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!

If you don’t have a Bible but would like one please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top of the page or if you’re viewing from a mobile device click on the menu button in the upper right.

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!

If you don’t have a Bible but would like one please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top of the page or if you’re viewing from a mobile device click on the menu button in the upper right.

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!

If you don’t have a Bible but would like one please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top of the page or if you’re viewing from a mobile device click on the menu button in the upper right.

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!

If you don’t have a Bible but would like one please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top of the page or if you’re viewing from a mobile device click on the menu button in the upper right.

Faith, Deeds, Life

The man standing at the back of the gathering in the square shouted, “That is preposterous!” Another jumped to his feet, robes gently billowing in the late afternoon breeze, and demanded, “What is the meaning of this?” As I watched the crowd was becoming restless and I could sense a small uprising mounting. I could taste the dust in my mouth as the people milling around kicked it up in disbelief wondering, is James telling us faith is the catalyst for good deeds?

They were taught to take care of the widows and orphans, give to the poor and be a good samaritan. That every good deed they produced was of their own accord and had absolutely nothing to do with faith. Faith was something in Yahweh.

Faith is not passive and genuine faith is the reality that we align our life too through Jesus and the power of Holy Spirit.

As your faith grows so will the deeds God wants you to be involved in. Faith and deeds go hand in hand. Our responsibility is to remain open to all acts of deeds He places before us asking Holy Spirit to help us be courageous, bold and obedient.

Further, our responsibility is to move when God instructs us to. To fill the needs He places before us. Whether these needs are financial, emotional, physical or spiritual. Healing, great healing, comes from our faith which leads to deeds that God works through to offer healing to others.

May our good deeds be known by our growing faith in Jesus. May our faith be genuine and always active as we continue to seek Him and His righteousness.

Shalom!

If you don’t have a Bible but would like one please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top of the page or if you’re viewing from a mobile device click on the menu button in the upper right.

Body Image (3): Greatest Body, Wounded Parts

“Helper” carries my crutches for me and needs a rest.

My friend, Russ Lucier, who blogs over @Rejoicing Bones writes about his journey of recovery after a motorcycle accident in 2017. This article first appeared on his site. I encourage you to be encouraged by Russ and visit his site. Lord Bless!

This is the third and final installment of the Body Image series.  I write this for the wounded who find it difficult to push forward.  Not just for them, but for those who know someone who is wounded and finding it difficult to move forward.  We can feel so compelled to serve Christ, which we should, but sometimes limitations fall on us and that becomes a troublesome thing.   

Let’s look at this in relation to the Body, the Body of Christ, the Church.  I will try to keep things simple by getting to a main point made by 18th century theologian and revivalist John Wesley: “we are closely connected together in Christ and consequently ought to be helpful to each other.”  That was his comment on Romans 12:5.   

Paul writes a similar message to the Corinthians and says to each person that their “unique manifestation of the Spirit” is given for the common good.  (1 Corinthians 12:7).  He describes different ways people are gifted and then likens them to body parts in order to diffuse strife that has built up from jealousy over gifts.  Paul makes it clear that each one receives different gifts, each for a particular, unique and important purpose.  For the sake of unity, he writes, “…so that there should be no division among the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”  He goes on to say that if one part suffers, every part suffers with it.   

I remember standing on my legs and trying to walk 2 meters between parallel bars while trying to recover from my motorcycle accident.  My right leg, though broken much more badly than my left, was stronger because it had a “Taylor Spatial Frame” on it.  It held my leg together like a strong exoskeleton.  It was the leg that made full weight-bearing possible and allowed me to stand.  It took up weight for my left leg, which had no intact ligaments to speak of and a dislocated knee cap.  I look around the church and see people who, despite having issues of their own, prop up those who are even weaker.  God, bless those people.   

I have video footage of my first steps.  My arms were recruited to pull the rest of the body into a standing position.  They had to work very hard to do so.  Then, to walk those mere two meters, my arms carried virtually all of my weight, as my legs were wasted away.  Arms are not made for walking.  Their muscle mass is much smaller than the legs’ and designed to do other things.  After a few labored steps, all of my energy was drained and I trembled under the strain.  I look around the church and I see people who have to do work designed for someone else because that someone else is unable to.  God bless those people.   

Over the last two years of using a wheelchair and crutches to propel my body, my shoulder has become weary from overuse.  I try to strengthen my upper back muscles, which helps, but make no mistake: it’s life span will suffer.  The shoulder, the hero, has been sacrificing itself for a lengthy period of time for the benefit of the rest of the body.  How else could the rest of the body be as useful if it could not get around?  I look around the church and see people bearing one another’s burdens at cost to themselves.  God bless those people. 

My legs serve to illustrate what has happened to me in the church.  Because of the injuries to them, the acquired disability, the resulting mental health struggles and other complicated knock-on effects, I feel I have been taken out of commission.  For years I served in the armed forces, supervising as many as 63 people.  The most rewarding aspect of my role was the pastoral care involved.  The second most rewarding role I found myself in was teaching.  After retirement, I eventually found my way to education in a pastoral care role.  But since the accident, I have not successfully returned to work for a substantial period of time so now there seems to be a great void from not exercising the gifts I feel I have.   

To make this more of a concern, I have recently stepped down from a leadership role in a fledgling ministry because further life-changing operations await.  Staying in the role would have caused the mission to suffer because it won’t get my undivided attention or full strength.  I am broken-hearted over this.  The feeling of uselessness and failure comes in waves, even though I know these feelings are not legitimate.  

So what do we make of these seasons when our wounds (be they, physical, mental, emotional or even spiritual) take us out of action?  Any suggestions or principles I propose here can feel like hard-to-swallow medicine.  Here’s what I’m thinking.  I hope they are helpful to you: 

  • God is sovereign.  He doesn’t need our service.  That sounds harsh, but it’s true.  He has everything he needs to live happily forever.  He desires our hearts.  David says something like that in Psalm 51:16-17.  See, our gifts and services (done in joy, by the way) are for the greater good of the church and the church is to glorify God through the Great Commission.  If something that is beyond our control inhibits us, having an understanding of this principle can take the pressure off!

  • God is sovereign.  He does everything for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).  That includes anything that’s going on and whatever our wounds are.  Just remember too, that, according to the next verse, the aim is to be conformed to the image of his Son.  That’s a glorious thing.  Incidentally, that will include having a body, mind and soul that doesn’t get wounded at all!   

  • God is sovereign.  (Have I said that yet)?  He is very economical and orchestrates many things together for the good of many people at the same time.  That includes those who get to support you and do the work you would have done under different circumstances.  Though it may be extra challenging for them, they will also grow and become more conformed to the image of Christ.   

So take heart my friends, my brothers, my sisters.  Do what you can and don’t give up.  Pray.  The rest of the body needs it.   

Pics from Wisconsin

The pic of my husband and me was taken when it was 1 degree out! The trains run right through town. I was close enough to see the Engineer and we exchanged waves. My husband ‘skating’ at the snow covered skate park. One of the many dams along Fox River. The trees covered in bright, white snow after an all nighter snow storm. Our fresh footprints in the new fallen snow. Enjoy!

It’s Enough or God is Enough?

Two young women sat at the bar sharing their day with each other over hors d’oeuvres. They wore their game day best and were ready for some football! My husband and I and our friend sat at a table directly behind them. We too were wearing our game day best, however, we were cheering for the opposing team. We were in the land of the frozen tundra. Not the arctic but the state that is home to the football field known for that name. With the exception of the sweet older woman who wore all purple to rep her favorite team, we were the only ones not dressed in the hometown color.

The game started and as it progressed the hometown fans were loud and shouted in unison as their team made good plays. The place was eerily quiet except for my husband’s and my whoops when our team was doing well. Soon we noticed that every time we would cheer the two women at the bar would turn slightly and give us the stink eye [I guess they take their football seriously in the frozen tundra]. I mean, I like our team and I would have been disappointed if they would have lost but I wouldn’t have been giving the opposing fans a sidewards stink eye glance.

Soon one woman left leaving her friend to watch the rest of the game by herself. When it was clear that her team would not be the victors she abruptly got up, firmly pushed her chair in and left the establishment. Her body language spoke louder than any words she would have spoken. She was downright mad.

“My grace is sufficient for you…”

2 Corinthians 12:9

What caused her to be so mad? Is it simply because her favorite team had lost or is there a deeper issue? I don’t know the answer but it caused me to think about empty love tanks and the places we look to fill our love tank. I use to use food of the simple carbohydrate kind to comfort myself whenever I was stressed or upset [I also use to have a terrible anger issue that was a learned behavior as well as a spiritual stronghold. Praise God He delivered and healed me!].

So how do we ensure that our love tank is full and where ought we turn when we feel it beginning to deplete? God’s grace. His grace which He extends to anyone who believes in His Son Jesus is free. Like any relationship this takes practice. It takes a commitment by you to carve out time for Him daily.

When you allow yourself to accept His grace you become content and you acknowledge that God is enough. He is sufficient for anything you face in life. Even your favorite team losing.

If you need prayer or believe you are ready to ask Jesus into your life please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top right or if you are on a mobile device click on the menu button.

Shalom!