Friday, February 21, 2020

Hypocrisy

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.  Remember, then, what you have received and heard; hold it fast and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief and you will not know at what time I will come to you.  The one who is victorious will be dressed in white.  I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.
Revelation 3:2,3, 5

It seems that the church in Sardis has lost sight of the ultimate goal of God.  They got sidetracked and have unfinished business with God.  It's interesting that we are not talking about overtly "bad" sins that we think about - cheating, killing, gossiping that John is writing about - but rather "unfinished business" that has fallen short of God's plans.  Coming up short, lacking victory is about to kill whatever progress they once made.

How much do I get sidetracked?  How much have I separated from The Way, The Truth and The Life that God intended for me.  What keeps me from Jesus?  Too much electronics?  Too much self-focus?  Too much enmeshment in this world?

I think about that first wave of Spirit-led life that I held in times of renewal:  truths I need to go back to; trust I need to regain.  To come "awake" to those, to grow conscious again of the guidance they hold in my life is crucial, John says, to be victorious and to be ready for the returning Christ.

This may mean the final return of Christ, but have my distractions and other-reliance caused me to miss Christ's presence and possibilities today?  The world's call to evil and to sin will cause me to miss the mark of his presence guiding me along The Way.  When he comes along, I may have missed the chance to be led or comforted.  I may have missed the path altogether.

I want to be recognizeable and seen (dressed in white) on the day present or final at the coming of the Lord!  I want to put aside distractions and diversions which would cause me to miss Him! I need to finish the business that the Lord has begun in me!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Terror or Treachery

O how terrible for those who confuse good with evil, right with wrong, light with dark, sweet with bitter!  O how terrible for those who think they're so wise, who consider themselves so clever! 
Isaiah 5:20 

I have been an alcohol and drug counselor and prevention specialist for 30 years and if I have to listen to this statement one more time....

"I don't regret my (bad) history (whether abuse, bad circumstances or poor choices), it's made me strong."

This is a lie.  Those things - whether terror or treachery - have not made you stronger, but rather made you weaker.  Look at your trajectory:
  •   Have you been able to persevere?
  •   Have you been able to do the right thing?
  •   Have you had success by any definition?
  •   Have you been able to maintain healthy relationships?
  •  Have you been able to set goals and follow through to completion?
  •   Have you kept yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy?
I would contend NOT!  Otherwise, we would not be in relationship right now with me as your coach or counselor.  Not only have you not done the right thing, you are so blinded that you cannot discern right from wrong, distinguish right from wrong and, in fact, you call the wrong "right."  Totally blinded.  Let alone have any ability - strength or direction - to do what is right, even if you could see it.

How terrible for those "heroes" who can outdrink anyone, those "champions" who take pride in their mixed drinks; those judges who set the guilt free in exchange for "a little something," all the while denying the innocent what they deserve!  It is no wonder that the LORD burns with anger at His people.  
Isaiah 5:22, 23, 25.








Prodigal

Luke 15:11-32  The story of the Prodigal Sons. 

Both sons used the Father.  Both attached their allegiance to their father only based on the plenty and privilege they could receive.  Only when one went without that plenty and privilege, did he want to return.  Only when stripped of every ounce of dignity did he realize that his father had the most for him.  Upon reflection, the wayward son realized the father's generosity even to the hired hand.  Generosity changed him.

Why couldn't the other brother, enmeshed in the father's care, see it?  Why did the father's generosity not change him?  The brother enmeshed in his father's generosity was just as separated from desire to be with the father, it seems.

Which of the brothers actually loved their father?  

Is it only after life fails us that we can see our need for God?  If our choices always give us what we need and we never come into crisis, will we miss our opportunity to come into the party, the presence of God?  

I wonder what the home-bound prodigal son was most angry about?  Was it that this party and reinstatement of the wayward son would divide more of his part of the estate?  Was it that he missed the heart of generosity of his father all along?  

This story raises so many questions for believers.  Do we realize God's generosity includes all and have we somehow short-changed ourselves in receiving it?  Can we accept and love the late-comers?  Will we welcome them in or will we want them to earn it somehow?  Is that what we think: that we are earning the Heavenly Father's love by our devotion and service?

Realize this, we serve and respond to what is offered to us as the Father's children and heirs. He is not holding anything back.  We never earned it nor deserved it.  He invites us all in.  Note that in this parable, the father goes out to both brothers. 

How has God been inviting you into the celebration?  Don't deny yourself! 

Monday, February 03, 2020

Light

...find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  Everything exposed by the light becomes visible and everything that is illuminated will serve as a light.  This is why it is said: "Wakeup, sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you."


Be careful then how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Do not be foolish, but understand the Lord's will:
  •  be filled with the Holy Spirit
  • speak to one another with (the assurance and edification of ) psalms, hymns and music from the Spirit
  • Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord
  • giving thanks to God for Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:10-20

What a call for dealing with the darkness in the world!  

I am to shine light into the darkness, onto evil.  The actions which cause a revealing, a revelation about evil revolve around truth, which evil is always trying to subvert in order to maintain the lie.  Truth can be revealed simply and in love.  

Like the original disciples, I can also challenge the demons by casting their lies into the fire, returning them to the source from which they come.  I am challenged to  call the distant and disengaged into repentance, which can bring them close to the truth about God, who loves them most of all, and much more than any demon, who only wants to use them.

This will take the divine power of God: to pull down strongholds and to cast down high-sounding philosophies, which keep people from knowing God.  Before I can do these things for others, I will let my own thoughts be captivated and obedient to Jesus Christ and his message, his good news!

Lord, you know where the demon lives.  Cast him out.  Give me truth to tell, hope to heal, and power to live! 

Fear is a liar!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1srs1YoTVzs



Saturday, January 25, 2020

#29




Our machinations and deliberations contrived to

keep us from the truth, from You.

We didn’t know the way, although we tried

to find our way to You.

What should have been clear

became smeared

with our own contrivances, motives

such that we couldn’t find yours.



Your way was so simple,

but we made it hard.

It was given us,

but we gave into making it our way

instead of yours.



The truth was always distorted

when it was once so plain.



If belief as a child is enough

than all this over-thinking and over-doing is tough

on a child’s heart.



Give me mine back.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Rise

Do you remember how you used to live?  Dead to life, buried by sin, wandering the course of the world's changing and perverse path.  The prince of the power of the air owned you, just as he controls all living in disobedience, as we all once did...such that we could all be called children of wrath.
BUT GOD, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, united us with Jesus Christ and infused our lifeless souls with life - even though we were buried under mountains of sin - and saved us by grace.  He RAISED US UP with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with Jesus the Messiah, the liberating King.  He did this so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus, the Messiah, the one anointed for this purpose. 
For it is by God's grace that you have been saved, through faith.  It is God's gift, His offer to us that we didn't earn nor can ever earn by our own works.  In this new state, we are the product of His hand, created in the anointed one, Jesus, so as to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.
Ephesians 2:1-10  (selections)

We were once buried in sin.  I remember those days, feeling suffocated and held down by the choices I made and the world system which held me underneath it.  The world's lies and false promises held me captive.  But now, Jesus calls me out and places me in "heavenly realms," which allows me the gifts of heaven - love for God and others, power to live a righteous life, new vision and purpose - for today.

Over and over I read about the generosity of God and the sacrifice of Jesus which enabled the delivery of these riches.  These origins of the faith - grace and sacrifice - I cannot forget.  My peace comes from His torture, my healing from His wounds.  A life of meaning comes from the design of God.  That is to be my testimony:  a presentation of the possibilities of life with God.

Does my testimony speak loudly enough for people to see God? Does anyone say, "I want what you have?" Do they really understand the price that was paid to make it so for all of us?  Or the cost of obedience to bear His mark?  

I do not understand why God let us choose our own (destructive) design, but I am grateful to follow His plan and path out from under the mountainous weight of sin.  I am trying to grasp the scope of my new view from a heavenly perspective, and this I know - the world looks different now.  It no longer entices and I have compassion for the continued lostness of those also buried under the lies and system of the prince of the power of the air.  

I am emboldened to let my life be a testimony, a call to truth, of the great desire of God to have his people back.  My life and actions can now be a message of God's generosity, kindness, grace and mercy - the truest of riches.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJxrX42WcjQ







Monday, January 13, 2020

Grasp

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God's people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you.  I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.  

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called -- his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.  I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him.
Ephesians 1:15-19b

There are so many rich words in this set of verses that seem to raise the level of our involvement with God to new heights:  spiritual wisdom, insight, flooded with light, confident hope, and, ultimately, the availability of God's power for us.  

That wisdom, which comes from God, is no ordinary wisdom by the world's standard.  It is broad and full of the knowledge of God's spiritual wisdom in a variety of matters, whether that is the accumulated wisdom of living with God, or learning or skill, or discernment of life and spiritual connectedness.  This wisdom provides the knowledge and practical application of God's intent for people.  Paul goes so far as to add revelation (here interpreted as "insight") to that expression of wisdom where timely truth can appear about the path we are on with others.

The intent of the gain of wisdom and insight serves the purpose of having the precise and correct knowledge of things ethical and divine.  When people can say, "I know it was God" or, my favorite, "I know that I know that I know," there is a peace and hope.  The translator of the New Living Translation, used here, calls it a "confident" hope because hope's definition has a positive, confident and joyful expectation of salvation, both present and future, based on the relationship with God.  It is not just knowledge, but the knowledge of God which brings hope.

As I consider the not-yet-fulfilled parts of my life, whether in relationships, my own maturity and growth, or heaven ultimately, it would be easy to be discouraged when I look at situations which don't always seem to change, but fully knowing God (and, His character,  His plan, His possibilities) changes my disappointment and discouragement into hope.  I must remember that God wants more for me than I want for myself.  In the seat of my emotions, in my heart, will shine the light of the future of what God intends.  When I am looking to Him,  the evidence is revealed and becomes clear and my "enlightenment" might actually shine light on the evidence right in front of me.  If I am looking for terror or delight, I will be sure to find it.

How does this happen? That incredible/surpassing greatness of God must be grasped.   The hyperbole (Gk: hyperballo) of the mass and weight, largeness and spaciousness, intensity, and splendid nature (Gk: megathos) of God's power which moves toward us and is for us must be grasped.  If we could grasp it, we might be stunned and knocked to our knees by it.  Would we dare understand it?  Why do we short-change ourselves on knowing this truly all-powerful and great God?

God, through Jesus Christ, wants believers to see the far-reaching effects of who He is and whose we are.  He wants us to believe it.  He wants us to look for it and connect to it.  He wants to secure our place in heaven and grant us His power and presence for today!  We can live the hyperbolic expectations of living as children of the King of heaven and earth!

Listen to the end of Paul's message:  This is THE SAME power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavens.  Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or ANYTHING ELSE - and not just in this world but in the world to come. Ephesians 1:19b-20.

Live by no other power. Be thankful for your involvement in the loving and generous character of our God!