Change of heart

I just found this on the road while i was taking my walk. Sometimes it feels like I have one just like it rattling around in my chest. A heart of stone.

I have been reading the second half of John 14 but I keep stumbling over part of it.

“15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

If you love me you will obey my teachings.

Obedience, do what he says AND don’t do what he says not to do.

I was thinking about this and how I fail and being hyper self critical when my dogs crawled up on the couch with me. We have 2 dogs one smart one and one cute one- (I hope I can bring this all together, stone heart, obedience from love, dogs), and I realized something. My dogs love me and I love them but they are not always obedient. They don’t do what I tell them every time. Sometimes I will even change my command so that what they are doing matches what I’m saying. (The analogy sags a bit here). My heart feels stiff because my will is not always His will. Sometimes my will is counter his will. He still loves me. Jesus died for me and forgave before I committed any sins because he knew I would need to be bathed in forgiveness from birth.

I constantly need to have my heart softened towards God and towards the people around me. I have received grace, I need to dispense grace.

Change my heart o’ God make it ever true, may I be like You.

His banner over me..

Jehovah Nissi. The lord our banner. It’s one of the names of God that I struggle to connect with… Or did until today. I saw a picture in my mind in a flash. It was like a second. I’m going to try to describe to what I saw In my mind. I was a young soldier reporting to battle. It was ancient times. I couldn’t see the battle field until I was almost on it. As I cleared the last hill a huge valley spread out in front of me. As far as I could see there were soldiers and horses and weapons, every menacing tool imaginable was there. The valley was filled with encampments, each encampment had at its center a banner. Every banner was the name of the tribe… Or so I thought, but as I got closer the banners each listed one of my sins. One banner I read said “Peter Loeffelbein should die because he on May 5th 1970 he stole Mike Hancocks green army truck.” That was the only one I feel comfortable sharing here but all my sins were there. My enemies wanted to destroy me for them. Myriad of enemies all ready to do battle against me because my sins. I was overwhelmed. But then I saw it. In the center of all this hatred of me I saw another banner. It said ” I love peter Loeffelbein! my son Jesus will die in his place”. There was Gods camp. His banner declared his love for me. He would send out his son, his only son to die in my place. All of my sins which in the enemies hands had become weapons would strike him and not me. I ran to that banner and fell down and wept at the feet of my king and my Champion. Jesus.

Jehovah Nissi, his banner over me is love. He has a banner for each one of us. Run to his banner.

Guess what I just heard…

Yesterday, as I was leaving work to have my teeth cleaned I overheard a conversation between friends One friend was listing and defining his recent court appearances, how his DUI had been reduced to a lesser charge. As I walked away I was congratulating myself on my spotless driving record.

I could almost hear God say to me, “really? That’s what your take away from that conversation? You are being a Pharisee Peter, ‘thank you God that I’m not like that sinner’, but you are, you are all fallen…”

I repented of my pharisaical heart and continued on my way to my appointment. The radio station was tuned to moody radio and a pastor was talking about how wrong it is for us believers not to care about whether or not our coworkers are going to hell.

My coworker, could I know that he was going to hell? Isn’t that being judge-y?

The Bible truth is, we are all going there unless we accept Jesus death as the payment for our sins. I believe this statement is true, harsh but true. If we haven’t heard about God’s gracious offer of salvation through Jesus before we die, we will be eternally separated from God, and spend eternity in hell, which is a place of torment and suffering.

The radio pastor likened not caring enough to warn others to being in a large gathering at church, and knowing that a bomb was going off at 12:15, but not wanting to bum anyone out, so as not to bring anyone down or share bad news, instead of relaying the message that the bomb would go off at 12:15, we just quietly leave at 12:14. There is death coming to everyone. We Christians believe that if a person has not received Jesus as their savior, death will be the entrance to hell. It doesn’t have to be. Death can be the entrance to heaven. All it takes is confession and belief.

When I am privy to a private conversation, not by my own means of spying or eavesdropping, I tend to think that God is giving me a glimpse into a life. This information can be used in many ways. It can used to help or hurt. I can gossip or? Maybe I heard this so that I can know part of their story, so I can know their pain, so I can know how to pray for them, so I can know how to serve them. Hmmm.

John 3:16, “for God so loved the world… “ is often quoted. I would like to add verse 17 too.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17

I wonder if this coworker knows about Jesus. How can I be used to help him?

He knew and did it anyway…

He knew.

Jesus knew how he would die and he did it anyway.

Matthew 16 Jesus begins to tells his disciples that he was going to suffer and die.

“21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

He did it any way because he knew why he would die. Without his death as payment none of us would have a chance at having our relationship with God restored.

He died for me, a sinner. We can all say that sentence and it will be true, the sad part, being a sinner, and the happy part, that Jesus died for us, all true for each and every person.

If you didn’t know that yet, what will you do about it today? Don’t wait, act today. Decide. Will you receive the gift Jesus has given?

If you’ve read this and you heard it before and you acted on it and now are a disciple of Jesus, I am so happy but I have a follow up question, who have you told about this Jesus who loves enough to knowingly die in our place? 2/3rds of the world still hasn’t accepted his gift. There are many who need to hear. Who will we tell today?

Percentages

Mark 14:3

While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.

I heard a radio pastor speak on this section of scripture and his explanation really moved me.

He pointed out that the jar was very special. It would normally be used for either a dowry in marriage or a burial ointment.

The woman didn’t just crack the seal and dip some out. She broke the jar. She was all in. This jar that would either marry her or bury her she gave it all to Jesus.

Her commitment, her willingness to throw it all in poked my heart. Am I willing to commit like this? Am I 100% given over to this Jesus who has given all of himself for me?

Bringing light

John 12

Are you in darkness? Jesus is the light of the world.

“John 12

Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”[h]

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

40 “He has blinded their eyes

and hardened their hearts,

so they can neither see with their eyes,

nor understand with their hearts,

nor turn—and I would heal them.”[i]

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”’

I am afraid of the dark. As a child it paralyzed me. As an adult I’ve worked past the fear, and I carry a flashlight. All of us with phones carry a flashlight. Jesus can be our spiritual flashlight.

Jesus being light and bringing light into our lives is one of the things that can make us uncomfortable. There are things done in darkness, or memories hidden in dark corners of our hearts, things done by us, things done to us that we want to stay hidden. Hidden and forgotten.

Jesus came to expose those things not to shame us or hurt us, but to forgive us and free us from the pain and the stench and the mess and the clutter.

Some of us are hoarders of bad memories.

I challenge all of us today to let the light of the world into our darkest corners so that cleansing and forgiveness can begin.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Faith – size matters

Seed faith. Size matters.

Pictured is a mustard seed. No matter what seed we talk about, inside the seed there are plans and genetic design plus the unknown life force packed into the seed to recreate the parent plant as soon as the conditions are right for growth. It’s magic or masterful at the very least.

In Matthew 17 Jesus talks about faith and how it affects our ministry.

“14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ‘

I don’t like being scolded. Who was Jesus scolding here? The dad? The son? The disciples?

In Mark there is more of Jesus’ conversation with the dad recorded.

“20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”’

If you can. The dads faith seems to be the faith in question. The Mark version adds prayer to the cure, some manuscripts also add fasting.

I have a list of people that I pray for, a written list. There are four names scribbled out. These four names represent four people who are dead now. I was praying for them and they died anyway.

Jesus says in this passage that if our faith is as big as a mustard seed that I can move mountains, that nothing will be impossible for me. So what size IS my faith?

If we look at the details of Marks version of the story I must ask myself, did I ever fast for these sick people? No. I did not.

I have an ineffectual prayer life in part because I don’t take it seriously. Who am I talking to? The dog? (Sometimes they are the only one in the room). Who am I talking to and what can He do about what I am asking him about? Gods will and his plan are sovereign but I am still seeing things that I would like to change. Do I believe God can do them? If I don’t believe, why am I wasting my time?

I have either never or seldom asked God to increase my faith. Today that changes.

God, please make my faith bigger. I want to see change in my world. Use me. Help me to see what to ask for and to believe in your bigness enough that people lives can be set free from torment and disease and the repercussions of sin. Grow me so the kingdom, Your kingdom can grow through me.

Amen?

Amen.