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Monday, January 30, 2017

I Pretended to Interview Jesus

Coming back to the house after a walk with the dog, and feeling the weight of having failed to die to self and let Jesus flow through me 100% of the time...I began to see the root of having expectations of others and then wanting control.  Somehow out of those thoughts I began to imagine an interview with Jesus.
Interviewer:  I would like to ask you some questions about things that hinder your prayers.  Do selfish motives ever hinder your prayers, James speaks of this in his letter? 
Jesus:  No
Interviewer:  Okay well how about not forgiving others, that is one You mentioned when You taught the disciples how to pray, do you have trouble with that?
Jesus:  No
Interviewer:  This one gets everybody, not being kind to others, Peter tells us that can hinder our prayers, is than an area You struggle with?
Jesus:  No
Interviewer:  Well, honestly, this interview hasn't been much help to me, I struggle in every one of these areas and they block or hinder my prayers often.
Jesus:  Why?
Interviewer:  Because I am human I guess.
Jesus:  Why?
Interviewer:  I was born that way.
Jesus:  But weren't you born again, born from above?  Aren't you a new creation?
Interviewer:  Well yeh, but as I look at these areas of my life I see how often I fall short and I try harder but, well, there isn't much change.
Jesus:  So you look at the old creation, instead of the new.  You are a new creation, spend time with Me, focus on Me, get to know My love for you and let that love flow out to others.  There is no fruit in looking at the old creation, the flesh, and there is no fruit in trying harder.  Fruit is found in Me.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"living sacrifice"

Two little words that make no sense together should cause us to stop, to "selah" and consider, 'What is God up to here?'.  "living sacrifice"
Romans 12 (where this phrase appears) follows Romans 11 and the rest of this amazing book.  The mind of God is being revealed to us in this book and it is precious beyond words.  The Holy Spirit, The Ruach Hokodesh, The Eternal Spirit One with the Father and the Son from before the foundation of the world, is unveiling to Paul, the way of a Man with a woman.  (Proverbs 30:18,19 "There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand: 19The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a young woman.")
This is a truly revolutionary way of living that has been revealed to us, if it looks ordinary or blends in, in any way, rest assured it is not the true gospel!
So the picture is the Bridegroom and the bride of the Messiah the King of Israel.  ("Christ", and I mean absolutely no disrespect, may be the worst "word" of all time, because it completely robs the original word, Messiah, of all of its meaning and implication.  If you stop at "anointed" which is all that that word means, and do not go on to "anointed King of Israel", you are destroying the word, and the concept that it is bringing across, and you are ripping it out of its true context and making a new concept that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the original word and meaning.  Tragic, but I digress!) 
Back to the point, Romans 11 has just brought us to an other-worldly crescendo, a height unattainable for anything written by a man.  The entire history of the world has been systematically shown to be under the control of a very loving, merciful, patient Hand.  From this height, because of this height, "Therefore" is brought in to transition us to the next truth, but with the full understanding that, this next truth is built on the foundation of EVERYTHING that was said leading up to it.  (We sometimes look for context by going back 3 verses, no that won't do, not really, it is one whole letter, just like it is one whole book and to even begin to get the meaning, you have to put it in that context.  Cue the whining, "That's too much work."  No, not really, the true and ultimate context is His heart, get that right and everything else flows like a river.)
The point that I am making is hard to follow, and I am okay with that, stick around, do the "hard work" because you are desperate for life-changing truth.
If we are truly on this journey with the Holy Spirit and Paul we are just beginning to come back to earth, Chapter 11 revealed a sovereign heart of mercy that is determined at the cost of His own life to show mercy and save "all Israel."  Paul was groaning under the weight of Israel's temporary, God-imposed blindness in Chapter 9, and God weaved the story together in such a way, that Paul was positively blown away by the Self-sacrificing mercy of the Creator God!  The path of salvation is over the back of the laid down Lover, God!  The blindness is only temporary and only meant to bring more people into the family, to expand the reach of mercy, and once the blindness has accomplished its purpose, the Good Shepherd is going back to retrieve every one of His  lost sheep!  Mercy triumphs over judgment!  Hallelujah!  Mercy is the point, Mercy is the Message!
The ministry of reconciliation, that has been lovingly placed in to the hands of all the communities that gather in His Name, is simply to live out and point to that great, incomprehensible, MERCY!

"living sacrifice"  Step One.  An ordinary human being is arrested by the notion that they are a sinner, in desperate need of the mercy of God.  Typically we do this by preaching judgment, (Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God) but Jesus did this same thing to Peter by showing him, overwhelming kindness, remember the story.  Jesus "borrows" Peter's boat, so that He can teach the people without being crowded by the many people who press upon his physical body.  He has just used, Peter's "place of business" for His ministry and inconvenienced Peter, but now it is time for the Lord who is full of mercy to reveal Himself to Peter by "paying back" the kindness that Peter showed.  At the instructions of this Rabbi, the fishermen cast nets at a time of the day when no fish can be caught!  It is the "eye rolling" obedience of a teenager who knows way more about life than there decrepit parents and their out-dated wisdom, but it is obedience nevertheless.  The catch of fish is "stunning" it is a haul greater than the nets can handle, greater than one boat can handle, others are called in to help with the "impossible" number of fish!  Peter is too busy doing his "job" while in the act of bringing in the fish, but as soon as he has time to consider what has happened, he falls at the feet of the Master in repentant, unworthiness, and receives a commissioning into the work of the Kingdom of God!  "And they left everything and followed Him!"  The presence of His overwhelming kindness brought Peter to repentance.  (Romans 2:4)
   Step Two.  Still overwhelmed by the kindness of God, and very aware that it was only that kindness that saved me, I want to tell others and show others "overwhelming kindness and mercy".
   Step Three.  My "humanness" (what the Bible calls my flesh) raises its ugly head and is mean, or lustful, or self-centered in any number of ways, and the Adversary is right there to say, "See it is not real, there has been no real change."  Defeated and with no one to tell you or show you any different you, hide your light.  You are 'saved' and waiting for your ticket out of this mean world, that you are powerless to effect.
   Step Four.  You come across someone whose life is demonstrating that the Person of Jesus can still be evident in a human being.  Overwhelming kindness can flow from the Heart of the Father, through a human being and bring healing, mercy, grace and forgiveness.
    Step Five.  Your heart is re-ignited with hope, that this message, this gospel is true!  You observe them, hang around them, and begin to see the key.
    Step Six.  "living sacrifice" God reveals that the foundation of their life is that they are so aware of the overwhelming mercy that has been shown to them by the faithful, loving, sovereign, Creator of the Universe, that they have fully given up, and given over their life to Him.  He has the total "say so" in all of their actions, in all of their life, and so Jesus can flow through them.  Jesus can love through them, Jesus can heal through them, Jesus can show great, powerful, irresistible mercy through them, because they "no longer live".  They willingly lay down their life and allow His life to flow.  They are bound to the altar with cords of love, they are a "living sacrifice" and seeing that this is possible you can no longer go back to business as usual! You lay down, you step into the glorious position of a "living sacrifice.".... and nothing is ever the same!  Mercy has called and commissioned you to fulfill your purpose on this earth, pointing to the Merciful One whose mercy endures forever!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Ministry of Reconciliation ... OUR LIFE!

He knows you
He loves you
He completely cleared the path for you to come home

 I will work with my talented wife later to make this into a "meme", but this is a simple summary of the simple message of reconciliation that we have been given. It is not just meant to be words but an all encompassing "way" of living within a culture that needs to hear and see, a people who truly "do not know what they do"!

Much appreciation and love goes out from my heart to a small gathering of "beloved knuckleheads" who brought this out of the murky mire into clear focus.

11 So because we stand in awe of the one true Lord, we make it our aim to convince all people of the truth of the gospel; God sees who we really are, and I hope in some way that you’ll look deeply into your consciences to see us as well. 12 But we hope you understand that we are not trying to prove ourselves to you or pull together a résumé that will impress you. We are simply hoping that you will find a sense of joy in connecting with us. And when you are approached by others (who may value appearances more than the heart) asking questions about us, you will be able to offer an answer for them. 13 If we seem out of control or act like fanatics, it is for God. But if we act in a coherent and reasonable way, it is for you. 14 You see, the controlling force in our lives is the love of the Anointed One. And our confession is this: One died for all; therefore, all have died. 15 He died for us so that we will all live, not for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose from the dead. 16 Because of all that God has done, we now have a new perspective. We used to show regard for people based on worldly standards and interests. No longer. We used to think of the Anointed the same way. No longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone—and see—a new life has begun! 18 All of this is a gift from our Creator God, who has pursued us and brought us into a restored and healthy relationship with Him through the Anointed. And He has given us the same mission, the ministry of reconciliation, to bring others back to Him. 19 It is central to our good news that God was in the Anointed making things right between Himself and the world. This means He does not hold their sins against them. But it also means He charges us to proclaim the message that heals and restores our broken relationships with God and each other.
20 So we are now representatives of the Anointed One, the Liberating King; God has given us a charge to carry through our lives—urging all people on behalf of the Anointed to become reconciled to the Creator God. 21 He orchestrated this: the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Body is a Beautiful Thing

How wise of God to arrange His gathering in the form of a body.  Not a closed system that would have grown stale very shortly, but an open system with intake and outflow.  The emphasis is on every part is necessary, essential, needed, has a purpose.  Every angle on any given situation is a blessing if it is humbly received, even if all that it does is reveal something in the heart of the one stating it.  We are to be so "caught up in union with Him" that we truly cannot be offended.  It is not a matter of "holding back our hatred" it is a matter of being a new creation that does not have that hatred.  Yes it is a process but it is a process that starts from a place of "It is finished".

Another thought

Acts 13:45 in the Messianic Writings translation... "But when some Jews saw the crowds they were filled with jealous rivalry, and spoke against and maligned the things which were spoken by Paulos."
I want to hone in on the words, "jealous rivalry".  This is the reaction, this is the evil spirit, camping out on the flesh of man, that we will be "up against" as the body begins to act like the body and show the love and see the miracles that Jesus said we would.  Just like in Paul's day, the religious will rise up in "jealous rivalry" and speak against the work that God is doing.  What happens next, well if they have enough power they will "force us out" of that area and we will go to another area, filled with joy and Holy Spirit.

Lastly, I am only 25 minutes into this but I already highly recommend it.

Friday, January 6, 2017

"Don't cling to me."

Jesus told her, "Don't hold on to me. I have not yet gone to the Father. But go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"       John 20:17

God is love, so we can look for love in all the scriptures we read.  Love stopped to comfort an overwhelmed woman on a Sunday morning.  Love detoured from His bee-line back to the Father to comfort her and to give her a message and a purpose.  Love blew past the social mores of the day and sent out a woman as a witness.  Love dropped a gentle clue that the time for clinging to His human form was coming to a close and there was something so much better coming next.  The release of the Holy Spirit to come and live in us!  

We are so pathetically gentile and hardened and "churched" that we are not knocked off our feet when we hear the words, the Holy Spirit come to live in us.  "Oh what fellowship, Oh what peace is mine!"  

We should probably examine why we are so blase in the face of something that should by its very nature cause awe and wonder.