Be brave, wait

King David was a man of action.

As a shepherd he protected his flock. While shepherding, He killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands.

When he was faced with a literal giant who defied and defamed our God, he took action. He was still just a boy but he fought and killed a giant and cut off his head.

David was a doer, get ‘er done kind of guy. But in Psalm 27 we see another side of this warrior. We see the worshipper. The man, who worshipped God. Worship takes time, worship takes thought, worship takes focus and energy. Worship demands that no other thing distract our attention.

“The one thing I ask of the Lord — the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.
Psalm 27:4 – NLT

David longed for the presence of the Lord and longed to worship Him.

David ends this psalm with words that do not stir action, at least not for warfare.

Wait.

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord .”
Psalm 27:14 – NLT

Be brave and courageous. How? By waiting on God. Those two don’t seem to go together.

In this time of life, in the midst of COVID and all the stress and all the striving there has never been a better time to stop and worship the great God of the universe.

What next? And then to be brave and courageous. How? By waiting patiently on God.

I encourage you to read Psalm 27. David was in some very stressful stuff, enemy armies surrounded him, even his family had abandoned him. But his longing was for the altar and sanctuary of God. So please read the psalm and join me in worshipping God. Then wait and see what he will do.

Those horrible hugs of shame

Psalm 25

Do you ever wake up at night a rehearse all the stupid things you’ve done? The feeling of shame wraps you in a suffocating hug. Where is the escape hatch? Where is tag out button? How can we get separated from our past? It’s like our shadow, we can’t get away from it.

We have 2 options: forgetting it, or forgiving it.

“6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.[b]
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.”

God forgives sin. Jesus died to take away the sin that we confess to him. The memories don’t go away but we can cling to him and his forgiveness.

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”’

Forgiveness is a prayer away.

How great is your love for me?

Psalm 22

Written about 1000 years before Jesus was born. Yet it describes his death so accurately.

“12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[a] is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce[b] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.”

Jesus knew what he was getting into. He knew what was coming for him when he left heaven, (left heaven?) and all its glory, to come Down here, become a baby, live life on earth with its dust and dirt and dryness and pain, and to be crucified for my sin, for our sins. He came to die so that we could live with him forever.

Thank you Jesus. You knew what was coming and did it anyway.

We sang it in church today. The question is answered by you stretching out your hands and feet to be nailed to a cross and then dying there for me. How great is your love for me? you loved me death. And God our Father raised you back to life again.

Happy birthday…to the church

Acts 2.

One of the most important events in the history of the world happened and is recorded here. The birth of something brand new. The birth of an entirely new concept, the church.

“36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

I have an old truck. I like to imagine back To when it was new. It was a bold new design. The series of trucks were called Task Force Trucks. I like everything about them. Well, almost everything about them. Inside the cab behind the seat is this large metal container. It looks like it would hold about 17 gallons. It does. It holds 17 gallons of gasoline. There is 17 gallons of gasoline riding around with me right behind my seat.

What does the gas tank of my truck have to do with the birth of the church? It’s the power source. When they designed my truck it’s like they mocked up this beautiful shapely form, every curve and corner a total stroke of design genius and then realized after finalizing the design that they forgot a fuel tank and so then they looked around, found a space and crammed it in.

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.

Hundreds of years before it happened God described how he would power a new thing that he would build. He would power it by his Holy Spirit. It’s different than the way things were. It’s a new design and new source of power.

Jesus told the disciples that they would be empowered. Empowered to be witnesses of this new thing.

A New covenant, new wine into a new wine skin. Something different. Something new.

It’s been 2 thousand years of this new thing. To some it has lost its luster. To some it is powerless.

To me it is the frame work of my life. The church has not always gotten it right. It does not always get it right. But the church is a group of sinners following a savior. I must not look to them, I must look to Jesus. I have however joined them as we follow Jesus together.

Luke 25

Luke 25

There is no Luke 25.

What we have instead is the book of Acts which was Luke’s second writing to a man named Theophilus. The name Theophilus means love of God.

It is the last place we will see red lettering until we get to
The book of The Revelation of John. Not all bibles have red letters. Some times the publishers put the words of Jesus in red letters so that the stand out. The book of Acts is the story of what Jesus’ followers did after Jesus ascended into heaven.

The last words Jesus spoke to his followers are:

“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”

Jesus ascended into heaven to accomplish 2 things: 1) intercede for us his followers and 2) send his Holy Spirit down upon his followers to empower them, power them to be witnesses of what Jesus can do in a human heart.

I don’t believe Jesus wants to change the world. I believe he wants to change a human heart. The heart is where we decide to do good or to do evil. Without Jesus working in us our propensity is to do evil.

I have given my heart to him. He is the boss of me. I don’t always obey… But when I do? Good things happen. When I don’t? Sometimes nothing happens and sometimes I see right away the consequences of going against the better plan that God has for me. I’m thinking of my burn scars right now. I knew it was the wrong thing to do, to play with fire, but I did it anyway. Not all rebellion carries with it the horrible consequences of my burns. And even my burns have brought good things into my life ( wife and family)

Rambling a bit.

Jesus loves us. He left, but sent his Holy Spirit to comfort and empower us to tell our story of how HE Can change a heart, change a life, change the world.

Who then is the one who condemns?

Luke 24

Jesus is alive.

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.”

Jesus is alive. He died for all our sins but he rose from the dead 3 days later just as he had said he would. Back in chapter 18 of Luke Jesus predicted his death and resurrection.

“31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”’

After raising from the dead he ascended into heaven. He went back into heaven for two very important reasons. The first is so he could send his Holy Spirit to us, the second is so that he can be interceding for us.

Hear is what Paul says about it in Romans 8:
“31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We have all sinned. We have all fallen short of perfection. The good news is we have a savior who died to pay for our sins. Not only that but he came back to life and will live forever and his main job is to intercede for us in heaven.

When I mess up Jesus says to God, ” I died for that sin, it’s covered”. He can do the same for all of us if we will accept his gift of forgiveness.

Thank you Jesus for dying for me. For forgiving all my sins. I accept your offer today to be my savior and the one who will be the boss of me because you love me.

Because I believe in Jesus and the work he did on the cross, when I feel condemned I fall back on this promise. “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

The ideal life

Colossians 3-4: the ideal life

The ideal life?

It isn’t what our culture and advertisers say it is. The ideal life isn’t about having the right stuff. It’s about… well let’s read what Paul said in his letter to the Jesus followers in Colossi and Laodicea.

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites. Masters, be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master—in heaven. Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

Colossians 3:16-4:6 – NLT

Start with letting the message about Christ fill our lives. That message is that Jesus came to earth to save sinners. He saved us by dying on the cross. He became the sacrifice. He Himself is the payment for our sins. He rose from the grave. He conquered our two oldest and most powerful enemies; sin and death. Then he ascended into heaven so he could prepare a place for us, and so he could send the Holy Spirit to enlighten and empower us and so he could be our defense attorney so that no accusation brought up about us be put held against us.

Because all that is true, we are forgiven and set free, we are free to live the ideal life. The ideal life is having received mercy, being in a state of grace, and then being and living graciously and mercifully and lovingly in everything that we do.

The ideal life is not about what we have, it’s about what we give away. We give away love and grace and mercy and forgiveness. The ideal life is living a life of love and service.

Answer this – what does it mean?

Luke 23

“38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” 43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus’ Death
23:44-49pp — Mt 27:45-56; Mk 15:33-41; Jn 19:29-30
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”

Good Friday service. I was 17. I was in church but was the furthest from God that I could get. There was a cross erected at the front of the church. It wasn’t normally there. It was made from rough lumber. At the end of the service the ladies of the church draped the cross with a black veil. I couldn’t stop staring at it. Jesus was dead. I had lived my life being told about this man. The healer, the miracle worker, the one who cleansed lepers and gave sight to the blind, who forgave and protected prostitutes and tax collectors. He was dead. What did it mean?

What does it mean? The perfect man was killed. Why? What does it mean?

It means God hasn’t forgotten us.

It means God loves us.

It means that we can be forgiven.

He took my place.

He took our place.

He took all of our sin upon himself and paid the price for it with his death on the cross. Now he offers us forgiveness. For free. For reals. For keeps.

Will you accept his gift of forgiveness today?

I did.

Colossians: the Isetta of bible books

I got behind. In my daily bible reading I had a 4-day weekend and slept in and didn’t do my bible reading in the early morning. My suggested reading today was for Colossians 3 but I hadn’t read 1&2 yet so I started in one today and read through to 3.

In the automotive world the purpose of an automobile is to move a human and their cargo from point a to point b with more speed and less effort than would be required for the human to walk or run the distance. The BMW Isetta does this with no frills and no fancy do-dads. It is transportation in it’s simplest form.

The book of Colossians is like that. Compact but nothing missing. All the essentials for building faith and encouraging believers is here.

Chapter 1 tells us who Jesus is and what he has done. Chapter 2 tells us how our lives have been changed and transformed through Jesus death and resurrection and chapter 3 tells us how we should now live to reflect the changes that God has made in our heart, mind, soul and body.

To encourage followers of Jesus reading this, and to give a welcome and an invitation into following Jesus to the curious or onlookers who may be reading this I want to quote what Paul says about Jesus in chapter 1.

“We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.
Colossians 1:11-23 – NLT

Followers of Jesus have have been bought and brought out of darkness into a kingdom filled with light because our savior is Jesus who is the light of the world and in him is no darkness or shadow or variation due to change.

Thank you Paul for writing this compact little letter to the believers in colossi. Thank you God for revealing yourself in the person of your son Jesus. Thank you Jesus for humbling yourself and coming to save us by dying for us. Thank you God for raising Jesus from the dead so he and all of us who believe in him can live together in your kingdom of light.

Loving me to death, his death

Luke 22. And so it begins.

The arrest and trial of Jesus. I cringe at what happens as it unfolds. Betrayed with a kiss. Denied by one of his closest friends, deserted by most, (John was there). He was Beaten mocked and ridiculed. The leaders finally ask the question that we all must ask, not to find the answer but to find cause to kill him.

“66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Christ, ” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” 70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You are right in saying I am.” 71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”‘

Jesus is the Christ, the one promised who has come and set us free from all our bondage. And yet he is about to die. It had to happen like this and yet I still want to jump into the story and stop it. Don’t beat, whip, spit on and crucify my Jesus! But it has to happen. He has to die so that I can live. He is about to take on the heaviest weight ever carried, he is about to shoulder a wooden cross and as they drive those nails into his hands, hammer blow by hammer blow and into his feet they also nailed all my sins there, all of our sins , everyone, every one. He will die there, on that cross but there is more to the story and I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Jesus I can’t imagine the pain, I can’t imagine the heart ache of going through all of this. It hurts to think about it. I love you Jesus. Thank you for dying in my place.

Forgiveness

Luke 20

Jesus is in Jerusalem. The struggle between the powers that be and the established order of things and the new covenant that Jesus is ushering in is growing. Jesus knew what was coming and he did it anyway.

“9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. 13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!” 17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: ” ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone ‘ ? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” 19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.”

There is a certain amount of satisfaction in fixing broken things. Finding something that doesn’t work the way it was designed to work and making it it work again. It’s thrilling. Restoring. That’s what God does in and for us.

Sin cannot be undone. Like ringing a bell or saying a word or doing a deed if we do something or say something that is wrong or hurtful or sinful we can never undo it. We can apologize and make amends but we can never undo what was done. We can’t fix it. But we can forgive and be forgiven. All our sins are not only against people. Our sins are also against God. The best we can hope for and best possible thing that can happen is that we repent, turn around, stop going our own way which is walking away from God and our other broken relationships and ask to be forgiven. It doesn’t undo anything. It isn’t magic, it is real. When we repent and ask to be forgiven we are really and truly forgiven. By God anyway. People can be a different story.

This doesn’t have much to do with what I read in this chapter but it has a lot to do with my life right now.

Please pray for Mary and I. It feels like there are changes coming. I know my hours are being cut. That is going to be really difficult and it might lead to other big changes. We just want to do what is right and good and the will of God.

The Christian life is simple but it’s not easy. Forgive as we have been forgiven. Trust in a God we cannot see. Believe promises spoken thousands of years ago. Continue to believe that Jesus death covers all my sins.

I still do.

What’s in your “wallet”?

Wallet for my Wages.

Working for wages. We get paid for what we do.

Some of us are familiar with the verse about the wages of sin.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23 – NIV

Our sin earns us…? Death.

What can we earn with our good works?

It may not be what you are thinking.

I know I thought good works bought me favor with God. Here is what Paul said about that in his letter to the Philippian followers of Jesus.

“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
Philippians 3:1-11 – NLT

The wages of sin is death, that makes sense, rebellion results in rejection, but Paul says that good works, good deeds are just garbage, in comparison to knowing Christ Jesus.

If we are counting on earning points with God with our righteousness, it isn’t going to work. Our good works are rubbish – “filthy rags”. Jesus death on the cross and appropriating his value, is the only way to find favor with God.

Believers in Jesus are looking forward to this: “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”
Philippians 3:20-21 – NLT

There is infinite value in knowing Jesus. in Gods economy, nothing else has any value.

What’s in your “wallet”?

Keep on…

Luke 18

We should Pray persistently. Pray like it’s our only chance, like God is our only hope. Pray like we’re trying to get someone’s attention.

“1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off ?8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” ‘

Can we make a difference with our prayers? If we believe what Jesus says here yes we can. We can alter the course of the world and change eternity. Many years ago I prayed for a man I met in Safeway. Every time I thought of him I would pray that he would be saved. He is saved and goes to our church now. I can think of two other random people that I started praying for whenever I thought of them. They too are now saved. One goes to our church, one moved out of the area.

I am more organized now. I have a list. Friends, family , co-Workers. I pray for them like the persistent widow. I just keep coming back. Although the widow was probably just camped on the judges door. She had no other responsibilities and no other hope. I’m just at it once a day, unless I think of someone during the day. Yesterday I didn’t use my time well and I skipped praying. Sorry for those of you on the list.

God is not like a corrupt judge but even corrupt judges can be swayed so how much more should we persistently pray to a just and caring God?

Lord Jesus you know my list and the people on it. May they find you today and Lord meet their needs. I have 2 sick grandsons. Heal them Lord. I know women who are pregnant, protect them and their babies. Provide for us Lord Jesus. You are our only hope and our salvation.

(Epilogue: I still have a list, I’m on rev 3 now. I am not as consistent because I don’t want my prayers to become vain repetition where I mumble words, I want it to be where I can consciously communicate with my Father in heaven about these people in my life. Final word, keep on. Keep on seeking keep on asking keep on knocking, for the people and situations in our lives. God is a good Father, and he wants good things for us and from us.)

Establishing His kingdom

Luke 17. Gods kingdom.

Where is this kingdom? Can I find it on GPS? Can I visit with my family? Can I go there and have an audience with the King?

“20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”‘

The kingdom is here. The kingdom is now. The kingdom of God is people. The borders of the kingdom are enlarged every time another person receives Jesus as their savior. The passport required is the cross of Jesus. Did he die to save you from your sins? If the answer is yes then welcome into the kingdom.

Some day our King will return to claim all that is his. All those that are his.

“22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”‘

We do long to see our King.

An audience with him is a prayer away. Unfortunately it’s still more like a landline call than a FaceTime chat but God does hear us when we pray and he speaks to us through his word, through other believers and through his still small voice in our hearts.

The kingdom of God is here now. Jesus is waiting and asking us if we want to be citizens. I am one. Will you join too?

Who am I trusting?

Luke 16

The chapter starts with the story of the shrewd manager. I have never grasped the story and was hoping for fresh insight today. Nope. But What Jesus says after the story hits me pretty hard.

“9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

On our way back from Spokane, a 2 hour trip where my lovely wife and navigator usually sleeps, I had some time to think. I thought a lot about how to adjust to less income and found myself getting very fretful. Then I realized that I haven’t been trusting God for our income, I’ve been trusting God’s agent, my employer. God doesn’t change when our circumstances change. He is still designer, creator, sustainer and savior of all that we know, of all that exists. His promises to provide for us his children have not been broken or rescinded.

It’s funny how money or the lack thereof can reveal so much about our hearts. I don’t like what I see about myself.

Father God forgive me. Cleanse my heart. I want to serve you so that means that money cannot also be my master. Let me see your plan for our lives as we enter what feels to be a season of change. I trust you Lord. Don’t let me fail you.

I want to be trusted and trustworthy, not just with money, but with the message and with people. I want to be trusted by God to share his love and his story faithfully investing in lives and families.

May I be found to be a faithful and a faith filled servant of God.

Smoldering and or bent and bruised

There’s a song by Elevation Worship that plays on PLR radio that I like, it asks some questions of us and then guides us to the answers. It’s called Come to the Altar.

Are you hurting and broken within Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling. Have you come to the end of yourself ? Do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling.

O come to the altar The Father’s arms are open wide Forgiveness was bought with The precious blood of Jesus Christ.

I thought of this song as I read two chapters of Isaiah, 42 and 43 this morning. I will quote a couple verses but I encourage you to read both chapters.

“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction. ”
Isaiah 42:1-4 – NLT

Then in chapter 43 we read this, it is God speaking to his children.

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
Isaiah 43:25 – NIV

This encourages me. The servant God is talking about is Jesus. God looks down and sees me in my imperfections and he has compassion. When I am like a candle barely able to keep my flame lit, he doesn’t snuff me out, he cares for me, trims my wick and helps burn brighter for him. He sees me, that I am like a river reed bent over and almost snapped in half, then with care and compassion he rights me and heals me and helps stand up straight.

When, not if I falter and fail him, God himself has provided the payment for my mistakes, blunders, goofs, failures, and assorted and sundry sins. The good news is that he has forgiven me, me and you, he has forgiven all of us but we must claim that forgiveness by believing in Jesus’ life death and resurrection from the dead.

Are you like me, hurting and broken within? Are you like me, feeling like a bruised reed or a smoldering wick, Not dead yet but not fully alive? God has a plan for us and a place for us in his family!

Many of the folks who read my posts have already met Jesus. So this next part is to You who have met Jesus, will you share your story today with one person? Look for someone to help then look for an opportunity to share what God has done for you in your life.

God is good and kind and gentle with bent reeds and smoldering wicks. He loves us. He has forgiven us. Not everyone has heard this yet so Let’s share this good news today.

Rain come today

“Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.” Joel 2:23

I have never been more grateful for rain and it’s pair purifying ability than I am this autumn. We drove through some cloud bursts yesterday on the way back from Spokane and you could almost hear the earth and all the folks driving give a huge sigh of relief. The fires in west have left a lingering cloud of smoke. Our only hope was that the rain would come and wash the smoke out. It’s happening and now the air is cleaner and clearer.

Spiritual application time. The Holy Spirit is like the rain in our life. Sometimes our life, well at least my life gets chocked full of choking smoke from the troubles of the rest of the world. Smoke isn’t like the trouble of fires but it spreads and influences and affects many more than the people directly in harms way. We get affected by others troubles just knowing about them. The smoke comes in and blocks our vision, clutters our heads and hearts and can easily distract or disorient us.

The Holy Spirit comes into a believers life and gently raining, purifying the smoke until true vision is restored. I get all the stuff of what is going on up in my mind and I can’t see the the truth, that God is still in control, that he has a plan and a purpose and his plan will prevail, and that I still have a mission to tell the world about a God who loves them and sent his only son to die for them and was raised to life again.

Jesus bring the rain. Into my my world and put out the fires and into our smoke filled skies and clear away the smoke and into my own head and heart and clear away the confusion and chaos that wants to distract me from you, your plan and purpose for my life.

No stopping Him

He knew.

He knew how and when.

He knew and did it anyway. Jesus knew how and when he would die and yet he willingly stayed on the path that would lead to his execution.

“Matthew 26:1-5 When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.”’

If we Think of the worst person that we know, (most of the time, in my mind that is me). Remember all the wrong things they’ve done. Now imagine Jesus walking towards Jerusalem and his death looking through time at this person and saying, “I know what you have done and will do. I forgive you, I will die in your place”. That is what is going on here as Jesus continues down this road. He not only saw that one person, he saw all of us, for all time and all of our sin and instead of being disgusted with us, he had compassion on us and suffered a horrible death, to pay for all of our sin.

Paul said it so well in his letter to the believers in Rome.

Romans 5:6-11 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

As i write this, It’s Monday morning. Weekends hold many things for us, sometimes it’s a big box of regrets.

How about starting out this week trading boxes, trading a box of regrets for lifetime of forgiveness? Jesus knew what we’d be doing and died to forgive us anyway. He loves us that much.

Today is is good day to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a request away.

A weed by any other name…

Wikipedia says this about weeds. “A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, “a plant in the wrong place”. Examples commonly are plants unwanted in human-controlled settings, such as farm fields, gardens, lawns, and parks. Taxonomically, the term “weed” has no botanical significance, because a plant that is a weed in one context is not a weed when growing in a situation where it is in fact wanted, and where one species of plant is a valuable crop plant, another species in the same genus might be a serious weed, such as a wild bramble growing among cultivated loganberries.”

The picture is of a a group of baby quaking aspens. We replanted a volunteer and now the first tree wants to start a family. I have been just sniping off the sprouts but in two Weeks or so I just have to do it again.

Sometimes sin in my life is like this. Its source is a root buried in my heart and every time it gets a chance it sprouts up. I can spend time sniping off the tops or I can dig down and get to the roots and yank it out by the source. Some times sin is the right thing in the wrong place. Like this little group of trees. Right thing, wrong place and time.

The writer of Hebrews mentions this while talking about how God disciplines us.

“Hebrews 12:9-16 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. “
Some things I deal with have origins in my childhood, some go back generations in my family. Chopping at the tops doesn’t kill these. I have to dig down to the root of the issue.

(Epilogue: quaking aspen grow from seed and grow from the roots. Cutting off the roots only creates two trees from one root. To stop the spread, The entire tree must come down. instead of doing that, I moved to another house with no trees. The spiritual application? Sometimes leaving a potentially dangerous situation, “flee youthful lusts”(?). I loved that tree but it was me or the tree that had to go. Turns out it was me that left. Sometimes we have to remove ourselves from a tempting situation or a situation that continues to be problem. Sometimes God as a good father just steps in and takes away the thing that is the problem, for example, we moved to a different house).

Bent over and rules broken

Luke 13.

Jesus healed The woman after being doubled over for 18 years. And got in trouble for it.

First let’s be amazed at the healing power of God. Some chronic illnesses we have to adjust to. We have a condition and this is my life now. For the rest of my life. Then Jesus “put his hands on” and we are healed. I want that. I want that for Mary’s celiac and my diabetes. I will keep praying for those but in the mean time, I will keep showing up at church. That’s where she was. At church. Worshipping God in spite of being bent in 1/2. I will Contend for healing but I will not let my condition keep me from praising God. She walked to church bent in 1/2 and came home healed. Set free. God is amazing.

The pastor yelled at Jesus because he broke a man made rule about how we should act at church and on the rest day. People are amazing. How we can get so mixed up about what is important? Rules over relationship. It seems so obvious from this side of the story. That obviousness makes me question my own life. Where do I have blind spots? Where am I putting the established order of things in place of caring for people?

There is grace and healing for the sick and broken and bent in 1/2. Even for rigid misguided rule followers if they repent and seek the One who rules.