What’s Your Weapon?

What are some of the things you’ve been doing as we shelter-in-place during this crazy time in what will one day be world history?

Music moves me, therefore, I like to sing. However, in my mind is the only place I sound like so many of your beautiful voices. I don’t let that stop me, perhaps to the chagrin of those close to me. God loves a cheerful noise.

This morning as I sat in sweet solitude with Jesus praising Him, God and Holy Spirit for Who They are, the word revere came to me. To stand in awe of God. How often, especially lately, have I simply stood in awe of God? How often have you? That isn’t meant as a judgement rather a reflective question. We can get so busy with life that our sweet time with Jesus can become another check on our to-do list [believe me I’ve been there]. When this happens our time with Jesus becomes something to get through for the day, like a chore, rather than nurturing a deep and intimate relationship with Him.

As I continued in my precious time with Jesus I felt led to listen to some worship music. I played a few songs and scrolled through my playlist looking for a particular song when I stopped on Raise A Hallelujah by Bethel Music. As I listened I was moved. Moved to be thankful for all things. Even shelter-in-place. Rather than think about where our next roll of toilet paper, tissue, hand sanitizer [diy on how to make your own!], paper towels will come from or when we can all get back to work, raise your own hallelujah. If I do it and you do you and another person does it, like dominoes falling, soon the entire Body of Christ will raise their voices in an unending hallelujah to the Lord!

I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies

I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief

I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody

I raise a hallelujah, Heaven comes to fight for me

I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm

Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar

Up from the ashes, hope will arise

Death is defeated, the King is alive

Bethel Music

I understand this time of staying at home is hard. I get it, I’m a discipler and I like to disciple one-to-one…in person. I’ve learned to get creative as so many of you have as well. Rather than focus on staying at home let’s focus on hope, the King is alive and lives within each believer in Jesus through Holy Spirit, heaven fights for us even though we don’t readily see it or maybe even sense this.

Let’s make our weapon a melody!

This securely places our focus on Him and not on us or our situation. The unbelief needs to witness your belief.

The unbelief needs to hear your hallelujah!

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May We Want To

He must have been exhausted as He climbed the mountain after seeing the large and looming crowds. How many had come to see Him, hear Him, or even touch Him? What was it that caused so many to simply want to be near Him?

As tired as He was He sat down and as His disciples gathered around Him he took a steadying and deep breath and began to teach them.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3.

The look on their faces might have been worth a thousand words or at least a few denarii. Poor in spirit. What was He talking about? What Jesus wanted them to understand is spiritual poorness is humbleness. He wanted them to know that deep within them they had the knowledge to grab ahold of the divine and eternal things of God.

Having traveled with The Teacher day after day, they knew how weary and tired He was and how overwhelming the crowds could be. Yet, He set the example when He climbed the mountain and taught them. He wanted them to know He would give them what they needed to be humble, to grab onto the eternal things of God and to go on and teach others to do the same.

Over two millennial later, it is no different for you or for me. Sometimes simply living life can be exhausting. We may want to climb a mountain to escape from the enormity of a situation but Jesus wants us to use the gifts He has blessed us with to meet the needs of the crowds.

For me that is feeding people. Sometimes this involves meeting the physical need for food. Many times it is spiritual food He asks me to provide. It is recognizing that Holy Spirit wants to replenish the lonely, the hopeless or the weary through me regardless it I want to or not.

I would love for you to comment on your spiritual gifts and how you feel led to use them. Let’s encourage one another as He sends us out to share Him.

May we all want to.

Shalom!

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The Big Lie

Jesus will always love all His human creation, however, we cannot stop here because Jesus will always hate sin. 

Satiated by their finished meal, the open fires casted a slight shadow over them as they and His disciples continued to listen intently. Preoccupied with the many things they had heard that day and evening were cause for consideration.

One of the things that caught their attention was Jesus telling them He would be ashamed of them if they were ashamed of Him and His words. Oh the deep, painful, and overwhelming sorrow they felt at these words.

Many of us probably associate ashamed with shame. Let’s stop right here.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1.

If you believe in Jesus there is no longer shame or condemnation on your shoulders.

In our verse today (Mark 8:38) Jesus is teaching that being ashamed is two-fold. It applies to those who haven’t accepted Jesus and have misplaced their trust and confidence in the big lie—someone or thing other than Jesus.

It also means Jesus will be ashamed of those who erroneously think, wrongly identify or align themselves with anyone or thing other than Him. I understand this is hard to hear for many especially because Jesus ushered in the new covenant of love.

Jesus will always love all His human creation, however, we cannot stop here because Jesus will always hate sin. 

It is because of love Jesus gives the warning in our verse today. The adulterous and sinful generation began the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit and it continues to this day.

How you share this truth matters. It holds much weight. Yes, there is an urgency and we want others to know Jesus loves them. We also want them to know they don’t have to believe the big lie. 

I encourage you to think about all the practical ways you can share Jesus. Smiling at strangers, picking up those items that fall off the shelf at grocery stores that others pass by, paying for the order of the car behind you in a drive-thru. These small steps help build our confidence and trust in Jesus and prepare us to move onto the bigger assignments He has for us.

How will you share Jesus today?

Shalom!

 

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Profit and Recognition

Believing in Jesus is not a for-profit lifestyle

The stunned crowd regained their presence of mind and realized they were hungry. They took some time to share a meal. Sitting around an open fire they pondered what the Teacher had said as they ate fig cakes, raisin cakes and loaves of bread. They drank wine from wine skins to quench their dry and parched throats.

As Jesus began to teach again He was talking about profit and gaining the world. Fist bump, now He was speaking their language. Surely the tax collectors in the crowd were salivating. Wait. Did He just say forfeit? What does forfeit and gaining the whole world have to do with each other?

Believing in Jesus automatically makes you His disciple. Hold up, I can sense and hear some of you saying, this isn’t what I signed up for. I hear you. I’m sorry if the discipleship part was or has been left out of what you’ve been taught. It is still eternally better than the alternative. Everyday I am learning something new about what it means to truly follow Jesus. We can learn together.

Believing in Jesus is not a for-profit lifestyle. Nor, is it for worldly recognition, or, any recognition. How can it be when our heart’s desire ought to be revealing Jesus? Profit and recognition stand in stark contrast to Jesus. Thursday’s post encouraged you to ask God to reveal to you what area’s from your past need to go. Could ego and pride (recognition) and acquiring vast wealth (monetary profit) be included in what God is showing you? It has been for me. I grew up with depression age parents. We always had everything we needed (and this ought to have been enough) but rarely did we have the things we desired. I fell into the trap of credit cards, yes that is plural, at an early age. Praise God for His divine wisdom and guidance. It wasn’t easy allowing myself to be set free from those chains but His plans are always best. We’ve also been working on pride through the years. That is an ugly root. Here’s the thing, when we choose to spend time with Jesus He lavishes us with His love. We begin to desire to change because of Him and for Him. He is so patient as we learn to trust Him and discover the changes that become apparent in our life.

Is it okay to profit? Sure it is if we use it from a kingdom perspective. When we profit it is our responsibility to do good, help and benefit others. In regards to forfeit Jesus is speaking to those who have not made a choice for Him. They may profit and gain recognition but will continue to carry the penalty of sin on their soul causing them to live a part from the light of heaven with Jesus.

Be bold with me today in the way you speak, the way you behave, and the way you share Jesus. Let’s be disciples according to His word. The world needs your smile, your hello, your compassion, your resources—money, time, talent, prayers. The world needs you to love them like Jesus.

Shalom!

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Opposite Day

Continuing their journey, the midday heat has dissipated and the cool of the desert evening is beginning to surround them. He and His disciples approach a large crowd holding torches to light the quickly advancing darkness. A donkey brays somewhere in the distance and the birds chirping begins to quiet as the desert settles for the night

He invites the crowd to come closer along with His disciples as He prepares to teach.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

Mark 8:34,35

The crowd is stunned by His words. His disciples, well, can you hear their thoughts? Deny ourselves…take up our cross…saving our life means losing it…losing our life means saving it? This is not opposite day or is it? The disciples have heard Jesus teach many things but this has them scratching their heads.

  • Deny is the Greek word aparneomai and means to utterly refuse to recognize the original source involved (Biblehub.com).

  • Cross is the Greek word stauros and represents unspeakable pain, humiliation and suffering – and ironically is also the symbol of infinite love! At the cross, Jesus won our salvation – which is free but certainly not cheap! (Biblehub.com).

Be encouraged! The Cross is not a symbol for suffering in general. It represents the trials, challenges and hardships we experience in life and are able to endure because of the power of Holy Spirit in us.

  • Lose is the Greek word apollumi meaning to be lost or utterly perish.

  • Save (my favorite of today’s words) is the Greek word sózó meaning to heal, preserve, rescue. Rescued from the former version of ourself and delivered into divine safety.

This is all fine and dandy but what does this actually look like for us? When we deny ourselves we are refusing to recognize the version of ourself prior to Jesus. This reminds me of Lot’s wife that turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back. I am not suggesting that we will turn into a pillar of salt for looking back at our former self, in fact, many of us are still working through area’s of our life that have to do with who we use to be, reconciling those area’s and receiving God’s abundant healing. Once we have both feet on the ground and can move forward, then, looking back is useless. I pray the power of Holy Spirit in you to see you successfully through any healing He is doing in you from your past. You’ve got this!

The Cross, oh the blessed Cross. Thank you Jesus for the Cross. Because of His death on the Cross you and I don’t have to endure that torture. We don’t have to live apart from the light and love of God. We don’t have to continue in sin because we have been set free! However, we all have, will and will continue to have struggles, trials, hardship, muck and yuck in our life this side of heaven.

Because of Jesus we aren’t lost and won’t utterly perish. We are rescued, healed and preserved by Him. We are saved.

Denying ourself for the sake of the gospel is the least we can do for what He did for us. With His help explore the area’s of the old version of yourself and ask Him what needs to go. Ask Him to help you let go. Ask Him for His help to endure the cross you are bearing. He is faithful to always help.

Jesus invited the crowd to come closer. He invites you too.

Shalom!

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Divine Perspective or World View?

Suddenly they stopped in their journey, the dust from their sandals swirling around their feet. The daytime heat was becoming stifling and they were uncomfortable.

Their discomfort was more than physical. His words were messing with their current world view. If He was Messiah He was there to bring victory, to make all things political fall in their favor. They were, after all, descendants of God’s chosen people…an entire nation.

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31.

One of the twelve [the one that had just called Him the Messiah] pulls Him aside for a brief chat and admonishes Him, the Messiah, for His teaching.

In our first verse today Jesus is teaching His disciples that their world view is just that—worldly and based on human things. He rattles their world by telling them they are not thinking in a divine manner. He wants them to focus on the things of God, the Creator and owner of all things (Bible.com).

 

What does focusing on divine things look like in your life, in my life? Deeper still, what does being a follower of Jesus really mean?

Changing our focus to divine things. Yes, there is a lot of muck in the world today and we ought to be aware of what is going on around us. Our focus, however, is to be on God. What does He want us to do?

Take the Coronavirus. Are we to be fearful? No, but we are to be wise and take appropriate precautions. How can we further focus on the divine in this situation? We can pray, especially asking God in His mercy to end the virus and heal those who are sick in Jesus Name. Deeper still we can pray for the salvation of those who are sick which hopefully leads us to pray for all those who don’t yet know Jesus around the world—praying for Israel.

Let’s ask God to shape our world view with divine things. One that becomes less about us and more about Him.

Shalom!

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Who Am I?

The air is dry and the true heat of the day hasn’t begun. The children are running about playing soldier with sticks they have found. The birds are chirping and the women set about their chores for the day. They put out freshly made platters of fruit…grapes, dates, apples, and pomegranates along with freshly made bread. The men were reclining and enjoying this meal before their journey through the city.

When Jesus asks them the question.

On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

Mark 8:27b,28.

In our verses today Jesus asks His disciples what people are saying about Him in regards to who people think He is. That’s the easy part evidenced in their response. But, Jesus goes deeper and asks them who they think He is. Whether answering for the group or himself, Peter answers, “You are the Messiah.”

He is Messiah! What a glorious thing. From Him, to Him and through Him are all things (Romans 11:36). We exist from Him. We are righteous through Him, we are His (to him) by faith that He gives us completing an unending circle. Life isn’t truly life until life is joined in Him.

He is Messiah. What does that mean to you? Over the last several days He has been teaching us about faith and good deeds. That faith is dead without the good deeds He places before us to do with the power of Holy Spirit and in His Name. He continues this line of teaching as we’ve moved from James to Mark. If He is truly Messiah to you and to me our responsibility is to share Him, share His love with whomever He brings to us and wherever He sends us. Not questioning why me Lord? rather proclaiming, why not me Lord!

Father, I ask for more faith, courage and boldness for me and my brothers and sisters in Christ and those who are yet to believe. Continue to teach us how to love like Jesus setting aside our theology and simply meeting others where they are. To be a good samaritan in all circumstances. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Shalom!

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She Was Considered Righteous

Perhaps she felt there wasn’t another choice but to live the life she had fallen into. Maybe her parents were ill and couldn’t care for her rather she had to care for them. Was she once married and her husband left or passed? Were there young mouths to feed? Did tax collectors charge her exorbitantly to live in her meager homestead? Or, perhaps she was exploited beyond her control and considered an ‘untouchable’ according the the custom and culture of the time and left to fend for herself and that of her family. Whatever her reasons she had become a prostitute.

I sense her desperation. Distraught, lonely and hopeless even while living among family and friends. Suddenly, two men of God appear requiring her assistance. Inherently, she knew the right thing to do. She may not have lived righteously up to this point, held by the bondage of her sin, but life was about to change for her and her family.

He has also set eternity in the human heart…Ecclesiastes 3:11b.

All along her heart knew eternity and like so many she found herself lost along the path of life. But now…now her decision to help these men for the sake of God was considered righteous.

Let’s choose to stop striving and connect with eternity that sits in our heart. Ask Holy Spirit to help you continually hear His soft voice wooing you closer, deeper and more intimately to His heart. In this place with Him lavishing you with His faithful and unending love you truly can do all things through Him.

As we learn to connect with eternity in our heart let’s also reach out and teach others, especially those that have been marginalized, to connect with eternity in their heart also. Can you imagine what the world will look like when we do?

She was considered righteous. She was Rahab.

Shalom!

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The Ancient of Days

There He sits regal in all His robes, presiding over His courtroom. Sitting high above the gallery. There is kindness and love in His eys as He gazes my way. Can it be? Yes.

The Ancient of Days.

Suddenly and with out warning, His eyes blaze like a furnace. He slams down His gavel and looks directly at the accuser and proclaims, “She is NOT guilty!” The accuser, surprised and taken aback, shrinks and shrivels before my eyes. Handcuffed he is taken away to rot apart from the light and love of God that he once enjoyed.

How often do you, do I remind ourselves that as believers in Jesus we are not guilty of the accusations of Satan? Because of Jesus death on the Cross and our faith in Him we are free! The chains of bondage that held or continue to hold many have been broken. Right now, see in your mind, the breaking of these chains and proclaim, “Because of Jesus I am free!” The enemy has no victory over you. Quite the contrary, YOU, through the power of Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus have ultimate and final victory over him

In today’s verse is the word justified. It is the Greek word dikaioó. It means made right by God’s grace each time we receive (obey) faith (Bible.com).

Justification goes much deeper than faith alone. It is what we do for God on earth by His grace each time we receive faith to move and obey. Justification is ongoing and requires an action by you and by me.

As you continue to stay tethered to Jesus may you remember the power of Holy Spirit in you to receive greater and greater faith and his courage and boldness to do the good deeds He has called you to.

Live free!

Shalom!

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Fatih and Actions Working Together

The crowd, somewhat calmed, but still heightened by James teaching, cautiously listens even as James calls them foolish. Accusing them of being empty of moral content and pretentious. By the power of Holy Spirit he continues to press them harder but they remain incredulous demanding evidence that faith without deeds is useless. Collectively they wonder, “Who is this man turning upside down our thought process, the very core of what we grew up learning? Who does he think he is? Isn’t he simply the brother, and half at that, of the man named Jesus who claimed to be The Messiah? And, he has the audacity to liken what Father Abraham did [offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice] as a deed because of his faith in God?”

James was on fire in his teaching, actually throughout the entire book of James, he is succinct and to the point not parsing words (oh, that the Bride would be more James-like holding herself accountable by drawing herself back to the truth of God’s word in love and grace rather than falling into the trap of societal correctness, when it is our job as believers to hold each other accountable and draw each other back to the truth of God’s word and allow the Holy Spirit to convict and recognizing we are not judging each other but loving each other, but I digress).

How often do you, do I require evidence from God about anything?

Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

James 2:21-22

Abraham didn’t need any evidence for what God was asking him to do. He allowed his faith to help him be obedient together with his action resulting in his faith made complete.

Do you often think about your faith connected to the deeds God asks of you as growing your faith? How gracious God is when He asks us to fill a need at the same time He is growing our faith! Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said we would do greater things than these (John 14:12-14). Collectively, spurred on by our ever increasing faith and by the power of Holy Spirit we can and ought to do the deeds or good work God calls us to do.

So, how do we apply this to our life? I will always lead you back to time spent with God. It is only through reading and studying His word and prayer that we begin to hear His voice guiding us in the direction He wants us to go and His will for our life.

Let’s aspire to take on the characteristics of James and Abraham believing that faith and deeds is an abundant way of living.

Shalom!

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