Resisting Sin to the Point of Shedding Blood Monday, Jun 29 2015 

Discipline in a Long-Distance Race

12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

4-11 In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
    but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
    the child he embraces, he also corrects.

Nothing but the Cross Saturday, Jun 27 2015 

Nothing but the Cross

1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

4-5 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.

7-8 Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

Night Saturday, Jun 20 2015 

God, brilliant Lord,
    yours is a household name.

Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;
    toddlers shout the songs
That drown out enemy talk,
    and silence atheist babble.

3-4 I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
    your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
    Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
    Why take a second look our way?

Night

Untime Prayer Tuesday, Jun 16 2015 

Have you ever said to yourself when you were sleepy, I’ll just take a short nap; and then, when you awoke and looked at the clock hours and hours had gone by?

Or been put out for surgery and when you woke up you thought when is this surgery going to start and you find out that it is over?

Time seems to have a different speed.

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

There is a time for everything.

Ecclesiastes 3 King James Version (KJV)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

We stand in the gap between the beginning and the end doing those things we ought. We are called to pray without ceasing. How? Each time and every time we seek God’s face in all things: in prayer and praise, in thanksgiving, in glorifying, in His mercy, in His grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in tongues, on our knees, in repentance, in all seasons, to every purpose under heaven.

Dear friend, now is the time to pray. Pray for the unsaved, the unchurched, the unrepentant, the unrighteous, the unloved, and the unknowing.

Praying hands1

The Wheel of Faith Sunday, Jun 14 2015 

wheel

Imagine for a minute that this wheel represents our interaction with God. The outer rim is our faith. The spokes are God’s promises and the very center is prayer. The axle is the WORD that turns the wheel. In order for our faith to work, we must pray and stand on the promises of God. We need to trust Him at his WORD.

So many times in the bible, God promises us that He loves us, He won’t forsake us, and we are His workmanship.

When the Promises Are Mixed with Faith

1-3 For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said,

Exasperated, I vowed,
    “They’ll never get where they’re going,
    never be able to sit down and rest.”

3-7 God made that vow, even though he’d finished his part before the foundation of the world. Somewhere it’s written, “God rested the seventh day, having completed his work,” but in this other text he says, “They’ll never be able to sit down and rest.” So this promise has not yet been fulfilled. Those earlier ones never did get to the place of rest because they were disobedient. God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation:

Today, please listen,
    don’t turn a deaf ear . . .

8-11 And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience.

12-13 God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

The High Priest Who Cried Out in Pain

14-16 Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Precious Cargo! Friday, Jun 12 2015 

How precious are the babies we carry? Every single hair on their head is numbered. We are entrusted with their care. God chose us to be their parents. They start out so helpless. They need us to feed and dress them, to bathe and change them. What an awesome trust we’ve been given!

I just love that maternity blouse that reads “Precious Cargo!”

There may be times when we are given tough choices to make with regards to our children. It is then that we should seek the counsel of the Almighty. “Dear God, help me to do what is right! Help me to be a good parent all the days of my life. Help me to be wise in my choices regarding my children. Help me to walk in the light of your WORD, to lead them out to safety. Protect them, O LORD. Draw them close to you. Be to them an ever present help in times of trouble. May the care that I give and the way that I give it bring you honor. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

In the Garden Wednesday, Jun 10 2015 

From the garden of Eden to the garden of Gethsemane, our world has been changed. When sin came in the garden of Eden it was a plant involved. I’ve heard pastors say that many of the “sins” are related to plants; horrid addictions and the like. But sin was conquered in the garden of Gethsemane when Christ prayed, “not my will, but thy will be done.”

I’ve known people cured of these addictions by the blood of Christ.

They are no longer living in the garden of Eden, slaves to sin; but they are living in the garden of Gethsemane in the Spirit of Christ who has raised them from the dead.

Romans 8:1-17.

The Solution Is Life on God’s Terms

1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Vine Ripened Tuesday, Jun 9 2015 

Recently, we gave our first vine ripened tomato to our “littlest, littlest Bo.” That is one of the nicknames we have for our one year old grandson. I rinsed it off and cut it into little quarter wedges so he could fit a whole piece in his mouth and get all the juice out as he ate it. He loves tomatoes! After he finished the whole thing, he took the little plastic bowl and brought it to me and said, “Mo!”

“There isn’t any more. You ate all there was,” I answered.

If you could have seen the look on his face. It was priceless. I thought at the time, we should all look like that at the end of a church service or a bible study; an utter yearning that could not be expressed. We should love the presence of the LORD so much that it is like vine ripened tomatoes.

We should also get our “glow” from the vine. If we are out of His presence for even one day we start to lose our glow just like the glow on Moses’ face began to fade and he had to wear a veil so they couldn’t see how it was fading.

Exodus 34:29-35.

Monday, Jun 8 2015 

 

How do we know our charge from God?

When I was a child in Sunday School, we studied the book of Matthew. It soon became my favorite gospel. I loved how it started and how it ended and all Christ said in between. I liked how it portrayed Him. I loved how He taught us things through parables.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered just how important those Sunday School classes were to my charge.

They were laying the foundation for this very time when I would share my faith.

In the book of Matthew, at the very end, the disciples receive from Christ their charge:

Matthew 28:18-20The Message (MSG)

18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

As Christians, we too have this very same charge. We are all called to instruct everyone we meet in the practice of faith.

We get these instructions from all He taught us in His Word.

He is our example and we are the example to unbelievers. Can they see Christ in us, the hope of glory? Do they see His compassion? Do we give them grace? Do we understand their condition and need for Christ?

Leading People to be Lead by God Sunday, Jun 7 2015 

This is the work of an evangelist. To lead others to be lead by God. We stammer and stutter and think we are unfit for the task and it is true if we try to do it on our own. But the Holy Spirit through faith is able to perform the task with ease. It is when everything falls into place like it was meant to be. Don’t get me wrong. You will have angst as you step out in faith about whether or not you are making the right choice because that is what faith is; “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.”

As each step of the process unfolds, as we answer the call, and trust God for the results, we can see some pretty amazing things happen along the way. I used to think God was slow moving. But now I know that there are times when he answers just as the prayer is leaving my lips. Nanoseconds, people!

So, what is God doing as he leads us? He is clearing the path to make our way straight. God is more eager to answer than we are to ask. As we steep ourselves in God-reality we arrive at the place we most want to be-With God. And “With-God”, all things are possible.

Luke 12:22-34

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What does seeking his kingdom mean? How can we seek an invisible place?

We all struggle with questions as we work out our own salvation. When we pray the LORD’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” do we really mean it? Or are they empty words we memorized for when we are in trouble?

Over and over Christ tells us in the bible about what the kingdom of God is like so we can speak out the truth in love to others and that kingdom he spoke of thousands of years ago comes. God reaches into our lives and makes it happen. He literally changes us so we see things differently. Our whole perspective changes. We no longer view the world from a self-centered position. We view the world through His eyes. We see the people starved for  their  Creator. We hear Him at his WORD. We come to know God and His purposes.

What I am telling you is nothing new. It is being told over and over in a million ways by pastors, preachers, teachers all over the world. They are answering God’s call to Peter, “Feed my sheep.”

So this little bit of scripture is a morsel not a meal. God leads us to feed ourselves on Him. He is the WORD. John 1.

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