Friday, March 30, 2007

Cross as Covering

Monday Holy Week

Hebrews 2.17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

The Greek Word for this atonement is hilaskomai which means "propitiation, to appease". Between God and man is this barrier of sin. Though once man enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God now, the result of Adam's transgression, there is enmity. It is important to know that the barrier is on man's part. The unchanging God remains constant and uneffected in his attitude and affection for sinful man. Christ's work, as a faithful high priest is to remove the barrier of sin that prohibits the free flow of grace to sinful man.

The word is linked with the kopher in Hebrew which means "covering". The High Priest under the old covenant would sprinkle the blood of the sin offering on the altar and covering (lid) of the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies in the temple. This was known as the mercy seat. This act was repeated each year as it had no enduring power. These symbols of the old covenant point to heavenly realities that we believers in Jesus have experienced.

The NT confirms that the effect of the sinless blood of the Son of God was a permenant solution to the problem of our sin. That that sacrifice, applied to each heart by faith, has irradicated enmity and torn down our hostility toward God and has set us free from condemnation and the fear of death. And all this because he was made like us in every way to demonstrate mercy and faithful love.

Today we look at the cross and see faithful love, tender mercies, and permanent covering for our sin. Rejoice in the One who covered our sin!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ready or not...

Matthew 24. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

We aren't always attentive to the promise of the Savior to return. He says that he will and, by faith, we take him at his word. But what does this word emphasize for us? It tells us that we should be living in a state of readiness.

When I talk to Christians I am bothered by the shear ignorance that many of them express at what God is doing in the world- especially in their world. With a shrug of the shoulders or a roll of the eyes or, sometimes a deep sigh, they confess that they are not quite sure "what in the world is going on". This spiritual lethargy and apathy is dangerous because it lulls us to sleep and allows us to fall out of a state of readiness.

Jesus commands, " must be ready". But so many are not! They are not aware that the enemy of their soul is out to destroy them. They are surprised when a "strong christian" falls into sin or sins notoriously. And they are surprised when they face spiritual resistance.

Christians must live with a heightened state of alertness. The condition is certainly red! What the devil has in store for me and for you dwarfs the 9/11 attacks. His purpose is to undo the church of the living God. And, he will succeed- at least with some (Mt 24.12). Those who want to withstand the attacks will have to alter their lifestyle and live in a heightened state of readiness. It may not be comfortable but it will be obedient to the command of a savior who wants us to live victoriously.

Be Ready!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

R A Torrey on Praying for Power

But not only will prayer promote as almost nothing else our personal holiness, but prayer will also bring the power of God into our work. We read in Isaiah 40:31: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk [plod right along day after day, which is far harder than running or flying], and not faint."
It is the privilege of every child of God to have the power of God in his service. And the verse just quoted tells us how to obtain it, and that is by "waiting upon the Lord." Sometimes you will hear people stand up in a meeting, not so frequently perhaps in these days as in former days, and say: "I am trying to serve God in my poor, weak way." Well, if you are trying to serve God in your poor, weak way, quit it; your duty is to serve God in His strong, triumphant way. But you say, "I have no natural ability." Then get supernatural ability.
The religion of Jesus Christ is a supernatural religion from start to finish, and we should live our lives in supernatural power, the power of God through Jesus Christ, and we should perform our service with supernatural power, the power of God ministered by the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. You say, "I have no natural gifts." Then get supernatural gifts. The Holy Spirit is promised to every believer in order that he may obtain the supernatural gifts which qualify him for the particular service to which God calls him. "He [The Holy Spirit] divideth to each one [that is, to each and every believer] severally even as he will" ([Corinthians 12:11). It is ours to have the power of God if we will only seek it by prayer in any and every line of service to which God calls us.

Bounds on Prayer

OUR Lord Jesus declared that "men ought always to pray and not to faint," and the parable in which His words occur, was taught with the intention of saving men from faint-heartedness and weakness in prayer. Our Lord was seeking to teach that laxity must be guarded against, and persistence fostered and encouraged. There can be no two opinions regarding the importance of the exercise of this indispensable quality in our praying.
Importunate prayer is a mighty movement of the soul toward God. It is a stirring of the deepest forces of the soul, toward the throne of heavenly grace. It is the ability to hold on, press on, and wait. Restless desire, restful patience, and strength of grasp are all embraced in it. It is not an incident, or a performance, but a passion of soul. It is not a want, half-needed, but a sheer necessity.
The wrestling quality in importunate prayers does not spring from physical vehemence or fleshly energy. It is not an impulse of energy, not a mere earnestness of soul; it is an inwrought force, a faculty implanted and aroused by the Holy Spirit. Virtually, it is the intercession of the Spirit of God, in us; it is, moreover, "the effectual, fervent prayer, which availeth much." The Divine Spirit informing every element within us, with the energy of His own striving, is the essence of the importunity which urges our praying at the mercy-seat, to continue until the fire falls and the blessing descends. This wrestling in prayer may not be boisterous nor vehement, but quiet, tenacious and urgent. Silent, it may be, when there are no visible outlets for its mighty forces.
Nothing distinguishes the children of God so clearly and strongly as prayer. It is the one infallible mark and test of being a Christian. Christian people are prayerful, the worldly-minded, prayerless. Christians call on God; worldlings ignore God, and call not on His Name. But even the Christian had need to cultivate continual prayer. Prayer must be habitual, but much more than a habit. It is duty, yet one which rises far above, and goes beyond the ordinary implications of the term. It is the expression of a relation to God, a yearning for Divine communion. It is the outward and upward flow of the inward life toward its original fountain. It is an assertion of the soul's paternity, a claiming of the sonship, which links man to the Eternal.
Prayer has everything to do with moulding the soul into the image of God, and has everything to do with enhancing and enlarging the measure of Divine grace. It has everything to do with bringing the soul into complete communion with God. It has everything to do with enriching, broadening and maturing the soul's experience of God. That man cannot possibly be called a Christian, who does not pray. By no possible pretext can he claim any right to the term, nor its implied significance. If he do not pray, he is a sinner, pure and simple, for prayer is the only way in which the soul of man can enter into fellowship and communion with the Source of all Christlike spirit and energy. Hence, if he pray not, he is not of the household of faith.
In this study however, we turn our thought to one phase of prayer -- that of importunity; the pressing of our desires upon God with urgency and perseverance; the praying with that tenacity and tension which neither relaxes nor ceases until its plea is heard, and its cause is won.
He who has clear views of God, and Scriptural conceptions of the Divine character; who appreciates his privilege of approach unto God; who understands his inward need of all that God has for him -- that man will be solicitous, outspoken and importunate. In Holy Writ, the duty of prayer, itself, is advocated in terms which are only barely stronger than those in which the necessity for its importunity is set forth. The praying which influences God is declared to be that of the fervent, effectual outpouring of a righteous man. That is to say, it is prayer on fire, having no feeble, flickering flame, no momentary flash, but shining with a vigorous and steady glow.
The repeated intercessions of Abraham for the salvation of Sodom and Gomorrah present an early example of the necessity for, and benefit deriving from importunate praying. Jacob, wrestling all night with the angel, gives significant emphasis to the power of a dogged perseverance in praying, and shows how, in things spiritual, importunity succeeds, just as effectively as it does in matters relating to time and sense.
As we have noted, elsewhere, Moses prayed forty days and forty nights, seeking to stay the wrath of God against Israel, and his example and success are a stimulus to present-day faith in its darkest hour. Elijah repeated and urged his prayer seven times ere the raincloud appeared above the horizon, heralding the success of his prayer and the victory of his faith. On one occasion Daniel though faint and weak, pressed his case three weeks, ere the answer and the blessing came.
Many nights during His earthly life did the blessed Saviour spend in prayer. In Gethsemane He presented the same petition, three times, with unabated, urgent, yet submissive importunity, which involved every element of His soul, and issued in tears and bloody sweat. His life crises were distinctly marked, his life victories all won, in hours of importunate prayer. And the servant is not greater than his Lord.

E.M.Bounds on Faith

"In any study of the principles, and procedure of prayer, of its activities and enterprises, first place, must, of necessity, be given to faith. It is the initial quality in the heart of any man who essays to talk to the Unseen. He must, out of sheer helplessness, stretch forth hands of faith. He must believe, where he cannot prove. In the ultimate issue, prayer is simply faith, claiming its natural yet marvellous prerogatives -- faith taking possession of its illimitable inheritance. True godliness is just as true, steady, and persevering in the realm of faith as it is in the province of prayer. Moreover: when faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live.
Faith does the impossible because it brings God to undertake for us, and nothing is impossible with God. How great -- without qualification or limitation -- is the power of faith! If doubt be banished from the heart, and unbelief made stranger there, what we ask of God shall surely come to pass, and a believer hath vouchsafed to him'whatsoever he saith.'"
-from "The Necessity of Prayer"

Friday, March 16, 2007

Oprah's Secret Cult

What is the devils latest counterfeit to Christian teaching? it is the Secret- ala Oprah. In the early 1980's the Christian church clamored over this thing called the New Age Movement. Books and articles poured out, warning Christians about this dangerous worldview that was a mixture of Eastern religion, occultism, and chicanery. Now, mention the New Age movement to a church Sunday school class, maybe two out of a group of twenty will be able to tell you what it was. Has the New Age disappeared? Was the church successful in disarming this counterfeit worldview? Well, maybe the term New Age isn't popular anymore, but it popularized something that has become a given in Western society: relativism. Everyone claims their own personal spirituality. Everyone is his or her own guru. Perhaps the greatest vehicle keeping New Age mysticism and relativism alive and well is the Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah aired a few shows on The Secret, a New Age method promising happiness and success created by Rhonda Byrne. By knowing The Secret, you can create the life you want: getting out of debt, finding a better job, or finding your true love. Rhonda discovered The Secret in 2004. She states it can be traced from 3500 BC to the present. The Secret explained is the law of attraction. It is the universal law that like attracts like. It is said to be the most powerful law in the universe, at work all the time. Oprah's website claims, "The principle explains that we create our own circumstances by the choices we make in life. And the choices we make are fueled by our thoughts which means our thoughts are the most powerful things we have here on earth." Imagine the arrogance that Oprah is telling us that she willed her success into being. That she deserves it!

In The Secret, the sovereignty of God becomes the law of attraction. Choices made by negative humans control their own destinies. The Secret is a New Age version of the prosperity gospel. Everything a person experiences is attracted to us by ourselves. Within each of us is an absolutely unlimited power to control our destinies. All one has to do is learn gratitude for what one has already, be it success or failure. One of Oprah's guest's stated, "If you think about it, the universe has a conveyor belt of presents lined up for you, and until you receive the one and fully are grateful for it, the next one can't come out of the chute. It's all lined up." The Oprah show wants you to know The Secret doesn't contradict Christianity. One of the shows stated, "The Secret isn't about contradicting religion it supports it. 'It actually goes underneath the culture and explains to you the sacred laws that these wonderful teachers have brought to us...' The Secret is about supporting the great spiritual traditions in a more modern form. 'It really is just putting Christianity, Judaism, all the great teachings into a current vernacular.' " A guest from Oprah's audience asked if The Secret was compatible with the Christian understanding of heaven, hell, and a final judgment:
"As a Christian, Maureen says she believes in heaven and hell, and she's concerned that The Secret's promotion of free will and personal choice imply that you do not face a final judgment. James [Arthur Ray] says that while he honors Maureen's Christian belief system, he suggests looking at the concepts of heaven, hell and judgment in a different way. 'Jesus the Christ said the kingdom of heaven is within. He didn't say it was out there somewhere [he said] within. And so is it possible to consider that the kingdom of hell is within as well?' he says. 'The kingdom of God is actually in us, and what comes out of your mouth, what you think about, how you express you're either participating in the realm of ever-expanding good or you're cutting yourself off from the realm,' Michael [Beckwith] says. Michael [Beckwith] suggests that instead of living a life preparing for some ultimate reward, you should live in the now. When you're anticipating some future good, you're preventing that good that is all around you from expressing through you, he says. '[Don't] put life on the layaway plan and try to anticipate that it's going to get good in the future.' " The first part of the response says the Christian belief system is honored. If honor implies respect one would think that a Christian understanding of heaven, hell, and judgment would be presented. Oprah's expert suggests looking at these concepts in a different way. The kingdom of heaven represents the good thoughts inside of us. The kingdom of hell represents the bad thoughts inside of us. Don't look for a future reward; enjoy what you deserve now by putting forth the good. Heaven? Hell? Who cares. Eat, drink and be merry. Notice the context of the Biblical phrase kingdom of God was completely devoid from the answer. In Luke 17, the Pharisees wanted to know when the Kingdom would come. When would God's people see their prophesied theocratic leader? Certainly Jesus didn't believe God's kingdom was within these religious leaders. He considered them religious hypocrites. In Romans 14:17, Paul states, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves God this way is pleasing to God and approved by men." Jesus is actually rebuking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, pointing out that the kingdom is an inner righteousness, not an outward righteousness of eating and drinking, rules and regulations. We are given Christ's righteousness in justification. The Holy Spirit performs his work of sanctification, making our works pleasing to God. The answer given by the Oprah show does more than misquote a Bible verse. It denies the Gospel. Since these Oprah shows aired, the local chain bookstore near my house said not only are they sold out of The Secret, but also the publisher has to print more to meet the demand. This doesn't surprise me. The Secret assumes the unity of all religions, Christianity does not. The Secret assumes a universal law of attraction channeled by each persons choices; the Bible declares the sovereignty of God. The Secret teaches you how to live a life of glory; the Bible explains your life will be identified with the cross. The Secret gives each person the power of performing good and evil; The Bible describes humanity as enslaved to sin. The thrust of The Secret is a blatant denial of the Gospel, and incompatible with Christianity. If someone tries to tell you The Secret, I suggest countering with the revealed truth of Jesus Christ.

Adopted from

Thursday, March 15, 2007

mimics and the master

Lent Day 22

Matt 26.50-51

i see in this passage myself. Sword wielding, zealot for the Lord's sake. (should i call down fire now lord?) The irony is that Jesus insisted that they go out with swords but not use them in matters such as this. Of interest is the view of soveriengty that Jesus teaches ( he is forever teaching his followers- even through their own mistakes!). "Couldn't I call down 12 legions of angels?"

We are so foolish - thinking that Jesus needs us to stick up for him. He knows what he is doing!
But our trust level is very much dependant on the boat not rocking. We have to see the end from the beginning in order to truly grasp what God, in his infinite wisdom, in doing. On this most sacred of nights- Jesus is not being arrested... he is surrendering. Surrendering to the will of God, to the Lordship of the heavenly master. He is showing us that although he doesn't have to he will lay down his life voluntarily.

No wonder that in 1 John 3.16 the apostle John describes love in this very powerful way. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren." I am supposed to mimic my master.

Trusting in every circumstance won't be easy...just necessary.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

choosing humanity

Being a human is wonder filled life.

Looking at my dog I realize that, though he gets to sleep more than I, he really doesn’t get much freedom. Those few moments walking with me or romping in a fenced in yard aren't really that spectacular. Especially with me muttering 'hurry up' or 'lets get to business'

Or what about a tree? Standing out there all winter branches to the sky- come on, it looks exhausting. In the winter they always look cold to me. Birds are cool cause they can fly but, ever see their nests? They seem kind of exposed. Not exactly the lap of luxury. So I'll choose humanity.

Humanity is good enough for me. Humanity is filled with the wonder of a child staring at the sky. Or the joy of catching his first fish. It is filled with pain at being judged and misunderstood or cheated and lied to. It is terrible and awesome; frightening and peaceful; it is whimsical and organized. It is amazing. And it is remarkable that this life was adopted by God so that we could be adopted by him.

Turns out, that he handled all the struggles we face our lifelong with better results. He chose the life as a human to adopt us as his sons and pay the price for our sins. In doing so he demonstrated a better way of living as humans- an embodiment of love.

No wonder we look to the Son of Man.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Shady business this Kingdom

Lent day 20

In Mark chapter four Jesus teaches his followers about the Kingdom of God saying that it is like the Mustard Seed. Though the smallest of seeds it is destined to grow into a tree that will house the birds of the air.

As I pondered the teaching this morning I thought of the fact that it is powerful in three aspects.
1) the seeming insignificance of the kingdom's packaging. Contrary to the world which spends a lot of energy and flash on the package and PR, Jesus is content to have his kingdom come small and humble. Perhaps we should spend less effort on the exterior packaging and more on the substance of our souls if we are to accurately reflect the kingdom of Christ our God. 2) It grows. Following Jesus is not praying a prayer at an altar somewhere or being raised in a christian home. It is spiritual growth. There are many stagnant hearts in churches all across the US and the world that have failed to grasp the truth that yesterdays spiritual victory is - well- history. Today is the day of salvation- at least that is what the author of the book of Hebrews wrote. 3) the kingdom brings shelter to those wearisome fluttering hearts that look for a safe place to land, where they won't be eaten and where they can rest. Am I building my life to provide places of rest for others? Am I an offering of the restful presence of Jesus? Am I living for more than the shade for myself?

God, help me to change,
to rearrange and to reprioritize
to live with faith and strength that is beyond my ability
to love beyond my ability so as to offer YOU to them,
this watching world, circling and looking for rest
this wounded broken hurting cursed world of souls left out
I have learned of your kingdom, found rest in the strength of the branches that proceeded from your small beginning in me. Let me scatter this same seed. Amen.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Crazy like Jesus

Lent day 16

Mark 3.21 When his family heard about this they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."

What is this? Jesus' own family falling short of faith? It is never popular to take a stand of faith. Even the closest friends and relatives will question your sanity. Heck, even I question my own sanity sometimes! Think about it from their perspective. You are no longer living for yourself. You give stuff and money away. You take your spare time and serve others with it. You really give a rats behind about the people that you meet. Excessive, extreme, fanatical, weirdo.

Kind of nice to know that Jesus experienced that too, right? What did this do to their Sabbath meal conversations? Do you think they asked Jesus, "Really, Jeez, how you do that trick with the fish and the bread?" What did they think of his spirituality? Over the top, freakish, nuts?

I am crazy about Jesus. I love the way his Spirit moves upon me as I worship him. I love the way that he gives extreme wisdom in extreme circumstances. I love the fact that he meets me in my quiet time every time my knees are bent. But people don't understand. They think it is off the wall or weird. Can I tell you something? Lean a little closer to the computer screen. I don't care what they think, or how much they judge me, or whether they think I am nuts. I am in good company.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

About Time!

Lent Day 15

Isn't it about time to stop settling? Aren't you sick of the mediocre christian life? When will you sell out to the cause of Christ?

It might be good if your freind asked you those questions straight faced and serious every morning. This generation is settling for the warmed over church experience of our parents! This generation is lifting selfishness and mediocrity to new levels of acceptance. This generation has sold out to Hollywierd, Microsoft, Ipods, and American Idol- but not to the cause of Christ.


What is the christian life? It is a life that is about faith in God from beginning to the end. It is about serving your fellow men and women, brothers and sisters in Christ, consistantly. It is about living for the kingdom of God. It is being turned on by the invisible, and stimulated by the Spirit's work in men, women, boys and girls. It is about seeing the change happen in the lives of the new believers, and finding the joy of mentoring and ministry.

It's about time that we sell out to Christ. How can we meditate on Jesus' complete devotion the surrender of his life on the cross and total commitment and think that our mediocrity is okay?

more on the "tomb of Jesus"

'Lost Tomb of Jesus' Claim Called a Stunt
Archaeologists Decry TV Film
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff WriterWednesday, February 28, 2007; Page A03

Leading archaeologists in Israel and the United States yesterday denounced the purported discovery of the tomb of Jesus as a publicity stunt.
Scorn for the Discovery Channel's claim to have found the burial place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and -- most explosively -- their possible son came not just from Christian scholars but also from Jewish and secular experts who said their judgments were unaffected by any desire to uphold Christian orthodoxy.

In a warehouse in Bet Shemesh, Israel, Israeli Antiquities workers move ossuaries found in a cave in Jerusalem that are featured in the documentary "The Lost Tomb of Jesus." The film claims that among these is the ossuary of Jesus.

"I'm not a Christian. I'm not a believer. I don't have a dog in this fight," said William G. Dever, who has been excavating ancient sites in Israel for 50 years and is widely considered the dean of biblical archaeology among U.S. scholars. "I just think it's a shame the way this story is being hyped and manipulated."
The Discovery Channel held a news conference in New York on Monday to unveil a TV documentary, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," and a companion book about a tomb that was unearthed during construction of an apartment building in the Talpiyot neighborhood of Jerusalem in 1980.

James Cameron, the filmmaker who explored the wreck of the Titanic and directed an Oscar-winning feature film based on its sinking, is executive producer of the documentary. Its claims are based on six ossuaries, or stone boxes for holding human bones, found in the tomb.

The filmmakers contend that the inscriptions on the boxes say Yeshua bar Yosef (Jesus son of Joseph), Maria (Mary), Yose (Joseph), Matia (Matthew), Mariamene e Mara (Maria the Master) and Yehuda bar Yeshua (Judah son of Jesus). They maintain that "Mariamene e Mara" is Mary Magdalene and that Yehuda bar Yeshua may be her son by Jesus.

Simcha Jacobovici, the film's Israeli-born director, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he commissioned four statistical studies that concluded that the odds of those particular names appearing in a single family tomb from the 1st century are "somewhere between 600 and 2.4 million to one."

Jacobovici also said tests on the patina, or surface residue, of the "James Ossuary," which surfaced in 2002, indicate that it also came from the Talpiyot tomb. Israeli authorities have pronounced the James Ossuary, which purportedly held the bones of a brother of Jesus, a forgery and are prosecuting its owner. Jacobovici, who made a 2003 Discovery Channel film about it, maintains it is real.
Dever, a retired professor of archaeology at the University of Arizona, said that some of the inscriptions on the Talpiyot ossuaries are unclear, but that all of the names are common.

"I've know about these ossuaries for many years and so have many other archaeologists, and none of us thought it was much of a story, because these are rather common Jewish names from that period," he said. "It's a publicity stunt, and it will make these guys very rich, and it will upset millions of innocent people because they don't know enough to separate fact from fiction."

Similar assessments came yesterday from two Israeli scholars, Amos Kloner, who originally excavated the tomb, and Joe Zias, former curator of archaeology at the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Kloner told the Jerusalem Post that the documentary is "nonsense." Zias described it in an e-mail to The Washington Post as a "hyped up film which is intellectually and scientifically dishonest."

Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, expressed irritation that the claims were made at a news conference rather than in a peer-reviewed scientific article. By going directly to the media, she said, the filmmakers "have set it up as if it's a legitimate academic debate, when the vast majority of scholars who specialize in archaeology of this period have flatly rejected this," she said.

Magness noted that at the time of Jesus, wealthy families buried their dead in tombs cut by hand from solid rock, putting the bones in niches in the walls and then, later, transferring them to ossuaries.
She said Jesus came from a poor family that, like most Jews of the time, probably buried their dead in ordinary graves. "If Jesus' family had been wealthy enough to afford a rock-cut tomb, it would have been in Nazareth, not Jerusalem," she said.

Magness also said the names on the Talpiyot ossuaries indicate that the tomb belonged to a family from Judea, the area around Jerusalem, where people were known by their first name and father's name. As Galileans, Jesus and his family members would have used their first name and home town, she said.

"This whole case [for the tomb of Jesus] is flawed from beginning to end," she said.

Who could stand?

Lent Day 14

Psalm 130.3-5 If you, O Lord kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with your there is forgiveness; therefore you are to be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Not me. I couldn't stand - and neither could you. God knew our weakness, or frailty, or shallowness, and our lust for the unclean- and he sent his Son. The Psalmist knew that there wasn't a single person worthy to be "God's chosen". He saw clearly- we stand by grace. When we get disoriented by the pulses of the world, we must turn to the Word of God and put our hope there.

In spite of what I may have expereinced, or what I may think of myself, I read in those hope impregnated pages that I am loved (He calls me his Beloved), I am chosen (by his great mercy) and I am empowered (by his Spirit). It is no wonder that we "are what we are by the grace of God"

Who could stand... we could if we only knew how much he loved us!

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Life Surrendered

Lent Day 13

Matt 26:50-54 Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for."
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" NIV

It is easy to miss the fact, as we are watching from the wings, that Jesus is completely in control of this moment. The Disciples missed this. Like most of us they were rattled by the crisis that lay immediately before them. Their Master was being apprehended and arrested. When things go wrong right in front of us , when our expectations are crushed, when the circumstances of our faith are frustrated- we are apt to forget that the Lord is fully in charge.

The disciples were swinging away - responding in fleshly panic- Jesus makes it crystal clear. No man takes his life... he gives it freely. Once laid down, his life would be the redemption price for the world's lost and dying people. With Jesus there is no panic. Only a sense of duty to purchase for God men from all tribes and languages.

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Disappointed with Christians

Lent Day 12

Matthew 26.45 The he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look the hour is near..."

It wasn't like Jesus didn't ask for the prayer support of his disciples. They were supposed to avoid this ill advised sleep. Timing is everything isn't it! When we face the extremem circumstance we need friends but they will let us down... if not now, someday soon.

What is a christian to do with this betrayal of other believers? How do we handle the disappointment? How do we trust again? These steps have helped me...

1. we must remember that we have let others down too. It is a part of the human experience.
2. We must know the heart of another in order to trust them
3. We must relinquish all unforgiveness and bitterness for their sake, AND our own.

A wise christian gentlemen once told me to make sure my debts are paid up and my list is short. Living everyday as your last helps you with this. God help us all.

spirit is willing...

Lent Day 11

Matthew 26. 41 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into tempation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

Really? Is my spirit willing? I can certainly Amen the weak flesh part. Wow, I am pathetic! But what about this idea that my spirit is willing?

The HOly Spirit is working on the inside of me according to Rom 8 and is giving me fresh perspective on my life. Empowering my spirit ( the human spirit) to apprehend the things of God, know them, and receive revelation on them. The Spirit is working on my spirit to reveal God to me.

So am I weak or strong?

Perhaps it is not so much what I am (as if it were intrinsic to my being) but who I am relying upon! When I rely upon the Holy Spirit to empower, reveal, and bring revelation I am destined to be made more alive in Christ. This ministry of LIFE flowing in me is one that I must nurture and appreciate. When I fail, like these disciples who are receiving this challenge (rebuke?), I drift into a sort of spiritual malaise that hinders the ful development of my spiritual inner man.

Victory, the life that lives above being dragged down by the human experience, is the possession of those who listen to the HS and who nurture that nature within them.

Rom 8.5 Those who live according to the sinful nature (flesh) have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires...

Coming to the Garden Alone

Lent day 10

If we are focusing on the cross during this season we would do well to look at Jesus in Gethsemane. Here he is wrestling with the greatest decision of his life... to pursue God's will. After serving the Lord these many decades I am more convinced than ever before that the most difficult decisions are the ones where our will comes in direct conflict with the revealed plan of God.

Sometimes in his guidance God leaves some figuring out for us. There is certain spiritual growth in apprehending the will of God for our lives. We apply our acquired Biblical knowledge, we postulate the possibilities, and pray for direction... listening. Think of all we would miss if God sent us a post card with our future directions on it!

But there are moments, usually crucial moments, in our life that we know God's will. It may have come to us in an inspired impression during prayer, or through a confirming word from a friend ( or a stranger), it may be clearly spoken direction from those in authority over us, or revealed by a prophetic brother or sister- when it is that important we know what the will of God is! Perhaps God is gracious to Jesus here in the garden because he recognizes that he is asking him to do what no other has ever done. The nobility of the act is as great as the conflict in his soul.- Not my will but yours.

There is something to learn there too. The lesson of submission. Heb 5.7-8 must refer to this time. "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offeredup prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered..."

Whenever our will is directly in contrast with His, when his wisdom conflicts with our desire, when his direction is unappreciated by our flesh... then, I know that I am about to learn a spiritual life lesson. If only I could submit....