“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear with his directions to me. I must take them seriously. I don’t think Jesus wants to be ignored.

Jesus has a goal for me. To begin with, I should focus on bringing the message to those Christians (believers) around me. Later I may go other places but to begin with, start close to home.

Amazingly, there are plenty in my neighborhood who are lost and confused. My mission is to tell them that Jesus is in control of God’s country (kingdom).

Jesus will give me the power for a miraculous life. That kind of life is normal. I have some friends who start the message out by asking if they can pray for the other person. Yes, they say, I have a headache. They pray for them. That is all it takes.

God is in a good mood. Jesus treats me generously. My goal is to live generously and give back what I have been given.

Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:

Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

Source: Matthew 10:5-8

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The Truth About Weinstein, Spacey, Moore, and High Profile Accusations of Sexual Abuse

Well worth reading. As followers of Jesus, we must be outraged at the revelations. I believe Jesus would unequivocally take the side of the women.

Crossculture

WARNING:  If you are a victim of sexual abuse, this post could be very painful for you.  Take caution before you read it and seek help if it stirs up old wounds.

Can you imagine the damage?  A child.  A teenager.  A female in a workplace.  Confused.  Powerless.  Manipulated.  Perhaps there’s a fight.  Perhaps they are too afraid to fight.  They are touched and made to touch.  They are directed.  They are lured through affirmation.  They are shamed and threatened.

What are the emotional scars left by sexual violation?  Feelings of being tainted or stained.  Viewing sex as trauma.  Viewing sex as useful to get what you want.  Viewing sex as a means to gain affirmation.  Gender confusion.  The decimation of the ability to trust or receive love without strings.  Wondering where God is, if He cares, and if He, too, is an abusive authority figure.  Can Jesus still love…

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“You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known.” ~Jesus

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Jesus knows I like to hide. Jesus knows me. Jesus knows I slip into “being religious” way to often. Jesus challenges me to watch myself carefully because hanging out with religious people can be dangerous to my soul.

It is difficult to let people see the real me. It is easier to wear a mask and pretend everything is A-OK. It is not all well. I am crippled, lame, blind and diseased. I need help.

Jesus gives me the good news. God is in a very good mood. God is in control. God is saving my soul. That is all that matters. I just need to do my part and “fear God”.

By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.

“I’m speaking to you as dear friends. Don’t be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies. True, they can kill you, but then what can they do? There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.

Source: Luke 12:1-5 (The Message Bible)

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“God’s grace and order wins; godlessness loses.” ~King David

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King David knows a lot. King David has seen a lot.

What does David know?

  • God will show grace on all who obey and follow him. God is in a good mood. God is love.
  • God has an order to things. God’s order will prevail. Justice will rule the day.
  • In the end, godlessness loses out. It may not look like it today but God is God. Jesus has won the battle. Jesus will judge at the last day.

“God’s grace and order wins; godlessness loses.” ~King David

Source: Psalm 10:16

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The Grace of God

“Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear and purposeful. Jesus has questions. Do I have answers? Some interesting lessons here for me.

  • Jesus loves to ask questions. The question here isn’t the real question. Jesus had no intent to buy food for everyone.
  • Jesus knows the answers. The answers given weren’t on target. Jesus knows he is the Son of God. Jesus knows the power of God. Jesus knows a miracle will happen. I am challenged not to answer the question but to see what the power of God can do and what is the will of God in this circumstance.
  • Jesus wants to stretch my faith. Clearly I don’t have enough faith. It needs to be stretched. I must be open to how God wants to do that today. Jesus is asking me a question. What is the “God is in control” answer?

After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (some call it Tiberias). A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick. When he got to the other side, he climbed a hill and sat down, surrounded by his disciples. It was nearly time for the Feast of Passover, kept annually by the Jews.

When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.

Source: John 6:1-4

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“Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow; you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.” ~King Solomon

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This is a very common theme that leads to wisdom. So follow the thread from Solomon to Jesus to Paul to James to Peter.

In addition to King Solomon, Jesus challenged us to Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Jesus taught us to pray for “our daily bread”. 

Paul (2 Corinthians 4:16) shows us that “The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

James (4:15) said the same thing; You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”

Peter challenges us “Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival.” 

So, this is important to God.

God is God. Jesus is in control. My planning horizon is pretty much limited to right now and today.

The only thing certain about tomorrow is that God will still be God and Jesus will still be in control of God’s country (aka Kingdom). The only ones who know anything about tomorrow are God and Jesus.

“Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow; you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 27:1

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“You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them.” ~Jesus

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A woman anoints Jesus with a very expensive perfume, worth a years salary. She does it as an act of love. Jesus knows what it means. She has pre-anointed him for his soon to be burial. No one else really gets it.

In fact, some of them get offended and indignant. The money should have been given to the poor, they say.

Were they really that concerned about the poor? Am I that concerned about the poor? Or is just for a show? Jesus knows.

While he makes a statement about the poor always being with us, it sounds more like an indictment. Why haven’t they done something already? The poor are all around us. We can help. We can help today.

The more important point is that they missed the opportunity to honor Jesus. The woman who anointed him knows who Jesus is and honors him.

Will I honor Jesus? The question rings out. Am I more interested in being religious (helping the poor) or doing something significant for Jesus? Have I asked Jesus what to do today?

Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While he was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. “That’s criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year’s wages and handed out to the poor.” They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could—she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly.”

Source: Mark 14:3-9

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“Bad work gets paid with a bad check; good work gets solid pay.” ~King Solomon

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Our focus for work in God’s world is to work as if we are working for God. That is good work. It gets us solid pay.

God expects a commitment to excellence. There shouldn’t be any question of us producing anything else. We represent Him. He is our employer. He is our boss.

God has a goal for us along with a plan for how we will reach His goal. He doesn’t want us to miss the goal.

There is a principle well worth understanding. Being engaged in what we do for a living is important to God. To disengage from our work is a poor reflection on our commitment to God. The engagement leads to solid pay.

May I focus on doing “good” work.

“Bad work gets paid with a bad check; good work gets solid pay.” ~~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 11:18

 

“Cheer up, son. I forgive your sins.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is very focused on what brings about miracles. Jesus knows a thing or two about that. Miracles are his everyday life.

What impresses Jesus? It is always bold belief.

What does Jesus do as a result? First Jesus forgives the paraplegic. This drive the religious leaders nuts. Then he heals the man. The paraplegic gets up and walks. This drives the crowd into amazement.

Jesus is in control. He has the authority to forgive and he does. He has the authority to heal and he does. Nothing is impossible in the world that Jesus is in charge of. His God is God.

 Back in the boat, Jesus and the disciples recrossed the sea to Jesus’ hometown. They were hardly out of the boat when some men carried a paraplegic on a stretcher and set him down in front of them. Jesus, impressed by their bold belief, said to the paraplegic, “Cheer up, son. I forgive your sins.”

Some religion scholars whispered, “Why, that’s blasphemy!”

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why this gossipy whispering? Which do you think is simpler: to say, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or, ‘Get up and walk’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . .” At this he turned to the paraplegic and said, “Get up. Take your bed and go home.” And the man did it. The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way.

Source: Matthew 9:1-6

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“Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; seek and you’ll find; knock and the door will open.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear about the need for persistence. On many occasions, he teaches us and challenges us.

Jesus wants me to ask. Jesus wants me to be persistent in my asking.

Jesus promises me that if I ask, I’ll get what I am asking for.

In addition to asking, God’s goal for me is to seek and to knock.

Ask, seek and knock. Persistence is the key. 

“But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.”

“Here’s what I’m saying:

Ask and you’ll get;
Seek and you’ll find;
Knock and the door will open.”

~Jesus

Source: Luke 11:8-9

“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.” ~Author of Hebrews

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Relax, God is in control. I keep hearing that from our Father. He promised a rest. That is His goal for us. This rest requires that we have faith in Him.

If I believe that nothing is impossible for God, that he loves me and has a great plan for me, I can be “at rest”. His peace isn’t easily understood but it is real. His rest is like no other.

There is only one requirement. I must believe. If I don’t believe, I exasperate God. Now that is the truth.

May I believe and enter into rest.

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.”

Source: Hebrews 4:1-3

“But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is very clear in what he is saying to his disciples.

Jesus knows it is not about Jesus. It is only about God. Jesus knows he doesn’t do anything on his own accord. God is God. There is no way around it. God is in charge.

The main focus of Jesus is to listen to God, to make a decision and then act by carrying out orders. Jesus knows it is not enough to just listen. A big part of obedience is to decide to act on what you’ve heard.

We don’t have to take the word of Jesus on its own. Jesus has witnesses. They are God, the Holy Spirit and John the Baptist. When Jesus was baptized, the moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.”

“I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I’m not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn’t he?”  ~~Jesus

Source: John 5:30-33

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“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” ~Apostle Paul

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Paul reminds me. I am at war. It is an ongoing war. It doesn’t stop.

Who is the enemy? The enemy is the Devil, the evil one. His mission, as described by Jesus, is to kill, steal and destroy.

The good news is that God has given me weapons. I have to learn how to use them. They each serve a different purpose.

  • The belt of truth buckled around your waist.
  • The breastplate of righteousness in place.
  • Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the good news of peace.
  • The shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
  • The helmet of salvation.
  • The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Continue reading

“But if anyone does miss God’s goal (sins), we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus the Messiah, righteous Jesus.” ~Apostle John  

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God has a goal for me and for you. He has one today.

Will I hit the mark? Will I miss His goal (sin) for my life today?

If I do miss it, I have a friend sitting in the presence of God who has never missed it. He took my sin on Himself. He is like a priest advocating for me to God our Father.

Jesus, the Messiah, sits right next to God. He is in right standing with God. God has accepted the sacrifice Jesus made for me. I am accepted.

Jesus has solved the “missing His goal (sin) problem” for good.

Now this is good news for sure. God is in a good mood and accepts me.

“But if anyone does miss God’s goal (sins), we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus the Messiah, righteous Jesus.” ~Apostle John  

Source: 1 John 2:1 The Message

“Watch out for doomsday deceivers.” ~Jesus

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Jesus knows we will have lots of leaders who deceive us about the end of the world. It happened again just recently. The day came and went. Nothing happened. Nada. Zip.

Jesus challenges me to not panic when I hear about wars, famines, earthquakes, etc. Jesus reminds me this normal and routine.

Jesus is calm. Jesus doesn’t get rattled and is at peace. Jesus leaves the timing up to God.

God is God and his timetable will prevail. Jesus knows that God is in control. Everything will work out according to his plan.

Jesus began, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history, and no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. But these things are nothing compared to what’s coming.

Source: Mark 13:5-8

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“If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then the Messiah died unnecessarily.” ~Apostle Paul  

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I grew up in a “rule keeping” church. It was pretty clear that if I didn’t do certain things I could find favor with GOD. So I tried. And tried. But …

I can’t do anything to “win” God’s love. It is free. It is a gift. I didn’t earn it.

Jesus, our Master, paid the price to win it for me. It is that straightforward. That is what “grace” means. It is a gift. I can’t do anything to get access to it. Continue reading

“Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life.” ~Jesus

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Jesus had one last thing to say before he ascended into heaven to be in charge of God’s country. Jesus has a mission for us. There is a lot here but Jesus is precise, clear and succinct.

We are to go. I am not to sit still. I am to go where Jesus sends me. It all starts with go. It isn’t difficult but it doesn’t happen with out that.

We are to train everyone. My primary role should be to train others. I may have other roles but training is huge. The followers of Jesus want to learn and grow. Continue reading

“God is serious business. He won’t be trifled with.” ~~Nahum

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Is God serious business? You bet He is. Nahum the prophet of God knew this. I need to get it as well.

God is love but he is also our Judge. This is what we call “tough love” but in God’s case, it is tougher love. I am accountable to Jesus.

Jesus is serious too. Jesus definitely won’t be trifled with. If I think so, I do so at my peril.

God is God. I need to know that.

God is serious business. He won’t be trifled with. ~~Nahum 1:2

 

“I sent you to harvest a field you never worked.” ~Jesus

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Jesus knows how to bring the harvest in. He gives me some clear guidelines on how it is going to work.

  • Jesus knows it is time to harvest. This is urgent. God’s mission won’t wait. I have to get it done. I have to get it done now!
  • Is the harvest done and ready for us? Yes. Are we ready to begin the harvest? Yes. Jesus challenges me. I don’t have to lift a finger at all. All of my desire to delay needs to get set aside. Jesus has sent others to prepare the field. The harvest is ready. I need to get going and do the work.
  • What is my role? Jesus challenges me to know I have one. It may be different than somebody else. I need to focus on my job and get it done.
  • Who gets the credit? God does. Jesus does. Just because I walk in at the end and close the sale doesn’t mean I get the credit. Others have worked hard to make it happen. Mine may have been the easy part. God knows.

“The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant. That’s the truth of the saying, ‘This one sows, that one harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others.” ~Jesus

Source: John 4:36-38 The Message

Harvest

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” ~Henry Wadsworth

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Henry WadsworthJesus challenges me live a simple life.

Today is the day to focus on what God wants me to do. That is the simplest way forward.

Complex, multi-year plans are useless. God is God. Jesus is in control. I don’t know anything about what God wants beyond today.

Jesus has challenged me to love today. That is pretty simple. When I look at it, that is what Jesus will want me to do tomorrow as well. The people may be different. The circumstances will be different. The challenge and goal will be the same.

Simple!

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”  ~Henry Wadsworth

“Whoever makes deals with strangers is sure to get burned; if you keep a cool head, you’ll avoid rash bargains.” ~~King Solomon

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Now here is some good advice. King Solomon knows about wisdom.

  • Before doing business, we ought to take some time to get to know the people behind the deal. Who are they? What do they value? Why is this relationship important to them?
  • It is not all about the deal. It is about being able to do business with people we trust. We can’t trust people we don’t know.
  • God has a goal for us. He wants us to build relationships with people. Taking time to make sure that the person who is selling to us is someone we want to have a relationship with is important.

“Whoever makes deals with strangers is sure to get burned; if you keep a cool head, you’ll avoid rash bargains.” ~~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 11:15

“In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear about using “religious language”. Don’t do it. I should be genuine. I should use contemporary and understandable terms to point people to God’s world.

God’s goal for me is to be able to be real and able to communicate in terms people understand. Religious language just makes me look religious not genuine. Religious Language

Jesus is clear that I shouldn’t say anything I don’t mean.  I only make things worse when I lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it.

I don’t make my words true by embellishing them with religious lace. Jesus let’s me know that in making my speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.

Jesus wants me to just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When I manipulate words to get my own way, I go wrong and miss God’s goal.

Here are some easy changes I can make:

  • Gospel = Good news
  • Sin = Missing God’s goal
  • Repent = Change your mind
  • Kingdom of God = God’s world or country
  • Christ = the Messiah as in Jesus the Messiah

What are others you would suggest?

“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.” ~Jesus 

Source: Matthew 5:33-37 The Message

“On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is intentional in his instructions. His clarity of caution is to be taken seriously.

  • The first goal from Jesus is get on my way. I can’t let anything hold me back and there is plenty that could. I must go.
  • Having gone on God’s mission, I must be careful. While I know God’s goal, there is an enemy. I must be prepared. I can’t let my guard down.
  • Is the work a “cake walk”? Nope. Jesus let’s me know it is very hazardous. There are land mines out there just waiting for me wander off the beaten path.
  • Thanks be to Jesus that he knows all of this and doesn’t lead me astray thinking it is a bed of roses. I should be weary of messages that present it that way.

Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge:

“On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack.”

Source: Luke 10:1-3

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“Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate.” ~Apostle Paul

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Paul has just given a very lengthy rant on why followers of Jesus shouldn’t file civil claims against one another. He believes that Christians should judge each other and not leave it up to the civil court system.

The big picture summary is that I need to learn the difference between what is legal and what is right in God’s eyes. My judge is Jesus. I need to focus on pleasing him and not pleasing others. The spiritual law is the law of love. Am I loving God? Am I loving everyone I come in contact with? That is God’s goal for me.

I know many times a day I am not showing love. Showing love is what I need to worry about. Whether I am demonstrating love is what I will be judged on.

Jesus is very clear about this in his legacy of his words recorded by 4 of his followers.

“Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.” ~Apostle Paul

Source: 1 Corinthians 6:12

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“One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” ~Jesus 

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First things FirstThere are two sisters. Jesus comes to visit. What an honor. Their brother is Lazerus. They live in Bethany, near Jerusalem.

Martha was busy serving everyone. She had a very long “to do” list to get everything ready. She is focused. She is going to get everything done.

Mary was relaxed. She sat at Jesus feet, listening to Jesus. Mary wanted to learn from Jesus. She wasn’t concerned about getting things ready. Eventually Martha had had enough. She interrupted them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” she said.

Jesus said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.” I’m sure Martha didn’t think it was nothing.

Jesus is clear. Listening to Jesus comes first. First things first. Jesus demands we choose things in the proper order. Listen first, serve second.

It is the main thing about the main thing. I need to get this right. Priorities make a difference. This is important. God has a goal for me. I can’t know what it is if I don’t listen to Him.

May I listen to Jesus first and then act / serve.

One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” ~~Jesus 

Source: Luke 10:41-42 (The Message Bible)

 “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is on a mission from God. God sent him to redeem us and make us right with God. Jesus knew the right response is for us to change our mind and respect Jesus.

That isn’t happening.

I have a choice to make today. Will I change my mind (repent) about Jesus or not? Jesus has options about who will be in control with him in God’s world (country or Kingdom).

Jesus will choose based on what I decide and do. Jesus will clean house. Jesus is clear.

“Finally there was only one left: a beloved son. In a last-ditch effort, he sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’

“But those farmhands saw their chance. They rubbed their hands together in greed and said, ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, killed him, and threw him over the fence.

What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others. Read it for yourselves in Scripture:

That stone the masons threw out
    is now the cornerstone!
This is God’s work;
    we rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!”

Source: Mark 12: 6-11

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“They never got there because they never listened, never believed.” ~Author of Hebrews

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God’s goal for me is that I listen and obey Him. God is talking. Am I listening?

It is easy to turn a deaf ear. It is easy to pretend that He didn’t say it. It is not about the easy path but it is about the path of sacrifice. I must take up His cross. There is no other way. The price must be paid.

And, having heard, will I believe what God wants to do and will do?

That, quite simply, is the main thing about the main thing. Nothing is impossible with Him. He will be faithful to His word. I must believe. I must lean in to Him.

God has a goal and plan for me. To understand it, I need to listen. Listening leads to believing and faith in what He wants me to do.

For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there because they never listened, never believed.

Source: Hebrews 3:15-19

  May I listen and not turn a deaf ear.

I can hear.

May I believe.

What is the Nashville Statement and why is it important to the United States?

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From one of my other blogs.

Thoughts on culture, politics and more

Recently a number of Christian leaders signed a document called the Nashville Statement. It’s a basic declaration of Christian orthodoxy on sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual identity.

Its 14 articles can be boiled down to a simple statement:We believe the Bible is the word of God, and the word of God declares that sexual intimacy is reserved for the lifelong union of a man and a woman in marriage.

It acknowledges the reality of same-sex attraction as well as the reality of transgender self-conceptions, but denies that God sanctions same-sex sexual activity or a transgendered self-conception that is at odds with biological reality.

In other words, it’s basic Christianity.

Of course, it was immediately attacked by group after group.

Jesus doesn’t get into politics. Everything Jesus said supports the Nashville Statement. As a follower of Jesus, I get to decide who to believe. I decide to believe Jesus.

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“If you say so.” ~Jesus

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Pilate had heard the “accusations” from the Jewish leaders. He was trying to figure out what to do with Jesus. Jesus isn’t helping him one bit. Jesus knows what needs to happen here and what will happen. Jesus is going to the cross.

Jesus knows that it is not about what Jesus believes. Jesus knows that he is the Messiah and Son of God. What does Pilate know and believe. More importantly, what do I know and believe about Jesus?

So … what do I say?

Jesus was placed before Pilate, the governor, who questioned him: “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”

Jesus said, “If you say so.”

Source: Matthew 27:11

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“Tear down this Temple and in three days I’ll put it back together.” ~Jesus

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Jesus had just chased the merchants out of the temple. He was furious at what was going on.

How dare he, thought the Jews. So … they confronted him. They wanted to know what authority gave him permission to tear up the temple.

Of course, Jesus knew. God had sent Jesus on a mission. Jesus was going to complete it. Jesus was acting under God’s authority. The ultimate proof would be his death and resurrection.

I challenge God and Jesus. I want to answers to certain questions. Jesus answers in a way I don’t expect. God is God. God has a plan. None of what God is doing is contingent on my approval.

But the Jews were upset. They asked, “What credentials can you present to justify this?” Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple and in three days I’ll put it back together.”

They were indignant: “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.

During the time he was in Jerusalem, those days of the Passover Feast, many people noticed the signs he was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to him. But Jesus didn’t entrust his life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them.

John 2:18-25

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“So who is this that I keep hearing about?” ~Herod

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Herod bore the title of tetrarch (“ruler of a quarter”) and is referred to as both “Herod the Tetrarch” and “King Herod”. Herod had a “Jesus problem”. Herod was confused. It showed.

Herod asked a reasonable question. Who is Jesus? He wanted to see Jesus in action. How do I answer the question of who Jesus is? Can I be clear about that?

Am I presenting Jesus in such a way that others want to know who Jesus is? Do they want to see Jesus in action?

Herod, the ruler, heard of these goings on and didn’t know what to think. There were people saying John had come back from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, still others that some prophet of long ago had shown up. Herod said, “But I killed John—took off his head. So who is this that I keep hearing about?” Curious, he looked for a chance to see him in action.

Source: Matthew 9:7-9

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“Keep praying, but be thankful that God’s answers are wiser than your prayers!” ~~William Culbertson

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I talk with God. I ask for things. I want stuff to happen.

  • I am like a typical child. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Some times all day long.
  • God is in a good mood. Like a great Father, he ignores a great deal. He smiles. He ignores me some more. Good thing God is patient.
  • Jesus knows what is good for me. Now that is some good news. Jesus has a plan. He knows what the goal is. I need to sync up with Jesus. What would Jesus ask for?

“Keep praying, but be thankful that God’s answers are wiser than your prayers!” ~~William Culbertson

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“Don’t jump to conclusions — there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.” ~King Solomon

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Uh oh! Here we go.

How often do I jump to conclusions about what I saw or heard? Way too often. More than I like to admit. Probably much more than I actually know.

It is wise advise to not assume and take time to discover what is really going on. Maybe it is what I thought. It is entirely possible that it isn’t what I thought.

God is God. He is the only one who knows for sure. It will be up to Jesus to be the final judge and clearly not up to me.

“Don’t jump to conclusions—there may be
    a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 25:8

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“If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say … ” ~Jesus

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Jesus gives me a job to do. It may not make sense.

My job is to do it. When asked, my answer should be “Jesus, my Master, has asked me to do X.”

The main thing about the main thing is that Jesus is in charge. Jesus has a plan. My job is to obey.

When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs him, and will return him right away.’”

Source: Mark 11:1-3

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“Why are you giving this woman a hard time?” ~Jesus

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Why do I give others a hard time? Why do I get furious with them? What have they done to deserve it? Who am I putting a show on for? Do I think Jesus is going to be impressed with this?

The disciples are furious. Jesus knows what is going on behind the anger. The disciples just don’t get it. I don’t get it either. Sometimes what Jesus does just befuddles me. I jump to conclusions about others. I don’t see that they are honoring Jesus.

Jesus gets it. Jesus sees the why of what I am doing. That is all that matters.

Jesus knows that he is being anointed for burial. Jesus knows what is coming soon. He has told the disciples about it many times. This isn’t a mystery to anyone.

I need to see what Jesus is seeing. That is the challenge. That is God’s goal for me. That is the important thing for today. What is Jesus seeing?

When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.”

When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.”

That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They settled on thirty silver pieces. He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over.

Source: Matthew 26:6-16

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“Do you love me more than these?” ~Jesus

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Once again, Jesus is very direct. No beating around the bush.

Jesus knew that Peter loved him. Even when he denied knowing Jesus, Jesus knew, in his core, that Peter loved him.

Jesus now gave Peter 3 opportunities to affirm his love. Jesus wanted him fully redeemed for the 3 denials. This was for Peter, and the others. It wasn’t for Jesus. Jesus knew. God is in a good mood.

Jesus wants to know if I love him. That is the only question of import. While not perfectly, I do indeed. I will stand for him.

After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

John 21:15

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“The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” ~Jesus

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Jesus paints an amazing contrast on priorities. Most of us are worried about our 401k. Our treasure is in our retirement fund. Our perspective is how the stock market is fairing. When is the next “down turn” going to happen?

What if it was all gone tomorrow? Puff! Nothing.

Jesus demands we invest in God’s Kingdom not our 401k. Our retirement is in heaven with Jesus. God is rich. God has all the money he needs. God doesn’t need a bailout.

God’s goal for us is that we invest everything we are, but most importantly our heart and soul, in His world not this world.

God is going to take care of me. My focus is doing his work. That is it. What does Jesus want me to do today. Tomorrow with take care of itself.

“Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bank robbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” ~Jesus (Luke 12)

“Enjoy the simple, the natural and the plain. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work.” ~~Benjamin Hoff

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Jesus is very clear that not everything is going to be “planned out”.

God has a plan. God knows what the plan is. God is God. I am not. It is essential to keep that in mind.

Jesus knows that our mission is seek God daily. What does Jesus want me to do right now? That is the central question.

“Enjoy the simple, the natural and the plain. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work.” ~~Benjamin Hoff

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“Those who have lived the wrong way, will walk into a resurrection Judgment.” ~~Jesus

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Jesus is always clear. There will be a resurrection.

There will also be a  judgement. Those who have lived the right way are going to walk into life. Those who haven’t won’t will walk into judgement.

No confusion here at all. I acknowledge that I am clear about this.

God is God. Jesus is the only Judge. God has also given all judgement over to His son, Jesus the Messiah.

I am clear about that as well. There is a resurrection of life. In Him, we live that kind of life.

May I stay clear about what is before me and live the resurrection life.

“Those who have lived the wrong way, will walk into a resurrection Judgment.” ~~Jesus John 5:28-29 (The Message)

“And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?” ~Jesus

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Jesus knows how to get to the heart of the matter.

It is a simple question.

Jesus wants to know who I think he is.

Will I answer like Peter? Is that what I believe?

Jesus wants to know if I know that he is “the Messiah” (the anointed one who is King).

One time when Jesus was off praying by himself, his disciples nearby, he asked them, “What are the crowds saying about me, about who I am?”

They said, “John the Baptizer. Others say Elijah. Still others say that one of the prophets from long ago has come back.”

He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”

Peter answered, “the Messiah of God.” Jesus then warned them to keep it quiet. They were to tell no one what Peter had said.

Source: Luke 9:18-21

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“Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” ~Jesus

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We know the story of the rich man who came to Jesus. Eventually, as the story unfolded, Jesus challenged him to “Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”  

Some very important points:

  • Jesus challenges me to understand that because I “have it all” (which I do) that it will be difficult for me to enter God’s Country (aka the Kingdom of God). I am hard wired to work hard so I can make more money. Jesus is not focused on earthly wealth. His only concern is “heavenly wealth”.
  • Like the disciples, I find that difficult to believe. I know lots of rich people who are Christians. Is this an indictment of us all? Others will have to answer for themselves.
  • Jesus is clear and doesn’t drop it with me or with others. Jesus challenges me to understand how very difficult it is.
  • This stuns the disciples. It stuns me too. Perhaps I should just give up then. What is the point? Seriously!
  • Jesus gives me the secret and provides good news. I can’t do it myself. God, through Jesus, is the only one who can do it. I must embrace Jesus and persevere. God can do it. Nothing is impossible with God. God is God and God is great.

Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.”

That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked.

Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.”

Source: Mark 10:23-27

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“Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation.” ~Jesus

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Jesus has some great news, for some of us. That is not always what we hear or want to hear.

Not all of us will enter into God’s country (aka the Kingdom of God). Jesus has been appointed Judge. As we stand there in front of Jesus, justice will be done. There is an eternal reward waiting for some of us. There is eternal doom waiting for others. Jesus loves us but he will also judge us. There is no “free lunch” or get out of jail free card.

Jesus challenges me to love. For Jesus, love is very practical. Love is feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, giving a room to the homeless, clothing those who are cold, visiting the sick and prisoners. Jesus has a goal for what my love should look like. This is how I will be judged, not by what I say but by what I do.

Am I a sheep or am I a goat? Jesus will let me know. I know what to do to ensure the right answer to that question. I must focus and do it.

“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

Source: Matthew 25:31-36

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“Why do you weep? Who are you looking for?” ~Jesus

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Jesus died for us. Jesus was buried for 3 days.

  • What now? Jesus triumphantly rises from the dead in a resurrected body. Eventually he will ascend into heaven to sit at the right hand of God. Jesus is now in charge of God’s country.
  • Jesus is always full of compassion with us. When Mary was upset, Jesus wants to know, from her, why she is weeping. When Jesus says her name, Mary knows who he is.
  • That is good news for me. Jesus cares.
  • Jesus knows my name. Jesus will call me. I recognize his voice.

But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”

“They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.

Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”

She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”

Jesus said, “Mary.”

Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”

Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her.

Source: John 20:11-18

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“What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?” ~Jesus

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Jesus has risen from the dead. I guess I could stop with that but there is more. Luke gives us a few snippets of what it was like in the days right after that.

  • The disciples were all confused by what was going on. I get confused as well. I get all distracted discussing what I think is going on. I’ve not heard from God. I just trudge on.
  • Jesus walks up. How often has Jesus come to me to take care of things. Jesus comes to bring light to the dark situation. That is the way Jesus works. He doesn’t leave me to just wander around.
  • Even after Jesus comes, I don’t recognize him. I’m clueless. It happens. Its not pretty, I know.
  • And then … Jesus speaks to me. Eventually my eyes are opened and I know it is Jesus. Now that is good news. I’m left to my own ignorance.

That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.

He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”

Source: Luke 24:13-18

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“What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this?” ~Jesus

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Jesus is direct with me. When Jesus speaks, I better listen. Jesus has something to say.

There are times I have no sense of God. Nothing is impossible with God. I write it and I say it. I believe it but not all the time. I have no sense of God. That is just plain. Jesus points it out to me, if I am willing to listen.

Jesus is challenging me. How many times does he have to tell me? How many times does he have to perform miracles to convince me? How many?

The good news is that Jesus comes through in spite of what I believe. That is real good news because it is a gift and not anything I earned.

God is God. God’s will is going to be done.

When they came back down the mountain to the other disciples, they saw a huge crowd around them, and the religion scholars cross-examining them. As soon as the people in the crowd saw Jesus, admiring excitement stirred them. They ran and greeted him. He asked, “What’s going on? What’s all the commotion?”

A man out of the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.”

Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth.

He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?”

“Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”

Source: Mark 9:14-22

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“What a huge harvest! How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” ~Jesus

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Jesus was on a mission. He wanted everyone to hear the good news (aka the Gospel). He wouldn’t stop until they had the chance. Am I on the same mission? Jesus is moved by the fact they aren’t enough “good news workers”.

As Son of God, Jesus demonstrated his authority by miraculously healing everyone. Jesus is in charge. His good news is not just about words. I need to understand and experience his healing power.

Jesus is moved by the challenge of getting his message out. It breaks his heart. Jesus challenges me to pray for more workers. The world is hungry for good news and the healing of Jesus. I must do my part.

Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”

Source: Matthew 9:35-38

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“You haven’t a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven.” ~Jesus

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Pontius Pilate was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from AD 26–36. He served under Emperor Tiberius. Essentially he was a Governor in the Roman empire. He is the highest political authority in Jerusalem at the time.

Jesus is standing before him. It is a life or death conversation. The Jewish high Priests want him crucified and out of the way. Pilate is trying to find a way out. He is hoping Jesus will help him out of this dilemma.

Pilate told them he couldn’t find anything wrong with him. The Jews answered, “We have a law, and by that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

So there Jesus stood. Pilate seeks to interrogate him again. Jesus doesn’t answer. Imaging that. No answer. Just stands there.

Jesus will not be interrogated. Is it then unusual that when I cry out “Why God” I hear birds chirping. Jesus is the Son of God. I need to understand that. If I am not getting an answer then maybe I need to focus on who is in charge. It isn’t me! Who am I to question Jesus? I am to pray, May your will be done.

Pilate tries another approach. He now pulls out the “authority card”.

How did that work?

Jesus lets Pilate know that Pilate has no authority over Jesus. None. Not a bit. The only authority Pilate has is given him by God. (Note: a lesson for our partisan politics).

When Pilate heard this, he became even more scared. He went back into the palace and said to Jesus, “Where did you come from?”

Jesus gave no answer.

Pilate said, “You won’t talk? Don’t you know that I have the authority to pardon you, and the authority to—crucify you?”

Jesus said, “You haven’t a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven. That’s why the one who betrayed me to you has committed a far greater fault.”

Source: John 19:8-11

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“Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” ~Jesus

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Jesus knows what is important. In his death, and then resurrection, he showed us.

  • Jesus wasn’t the only one crucified that day. Two others went to the cross that day. Who knows how many would be crucified the day after that and the day after that. It only had meaning in that the Son of God would die for us all.
  • Jesus was at the center of it all. Jesus was destined by God to die for us all. Jesus is at the center of it. Being crucified was that unusual. Being the Son of God and being crucified to make up for everyone else missing God’s goal (aka sinning) was the main thing.
  • Jesus shows what it is all about — Forgiveness! The whole point was forgiveness. I am forgiven by what Jesus did. You are forgiven by what Jesus did. Now that is some very good news indeed.

Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.

When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.

Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Source: Luke 23:32-35

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“Do you still not get it?” ~Jesus

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There is something Jesus knows about me and I am thinking he knows it about you as well. The disciples were all in the same boat in thinking they were in trouble. No dissenters to be found.

  • The conclusion is that despite all the miracles, I just don’t get it some days. It isn’t easy to face, but it is true. Jesus knows it. I must face it as well. I can fool myself but I can’t fool Jesus.
  • I can grow by learning. I can change my mind (aka as repenting) about Jesus and what he does, all the time.
  • Jesus is in charge. He is always in charge. Is there something that Jesus can’t do? Nothing is impossible with Jesus. God is God and God is great.
  • I need to focus on what Jesus is doing right now. Of course, Jesus is clear with me. Jesus wants me to learn and grow.

He then left them, got back in the boat, and headed for the other side. But the disciples forgot to pack a lunch. Except for a single loaf of bread, there wasn’t a crumb in the boat. Jesus warned, “Be very careful. Keep a sharp eye out for the contaminating yeast of Pharisees and the followers of Herod.”

Meanwhile, the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus overheard and said, “Why are you fussing because you forgot bread? Don’t you see the point of all this? Don’t you get it at all? Remember the five loaves I broke for the five thousand? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

They said, “Twelve.”

 “And the seven loaves for the four thousand—how many bags full of leftovers did you get?”

“Seven.”

He said, “Do you still not get it?”

Source: Mark 8:13-21

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“Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear. Jesus is always clear.

  • What am I to do? Jesus says “Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end.” Perseverance is the key. Never give up. Jesus is in charge.
  • What should I regret? Nothing. When I persevere, Jesus promises I won’t be sorry and that I will be saved.
  • What is God going to do? God is going to make sure that the good news is going to be proclaimed all over the world.
  • When will it end? When the message is proclaimed everywhere. Everyone needs to hear the good news. That should be our focus every day. Jesus is in charge of God’s country (aka God’s Kingdom).

Jesus then left the Temple. As he walked away, his disciples pointed out how very impressive the Temple architecture was. Jesus said, “You’re not impressed by all this sheer size, are you? The truth of the matter is that there’s not a stone in that building that is not going to end up in a pile of rubble.”

Later as he was sitting on Mount Olives, his disciples approached and asked him, “Tell us, when are these things going to happen? What will be the sign of your coming, that the time’s up?”

Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.

“They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other.

 “In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.

“Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.

Source: Matthew 24:1-14

Kingdom of God

“I have missed God’s plan badly in what I have just done, substituting statistics for trust; forgive my missing your goal—I’ve been really stupid.” ~King David

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I know I do it all the time. I look at the facts. Hard to ignore them in my world.

  • God’s way is to believe Him and ignore the facts. That is trust. In God’s country (aka the Kingdom of God), Jesus is in charge.
  • Cancer? No problem. No cancer in Heaven. He wants His way on earth like Heaven.
  • Bank account empty? No problem. He is rich beyond imagination. I am to build up wealth in heaven, not here on earth.
  • Facts or faith? Statistics or trust? It is all about trust and faith. God is in a good mood and I must believe that every day.
  • God has a goal and plan for me. It is all about trust in Jesus the Messiah.

I should be smart and trust Him. That is all there is to it. May I do what He wants and not miss His goal.

Then David prayed, “I have missed God’s plan badly in what I have just done, substituting statistics for trust; forgive my missing your goal—I’ve been really stupid.”

Source: 1 Chronicles 21:8

God's Goal

God’s Goal

“Who are you after?” ~Jesus

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Jesus is on a mission. There are a lot of details to work out so that he can complete that God has sent him to do. He knew where he needed to go and he knew what he needed to say. He knew everything. Off he went … on a mission for God.

  • First things first … Jesus prayed. Jesus is always anchored in listening to his holy Father in Heaven.
  • Where would Jesus go? Jesus would go where he went so often. This wouldn’t surprise anyone. Judas would be able to find him. Jesus was going to make this easy for Judas.
  • Who would betray him? Judas would. Jesus knew it. Jesus knew it when he chose Judas as a disciple. Jesus chose him anyway.
  • What is the question? Jesus again made it easy. Twice he asked them who they were after. He answered their question.
  • Who am I after? Is it Jesus and only Jesus?
  • Who would Jesus protect? Jesus would protect the 12 disciples, including Judas.
  • Why is this important? Jesus was on a mission. Jesus had come to die for us all and then be resurrected to be in charge of God’s country (aka the Kingdom of God).

Jesus, having prayed this prayer, left with his disciples and crossed over the brook Kidron at a place where there was a garden. He and his disciples entered it.

Judas, his betrayer, knew the place because Jesus and his disciples went there often. So Judas led the way to the garden, and the Roman soldiers and police sent by the high priests and Pharisees followed. They arrived there with lanterns and torches and swords. Jesus, knowing by now everything that was coming down on him, went out and met them. He said, “Who are you after?”

They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”

He said, “That’s me.” The soldiers recoiled, totally taken aback. Judas, his betrayer, stood out like a sore thumb.

Jesus asked again, “Who are you after?”

They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”

“I told you,” said Jesus, “that’s me. I’m the one. So if it’s me you’re after, let these others go.” (This validated the words in his prayer, “I didn’t lose one of those you gave.”)

Source: John 18:1-9

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“Don’t envy bad people; don’t even want to be around them. All they think about is causing a disturbance; they talk about is making trouble.” ~King Solomon

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King Solomon has some wisdom for me. It is about “bad” people. Note that it isn’t about evil people which is an entirely different story.

  • How does it start? It starts with envy. It is that simple. Maybe it is their wealth or maybe it is their popularity. It is very subtle.
  • What is Gods’ goal for me? God wants me to hang our with good people, his chosen people. Jesus is clear in his mission.
  • Why is God’s goal important? If I hang out with bad people, their influence will rub off on me. They are nothing but trouble.
  • How could things be worse? There are bad people and there are evil people. Evil people are destined for God’s justice. Elsewhere in Proverbs we read that “Good people celebrate when justice triumphs, but for the workers of evil it’s a bad day.” (Proverbs 21:15)

Don’t envy bad people;
don’t even want to be around them.
All they think about is causing a disturbance;
all they talk about is making trouble.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 24:1-2

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“It is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible.” ~Bill Johnson

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“For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” ~Apostle Paul

1 Corinthians 4:20 NKJV

  • In God’s country (Kingdom), Jesus power is all that it is all about.
  • It is not so much about what is said but it is all about what is done.
  • God is great and He has a goal for us.
  • It is all about that we live in His power.

“It is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus.

The lack of miracles isn’t because it is not in God’s will for us. The problem exists between our ears. As a result, a transformation, a renewing of the mind, is needed, and it’s only possible through a work of the Holy Spirit that typically comes upon desperate people.

Stories of the impossible are becoming the norm, and the company of people who have joined this quest for an authentic gospel, the gospel of the Kingdom, is increasing. Loving God and His people is an honor. We will no longer make up excuses for powerlessness because powerlessness is inexcusable. Our mandate is simple: raise up a generation that can openly display the raw power of God.”

Excerpts from When Heaven Invades Earth chapter 1 by Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson Ministries – Ministry of Bill Johnson, Senior Leader of Bethel Church, Redding, California

“You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering.” ~Jesus

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Jesus knew it was time for his death, burial and resurrection. Jesus knew what was about to happen. It was all planned out by his heavenly Father. He knew on the other side he would usher in God’s country (aka the Kingdom of God).

  • What did Jesus do?  Jesus sat down with the apostles. This moment was special and it was his to share with those Jesus had set aside to lead with him.
  • What did Jesus know? He knew it was time. Jesus challenges me to know it is time as well. Jesus was happy. Jesus had looked forward to this.
  • What did Jesus say? Jesus established the sacred rite of communion. Jesus clearly communicated how we would join him in his death and burial. Jesus established the new agreement (covenant) with God through his death.

When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.”

Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.”

Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory.”

He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.

Source: Luke 22:14-20

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“The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” ~Apostle Paul

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The Apostle Paul, full of the wisdom of Jesus the Messiah, has given us insight into God’s goal for us.

  • Do I need to change my mind?  I am to use my head. I should think things through. I should change my mind (aka repent).
  • Whose country am I a citizen of? I should recognize that i am a citizen of God’s country (aka the Kingdom of God). I live and work among outsiders.
  • What about wisdom? I shouldn’t miss a trick. God will give me wisdom. I should us it for God’s advantage.
  • What is God’s goal? God is going to give me opportunities. God is in a good mood. I should focus on bringing out the best in others. I should never put them down. God’s goal is for me to love. Love is kind and thoughtful.

Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” ~Apostle Paul

Source: Colossians 4:5-6

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“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.” ~Jesus

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Part of the way Jesus taught the Disciples was to send them out periodically to do the job. We call it OJT now.

  • What was important about the assignment? Jesus gave them power and authority. What they needed to learn is that this is all about Jesus. The power and authority is over evil. I must remember I have an enemy.
  • Did they need special equipment? Not at all. All they needed was Jesus. I must remember that is all I need. Nothing else.
  • What about the financing of the mission? Ha! Ha Ha! I don’t need much to talk about Jesus and to spread the message with joyful urgency that life can be radically different.
  • Where should they stay? The cheapest place they could find, many times in the homes of the faithful.
  • When should they leave? When they aren’t welcome or listened to.
  • What was God’s goal? Wow! They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.

Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:

“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.

“And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.

“If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”

Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.

Source: Mark 6:7-13

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“Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do.” ~Jesus

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Jesus takes off after the religious leaders and scholars. He does it all the time. I think he wants me to take what he says seriously. I really do!

  • What about the religious experts? I shouldn’t put religious leaders and scholars up on a pedestal. It isn’t right and Jesus forbids it.
  • Who is my teacher? We all have one teacher. That teacher is Jesus. He is the one who knows what our Heavenly Father wants. Jesus knows God’s goal for me.
  • What is God’s goal for me? I have on one Life-Leader. Jesus, the Messiah, is the one. God’s goal is that I follow Jesus. Jesus is in charge of God’s country (aka the Kingdom of God).

“Don’t let people do that to you, put you (i.e. the religious leaders) on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Messiah.”

Source: Matthew 23:8-10

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“Father, it’s time.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is done with his mission. Jesus has presided over the last supper. At this time, what does Jesus have to say to his Father in prayer? Jesus knows it is now time. Imagine that. Every detail completed. Nothing left to do at all.

Here are a few of the points of the long prayer.  Read it all here.

  • Is it time? Jesus knows that it is. Everything is ready for the final act, his death and resurrection. Jesus is ready.
  • What is the mission? Jesus must reflect the splendor of God. That splendor is simply a reflection however.
  • Who is in charge? Jesus is in charge of God’s Country (aka the Kingdom of God). Jesus is in charge of everything. Jesus is the Messiah.
  • What does Jesus bring me? Jesus brings life to me. Now that is some good news for sure. That life is forever (eternal) and that is a very long time!
  • What is God’s goal? Jesus has completed every single detail God asked him to accomplish. God’s goal is the most important thing.
  • Jesus is not afraid to ask God to glorify him with God’s own splendor. This is bold but Jesus is confident. Jesus knows what God wants. It is now time.

“Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:

Father, it’s time.
Display the bright splendor of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus the Messiah, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,
The very splendor I had in your presence
Before there was a world.” ~Jesus

Source: John 17:1-5

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Jesus in prayer

“We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us.” ~Apostle John

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John was one motivated man of God. He saw first hand the unique relationship Jesus had with God.

  • Jesus and God were perfectly in sync. Never ever out of touch at all. Jesus always hit the mark, doing what He saw His Father doing, saying what He heard His Father saying. Union and communion of the highest order.
  • The promise is that I can enjoy the same relationship with God as well. Jesus has made it all possible. I can enjoy that same communion too.
  • This is God’s goal for us. Unity with Him and those who love Him. The fruit of communion with Jesus is joy. Wow!

“We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus the Messiah. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!” ~Apostle John

Source: 1 John 1:3-4

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself!” ~King Solomon

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I have a goal. I have a plan. I have dreams. They involve money.

What does wisdom say about that?

  • What is my goal for wealth? I am overwhelmed with messages about wealth and retirement. They are everywhere I turn. Jesus says “Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” (Luke 12:33-34)
  • Am I willing to wear myself out to get it? Trying to get wealthy will wear me out. There just enough hours in the day and there is always more to do.
  • Do I understand that wealth is fleeting? Jesus says “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
  • What is God’s goal? God’s goal for me is focus on Jesus and being a good citizen of the Kingdom of God. God wants me to love. God wants me to use my money to be generous to others.

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich;
    restrain yourself!
Riches disappear in the blink of an eye;
    wealth sprouts wings
    and flies off into the wild blue yonder.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 23:4-5

Money

“All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!” ~Jesus

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Jesus is looking. Jesus is going to challenge me. Am I ready?

  • What will I give? Jesus is looking. Jesus knows what is going on. His message to me will be on target. No general suppositions on his part.
  • Will I give a little? It isn’t that difficult to give. In America, in particular, we have a culture of philanthropy and giving. It is safe to assume it will only be a little of what I can afford. I could do more. I could do a lot more!
  • Will I give it all? Will I give when I can’t afford it? That is the question today. Jesus has something he wants me to do. Will I do it?

Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!”

Source: Luke 21:1-4

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“It is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening.” ~Author of Hebrews

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Am I mature in God’s ways? Am I eating solid food? Can I teach others what God is saying and doing today?

  • Am I being intentionally difficult? Do I have a bad habit? Will I choose to be mature?
  • I can teach others if I cultivate the habit of listening to God. I can be of help if I learn from what I am hearing.
  • Being able to distinguish what is right is something I must practice. It doesn’t come easy but it produces growth for me and my family.
  • God’s goal for us is to be mature. We should be wise enough to be able to teach others. Will we have the discipline to learn what God is doing in our lives and to learn the lesson God has in mind for us? Will we break the bad habit of not listening.
  • My mantra should be “Listen to God and learn”.

I want to be mature. May I listen and learn.

“I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.”

Source: Hebrews 5:11-14

“So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith.” ~Apostle Peter

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2 Peter 1-5In God’s world, He wants me to be mature in my faith. I must focus on building not standing still and admiring what has already been built.

  • There are certain building blocks, where the focus leads from one to another. Am I building on them every day?
  • My time and attention needs to be on God’s goal for me. Jesus has given me a list of goal areas to plan around. Jesus challenges me to grow and not stagnate.
  • Jesus has also empowered me with the Holy Spirit to help me become mature. I can’t do it on my own. It is all about Jesus.
  • Faith alone isn’t enough. I  must build on the foundation of faith daily. Faith, on its on, isn’t enough for maturity.

“So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.” ~Apostle Peter

Source: 2 Peter 1:5-8 (The Message)

Here is the list of the seven to focus on, building on our foundation of faith:

  1. Good character, virtue and excellence
  2. Knowledge and spiritual understanding
  3. Discipline and self-control
  4. Passionate patience and steadfastness
  5. Reverent wonder and godliness
  6. Brotherly affection and friendliness
  7. Generous love

 

For Church Leaders: Relevance is defined by how relevant the experience is

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Why are you so skeptical? ~~Jesus (Mark 2:8-12 The Message)

There are a lot of skeptical religious leaders when it comes to embracing the digital aspects of our ministries and churches.

For the connected disciple (church member), the journey is evolving (albeit very, very fast). That shouldn’t surprise you but it is good news. Your ministry hasn’t been left behind completely. Disciples (your church members) have changed though.

Their experience of you and your ministry may not be what any of us would want it to be. In this case, relevance is defined by how relevant the experience is in a world where we can be connected anywhere, anytime. Passion for the ministry is a part of amazing experiences which includes digital aspects that are core to the ministry and not “add ons”.Radical Sayings of Jesus

How you personally decide to react or lead is up to you. It, of course, is not about technology. What is the journey of getting closer to disciples and staying relevant really about? Here are some ideas:

  • Creating a culture built around the discipleship experience of Jesus and His followers being the focus of all you do. It will include digital experiences as the norm.
  • Empowering ministry staff to do what it takes to create amazing experiences for the connected disciple.
  • Opening up the floodgates of innovation for God including all aspects of digital experiences.

Just saying we want to get closer to the disciple won’t get your senior team on board. While a connected discipleship revolution is at your door, someone (meaning you) needs to convince the senior Pastor that change is imperative. Without that we will fail.

You know that most Ministers don’t use social networks personally. While they have smartphones, their primary utilization is for email, reading the Bible and looking at the calendar to know where to go to next. Trying to make a case that this is about technology will be a losing battle.

What is the future of your ministry built on? It isn’t about how Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, tablets or real time-time geolocation check-ins evolve. The future of your ministry does depend on the power of God to help you create relevance and the ability to at least understand technology to be able to make decisions about new opportunities. It does require the ability to strategically adapt to the new opportunities to create a compelling advantage for Jesus. Have you conducted a weekday morning video worship service on Google+ Hangouts or GoToMeeting?

But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. ~~Jesus (John 4:23 The Message)

Hmm. “Where you worship will not matter.”

So much of this is about change. There is a technology revolution occurring. Other ministries are beginning to understand this. But it is also about a whole series of real-time revolutions that are seizing how our connected disciples (church members) live which impacts their experience with us and with God. Expectations are moving fast. We can’t afford to get left behind.

The kind of change we are talking about involves three things:

  • Listening
  • Learning
  • Adapting

 

“Moral character makes for smooth traveling; an evil life is a hard life.” ~~King Solomon

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My dad was a very wise man.

  • My dad always said it is easier to tell the truth than to lie. His logic was that a liar has to remember who he said what to and that is tough to do. Eventually you will get caught. He had a point. He was a wise man.
  • We can choose a hard life where we completely miss God’s goal for our life. It is in fact an evil life. It is a hard life. If is not the life God has in mind for us.
  • The easiest life to live is the right life, the moral life. God gives us the power as a part of His new plan for us. Jesus shows us the way. God’s goal for us is that we are pure, just like Jesus is pure. We are to be holy.
  • What is God’s goal for me? Jesus challenges me to live a moral life. Anything else is an evil life. It is easier to live the moral life. It is uncomplicated and very simple in its approach. My goal is to love. That is it!

“Moral character makes for smooth traveling; an evil life is a hard life.” ~~King Solomon (Proverbs 11:5)

“After Job had interceded for his friends, God restored his fortune—and then doubled it!” ~Moses

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Am I praying for my friends and family? How much time do I spend interceding for them? None? Some? Enough?

  • Job was in a world of hurt. He had lost everything. It is a painful story to read. Yet, at the end, he didn’t pray for himself, he prayed for his friends. Job had realized he was nothing and God is God. Nothing is impossible for Him. As Job said, “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans.” 
  • And so Job quit living on rumors of God and encountered Him directly. “I admit I once lived by rumors of you;  now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!  I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” What a change this made in Job’s life.
  • After that, he could pray for his friends. And my oh my, how God blessed him. God is God. He is completely in charge and does what He sees fit. The story of Job is a little confounding in that regard because my tendency is “to judge” God for acting so harshly with Job.
  • But God is God. We don’t always understand His ways but He challenges us to trust Him always. And so, in spite of it all, Job was blessed.

“After Job had interceded for his friends, God restored his fortune—and then doubled it!” ~Moses Job 42:10

Is it an interruption? Or is it God? Am I focused on the plan or the planner Jesus?

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Is it an interruption? Or is it God?

  • Is it an interruption? I live in in a world where I see much of what happens as an interruption. Why do I think that way? I have a plan. That is plain and simple.
  • Whose plan is it? I have plans for my time. Life is scheduled out very precisely. It is clearly my plan and not God’s. I didn’t even ask him much less listen.
  • An “interruption” comes. But is it? God has a goal for me. I need to be focused on what Jesus wants me to do right now. Forget the plan, God has action he wants me to take today.
  • What if it is God wanting me to show His love to an employee in need? What if God wants us to spend some time with our family? What if God wants us to give some money to the homeless person?

Have I been too focused on the PLAN and not the PLANNER Jesus?

Different question with an amazingly different answer.

May God help me see Him in the moment.

“Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom.” ~Apostle Paul

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Do I think I am wise by being up-to-date with the times?  If I do, I am being very foolish. That doesn’t mean anything to God.

  • Am I fooling myself? It is highly likely I am. Being up to date doesn’t make me wise. I am being lulled into thinking otherwise.
  • Is this a good thing? I really enjoy my “news reader” on the internet. I keep up with 100’s of stuff (feeds) a day. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, LinkedIn, email, etc. I am hyper-connected.
  • Does this make us wise? Others follow the news on TV or radio all the time. We all have our versions of how we keep up. We can be up to date in real time. “Breaking news”!! We can know so much. If we think that makes us wise, we are in for a rude awakening. Such thinking is actually foolish. God’s ways are different.
  • What is God’s goal for me? God wants me to be his fool. Seriously. How much time do I spend connected to Jesus and what Jesus is thinking? Really, compared to my connections to this world, how much time do I  spend connected to His world? God’s goal for us is that we should be wise. His wisdom, manifest through us, is all that matters.

“Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture, He exposes the chicanery of the chic.  The Master sees through the smoke screens of the know-it-alls.” ~Apostle Paul

Source: 1 Corinthians 3:18-20

 May I connect with Him and know what He is thinking.

“Know this: GOD (Yahweh), your God (Elohiym), is God (Elohiym) indeed, a God you can depend upon.” ~Moses

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God is GodIt means a lot that God is God. At first, when you think about it, that sounds redundant. Of course God is God. It sounds like saying Jesus is Jesus.

That is His name. But what does His name mean?

  • What does God’s name mean? Not to get technical but a literal translation from Hebrew is Yahweh is also Elohiym. Yahweh is then the given name of God, Elohiym is one of his many titles, the supreme ruler.
  • This is now like saying Jesus is God. Or more importantly, Jesus is the Messiah (Christ). Jesus his his name and the Messiah (Christ) is his title.
  • S0  ….. our God (Yahweh) is the supreme ruler (Elohiym) of the universe. Period. It is important to remember who our God is. He is like none other nor can He be. From before the universe existed, our God has always been. He is like none other.

“Know this: GOD (Yahweh), your God (Elohiym), is God (Elohiym) indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations. But he also pays back those who hate him, pays them the wages of death; he isn’t slow to pay them off—those who hate him, he pays right on time.” ~Moses

Source: Deuteronomy 7:9

“So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience.” ~Author of Hebrews

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Are we ready for some rest?

  • I know I am to rest. So here is a promise that is considered current and available to all of us. It is something I can have today.
  • God is at rest. We can be to. We have to keep at it every day. Jesus said pray “Give us this day”. All Jesus did was do what He saw His Father doing. He was obedient. And His Father is at rest. We can be too.
  • It is a question of obedience. When we humble ourselves, deny what we want and obey God, we find rest.
  • It is God’s goal for us to be at rest. Let us be persistent, keep at it and take advantage of this promise. It is a promise for today. Letting go and letting God is about ceasing to strive to do what we want so God can take the burden and do what He wants.

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. Hebrews 4:8-11

 

“Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.” ~King David

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We are asked to stand in awe of our mighty God. He is God. And there is a promise.

  • Why is this important? If we stand in awe of God, we will lack nothing. Now this also requires that go after Jesus. He is available to me but I have to go after Jesus. No sitting around and waiting. Jesus would go off and spend time by himself hearing and seeing what His Father was up to. Hearing and seeing what God wanted to happen. I need to seek Jesus out. He is good. He wants to be found.
  • What is God’s goal? We can also be taught how to stand in awe of Him. There are those people of God around us that have insight for us. They have prophetic words for me. They have words of wisdom for me. They see the way and can guide me. God has a goal for me. It starts with standing in awe of Him. He is God. He then wants us to seek Him. Then it moves to us teaching our family about God. We must speak the truth about God and we must seek peace.
  • What should I do? I need to tell the truth about the Messiah Jesus and His ways. Opportunities abound. The harvest of souls is ready. The worst lie is the unspoken truth about God being God, good and great. Opportunities abound!!! I should seek peace. It is mine if I pursue it. 

Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.

The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 

~~Psalm 34:9-14

 

“Do you think you’re about to be promoted to heaven? Think again. You’re on a mudslide to hell.” ~~Jesus

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MudslideJesus spent a lot of time in the town of Capernaum. In speaking of them, He is direct in letting them know what is going on.

  • I think the message is to be careful. Being the center of healings and a spiritual movement doesn’t guarantee anything. It is all about our relationship with God and with others.
  • What is our goal? The goal is to follow Jesus, love God and love everyone else we meet or know. That is it.
  • Our first order of business is to make sure we are listening to God and focused on His goal for our life. This is about obedience to God’s goal for our life. God is God. God is in control. It is only about Jesus and what he wants.

“Do you think you’re about to be promoted to heaven? Think again. You’re on a mudslide to hell. The one who listens to you, listens to me. The one who rejects you, rejects me. And rejecting me is the same as rejecting God, who sent me.” ~~Jesus

(Luke 10:15 The Message)

 

“I’m working for the Lord, and even though the Lord’s pay isn’t very high, his retirement program is.” ~~George Foreman

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YGeorge Formanou have to love George Foreman. I’ve met him a couple of times and he is the real deal.

  • Who am I working for? George knows who he is working for. He is clear it is Jesus. Just ask him.
  • What do I get out of it now? While George is very successful, he is clear where his treasure should be.
  • What is my future reward? George knows God has a tremendous “retirement program”. Do I know that our God is in a good mood?

 

I’m working for the Lord, and even though the Lord’s pay isn’t very high, his retirement program is. ~~George Foreman

The Parable of the Spare Change

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Great modern day parable. Love it!

Mitch Teemley

Brandon was converted at 12, but slid away at 17. He’s been dancing on the line ever since. Here’s how he sees things:

millennial-cool-young-guy-sunglasses-10So I lost my job. On Labor Day. Hah. Which isn’t funny. Actually it kinda sucks. Everybody tells you what you wanna hear: “It’ll work out. You got this!” Only nobody means what they say. And God’s no different. He says tell him what you want and he’ll answer if you pray real hard and crap. But then nothing. Nada.

Then my car gets smashed up. And it isn’t even my fault. Well, it could be, maybe, but… So my mom covers it, and now I owe her fifteen hundred bucks. And you never want to owe my mom anything ‘cause she’s like, “Aha! Now I control you.” She doesn’t need the money. She just wants the power—I owe her money so now she can tell me…

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“So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out.” ~Caleb

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As I get older, I want to be like Caleb.

  • He was one of the 12 Moses selected to go into the Promised Land to see what it was like.
  • Only he and Joshua thought they could conquer their enemies. The other 10 didn’t believe God and his promise. Caleb knew that God is God.
  • That resulted in Israel wandering around in the desert for 40 years. I’m sure this frosted Joshua and Caleb. Caleb chose to believe what Moses promised him. Caleb was patient for 40 years. Now that is some real patience.

So, fast forward. Eventually Joshua leads them all into the Promised Land. They fight for 5 years. Caleb comes to Joshua one day and says

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.

Caleb remembered what God had told him. He held onto it for 45 years. He never wavered. So he continues his conversation with Joshua.

So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.

At 85 he wants to go and fight some more. He is strong and vigorous. He is ready to go at it. He wants what God promised him and he won’t stop until he gets it.

So … I want to be like Caleb. Seriously. I want to be like him. I want to fight to the end. I want to be as strong at 85 as I was at 40.

Source: Joshua 14:6-12

“Hope unswervingly.” ~Apostle Paul

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Hope Unsweringly

Can I hope unswervingly? It is an essential question. Can I? Will I?

  • With the power of the Holy Spirit, I can. On my own, I get lost. It is up to me to trust in Jesus.
  • This is an essential item. Without hope, I am lost every day. In fact, every minute of every day. God’s goal for us is to be hopeful.
  • Without hope, I will fail to fully participate in God’s world (Kingdom). Hope doesn’t not stand on its own though. Coupled with trust and love we are complete.
  • And so, when I am filled with Jesus and the power of His HOLY Spirit, I hope unswervingly. I don’t deviate from hope at all. This leads me to maturity. This leads me to completeness.

“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” ~Apostle Paul

Source: 1 Corinthians 13:13

“God not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it.” ~~Apostle Paul

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We know what we are thinking. We do it every minute of our waking hours. A steady stream of thoughts.

  • Most of the time no one else has a clue what we are thinking. We are mystery to others including those we are closest to.
  • That is the same with God with one huge difference. God knows what He is thinking BUT He lets us in on it. He doesn’t hide what He is thinking from us.  We have Good News from Him all the time if we listen. He has a plan. He is revealing it to us every day. 
  • How amazing that God loves us so much that He lets us in on what He is thinking, what He wants to do and how He wants to do it. Jesus, the Messiah, has a goal for us. God is going to let us in on it.

May we know it and do it.

Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it.” ~~Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 2)

“Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!” ~Jesus

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Am I willing to take the risk of faith? Jesus challenges me to be persistent. What are the implications to my faith?

  • How long will I have to wait? The woman in this story waited 12 years. She had tried everything. This is a common them with Jesus. God could have healed her earlier.
  • What is the real story here? She finally heard about Jesus and took action to seek him out. She took a risk. It was a risk of faith. She didn’t sit at home. She went after Jesus.
  • How does Jesus respond? Jesus honors her faith. Jesus heals her. Jesus blesses her. Jesus knows that action goes hand in hand with faith. Jesus really appreciates persistence and taking a risk.

A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with.

At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!”

But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story.

Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

Source: Mark 5:25-34

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“Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious— don’t get infected.” ~King Solomon

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Wisdom is challenging. It sounds great but it isn’t easy to do. This advice about anger and bad tempers is important. God has a goal for me. It is to pleasant, meek and to encourage others.

  • I get to chose who I hang out with. It is important to ignore angry people. I will get infected. It’s a fact!
  • Do I have a “bad temper”? We all get angry and have a temper. How frequent is it? Do I have a bad temper? Am I always angry? Something to think about.
  • What is the consequence? A bad temper is contagious. Others around us, our family and friends, all can get infected.

Don’t hang out with angry people;
don’t keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—
don’t get infected” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 22:25

Anger

“Am I so decrepit that I can’t deliver?” ~God

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Lately I have been thinking about what our Father is not. I don’t know why that helps but it frames what He is better.

  • Is God decrepit? I think all the time about how powerful He is. But He is not decrepit. That frames His power better. He is never weak. He is never overwhelmed. He is more powerful than ever!!!
  • How powerful is God? His power is absolute and complete. He has the power to do something and the power to reverse it. Think about that. Sometimes we can get something done but can’t undo it after.
  • What about God’s power? God can undo what he has done. His power is complete. He is not decrepit.

May I see and understand His absolute complete power!!

So why didn’t anyone come when I knocked? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called? Do you think I’ve forgotten how to help? Am I so decrepit that I can’t deliver? I’m as powerful as ever, and can reverse what I once did: I can dry up the sea with a word, turn river water into desert sand, and leave the fish stinking in the sun, stranded on dry land . . . Turn all the lights out in the sky and pull down the curtain.

Source: Isaiah 50

 

“Many get invited; only a few make it.” ~Jesus

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Jesus loved to tell stories to make his point. This one is about a wedding celebration that the guests didn’t want to attend. They refused to come. They were destroyed because of their arrogance. A second group was invited. Most of them made it but not all.

  • Why is this important? I am invited to God’s celebration. I get to choose whether to attend or not. I must choose to celebrate the wedding. I must be prepared.
  • What is Jesus telling me? Even being invited, doesn’t mean I will get to stay. I must be up to following Jesus. It won’t be easy. It is a challenge. My place at the wedding is ready.
  • How should I react? I should humble myself. When invited, I must do my part by choosing to attend and be “properly” prepared to be there and stay there. There is no “automatic” in God’s world. Jesus decides who gets to stay.

Jesus responded by telling still more stories. “God’s kingdom,” he said, “is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn’t come!

“He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!’

“They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop. The rest, with nothing better to do, beat up on the messengers and then killed them. The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to destroy those thugs and level their city.

“Then he told his servants, ‘We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren’t up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on—every place filled.

“When the king entered and looked over the scene, he spotted a man who wasn’t properly dressed. He said to him, ‘Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!’ The man was speechless. Then the king told his servants, ‘Get him out of here—fast. Tie him up and ship him to hell. And make sure he doesn’t get back in.’

“That’s what I mean when I say, ‘Many get invited; only a few make it.’

Source: Matthew 22:1-14

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“I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is all about getting us ready for what is coming. Jesus doesn’t leave me in the dark. Jesus is very clear with me.

  • Why is this important? “I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead.” Jesus wants us to be prepared. He has told me in advance. My job is to get ready.
  • What will the churches think? “They are going to throw you out of the meeting places.” Jesus warns me that my church may kick me out. The message of Jesus is good news but not all religious leaders welcome it.
  • Is my life at stake? “There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he’s doing God a favor.”
  • Surely they understand? “They will do these things because they never really understood the Father.” No, they don’t understand Jesus. I can’t assume they do. I must be clear what Jesus wants. It may get rejected.
  • What should I do? “I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them.” Jesus challenges me to get ready. I can’t plead ignorance.

Source: John 16:1-4

“Then neither will I answer your question.” ~Jesus

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Jesus asks a question

It is stunning and kicks my rear end, but Jesus doesn’t have to answer my questions. Jesus is the Son of God and he answers to no one but his Heavenly Father.

  • Jesus does what he does best, he teaches me. “One day he was teaching the people in the Temple, proclaiming the Message. The high priests, religion scholars, and leaders confronted him and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?” I am about to learn something from Jesus. It is coming. My job is to be ready.
  • Jesus asks a question. Jesus answered, “First, let me ask you a question: About the baptism of John—who authorized it, heaven or humans?” It happens a lot. Jesus is going to ask me a question. He expects me to answer. Jesus can’t be ignored. That is just the way it is.
  • What is the answer? “They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet.” They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know. The truth is I really don’t know. I have no clue.
  • How does Jesus respond? Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.” Jesus doesn’t owe me anything. He can answer or not. His decision about that is final.

Source: Luke 20:1-8

“Does it sound like we’re patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority?” ~Apostle Paul

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Recommendations. Endorsements. Credentials. References. Likes.  The way of this world.

  • Is this God’s way? It is definitely not.
  • Should I be focused on the ways of the past? No, I should be focused on how great God is. I should be focused on the fruit that the Holy Spirit is producing in my life. The results that the Holy Spirit brings is the only “reference” I should need.
  • It isn’t asserting my own authority that means anything. It is God’s authority, made clear by His Holy Spirit, that makes a difference. The Spirit of God and the fruit of changed lives is all I  need. This is the present.
  • Endorsements, etc. are the past. What is happening now is what is important. What is God saying today? What is God doing today?

Does it sound like we’re patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we’re not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. The Messiah himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it. ~~2 Corinthians 3:1-3

May I live today in the power of God’s Spirit and His authority.

May that be all I need.

“God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.” ~King David

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King David was a very wise man who had seen a lot. He had real enemies who wanted to kill him.

Where did King David to for help?

  • Who is God? God is a God who provides us a safe-house. Jesus is a sanctuary for us.
  • What does God want from me? God’s goal for me is to relax. God is God and in charge.
  • Why is this important? There are no regrets when we take refuge in God. We are never sorry that we come to God.

“God’s a safe-house for the battered,
    a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
    you’re never sorry you knocked.” ~King David

Source: Psalm 9:9-10

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“Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” ~Jesus

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It was a nice day for a boat ride. I’ve been on them before. It is a beautiful day. You take off. You didn’t know there was a storm brewing that you couldn’t see. It turns ugly. Real ugly.

  • Jesus knew what was going to happen. Jesus didn’t warn anyone. “Life” is going to happen. There will be storms. Jesus doesn’t protect us from going through them.
  • Jesus sleeps through it all. Jesus knew how it would all end. Jesus had faith that God would see him through it all. God did.
  • The disciples heart is revealed. They don’t think Jesus cares. I am the same way. Some days I find it hard to believe, based on the storm I am seeing, that God cares at all.
  • Jesus diagnoses the problem as a lack of faith. The real problem I have is one of faith. I can chose to believe that God doesn’t care or that he does.
  • Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus speaks the word and the storm calms down completely. Nothing is impossible with God.

Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”

Source: Mark 4:35-41

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“Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.” ~King Solomon

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Forgive to ForgetMan, this is tough. Now Solomon was an amazingly wise man. So this is good advice.

Here are three steps. It is interesting in that Solomon links not reacting with forgiving and forgetting.

  • Don’t react and say it. Just “hold my tongue”.
  • BU. Whether what they say is true or not, I can forgive what they say.
  • Forget. It is much easier to not react if it is the “first time” someone says something we don’t like. Forgetting makes that happen.

“Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.” ~King Solomon

Source: Solomon (Proverbs 11)

May I hold my tongue. Really Lord.

Help me. Make me smart. Amen.

“Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” ~Apostle Paul

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The Apostle Paul is wrapping up his letter to the Ephesians. There are many things we need to do. He has a good summary for me.

  • Use every weapon Jesus has given us. We have a lot at our disposal. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation must be applied in my life.
  • God’s word is a great weapon. This is his living word and his written word. I can use it against my enemy, the evil one.
  • Prayer is not to be ignored. When I am faced with evil, I can talk with God and he will hear me.
  • Finally, I am to encourage my brothers and sisters in the Master Jesus. I am to help keep their spirits up.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Source: Ephesians 6:13-18

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“Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.” ~Jesus

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Jesus challenges me. Am I ready?

  • Jesus shows me the way. The miracles of Jesus show me what God can do.
  • Jesus challenges me to do the same. I must have faith. It doesn’t have to be large, my faith can be small.
  • I must lay ahold of God. God is ready. Am I? It is not about me. It is about God. That is all I need to know and I do know it.

Early the next morning Jesus was returning to the city. He was hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree alongside the road, he approached it anticipating a breakfast of figs. When he got to the tree, there was nothing but fig leaves. He said, “No more figs from this tree—ever!” The fig tree withered on the spot, a dry stick. The disciples saw it happen. They rubbed their eyes, saying, “Did we really see this? A leafy tree one minute, a dry stick the next?”

But Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.

Source: Matthew 21:18-22

“Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear and direct. He always is. Here are some things I need to understand.

  • It is all about Jesus. When I am connected to him (as a branch to the vine), I have an abundant life.
  • Apart from Jesus, I am deadwood. Without my connection to Jesus, I cannot produce anything. I will dry up and be cast away as firewood. God is God. I am nothing without his son Jesus.
  • Connected to Jesus, I am at home with what Jesus says and I mature. Jesus listens to me and acts on my requests. Jesus knows what I need. Jesus and his Father are in a good mood.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” ~Jesus

Source: John 15:5-8

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“Do your best, prepare for the worst — then trust God to bring victory.” ~King Solomon

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God has given us all the gift of wisdom. It is amazing what we learn in the wisdom books in the Bible.

So what is today’s lesson?

  • Jesus challenges me to do my best. Jesus is clear what the best is. It is to love. That is challenge.
  • It is useful to prepare for the worst. God knows what will happen but I don’t. No matter what, God works out everything for my good. Jesus prepared to be brutally murdered and sacrificed for us. He did not ignore that reality.
  • I must trust God. The victory is his, not mine. Jesus knew he would die but he also knew God would be victorious and raise him from the dead. And God did. The worst turns into something better.

“Do your best, prepare for the worst—
then trust God to bring victory.” ~King Solomon

Proverbs 21:31

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“I don’t suffer fools gladly—and you’ve acted the fool!” ~Jesus

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Uh oh! This isn’t good. Jesus tells a great story about different gifts given to different servants. One utterly failed. What can I learn from this?

  • Jesus has trusted me with a little or a lot. Jesus has given me a gift and expects me to make the most of it.
  • Jesus has high standards. Jesus doesn’t change his expectations for me because I didn’t get as much as others. Jesus expects me to be responsible.
  • I can choose to be wise. It is my choice what I do with what Jesus has given me. I am not a victim.

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Is Jesus a respectable religious leader? A Mr. Rogers with a beard?

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Jesus

Is Jesus a respectable religious leader?

  • Jesus is not interested in being a “respectable religious leader”. He is not Mr. Rogers with a beard. Jesus is powerful and very direct. Jesus challenges me every day.
  • Jesus is in charge of everything. Seriously. Believe it. God has given everything over to Jesus. There is not a thing Jesus isn’t in charge of.
  • All Jesus does is what He sees the Father doing. His power and authority come from God. Jesus is obedient and challenges me to do what God desires. That is mainly to find a way to love.

May I know that God is God.

Jesus does what He sees the Father doing.

May I do the same.

“Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all.” ~Jesus

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Jesus had a few things to say after his resurrection and before he ascended to heaven. Jesus was angry that they hadn’t believed the others who had seen him alive. His message after he took them to task was:

  • Where should they go? Go into the world. Jesus always emphasized that he was the savior of the whole world, not just the Jews.
  • What should they say? Announce the good news to everyone. My focus should be on good news and what God is doing.
  • What should they do? Baptize those who believe.

Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, Jesus appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up. Then Jesus said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned.”

Source: Mark 16:14-16

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“You put us in charge of your handcrafted world.” ~King David

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King David has some great insight into God’s goal for us.

  • God is God and God made this world. This isn’t our world, it is God’s. Everything starts with God.
  • God put us in charge of the world he has created. We don’t automatically “inherit” things. It is God’s gift to us. It is my job to be responsible.
  • Our job is to act on God’s goal for us. God has a plan for us. I must follow up on what God wants me to do.

“You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,
    repeated to us your Genesis-charge,
Made us lords of sheep and cattle,
    even animals out in the wild,
Birds flying and fish swimming,
    whales singing in the ocean deeps.” ~King David

Source: Psalm 8:5-8

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“What do you want from me?” ~Jesus

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This is important for me to know. It is, in fact, critical.

  • Jesus is very interested in what I want from him. It is too easy to believe that God doesn’t care. Jesus only does what he sees his Father do. God is in a good mood and so is Jesus.
  • I need to be bold, making my needs known to him. Sitting around thinking I don’t need to say anything will get me nowhere. When Jesus is passing by, I must shout out for mercy.
  • Persistence is critical. When others want me to shut up, I need to get bolder and louder. I need persistent faith not more faith.
  • My needs move Jesus deeply. Jesus listens to me and is moved. Deeply. That is good news.

There is a procession to join. God’s miracles aren’t for me alone. My job is to follow Jesus.

As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”

Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from me?”

They said, “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!”

Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession.

Source: Matthew 20-29-34

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