“This isn’t pie in the sky by and by.” ~Jesus

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How many times have I thought, this is all about heaven? A lot I am thinking. I am reminded of how my dad would point out about someone that “they were so heavenly minded they were no earthly good”. The only day I have is today. I may not see tomorrow.

God is God. Today is the day I have a chance to demonstrate Jesus is in control. As Jesus said “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Jesus challenges me think about the here and now. This is not pie in the sky by and by. Jesus is in control now. His death, resurrection, ascension and deliver of the Holy Spirit in power has established the Kingdom. His teaching us how to pray confirmed that Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It is all about what God wants right now. 

The Country of God (aka the Kingdom) is a reality now. Jesus said ““The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.” (Luke 17)

Then he drove it home by saying, “This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you who are standing here are going to see it happen, see the kingdom of God arrive in full force.”

Source: Mark 9:1

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“The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar.” ~Jesus

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When will God’s country (aka the kingdom) come? That was and is the big question. The Messiah (the Anointed One) would usher it in.

It has already happened, Jesus declared. Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah. Jesus came to us over 2,000 years ago. He established God’s country. I am a citizen of God’s country right now. Nothing to look forward to from that point of view.

Of course, many have not applied for citizenship yet. God’s goal for me is to spread the good news (aka Gospel) to every one I can.  There is much work to be done.

Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”

Source: Luke 17:20-21

Jesus is King

“Then I won’t answer your question either.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear. Jesus doesn’t have to answer my questions. That is shocking to me. I deserve to have my questions answered. How dare Jesus not answer them. Even more clear is that Jesus knows who is in charge and is confident that He is about doing the work of God. That rattles us all, I think.

Jesus gets to ask the questions of me. I must answer them. I don’t get to be the know it all lecturing Jesus. If I think I am a “religious leader” I am off to a bad start. I am not in control. Jesus has been given all authority by His heavenly Father. Jesus is in control. That is the starting point for everything.

Is “I don’t know” a good answer? Not in the world of Jesus it isn’t. Jesus knows I know the answer. My job is to be honest and “fess up”. Jesus is waiting for an answer.

Then when they were back in Jerusalem once again, as they were walking through the Temple, the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders came up and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”

Jesus responded, “First let me ask you a question. Answer my question and then I’ll present my credentials. About the baptism of John—who authorized it: heaven or humans? Tell me.”

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 John; if we say ‘humans,’ we’ll be up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they said.

Jesus replied, “Then I won’t answer your question either.”

Source: Mark 11:27-33 (The Message)

Jesus asks a question

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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It is all about service and being a servant. It is not about me and what I get out of it.

Martin Luther King, Jr. focus was to bring equal opportunity for African Americans. It was all about service to him.

Jesus was all about service at a different level. Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice to pay the price for our not meeting God’s goal (aka sin). Jesus set the example for all of us.

How will I answer the question today. What am I doing for others?

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“But don’t resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.” ~King Solomon

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God has a goal for me. Primarily God wants me to grow up and not be a child my whole life. Growing up requires discipline from a father. God is in a good mood and disciplines me for a reason. It is out of true love. So, what is the goal of discipline? “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)”

Is discipline the same as punishment? The short answer is no. Discipline is a method of teaching a child self-control, confidence, and responsibility. The key to discipline is teaching a child what behavior is okay and what behavior is not okay. … Punishment is quite different from disciplinePunishment may be physical as in spanking, hitting, or causing pain. The focus of punishment is always past tense: “First you did this, then you did this, and now you have to pay the price.” In His mercy, God wiped away all eternal, spiritual implications of our pasts; He doesn’t treat His children according to the rules of punishment.

Discipline is future-focused, always pointing toward future acts. It has nothing to do with retribution and everything to do with redemption. Whereas the purpose of punishment is to inflict a penalty for an offense, the purpose of discipline is to train for correction and maturity. Whereas the origin of punishment is the frustration of the parent, the origin of discipline is a high motivation for the welfare of the child. And whereas the result of punishment is fear and shame, the result of discipline is security. Discipline always holds the child’s best interests, not the parent’s anger, in the forefront. It is never out of control.

God’s goal is for me to love discipline. Now that is tough to do but the more I am disciplined, the more I know and grow. Consider Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.”

How do I know that God loves me so very much? Consider Proverbs 13:24 “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” It is in fact proof that I am a child of God when God disciplines me. “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:5)”

But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.

Source: Proverbs 3:12 (The Message)

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“What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things?” ~Jesus

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Jesus is teaching us. He has given us the power of his Holy Spirit. What a gift. What a God we serve.

I don’t always succeed as a I learn how Jesus works. I forget to focus on what God wants me to do at that moment. I proceed thinking that what worked in the past is what will work now. That isn’t the way of Jesus.

Yelling at demons doesn’t always get their attention. Just because that is how I did it last time doesn’t mean anything. Jesus always checks with God first. Jesus healed lots of blind people. Never once did Jesus heal the “same way”. There is no formula. It is only about what God wants in that moment.

There is much to focus on and to learn. God’s goal for me is to be open today to what Jesus is challenging me to do. Jesus gets angry when I don’t pay attention. Jesus expects that I will focus and have a true sense of God.

So what makes a difference? That is what the disciples wanted to know when they could get Jesus alone. Jesus said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for in simple truth I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Answer: It is all about faith!

At the bottom of the mountain, they were met by a crowd of waiting people. As they approached, a man came out of the crowd and fell to his knees begging, “Master, have mercy on my son. He goes out of his mind and suffers terribly, falling into seizures. Frequently he is pitched into the fire, other times into the river. I brought him to your disciples, but they could do nothing for him.”

Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! 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.” He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well.

Source: Matthew 17:14-18

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Jesus heals demon possessed boy

120 Things Jesus Said That You Wish He Hadn’t

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Here is a great list from Gospelutionary. Be blessed.

Gospelutionary

Have you ever wondered what Jesus actually taught his disciples (aka REAL Christians) about how to live our lives? Well, here’s a list of 120 teachings! Comment if you can think of any more!

Principal Teachings

1. Love God above all. (Matthew 22:37-39)

2. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

3. Treat others as you wish to be treated. (Luke 6:31)

4. Imitate the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:37)

God & Jesus

5. Repent. (Matthew 4:17)

6. Believe the Gospel. (Mark 1:15)

7. Have faith in God. (Mark 11:22)

8. Fear God. (Luke 12:5)

9. Worship and serve God only. (Matthew 4:10)

10. Don’t put God to the test. (Matthew 4:7)

11. Trust in Jesus as we trust in God. (John 14:1)

12. Come to me and drink. (John 7:37)

13. Come to me those who are overworked and tired. (Matthew 11:28)

14. Take up my yoke and work for…

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“There is no need to dismiss them.” ~Jesus

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Jesus knows that nothing is impossible with God. It is in his heart, he believes it, he thinks about it all the time and he acts on it. God is great.

Jesus challenges me to know God’s greatness. I need to get it in my core. I don’t get to take a pass on this part of God’s country (aka Kingdom). God is great. When Jesus challenges me to produce a miracle, how do I react? Am I up to the challenges of Jesus?

In God’s country, there is always more than enough and food is left over. God is in a good mood and provides more than I need. I can count on Jesus.

When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.

Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”

But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”

“All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.

Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.

Source: Matthew 14:13-21

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“I have a dream today.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I was 9 years old during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. I was living in Atlanta, Georgia. The deep south was clearly a racist world at that time. It wouldn’t stay that way. Change was on the way.

So on Martin Luther King day, we celebrate Dr. King’s vision and the speech he gave that galvanized our country.

Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

“Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” ~Jesus

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Jesus and God the Father are in a good mood. They want to be a guest in my house. They want to be with me. They want to show me the way to love. They have given me power, by the Holy Spirit, to be delivered from my prison.

Zacchaeus became free that day. Jesus freed him. Zacchaeus became free from the opinion of others who are indignant and grumpy about what Jesus chooses to do. Zacchaeus became free from the shame of his past. Zacchaeus became free to tell the story of what Jesus had done in his life.

Zacchaeus was a well known crook. On the scale of things in Israel, he was the lowest. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. But … he desperately wanted to see Jesus. Jesus could see in his heart and knew of his desperation.

Jesus sees my heart. That is some good news. I am the lowest of the low but I desperately want to see and know Jesus. I am stunned at what Jesus does for me. I stumble but Jesus picks me up. Jesus does not care about any of that. Jesus came to restore me and he has done that.

Stunningly good news. Jesus is happy to be a guest in my house. Jesus really wants to be here. My job is to let Jesus in.

Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.

When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”

Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”

Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”

Source: Luke 19:1-10 (The Message)

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“When you make a mistake, admit it. If you don’t, you only make matters worse.” ~Ward Cleaver

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I am a great fan of “Leave it to Beaver”. Leave It to Beaver ran for six full 39-week seasons (234 episodes). The series had its debut on CBS on October 4, 1957. The following season, it moved to ABC, where it stayed until completing its run on June 20, 1963.

It is interesting that several adult candidates auditioned for the role of Beaver’s father, Ward, but they finally signed Hugh Beaumont, an actor and Methodist lay minister who had worked with Mathers in a religious film.

Ward was the every-man of the 1960’s dad. Education, occupation, marriage and family are presented in Leave It to Beaver as requisites for a happy and productive life. We have come a long way since then.

Ward always has practical advice like:

When you make a mistake, admit it. If you don’t, you only make matters worse. ~Ward Cleaver

That was a theme of the early 1960’s as I grew up. That was the role of dads in my neighborhood. They all seemed to see it the same way and gave each other permission to help correct us when we weren’t home.

America had more of a shared culture as the Depression Dads returned home from WWII, married, had families and built communities around the church. They also had shared values like “When you make a mistake, admit it. If you don’t, you only make matters worse.”

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Ward Cleaver from Leave it Beaver

 

“You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.” ~Jesus

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There is a realization I need to come to daily and it is a tough one.

I am not in control. I am not in the drivers seat and I really like the control that comes by driving. Having acted on letting Jesus be in control yesterday and not today isn’t very helpful. Every day I have to know it and live it.

God is God. God has given over control of everything to Jesus. I am to be a faithful servant, finding out what Jesus wants me to do and then doing it.

God has a goal for me. I may not know what God’s goal for me is for a year from now. That is a problem because I love to plan. I can know for today, for right now. If nothing else, I can talk with God (aka pray) and thank him for the long list of things he is doing for me, my family and my country.

I can find out how Jesus wants me to love my boss. We are in a meeting and he is droning on about the same old same old. What does love look like in that meeting?

There is a long list of people I will interact with today. Jesus is in the drivers seat. What should I do to support his message of love? While it became a little overused in some circles, it still is all about “What would Jesus do?”

“You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.” ~Jesus

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

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7 ‘CHURCHY’ CLICHES THAT WE SHOULD BE CAREFUL OF HOW WE SAY (In Case You Missed It)…

Great insight from Minister Aldrict Johnson … well worth the read.

BE BLESSTIFIED!

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If you’ve been in church or been around church people any amount of time, you’ve heard them…

You hear them in church, in songs and in everyday language.

‘Churchy’ clichés.

Those familiar sayings, sometimes one liners, that may not be the same in every church culture, but every church culture has them.

Of course there are many ‘churchy’ sayings that are biblical and encourage us, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, some aren’t really biblical, and are even sometimes mistaken for scripture.

It’s those that we have to either avoid, or be VERY careful of how we say it, or of our attitude towards it.

Here are 7 ‘CHURCHY’ clichés that we need to be careful of how we say.

  1. GOD HAS NEVER FAILED ME YET (Avoid)…

This one is so NOT biblical, and it’s one word that messes it up…”YET”. It’s true that God has and will never…

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“What am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.” ~Jesus

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Jesus was on a mission. It would be a painful and horrible death. Jesus knew what would happen. Jesus was going to see it through all the way to the end. God had given Jesus a goal.

Jesus was joyful for what God was going to do through him. Jesus asked to go through the pain and suffering for our salvation. Jesus was intent.

Did God stay silent? Not at all. God spoke. God is God and God has the final word. God has glorified Jesus through his obedient act of sacrifice. God raised him from the dead and Jesus, living eternally, now sits at God’s right hand.

“Right now I am storm-tossed. What am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’”

A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.”

Source: John 12:27-28

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Glorify Jesus

“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear about what is important. It is not about being a leader. It is not about who sits in authority at the right hand of Jesus. It is not even about being a servant leader. Jesus never talks about that.

Jesus only came to serve us and sacrifice for us. It is God that put Jesus in charge of God’s country (aka Kingdom). Jesus simply did what his Father wanted him to do.

Jesus is unequivocal. It is only about being a servant or slave. That is my only role. That is God’s goal for me. There is nothing else.

When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

Source: Mark 10:41-45

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Jesus, the perfect servant

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” ~Jesus

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Should I judge others? Jesus is clear. I have plenty of my own issues. I should look in the mirror and focus on how I miss God’s goal (aka sin). And, there is plenty to focus on there. The list is quite long.

How about if I just judge less? The issue isn’t about judging less. The issue is not assuming a role that isn’t mine. Jesus challenges me to not judge at all. I clearly have a problem with this. I think I know a lot. I see “right and wrong”. Why not judge? I have been given some level of authority in life.

Who is the Judge? Jesus has been given the role of Judge by his Heavenly Father. I can serve other roles but Judge is not one of them. Jesus said For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” God is God. God is in charge. Jesus has given me the standards of how I should live. There is plenty there to focus on starting with Judge not.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Source: Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV)

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“How long? Not long, because “no lie can live forever.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Quotes, thoughts and musings

Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the crowd at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march. Here is part of what he said. Great question. “How long will it take?”

I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?”  Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night,  plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified,  and truth bear it?” 

I come to say…

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“Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding.” ~King Solomon

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There is an amazing world out there filled with Wisdom. It is the wonderful world of Jesus. Jesus provides me with great Wisdom. Jesus provides me a life of understanding. God is in a stunning mood. Will I see what God is doing today?

God’s goal for me is to steep myself in God’s word and in particular, a deep understanding of what Jesus had to say. There is so much there. There is a lifetime (or more) of Wisdom.

Jesus challenges me to listen. My choice is whether to do it or not. I choose to listen. I choose to set my heart on understanding.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.

Source: Proverbs 2:1 (The Message)

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Wisdom – Proverbs 2:1

“Listen carefully.” ~Jesus

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Jesus challenges me to listen. Frequently he commands that if I have ears then I should be able to hear. Not only should I listen but I should listen carefully.

Jesus knew what would happen. Jesus would suffer. Jesus would die. Jesus would rise again.

Am I listening? His disciples couldn’t make any sense out of what Jesus was saying. It was not the first time. Jesus talks with me. Many days, I must admit, I can’t figure it out. Jesus is clear. Jesus doesn’t mince his words. I think I just need to take him at his word and stop the non believing.

For example, Jesus is clear that I will suffer. I get upset that I am and question God. I can choose to see what God isn’t doing or what God is doing. God is in a good mood. All that I am going through is for my benefit. I need to get with God’s goal for me.

Then Jesus took the Twelve off to the side and said, “Listen carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. Everything written in the Prophets about the Son of Man will take place. He will be handed over to the Romans, jeered at, made sport of, and spit on. Then, after giving him the third degree, they will kill him. In three days he will rise, alive.” But they didn’t get it, could make neither heads nor tails of what he was talking about.

Source: Luke 18:31-34

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Listen to God

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear about what it takes to follow him (i.e. be a Christian). There is no ambiguity here at all. I have to do it.

I have to change my mind (aka repent) about who is in charge. Jesus is in charge. A follower of Jesus commits to letting Jesus lead. God is God. I am not. This is the “main thing about the main thing”. Everything starts here.

So where is Jesus going to lead me. Jesus leads me to the cross. Suffering is ahead of me. I have to sacrifice what I think God would do to let Jesus be in control. This is not easy stuff for me. I don’t want to suffer. I really don’t.

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.” ~Jesus

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

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Jesus on Leadership

I am compelled, by Jesus our Master, to drop everything that takes me away from talking and writing about the good news of life of salvation

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I am compelled, by Jesus our Master, to drop everything that takes me away from talking and writing about the good news of life of salvation. We share this in common. We live it together.

It is such an amazing gift from Jesus. I don’t deserve it but I have to fight for it. There are those, and they are many, who don’t believe it is a gift. They have slyly infiltrated the ranks of the followers of Jesus, pretending to be Christians but putting Jesus in charge is not what they are about. Not by any means.

They believe a lie that is an insidious spiritual relativism. They seek, through kindness to all kinds of Christians and churches, to lead us astray.

Do they tell us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Master, the one who is in control? Is that the message? Is that the filter that is used for life? No, many times it is not.

God is God. God has put Jesus in charge. We must follow, faithfully follow, the radical way of Jesus. His manifesto is our life blood. We are obsessed by it. We must commit to it in a radical way. It will offend others but our intent is out of pure love for Jesus. Jesus warns us we will be persecuted for proclaiming his pure message.

Jesus is in charge and that is the truth that sets us all free. That is the test for the good news message.

I am compelled to drop everything that takes me away from that good news.

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“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” ~Jesus

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How much of what I do “for Jesus” is done to be seen by others? Probably too much. Jesus is clear that will get me nowhere. It could be a simple thing but they tend to be insidious. What about that gift to charity and I check the box to list my name? What about our public offering time in church designed to shame the non-givers?

Where will that get me? Nowhere.

Should I practice righteousness? Yes, Jesus says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) It is a question of motivation. Is my righteousness to be right with God or right in front of others? There is a huge distinction here that Jesus draws for me. It is important and I need to pay attention to it. My reward in heaven is contingent on it.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Source: Matthew 6:1-4 (ESV)

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Matthew 6:1 – Righteousness

‘TWEEN GOD AND ME – Coat

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Great lesson on obedience from Oneta Hayes. May I be as faithful as she is in hearing God’s voice on giving to the homeless and those in need.

Sweet aroma

coat

“Ooh, she looks cold,” I thought as I drove past the girl sitting on the bus bench at La Quinta Motel.  “Yes,” I heard in my head, “Go back and give her your coat.”  I kept driving.  The words stuck.  I drove on about four blocks, then turned around.  “Okay, I’ll go back,” I might have sounded grouchy.  Now what?  “Give her your coat.”

What set up this situation I was in?  The morning had gone as usual.  Got ready for work.  Went to the closet, put on my coat for the day.  I chose my best coat.  I liked it because it was a pretty color, sort of champagne, with flared back and furry stuff around the neck and down the front.  Cost more than I generally paid for a coat so I didn’t wear it to work very often.

Off to work I go.  I want to have…

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“God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list?” ~King David

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King David asks God a great question. David talks with God all the time and he asks God a lot of questions. Do I want to have dinner with God? Is that my desire today? What will it take to get invited? All great questions.

David gets an answer from God. It is great to ask the question. Am I open to the answer? Do I hear what God has to say to me? I hear but many times I miss the goal that God has in mind for me.

Jesus simplified it for me. Love! That is it. Love God and love everyone else I know. the goal is clear. The good news is that God is in a great mood. When I miss the goal, Jesus picks me up, sets me straight on what happened and sends me on my way. God’s gift is to make me whole.

Questions are great. Answers from God are better. God has a goal for me. My job is to listen and then act.

I want to have dinner with God.

Psalm 15 The Message (MSG)

God, who gets invited
    to dinner at your place?
How do we get on your guest list?

“Walk straight,
    act right,
        tell the truth.

“Don’t hurt your friend,
    don’t blame your neighbor;
        despise the despicable.

“Keep your word even when it costs you,
    make an honest living,
        never take a bribe.

“You’ll never get
blacklisted
if you live like this.”

Source: Psalm 15:1-5

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“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” ~Jesus

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It is a challenge. I see the homeless. Do I give them some money? Won’t they just use it to buy drugs or booze? Why don’t they have a job, I think. I feel justified in not giving.

Jesus says ‘Yes’ it is your duty to give. It isn’t my job to judge why they are begging. God’s goal for me is to give. That is all I need to know.

What does Jesus think? This may run afoul of the “official stances” of the homeless social services organizations. They have great reasons for their logic. That isn’t Jesus challenges us to do. I am going to follow Jesus.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[h] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Source: Matthew 5:38-42 (ESV)

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Homeless

 

“Are you being willfully stupid?” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear. Jesus doesn’t pull any punches. Yet, I say “I don’t get it.”

Really? I don’t get it? I say that to Jesus? Of course I do. I say “Why is this happening to me?” — meaning I don’t get it. It takes a lot of different forms but the essence of what I’m saying is “I don’t get it.”

How does Jesus react to that? Oops! “Are you being willfully stupid?” Not only is Jesus clear, he is direct with me. I don’t get to skate off having pretending I don’t know what is going on. Jesus won’t let me get away with that. All I can do is admit that I am.

What does Jesus do? Jesus, politely and kindly, explains it to me. God’s goal for me is to understand, even when I like to pretend I don’t get it.

Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”

Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”

Source: Matthew 15:15-20

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“Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~Jesus

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What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? Poor in spirit means that you feel you have no moral riches and are in need.  You feel you need a ‘spiritual’ life. ‘Poor’ (πτωχός) used in this verse means ‘reduced to being a beggar’. Am I begging for a rich spiritual life? First I need to recognize I need what I don’t have.

This makes sense and we can confirm its meaning by comparing other statements of Jesus, for he often said the same things in many ways. One good match that seems to bring light to the phrase is:

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (NIV Mark 2:16-17)

When I feel I am missing God’s goal (aka sin) or ‘morally sick’ and I cry out to Jesus to be saved, I am ‘poor in spirit’ then I can inherit God’s kingdom. If I am self righteous, morally confidant and rich, these Jesus can not save me.

This makes sense that Jesus would make this the first be-attitude of a disciple because it is by being poor in spirit or ‘reduced to being a beggar’. That I actually ‘begin’ the my discipleship with this explains why it is the first be-attitude. It also fits and explains the second attitude of mourning which is the other side of the same coin. It naturally follows for me, as a disciple, once recognizing my poverty due to missing God’s goal, l mourn on account of it.

God will make me happy, or ‘bless’ me with inexpressible spiritual riches and joy. This is the core message of the good news that Jesus brings to us all.

Happy (aka Blessed) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Source: Matthew 5:3 (English Standard Version)

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Happy in Jesus

Resolution: Be More Dog

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I think this makes for a great new year’s resolution!

“Be more dog:
When loved ones come home, run to greet them;
Never pass the opportunity for a joy ride. Allow the experience of wind and fresh air in your face to be pure ecstasy, rather than an inconvenience;
Take naps;
Stretch before rising;
Run, romp, and play daily;
Thrive on attention, and let people touch you;
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do;
On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass;
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie down under a tree;
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body;
Delight in the joy of a long walk;
Be loyal;
Never pretend to be something you’re not;
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it;
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
Be more dog.”

Source: Be More Dog | Faith Unlocked

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New Year’s Resolution: I will live the radical life Jesus called me to live

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I have made lots of New Year’s resolutions in the past. Most of them, in hindsight, seem pretty frivolous and very self centered.

This year I resolve to do something out of the ordinary. I commit to living a super-ordinary life in Jesus. I will live the radical life Jesus called me to live.Radical Sayings of Jesus

It was Henry David Thoreau who wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I don’t admire Thoreau as a theologian, but I think he largely got it right in this quote describing the normal human condition and maybe the condition of lots of Christians.

I believe that most of us, including myself, get bogged down in the routines of life. I have nothing against routines, except when they become my master. Much can be said about the righteousness of living a careful, responsible life before God. But, this is not at issue for me in this resolution.

My fear is that the life Jesus lived and died to give us (“I came that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10) can get lost in the devotion to safety, health and routine. I’m not advocating going out today to partake in some “extreme” thrill sport. I’m simply encouraging myself to do something outside of my normal routine, to experience life outside the lines I’ve drawn, to provide myself with the opportunity to “sing my song” and be bold in Jesus. Jesus challenges me leave ordinary behind and live a super-ordinary life in Him. Today is the day. Now is the time.

God is ready to do amazing things. His Holy Spirit is in me and that is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. I can live an extra-ordinary life in Him.

How? Maybe it’s as simple as, at the prompting of God, taking the long way home from the store or work to gain a new perspective on the world right around me that otherwise goes unnoticed. Maybe Jesus wants to perform a miracle in someones life I don’t normally see. Maybe He wants me to be the Good Samaritan.

God’s goal for me will be reveled by Him to me TODAY.

“Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.” ~King Solomon

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It seems basic but I know grown adults who don’t pay a bit of attention said growing up or have to say now. It is sad. It is not the way God intends it to be.

God’s goal is for me to pay attention to the wisdom my parents imparted to me. My parents have passed on now but I can still hear certain things they told me. My favorite from my dad is leave things better than I found them.

I can hear my dad (Everett Wiley Wilson) now. I’m playing baseball. Normally I am catching but today I am playing left field (or “left out” as my dad would call it). There is always plenty of time on your hands in left field. Not much action.

My dad is the coach. He wanders down the line and asks me to pick up rocks in between pitches and throw them off the field. “Why” I say in my best indignant tone of voice. If I had thought about it I would have known what his answer would be. It wasn’t the first time he said it. It wouldn’t be his last.

“Leave things better than you found them”, he says. And so … I picked up rocks and threw them off the field. I left things better than I found them. I was no worse for the wear.

That is the way my dad lived his life. It was important to him. It was almost a holy obligation. We weren’t here to take from others. We are here to serve. We must leave things better than we found them. This meant in the simple things in life. Playing baseball. Walking through a room. Work. It doesn’t matter.

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you;
never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.

Source: Proverbs 1:8-9

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Breaking the Code v. 6

Great overview on peace from my friend Bill. As the Apostle Paul said “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

May the peace of Jesus be yours in 2018! Happy New Year.

4th Quarter Musings

In many instances in the Bible, grace (see Breaking the Code 3) and peace are linked Related imagetogether. The fact that these two are so often linked together ties also with the passage from Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The Philippians 4 passage is given in the context of our anxieties, our anxious tensions, our inner turmoil and lack of peace. The preceding sentence reads, “The Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The Lord is near, so, do not be anxious about anything. When the Lord is near, our anxieties fade and we can have peace in any situation.

The 23rd Psalm is one that calms the soul. The Lord is my Shepherd, I…

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“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.” ~~Jesus

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What does it mean to be a part of God’s country (aka the Kingdom of God)? It is hard for us to understand the role of a King. It means that Jesus is in complete charge. It means what He says goes. This is tough. We need to get it.

We live in a world where all we hear is that we should be leaders. In business, that is all the rage. I don’t see much about following. Wonder why? Where are all the articles and books on how to be a great follower.

The cross is a cruel way to die but Jesus wants us take up our death daily and live His resurrection life.

God’s goal for us is to submit to Him and learn how to live  His way. Jesus demands that we let Him lead the way. Jesus is in charge of God’s country. No if and or buts about that. It is done. God has made it happen. I have to get over myself and what I want.

This is core. Jesus leads. I follow.

Jesus challenges me to know and act like he is in charge. Why? Because Jesus, the Messiah, is in charge.

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.” ~~Jesus (Luke 9:23 The Message) 

OR “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (NASB)

Here are the key ideas:

  • Jesus want us to follow Him and let Him lead the way
  • We must deny what is important to us
  • We should die to ourselves daily and live His resurrected life

“Put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes.” ~Jesus

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Jesus performs amazing miracles. The power of God is in him in a mighty way. Right before this, he raised Lazarus from the dead. The blind see, the lame walk, the demon possessed are made whole. On and on it goes.

Jesus challenges me to not just listen to what he says about himself but to balance that with the evidence of what he does. The lame still walk. The blind still see. The power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit in us creates the evidence.

Jesus is the Son of God. That is the point here. Jesus is in charge of God’s country (aka Kingdom). Jesus not only said it but he proved it. The final act of his Resurrection and Ascension to heaven are our ultimate proof.

Jesus said, “I’m only quoting your inspired Scriptures, where God said, ‘I tell you—you are gods.’ If God called your ancestors ‘gods’—and Scripture doesn’t lie—why do you yell, ‘Blasphemer! Blasphemer!’ at the unique One the Father consecrated and sent into the world, just because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I don’t do the things my Father does, well and good; don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes. Then perhaps things will come together for you, and you’ll see that not only are we doing the same thing, we are the same—Father and Son. He is in me; I am in him.”

Source: John 10:34-38

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Panic over money is greed’s cousin. Am I content with what I have?

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Godliness with ContentmentPanic over money is greed’s cousin. I have panicked. I don’t know what to do.

Am I content with what I have? Do I have enough to eat and clothes? Is there a good roof over my head? Absolutely yes. I have more than enough.

When I panic over something I have lost, I have stared greed in the face. Panic shows that I am not content with what I have. The panic I show these days is not healthy. I must learn to be content with my riches in heaven.

God’s goal for me is clear. His desire for me is godliness.

That is what matters for eternity. What “I have” in terms of riches is of no value to God.

Godliness is the mission. All else pales in comparison. What will I leave this world with? Not money. Only my love of God matters.

I am eviction, I am CPS, I am the check that didn’t come. I am diabetic amputation. I am cancer.

From one of my other blogs. A tale of poverty.

Thoughts on culture, politics and more

This is an interesting tale. What do you do when the check doesn’t come and your rent is due? What do you do when it happens 6 months in a row and you now stand in eviction court? What do you say?

Poverty is real and it has real consequences. What will we say when it happens to us? What will we do?

It is way to easy to judge the poor. Get a job we say.

Jesus says ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited…

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“Do you see anything?” ~Jesus

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It is a great question. Jesus knows how to ask them. I am not always prepared to answer.

Jesus has healed me. Jesus has given me sight. Do I see?

At first it is all fuzzy. Jesus touches me again. Now I see perfectly.

Sometimes it takes a couple of shots at it. Surely not a problem on Jesus side of things. Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus is the perfect healer.

They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?”

He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, “Don’t enter the village.”

Source: Mark 8:22-26

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“You make me want to vomit.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is always clear and direct. I can count on that. Jesus isn’t going to sugar coat the message he has for me.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus confronts the 7 churches. Jesus also confronts me. Is what he finds to his liking? Jesus will be direct. There isn’t time for messing around.

Jesus challenges me to be hot or cold for him. I’m guessing the right approach is to be hot. Am I stagnant or am I on fire for Jesus?

This is telling. Jesus demonstrates his love by prodding and correcting. Jesus knows what is at stake. Jesus corrects me so that I will become a conqueror and be able to sit with him at the head table.

Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God’s Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God’s creation, says:

“I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.

“Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.

“The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!

“Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!

“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”

Source: Revelation 3:14-22

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“Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” ~Herod

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Follow this.

This is not what we envision on Christmas. Christmas has become all about “what did I get for Christmas?” Notice how no one asks “What did you give for Christmas?”

What will I give to Jesus, the Messiah?

The wise and the rich saw His star and were overjoyed.

They sought Him out.

When they found Him, they were overwhelmed. They fell to the ground and worshiped Him. They recognized that this child was their master. They saw that God was with us.

They opened their treasure and gave Him gifts.

He was just a child. He had done “nothing” yet. What is up with that? Well … they were truly wise.

Wise men still seek Him.

May I follow they steps of the wise men!!

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”

When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land,
    no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
    who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”

Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. Matthew 2:1-11 (The Message Bible)

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” ~King David

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It may not be said out loud but a mark of a foolish person is that in their heart, they feel like there is no God. There are very few people who say out loud there is no God. There are a lot of us who in our heart of hearts doubts that God is and our ruin comes from that core belief.

God is God. God is. God exists. Knowing that makes all the difference in that I have established the core of faith that leads me forward. It is the start and in this case it is a binary decision we need to make in our heart. God is and God is God OR “There is no God”. Which is it?

Once I know that God is and God is God, I now know God (and his son Jesus) is in charge. God is AND God is in charge. I am not.

From those foundations of faith, I can now believe that God is Great and nothing is impossible with God.

Much more comes but the main thing is the main thing and knowing in my heart that God is the start of everything.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
    there is none who does good.

Source: Psalm 14:1

God is God

“What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired.” ~Jesus

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Jesus tells the story of the unethical manager. He gets fired for his misdeeds. He is a schemer and figures out a way to get back into every ones good graces. Whether you are ethical or unethical, getting fired is no fun.

Jesus challenges me. “I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”

Jesus wants me to really live. Jesus wants me to learn that adversity can be used in a creative way for survival. Now this is tough. It is hard for me. Adversity really sucks. But adversity is God’s way.

I need to embrace adversity. Adversity is my friend. Adversity teaches me how to really trust God. When I don’t see a way out, that is my challenge, not God’s. Nothing is impossible with God.

Jesus makes it clear that I can’t serve God and money. And that is that! And that is clear. Jesus leaves no room for me to wiggle.

Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a rich man who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses. So he called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.

“The manager said to himself, ‘What am I going to do? I’ve lost my job as manager. I’m not strong enough for a laboring job, and I’m too proud to beg. . . . Ah, I’ve got a plan. Here’s what I’ll do . . . then when I’m turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.’

“Then he went at it. One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “He replied, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ “The manager said, ‘Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now—write fifty.’ “To the next he said, ‘And you, what do you owe?’ “He answered, ‘A hundred sacks of wheat.’ “He said, ‘Take your bill, write in eighty.’

“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”

Source: Luke 16:1-9

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny

“Hold out your hand.” ~~Jesus

Quotes, thoughts and musings

Heartfelt experience with Jesus Heartfelt experience with Jesus

What will Jesus do? One day Jesus went church where he found a man with a crippled hand. The religious leaders had their eyes on Jesus to see if he would heal him, hoping to catch him go against the tradition of the church. As with most churches, they didn’t pray for people to be healed. Not in public and not in the church.

Jesus said to the man with the crippled hand, “Stand here where we can see you.” You can see it coming now. Jesus is going to openly challenge them all. He is going to do it publicly and clearly.

Jesus wants to know something. So He asked everyone in the church: “What kind of action suits Sunday the best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?”

What kind of answer did He get? No one said a word…

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“I told you, but you don’t believe.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is very clear and very direct. Jesus doesn’t leave me guessing. Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one of God and God’s very son. Jesus is straight with me.

Jesus actions are clear. In addition to what Jesus has said, his actions support who Jesus is. The life of Jesus, the miracles, his death, resurrection and ascension to sit at the right hand of God … they all point to Jesus being the Messiah. God is God. Jesus is the son of God. All of that is clear.

I have to own my believe or un-believe. I can’t blame Jesus or God for anything. They have been clear in what they have said and what they have done. I choose to believe Jesus. Jesus has told me and I believe.

They were celebrating Hanukkah just then in Jerusalem. It was winter. Jesus was strolling in the Temple across Solomon’s Porch. The Jews, circling him, said, “How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you’re the Messiah, tell us straight out.”

Jesus answered, “I told you, but you don’t believe. Everything I have done has been authorized by my Father, actions that speak louder than words. You don’t believe because you’re not my sheep. My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.”

Source: John 10:22-30

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“Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice!  Stand up for the poor and destitute!” ~King Lemuel

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Jesus challenges me to speak up for others. There are those who have no voice. There are those who are down and out. God has a goal for me. It is not to be quiet. It is to speak up.

Jesus challenges me to speak out for justice. Justice cries out to be done. God is a God of love and God is a God of justice. Jesus will be the judge. Justice will be done.

Jesus challenges me to stand up for the poor and destitute. If I don’t stand up for the poor, who will? As much as I’ve helped the poor, I’ve helped Jesus. Jesus is clear on that. I am clear on it as well.

Jesus said “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, 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. Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me— you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25)

“Speak up for the people who have no voice,
    for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
    Stand up for the poor and destitute!” ~King Lemuel

Source: Proverbs 31:8-9

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The Digital Ministry: Are our discipleship experiences intentional?

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What does the future of your ministry look like? Is it focused on the good news (Gospel) of Jesus AND design? Why should it?

The premise of this article is all about being intentional about the experiences Jesus’ disciples are having. Jesus had an end game in mind. The way he discipled wasn’t random. It didn’t “just happen”.Intentional Discipleship

How many programs and services do you have? How many channels (Web, Social, Mobile, Call Center, Direct Mail, etc.) are you focused on? Do they all have a unified design and experience?

Good News (Gospel) + Design = Intentional disciple experiences

We are clear about the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus. Are we clear about our design? So you are thinking, what does Jesus care about “design” for? I am thinking Jesus spent a lot of time on “intentional design”. Why did he create so many parables? Why did he want a donkey to ride into Jerusalem on? Jesus is intentional.

If not, we aren’t ready to be the digital ministry of the future. If we aren’t ready to be a digital ministry, we aren’t ready for the future. If we aren’t ready for the future, will we be relevant 5 to 10 years from now? Tough questions I know but worth considering.

This may be very new for you. God is intentional that we need to be open. Consider this:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” ~God

Source: Isaiah 43:18-21 TNIV Bible

So here are a couple more of intriguing questions:

  • How do we ensure that Jesus’ disciples are having an amazing experience with Jesus?
  • Why make disciples cope with the ordinary? Isn’t Jesus all about the extraordinary?
  • Why aren’t disciples more engaged with both our mission and revenue opportunities?

Our focus and day to day work should be about creating “discipleship experiences” in this new age of the connected disciple. What is going on in the rest of the digital world isn’t lost on Jesus’ disciples. They are evaluating our ministry based on those experiences. We can bury our head in the sand. That will only get the message of Jesus left behind.

Disciples expect more from ministries than ever before. So our mission, programs and services have a level of expectation that our ministry may not be aware of. The support of Jesus’ disciples, contributors, members and volunteers have is not necessarily drive by our mission. It is driven by their experience of the ministry and the relationships they have with us. Does God expect us to reach the world? Has He given us the tools (think digital) to do it? Are they being fully utilized in our ministry?

Here is the harsh reality. Jesus’ disciples not only expect better experiences with your ministry, they believe that God wants them to have them. Will we be intentional in delivering on those expectations? Are we ready to get left behind with stagnant growth if we don’t deliver those disciple experiences? We may not be ready for that but it may already be happening. I encourage you to please think about it. It is a good question to ponder.

There is a unique opportunity to create amazing and positive experiences at our services, on the web, on the phone (do you have a call center?), on smart phones and in our direct mail pieces. Are all of those unified? Is the experience amazing?

That amazing or ordinary (or perhaps even bad) experience will be how our ministry is measured in terms of engagement or even our fundraising success. Do we know how Jesus’ disciples feel about the experience they are having with your ministry? If we don’t know, why don’t we? Are we being intentional about that experience they just had with at the service? Is it consistent with the experience they want on your web site?

Here are the key ideas:

  • Design intentional discipleship experiences
  • Listen to disciples to hear what kind of experience they are having
  • Serve others by delivering the amazing

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

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Jesus warns me that I may not always be welcomed. The message of good news might not be listened to.

Jesus challenges me to not make a big scene, not to argue, not to make a fuss. Jesus says I should move on. It’s OK.

Jesus urges me to remember that the harvest is plentiful. I need to keep moving. There are others who are ready to receive the good news. There are others who are ready to receive God’s power and be healed.

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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“You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them.” ~Jesus

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Jesus wants me to hear his message of good news (aka the gospel). Jesus does everything he can to create readiness in my heart. I must have a ready heart. I must want to hear. I must be receptive.

Jesus gives me insight in God’s country (aka God’s kingdom). Jesus is in charge and there are no elections. I am a citizen. I know how things work in God’s country. God is God.

God’s goal for me is to spread the good news. God is in a good mood. God is ready to welcome into His country. Not everyone has the insight I have been given. I need to spread the word.

The disciples came up to Jesus and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”

Jesus replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it.

Source: Matthew 13:10-15

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Jesus – Good News

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” ~Matthew

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This Jewish man turns to Jesus the Messiah and explains why in a way you never heard before! 

The book of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. ~Matthew

Learn what this means to this Jewish man and his father.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah fourteen generations. ~Matthew

Jesus Messiah

“Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear about why he came and what his mission is. God sent him for those of us who are lost.

I was clearly lost. Jesus came for me. There is a celebration for that. It was none of my doing. Jesus is the one who came and found me.

God is in a good mood. Jesus is looking for those of us who are lost. Our mission is to do the same. The angels want to celebrate. They want to throw a big party.

Where are the lost? Lets go find them. Now is the time. Today is the day. Get out the lamp and look everywhere. We can’t be satisfied until our mission is complete.

“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

Source: Luke 15:8-10

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“When we were with you, we made it quite clear that there was trouble ahead.” ~Apostle Paul

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Being a part of the world of Thanks-Living means we know about trouble ahead but are thankful none the less. Trouble is coming my way. I know it. I have been warned.

More than warned however, Jesus is preparing me to be joyful and persevere. That carries with it a risk but Jesus is faithful. God’s goal for me is believe and endure. It is all about faith. I must believe that God is in a good mood and it is all going to work out according to God’s plan, not mine.

And so … I get up each morning expecting a stunning day in paradise. And, it is.  God is in a good mood.

Not that the troubles should come as any surprise to you. You’ve always known that we’re in for this kind of thing. It’s part of our calling. When we were with you, we made it quite clear that there was trouble ahead. And now that it’s happened, you know what it’s like. That’s why I couldn’t quit worrying; I had to know for myself how you were doing in the faith. I didn’t want the Tempter getting to you and tearing down everything we had built up together.

Source: 1 Thessalonians 3:3-5

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“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” ~Jesus

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I am blind. Jesus opens my eyes and I see. Jesus has a question for me. “Do I believe in the Son of Man?”, Jesus asks. Hey, I was blind and now I see. Of course I believe.

The religious leaders think they can see. They don’t recognize they are blind. Jesus clarifies it for them. Since they think they can see, they are blind. Jesus is the only way to the truth. Jesus is the only way my lack of sight is healed and my eyes are opened. My religious thinking won’t get me there. Only Jesus can.

Jesus holds me accountable on this point. Do I think I am blind or do I think I see (and know) everything about God? Am I willing to let Jesus open my eyes? God is in a good mood. God wants me to see.

May it be so. May I submit to Jesus and start to see.

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and went and found him. He asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

The man said, “Point him out to me, sir, so that I can believe in him.”

Jesus said, “You’re looking right at him. Don’t you recognize my voice?”

“Master, I believe,” the man said, and worshiped him.

Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”

Some Pharisees overheard him and said, “Does that mean you’re calling us blind?”

Jesus said, “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.”

Source: John 9:35-41

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“If you’re dumb enough to call attention to yourself by offending people and making rude gestures, don’t be surprised if someone bloodies your nose.” ~Agur Ben Yakeh

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There is wisdom and there is stupidity. God is kind enough to alert me to both.

Putting others down and being a rude bully is intended to draw attention to me. If I am so insecure that the only way I think I can look good is to put others down is the height of stupidity.

I don’t like to think I act that way. I need to be careful. It is too easy to fall into the trap, particularly in our new world of technology and social media.

The Apostle Paul advises “Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in the Messiah forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31)

If you’re dumb enough to call attention to yourself
    by offending people and making rude gestures,
Don’t be surprised if someone bloodies your nose.
    Churned milk turns into butter;
    riled emotions turn into fist fights.

Source: Proverbs 30:32-33

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“Listen. What do you make of this?” ~Jesus

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Jesus has lots of questions for me. Jesus wants to know what I think and where I am on my journey.

My answers to Jesus’ questions show me (and Him) a lot. I must be open to the feedback Jesus gives me. God’s goal for me is to listen to Jesus.

So … what do I make of this story he told? The key is am I listening? Have I opened my ears to hear?

It starts with Jesus giving me insight. It has nothing to do with my intelligence or wit. It isn’t about my wisdom. It is all about what Jesus reveals to me. Starting there allows me to hear.

“Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams.”

 “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Source: Mark 4:3-9

Listen to God

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

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God is not decrepit. That may not be obvious but it is the BIG reality. He has not forgotten how to help. He is always powerful. Nothing is impossible with Him at all. God is great.

God is actively looking for us. He is at the door and He is knocking. He is calling us and we don’t even hear the phone.

God is in a good mood. Sometimes it feels like He has forgotten me. That is my reality but it is not His reality.

God is not decrepit. He can do anything.

There it is and that is all there is to that.

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

Here are the key ideas:

  • God is seeking us
  • God is all powerful
  • God wants us to answer and come to Him

“You’re looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind.” ~Jesus

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I want proof but I am not prepared to believe it. Jesus gives me proof.

I get to decide whether to accept the proof or not. God is not going to force me. It is my decision to believe or not. I have to curb my lust for miracles and accept that God is God.

The religious leaders are bold in demanding proof from the Son of God. Jesus is wise in responding. Jesus knows who is in charge and what kind of proof will be given. Jesus is at peace where this is all heading. Jesus is focused on God’s goal.

Jesus challenges me to focus as well. Jesus knows that justice is going to prevail. There will be a day of judgement.

Later a few religion scholars and Pharisees got on him. “Teacher, we want to see your credentials. Give us some hard evidence that God is in this. How about a miracle?”

Jesus said, “You’re looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you want is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. The only proof you’re going to get is what looks like the absence of proof: Jonah-evidence. Like Jonah, three days and nights in the fish’s belly, the Son of Man will be gone three days and nights in a deep grave.

“On Judgment Day, the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.’ On Judgment Day, the Queen of Sheba will come forward and bring evidence that will condemn this generation, because she traveled from a far corner of the earth to listen to wise Solomon. Wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is right in front of you, and you quibble over ‘evidence.’

Source: Matthew 12:38-42

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“In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.” ~Apostle Paul

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It was God’s plan not to mess around any longer. God decided he would end the “I’ve missed God’s goal for my life” (aka sinning) problem once and for all. The law was never intended to make us whole. God is God. God made the decision on how this had to be handled. My opinion matters not a bit in any of this.

Jesus personally made a huge sacrifice, in so many different ways. Jesus entered our messy world. Jesus decided to deal directly with us as we are struggling. Jesus agreed with his Father to become the living sacrifice that solved the “sin problem” once and for all.

Jesus challenges me to accept that my redemption is a gift. There is nothing I can do to be made right with God. Jesus has done it all. Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one of God, sent to sacrifice himself like a lamb in the Old Covenant (aka Testament).

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

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

Source: Romans 8:3-4

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“Is it permitted to heal on the Sabbath? Yes or no?” ~Jesus

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We have to keep the rules (law). That is what religious leaders believe. I believe it way to much myself. I tend to want to be a rule-keeper.

Jesus came to fulfill the rules (law) and give them real meaning. Jesus wants to teach me that the real rule is one of love. Love answers the question about what is right and what is wrong.

Jesus knows what God’s goal is. Jesus never misses the mark. Jesus is right on target and it always starts with love. Jesus knows that the rules sometimes don’t make any sense and gives me an analogy to prove it. The law said you weren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath (Saturday). So if your child falls down a well, you shouldn’t save him?

Absurd. Everyone knew it. I know it.

My goal is to love, even my enemies. That is all I need to focus on.

One time when Jesus went for a Sabbath meal with one of the top leaders of the Pharisees, all the guests had their eyes on him, watching his every move. Right before him there was a man hugely swollen in his joints. So Jesus asked the religion scholars and Pharisees present, “Is it permitted to heal on the Sabbath? Yes or no?”

They were silent. So he took the man, healed him, and sent him on his way. Then he said, “Is there anyone here who, if a child or animal fell down a well, wouldn’t rush to pull him out immediately, not asking whether or not it was the Sabbath?” They were stumped. There was nothing they could say to that.

Source: Luke 14:1-6

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“I’ve had enough; I’m on my way to heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.” ~God

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God loves the poor and homeless. Of course, I am one of those. I am poor. I am homeless. The good news is that God is God. God is above it all. God is in a good mood … always.

God knows what I need and sends comfort into my soul. God himself speaks. God didn’t delegate this to anyone. God has had enough. God is tired of it.

Jesus heals my heart. Jesus restores me to right standing with God. Jesus makes me a child of God and a full heir into God’s inheritance. Jesus has given me his riches. Jesus brings me in from being homeless. Jesus has arrived.

Into the hovels of the poor,
Into the dark streets where the homeless groan, God speaks:
“I’ve had enough; I’m on my way
To heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.”

Source: Psalm 12:5

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Jesus and the poor

“There is nothing left in your memory of God’s Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.” ~Jesus

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Jesus SeriouslyThere are many ways we hear about God. As a child in vacation bible school. The few times we actually read the Bible.

But we may have no real memory of God because we don’t listen to Jesus, His Messenger. We don’t take Him seriously.

Jesus challenges, even demands of me, that I take what He says seriously. That is the way to God and the only way to God. God is God. God is in control. Jesus will be taken seriously.

It is God’s goal for me that I listen to Jesus and act on what he says. There is no other way to God. My relationship with Jesus will give me the message of God.

May I  hear His voice. May I do what He says.

“There is nothing left in your memory of God’s Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.” ~~Jesus

John 5:34-38 (The Message Bible)

Here are the key ideas:

  • Have a strong relationship with Jesus, the resurrected Master of the universe.
  • Listen to Jesus.
  • Take what Jesus says seriously and act on what he tells us to do.

“Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?” ~Jesus

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The religious scholars are at again. They are non stop in their efforts to trap Jesus. Imagine the futility of that mission. It doesn’t stop them though. This time they think they will get Jesus.

Now this was a tough issue to deal with. A woman caught in the act of adultery. The legalistic wing of the scholars have a strong case. The law says to stone her. There is no denying that.

Jesus doesn’t fall for it. Jesus stops the nonsense by writing in the dirt. We all wish we knew what he wrote. One day I will get to ask Jesus. I’ve read lots of good ideas. Whatever Jesus wrote, it had its effect.

Jesus then challenges them directly by asking for anyone who has not missed God’s goal (aka sin) to throw the first stone. Now that stopped all it for sure. Of course, we have all sinned. This is not helpful to the religious scholars and it headed into a direction they didn’t want it to go.

Jesus challenges me to remember I need his love and mercy. I am not innocent. I fall short of God’s goal consistently. Jesus has redeemed me. All he asks of me is to stop falling short, to hit the mark of God’s goal for me. Jesus gives me the power to do it.

Jesus does not condemn me. Jesus doesn’t condemn you. Jesus came to renew us and set us free. I am the one who needs to change my mind (aka repent) about who Jesus is and who I am. Jesus redeemed me from the curse of sin and restored me as a child of God. I am a full heir to all the riches of God’s country.

Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

“No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

Source: John 8:1-11 (The Message Bible)

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“My authority comes directly from Jesus the Messiah and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” ~Apostle Paul

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I live and work in a world where authority comes from a vote or an appointment. I see, every day, titles of people who have been “hired” or appointed to do something.

Is that where my authority comes from? No, my authority, if I have any whatsoever, comes from God.

That is all there is to know. In God’s world (and that is the world I really live in), Jesus is in control. Jesus makes the appointments.

My authority comes from Jesus. That is all there is to it but it is way to easy to forget that. God is God. He, and He alone, gives authority to whom He chooses. It is not up to us.

I, Paul, and my companions in faith here, send greetings to the Galatian churches. My authority for writing to you does not come from any popular vote of the people, nor does it come through the appointment of some human higher-up. It comes directly from Jesus the Messiah and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.

Source: Galatians 1:1-5

Here are the key ideas:

  • Authority comes from God and not from anyone else.
  • Authority is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus and the power demonstrated by God in that act.
  • Elections and appointments don’t matter to God. He is in control, not us.

“For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it’ll be too late to help them.” ~King Solomon

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Discipline is very tough and at the time it is tough to appreciate. My heavenly Father disciplines me because he loves me. God is God. He knows what is in my best interest. I don’t have that luxury.

I can accept the discipline or I resist it and be stubborn. Defiance is not a great road to travel down. It leads me to a place that eventually breaks me. It is not pleasant to see. It is not the road I want to travel on at all.

I want the road of love which includes discipline intended to help me. God is in a very good mood. He wants to see me mature. His gentle discipline leads me to a complete and whole life in Jesus, the Messiah.

“For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it’ll be too late to help them.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 29:1

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“Whether it’s right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there’s no question—we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.” ~Apostle Peter

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Jesus has ascended to sit at the right hand of God. The power of the Holy Spirit has descended on the disciples. Miracles are happening. The religious leaders are beside themselves. They are arresting people and trying to figure out a way to put a lid on all of this.

There is big news for the religious leaders. The testimony of Peter and John isn’t going to go away. These men and women are only going to get bolder.

Their message to the leaders is “Whether it’s right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there’s no question—we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.”

And that is my mission as well. God has a goal for me. It is to listen to Him and His son Jesus. I must speak up about what I’ve seen and heard.

They sent them out of the room so they could work out a plan. They talked it over: “What can we do with these men? By now it’s known all over town that a miracle has occurred, and that they are behind it. There is no way we can refute that. But so that it doesn’t go any further, let’s silence them with threats so they won’t dare to use Jesus’ name ever again with anyone.”

They called them back and warned them that they were on no account ever again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John spoke right back, “Whether it’s right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there’s no question—we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.”

The religious leaders renewed their threats, but then released them. They couldn’t come up with a charge that would stick, that would keep them in jail. The people wouldn’t have stood for it—they were all praising God over what had happened. The man who had been miraculously healed was over forty years old.

Source: Acts 4:15-22

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Listen to God

“Tell me your name.” ~Jesus

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Jesus is not afraid to confront evil. Jesus does it time and time again. Jesus knows there is evil and an evil one.

Evil and the Evil One know who Jesus is. They know he has the authority of God. God is God and evil has not nor will not win out. God is in control. Jesus has won the victory.

Evil tries to bargain with Jesus. Jesus knows to confront evil personally, by name.

Evil obeys Jesus commands.  There is no other choice.

Jesus has given us authority over evil and the evil one.

Now that is some very good news.

When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran and bowed in worship before him—then bellowed in protest, “What business do you have, Jesus, Son of the High God, messing with me? I swear to God, don’t give me a hard time!” (Jesus had just commanded the tormenting evil spirit, “Out! Get out of the man!”)

Jesus asked him, “Tell me your name.”

He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.” Then he desperately begged Jesus not to banish them from the country.

Source: Mark 5:6-10

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“What do you want?” ~Jesus

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“What do you want?” This is an essential question from Jesus. Jesus asks. Jesus expects an answer.

Jesus wants to know, “What do I want?”. This is a great question from Jesus. It gets to what is in my heart. I must evaluate the “Why?” question.

The new disciples had an answer. It was a question. They wanted to hear more from Jesus. They wanted to hang out with him.

Jesus is willing to start there. If I hang out with him and listen to him, I will see. That is the promise of Jesus, the Messiah.

Jesus invites me on the journey. Jesus says “Come”. Now that is some good stuff.

Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

Source: John 1:38

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“Thank you, Father. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people.” ~Jesus

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Who gets to know about God, Lord of heaven and earth? Who is God revealing himself to?

It is the ordinary folks. It is the simple. It is the children. I must change my mind (i.e., repent) and accept that Jesus is in charge. I can’t be stubborn and think I know best.

It is not the sophisticates, those who think they know it all or those who make things complicated. God is God. God chooses who to reveal himself to. It is not my job to question any of that.

This is something to think about.

Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.”

Source: Matthew 11:25-26

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“Let’s give it another year.” ~Jesus

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Many times I am stunned by what Jesus says and does. I am challenged to learn his ways and not mine or what “conventional wisdom” would dictate.

Jesus is very patient. “Let’s give it another year” he suggests to the Master. Jesus knows that there is more work that can be done. Jesus is willing to do it.

Jesus advocates for time to fertilize the tree. Jesus knows you can’t just plant a tree and ignore it.

Jesus came to seek out those who are missing God’s goal (i.e. sinning) and cultivate them into a real relationship with God. It is my job to align with that mission.

Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’

“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”

Source: Luke 13:6-9

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“By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” ~~Jesus

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Jesus intends for us to have great relationships with people in our world. That is His goal for us. Jesus challenges me to love one another. Other than the love of God, this is the second most important thing for us to focus on. All of God’s plans come down to this. Love One Another

Having great relationships requires being open. When I reflect His love and am open, I am prompting others to have a relationship with our Father.

Our generosity and love always points to our Father’s generosity and love. God is good and in a good mood. All the time.

May I learn to be open like my Master Jesus.

“By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” ~~Jesus

~~Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message Bible)

 

“God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, setting us straight.” ~King David

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God is a God of love and God is a God of justice. I must remember both of those things but not ignore the justice part.

God is in business. God’s business is putting things right. It is clearly not my job. It clearly is God’s job. God has put Jesus in charge of his business.

God sets me straight; I don’t set God straight. God is God. God is great. God’s will is going to be done. My focus is to understand and act on what God wants to happen today.

God’s business is putting things right;
    he loves getting the lines straight,
Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall,
    we can look him straight in the eye.

Source: Psalm 11:7

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God’s love and justice

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

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MiraclesYou have  suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians have treated you. Your treatment hasn’t gone well.  The doctors have taken all your money.

You are now worse off than you were before you started getting medical help. You’ve heard about Jesus. You slipped in from behind and touched his robe. You’re thinking to yourself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment you do it, the flow of blood dried up.

You can feel the change and know your plague is over and done with. It is a miracle and the power of God through Jesus did it.

When that happened, Jesus felt energy discharging from his body. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”  His disciples say, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking,

‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!” But Jesus is persistent and  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. She took a huge risk.

Jesus knows when we take a risk of faith. He actually demands that we have courage and take risks of faith. For ourselves and for others. When we take risks of faith, we will be healed. That is just the way He is.

God’s goal for us is to live a life of faith. We must believe in Him and His amazing power. He is God, He is Great and He is in a good mood.

So Jesus says 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.” ~~Jesus

Source: Mark 5:34 (The Message Bible)

 

“I didn’t make this up.” ~Jesus

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How often do I just make something up? I’m pressed to answer, haven’t thought it  through well and spew something out. Occasionally, but very rarely it works.

Most of the time it is just recognized for what it is, an ad libed effort to look good. Is what I am saying making me look good or reflecting what God wants?

Jesus knows what God is up to. Jesus doesn’t make things up. Jesus knows the truth. Jesus knows reality.

Amazingly enough, we can test what is being said to know if it is from God or not.

The facts matter. Reality matters. Jesus challenges me to judge things through that filter.

With the Feast already half over, Jesus showed up in the Temple, teaching. The Jews were impressed, but puzzled: “How does he know so much without being schooled?”

Jesus said, “I didn’t make this up. What I teach comes from the One who sent me. Anyone who wants to do his will can test this teaching and know whether it’s from God or whether I’m making it up. A person making things up tries to make himself look good. But someone trying to honor the one who sent him sticks to the facts and doesn’t tamper with reality. It was Moses, wasn’t it, who gave you God’s Law? But none of you are living it. So why are you trying to kill me?”

The crowd said, “You’re crazy! Who’s trying to kill you? You’re demon-possessed.”

Source: John 7:14-20

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“No one can escape the weather—it’s there. And no one can escape from God.” ~Elihu to Job

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Elihu has been on a rant for several chapters now. Job’s friends take turns (and delight) in berating Job. He takes it.

Every once in a while a jewel does come forth. And eventually Job figures it all out.

While I might try to escape God, I can’t. I need to understand that. God’s goal for me is to listen and obey God. The soon I get that, the better off I am.

Reality check: I can’t escape God. 

“No one can escape the weather—it’s there. And no one can escape from God.” ~Elihu to Job

Source: Job 37:7

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“Justice makes no sense to the evilminded; those who seek God know it inside and out.” ~King Solomon

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Justice is a tricky thing. For many it is befuddling and confusing. They are seeking justice here in our country. Justice is truly found in God’s country (aka Kingdom) where Jesus has been given all authority.

There is evil in this world. There is an evil one (Satan or the Devil) and some people are clearly evil minded. The daily news reveals it constantly. God gives us a choice whether to choose God (and good) or evil.

We know Jesus and we know justice. We know justice will be served. It may not occur until the day of judgement but justice will be served. God is God.

Jesus taught us to pray that God’s rule and will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. We know what justice looks like. We are ushering it in here in earths countries.

Justice makes no sense to the evilminded; those who seek God know it inside and out.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 28:5

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Thanks-Living in a world of an annual Thanksgiving

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I love Thanksgiving. I think it may be my favorite holiday. It is nice that everybody stops to at least be a little bit thankful. It happens once a year, no matter what.

You don’t have to be “religious” to participate. Everybody can come together. Families can unite. It really is a good thing.

I’ve been thinking though about the challenge Jesus brings to me to participate in His world of Thanks-Living. Jesus lived the life of being thankful to his Father.

Consider this from the Apostle Paul:

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to the Messiah Jesus to live.

Source: 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Jesus challenges me to shift from thanksgiving to Thanks-Living. It is about changing my mind, every day. God is always in a good mood. God’s love never ceases. There is a wonderful world of being cheerful, no matter what.

Why can’t I live a life of Thanks? Why can’t I live be thankful no matter what happens?

Good news here. I can, through the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus provided me.

I want to live a life that oozes gratitude.

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“I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!” ~Jesus

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Jesus is clear. There will be a day of judgement. We may prefer to believe it isn’t true but it is.

I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me…I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!

~~Matthew 25:31-46

So, are we focused on these things?Feed the Hungry

  • Whether or not we fed the hungry.
  • Whether or not we gave the thirsty a drink.
  • Whether or not we were willing to receive strangers into our homes.
  • Whether or not we clothed the naked.
  • Whether or not we took care of the sick.
  • Whether or not we visited those in prison.

Need more from Jesus on these things? Here they are, all from the book of Matthew.

Jesus is calling us to a radical life. He is challenging us.

Jesus has a goal for us. We need to heed His warning about how God (not our friends) will judge us.

Jesus is serious.

When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him. (Matthew 5:42).

So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. (Matthew 6:2).

You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24).

While Jesus was having a meal in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and other outcasts came and joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. (Matthew 9:10).

Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts. (Matthew 9:13).

You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward. (Matthew 10:42).

Jesus answered, “Go back and tell John what you are hearing and seeing: the blind can see, the lame can walk, those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor. How happy are those who have no doubts about me! (Matthew 11:4-6).

The seeds that fell among thorn bushes stand for those who hear the message; but the worries about this life and the love for riches choke the message, and they don’t bear fruit. (Matthew 13:22).

That evening his disciples came to him and said, “It is already very late, and this is a lonely place. Send the people away and let them go to the villages to buy food for themselves. “They don’t have to leave,” answered Jesus. “You yourselves give them something to eat! (Matthew 14:15-16).

Large crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the dumb, and many other sick people, whom they placed at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed as they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they praised the God of Israel. (Matthew 15:30-31).

If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me. (Matthew 19:21).

Which one of the two did what his father wanted? “The older one,” they answered. So Jesus said to them, “I tell you: the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the Kingdom of God ahead of you. (Matthew 21:31).

This was the final challenge that Jesus laid down to the Pharisees. He implores them to reach out to the outcasts and care for those in need.

And with this Jesus ends his long critique of Jewish religious practice in his time. He has said all he has to say, done all that he could do, and demonstrated in every way possible that they need reform. He has laid it all down and now he is leaving it up to God.

“These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me.” ~Jesus 

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Jesus is on a mission. His Father has given Him very specific tasks to complete as a part of God’s goal and plan.

Jesus understands the goal, plan and tasks to be completed for God. Everything from the big picture down to the smallest detail. It all fits together in Jesus’ county (aka Kingdom).

Jesus completes all of the tasks that God has given him. That is how we know about Jesus and His relationship with His Father.

Jesus wants us to have the same relationship with His Father. Get on the mission from God. Understand the goal and plan. Complete the tasks. That is what our heavenly Father wants from us.

“These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me.” ~~Jesus 

~~ John 5:34-38 (The Message Bible)

Task Series

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” ~Jesus

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Jesus experienced the ultimate.

Jesus took on the penalty for our missing God’s goal (i.e. sin). Jesus died for our redemption. At that moment, God abandoned Jesus.

That is difficult to grasp. It was my fault. Sad!

With that utterance, Jesus gave his last breath and died. No intervention. God let it happen.

Why? God had a plan. In that plan, the only one who could redeem all of mankind was his perfect Son.

God had a plan. Jesus executed it faithfully up to the very end. There was not a single point of deviation on the part of Jesus. Jesus is the faithful son.

And … then the good news. Jesus rose from the grave 3 days later in resurrected glory, never to die again. Jesus ascended into heaven to rule God’s country (aka Kingdom).

At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Source: Mark 15:33-34

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“Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself.” ~King Solomon

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We all know foolish people. We see them every day on TV or at work. Everyone really knows they are a fool and speaking stupidly.

I have a tendency to jump into the fray. I answer them. I argue with them. I defend myself and others I care about. I get sucked in. It isn’t pretty.

To what use is my response to a fool? Wisdom challenges me to not respond.

So why not respond? I look foolish falling into the fool’s trap. That is not the way of Wisdom. God’s goal for me is to focus on the truth and speak it plainly.

“Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 26:4

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“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus the Messiah may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” ~Apostle Paul

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Who doesn’t want more wisdom in life? I know I do.

The path to wisdom is in knowing Jesus better every day. And so, I long to know Jesus better. That is it.

That is the BIG thing I want in my life. Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing. He set the clear example for me.

That is it for sure where I need to be going with things.

God has a goal for me. The primary thing is to know God and His son Jesus better. It is all about the relationship. That is the point of wisdom and revelation. Continue reading

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” ~Jesus

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Here we go. Fasten the seat belts. Jesus nails it here. He always asks the right questions. I’ve got nowhere to hide. He is looking right at me.

How often do I question (even subtly) the goodness of God? Way too often. Usually daily. And many times it is very subtle in that I just don’t believe Jesus.

Trust is so very important. Later the disciples would ask “Then who has any chance at all?” Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”

God is good and God is in a good mood. Everything Jesus says and does reflects that truth. Jesus is the truth. Who am I to question Jesus about what’s good.

Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”

Source: Matthew 19:17 (The Message)

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“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

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