person. Do you know me? I am manna from Heaven but do you see it?

" 'As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.' I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, 'You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.' Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." - Psalm 2:6-12 ESV

Scholars say this is the Psalmist peering into Heaven after Jesus rose from the grave and ascended to sit at God's right hand. The interviews were over. Jesus had passed the background checks. God was welcoming His Son back to Heaven to take His rightful position as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

"No one is good except God alone." - Luke 18:19b ESV

Why should we strive to be good? The position of the 'good One' has already been filled.

"Then they said to him, 'What must we do, to be doing the works of God?' Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.' " - John 6:28-29 ESV

Salvation is very simple really. We accept that a position needed to be filled to save our soul and instead of claiming to fill the position ourselves we agree that God chose Jesus for that role and that His work of the cross was enough to accomplish the task.

Simple but also impossible unless God speaks to our heart and brings us to a place of decision and we use our will to decide.

Finding a 'soul mate' isn't going to save us. Raising good children won't. A government can't. We can't. Our own transgressions disqualify us from saving ourselves or anyone else. That position has already been filled.

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" - John 7:37-39 KJV

Yes. Believe in Jesus and receive the Spirit who will wash you. That is why Christ came. No man or woman met the qualifications of the job that needed to be done but then Jesus came to build a bridge back to the Father and send a cleansing rain to wash your soul and mine.

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Come Down

Issues from 2018 seem to want to follow me into 2019. I really wish they wouldn't but 'here they are' so I remind myself that there are new mercies this morning. They are not just for the new year. They are new daily and I can choose to respond and not react to these particular circumstances.

I don't feel strong. I am leaning on God's strength.

I don't feel wise. God Is wise and I have access to His objective wisdom in the Bible and it's subjective application by the Holy Spirit.

I don't feel rich but I know that I am rich in 100 ways. I'm free. I have another day. God is my supply.

"O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name." - Psalm 74:21 KJV

"But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God." - Psalm 40:17 KJV

"For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight." - Psalm 72:12-14 ESV

My motivation does not come from what I don't have.

"And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.' " - Luke 19:2-5 ESV

I am over six foot tall but I often feel like this man. Zacchaeus was the CHIEF tax collector. He 'climbed' into that position just like he climbed that tree. Climbing was his method but Jesus commanded that he descend so that there could be communion. Jesus isn't a climber and in order to meet Him, we need to descend not ascend.

We go low to meet these challenges.

I'll dig in the dirt and sow seeds. I'll ask God to teach me like a person who knows nothing and has to start from scratch. I am confident that the issues that follow me now will be resolved. They are not who I am.

God has and will redeem my life... and your life also. Come down from the tree to meet Him. He is calling for you.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

My List Of New Year's Resolution(s)

"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

Yes.

Jesus is 'the Christ' and it is important to the writer that each of us know this. He sees it as vital.

The phrase 'Christ Jesus' is used 58 times in the Bible.
'Jesus Christ' is used 187 times.
Some other combination of the two words 'Jesus' and 'Christ' 301 times (such as the verse quoted above).

'The Christ' is the anointed One. He Is the One who was prophesied to come and save Israel. Jesus reveals who this person Is. Jesus gives Him a name. We need to know that name. People were anointed before Jesus but no one was 'The Anointed One'. Only Jesus holds that title.

"And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds." - 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 ESV

Um... Wow.

Paul sees a light in the world that is not 'The Light'.

Not all light that illuminates is 'Jesus Christ' illumination. I find it interesting that the writer uses the phrase 'apostles of Christ' and not 'apostles of Jesus' or some other phrase. Jesus is His personal name.

Compassion divorced from Jesus does not impress me. Knowledge divorced from God gives light but is it the full spectrum of Light? Are we dazzled by it?

In 2019 'Jesus' and 'Christ' are one person to me and He Is who I will lift up. The full dimension of who He Is has been my salvation and that Is the light that will bring salvation.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:8 ESV

"This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:11-12 ESV

Moral power isn't my goal. Plucking people's heartstrings is not lasting. The knowledge of the deity of Jesus transforms and that is and will be my message. It is the only thing on my list of new years resolutions.

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