What is your claim? 

​I have very little concern as to whether I am one of the least or greatest in the Kingdom of God, especially compared to my great concern as to whether or not you,  friend are part of it. I do not work at this life in order to earn more favor or providence or a higher title. I work because it is my calling and it is a blessed opportunity to be able to serve the Lord. 
I say this because many talk about God for their own reasons. Many go to church for their own reasons. Many volunteer and serve their fellow man for their own reasons. How many are simply surrendered to their calling,  their opportunity to participate, not out of obligation but as a heart response to His work? I don’t know about your reasons, I just know my own and I’ll share that with you today. 
I do not chase Christ because I am fearful of His wrath and punishment. Because I have a promise in the Word, and the blessed assurance of a changed direction,  and the blessed testimony of this new life that He has called me into. And I do not love this life or this world, but I seek to exercise dominion over it through self control and obedience that is born out of gratitude for the shed blood on the cross – by walking in the Spirit not in the flesh, by making disciples of the nations, and by baptizing in His name. 
What a wild and peculiar statement from a sinner such as me! Right? While Paul had many accolades about his past as a faithful Jew and he says that he counts it all as lost for the sake of knowing Christ and he calls himself the foremost sinner – I have no claim by blood, no claim by my own righteous living, no claim by my keeping the law faithfully, no claim by attending and keeping the traditions of the religious my whole life. No, I have the testimony of a life that was chained down by sin and imperfection and selfishness and pride and rebellion – until He touched me.
He touched my life and made me new. He touched my heart and made me whole. He did this to me, so I have no claim. No claim on any “good” that you might see evidence of in my life today. No claim on any preaching that I might share with you. No claim on any food that I might share with the hungry. No claim on any shelter that I might offer to the needy. No claim on any encouragement that I might offer for the imprisoned and the persecuted. No claim on any healing that I might bring to the sick and afflicted. No claim on any drink given to the thirsty. Because I’m just a vessel,  the work is His. Any crown laid upon my head is not for me to claim as a King, but to lay at His feet as a Servant. 
I pray that we will not stop to gather up and build a kingdom – when we are called to make and send out disciples. I pray that we will not grow weary and sit idle keeping this Good News hidden under a lampshade – but that we will shine forth like a city on a hill. I pray that we will not let temptation and the tricks of the enemy steal, kill, and destroy our testimony through guilt and shame,  but that we will believe that He is faithful to forgive so that we will confess our sin and stand back up after a fall with a new testimony of His sufficient grace. 
Don’t call yourself a Christian because you only fear the hell that you know you deserve for your past disobedience – repent, believe, and walk as a new creation – free from the burdens of guilt and shame to walk in the path that He has set before you.  Enter the narrow gate of HOPE found in Jesus Christ, and walk the narrow path of LOVE for your God and your brothers and sisters, and may all eyes be opened to this shining testimony of your FAITH and of Christ who lives in you.
Don’t work your way into religion and tradition and the philosophies of men, trying to prove yourself worthy of a perfect, holy, righteous God. Lay down your pride. Lay down the stench of your filthy self righteousness, and put on that new garment, trusting in His righteousness. Lay down all claims, whether it be your sin, your pride, or your strivings, and surrender it all to your Lord and Savior. FOR IF YOU CLAIM A PART,  DO YOU NOT OWN THE WHOLE,  BUT IF YOU SURRENDER THE WHOLE, HOW CAN YOU CLAIM ANY PART? 
You cannot set yourself free. You are no god. You are not worthy. But you do have value and purpose in His Kingdom, when He lives in you and through you – to press you forward in these good works prepared ahead of time for you. Step into your calling friend, and let Him have His way with your life – and may He receive all the glory and praise.  Amen.

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.  But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. – Galatians 2:15‭-‬21 ESV

Grow

​So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:17 ESV

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. – John 17:17 ESV

Your laws are wonderful. No wonder I obey them! The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands. Come and show me your mercy, as you do for all who love your name. Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil. Ransom me from the oppression of evil people; then I can obey your commandments. Look upon me with love; teach me your decrees. Rivers of tears gush from my eyes because people disobey your instructions. – Psalms 119:129‭-‬136 NLT

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8 NLT

God for all time,  assure me that no matter the moment,  I belong to you. Whatever the season — whether in cold stillness, budding brightness,  full bloom, or loss and decay — I trust all my times are in your hands. In my faithful Savior’s name,  amen. (HC 1)

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18‭-‬19 NLT

When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.  But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. – 1 Corinthians 2:13‭-‬14 NLT

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. – Matthew 5:11‭-‬12 NLT

Hated or Loved – and by Whom?

​”The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.” – John 7:7 ESV
Jesus speaking to his own unbelieving brothers in John 7. He draws a line between two sides.
He says that the world hates Him because He testifies about sin and evil works. 
He doesn’t soften or compromise the truth about sin to make it more comfortable or palatable to their flesh.
So, are we hated or loved by the world – because of either our common passions or our peculiar difference? 
“But me it hateth, because I testify . . .—He had placed Himself in a position of antagonism to it, and must necessarily do so. His words and acts must be a witness against the evil of its deeds. This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. But men who love darkness must also hate light. Its very presence makes the darkness visible; and nothing cuts to the very quick, like that which makes the heart condemn itself.” – Ellicott
“He proclaimed that men were depraved, and the result was that they hated him. We may expect that all who preach faithfully against the wickedness of men will excite opposition. Yet this is not to deter us from doing our duty, and, after the example of Jesus, from proclaiming to men their sins, whatever may be the result.” – Barnes
“The world has no quarrel with you, for ye bear no testimony against it, and so draw down upon yourselves none of its wrath; but I am here to lift up My voice against its hypocrisy, and denounce its abominations; therefore it cannot endure Me, and one false step might precipitate its fury on its Victim’s head before the time.” – Jamieson-Faussett-Brown
“By the world, our Saviour plainly understandeth the men of the world; men not regenerated, renewed, and sanctified. These men, saith he, cannot as yet hate you… But, saith he, me it hateth: that is apparent from what we met with John 5:18. But this was not for any fault in Christ, but only for his preaching the doctrine of the gospel, and free reproving them for the evil of their works, the corruption of their doctrine, and the errors of their life and conversation.” – Matthew Poole
“The world cannot hate you,…. Because they were of the world, belonged to it; they were like unto it, and every like loves its like; and they were the world’s own, and therefore instead of being hated, were loved by it; and they walked according to the course of it; and wicked men not only take pleasure in sin, but in them that do it:

but me it hateth; though without a cause; that is, without a just cause, or reason; a cause there was, and it follows:
because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil; even those works of it, which were reckoned good works; Christ bore his testimony of these, that they were evil; being done either not according to the command of God, but the traditions of the elders; or not from a right principle, as of faith and love, nor to a right end, as the glory of God; but only to be seen of men: and very severely did he inveigh against the pride, covetousness, hypocrisy, and uncleanness of the Scribes and Pharisees: and so he continued to do, and this drew upon him their hatred and ill will.” – Gill

Temptation

DO NOT BE DECEIVED:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. – James 1:12-16 ESV
PRAY:

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Matthew 26:41 ESV
PREPARE:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— Ephesians 6:11‭-‬18 NKJV
RESIST TEMPTATION:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7 ESV
ENDURE:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Forgiven much


“You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.”
Two camps within Jesus’s “audience” are divided by this statement:

– One that is comfortable sitting and reclining in the room to listen to His teaching and to be seen near His presence, but that has no kiss for Him, no hunger to be close and personal

– Another that does not cease kissing His feet from the moment He enters their life
They both even know who He is,  but one is resigned for this to be a comfortably distant relationship,  an acquaintance, an intellectual agreement in concept and theology that allows one to justify being alongside. But the other is heartfelt surrender that comes from a personal touch of understanding of what has been paid, what has been redeemed,  and at what cost. 
It is not the amount or type of sin that differs in these responses, but the level of understanding and believing their need for a Lord and Savior – their strength or weakness of faith – that generates either a complacent attitude allowing us to imagine ourselves entertain the Lord as an occasional passerby to our lives,  or sees Him as the one whose side we refuse to leave, whose feet we refuse to cease kissing. 
And the Good News is that if we find ourselves in the wrong camp,  it is the realizing that we are in the wrong camp that opens the door to true, heartfelt repentance – that allows us to cry out, “Lord, touch this cold, hard heart and bring new life to my life,  new breath to my lungs, new praises to my lips, for your honor and glory forever and ever! Amen!”
Because if you don’t think that you are forgiven much,  if you don’t think that the price paid was high,  if you don’t believe that what you have received is in such a great contrast to what you deserve, how far does pride precede the next fall? 
Let’s not become cold and religious, but encourage each other to “do this in remembrance of me”, to eat of His flesh,  to drink of His blood, to feed upon His Word, and to walk in Spirit not in the flesh, to beg of His mercies, to praise Him in awe, to wor ship in Spirit and Truth, to accept without doubt this forgiveness this grace through faith,  and to come boldly into the throne room to kiss His feet once more. 

Nightly Treasures

​My 5 year old reads a chapter from the Bible each night before bed. She may not be able to pronounce every name/word correctly, and she may not see all of the deep truths yet, but she can tell me about what she had read after she finishes. The repetition of the begats in Matthew 1 was not fun, but she respected every line, every words, not adding to or subtracting from what was written. 
She is many nights amazed,  asking things like,  “We’re really supposed to turn the other cheek?” To which I get to explain that it is the hurting people, the lost, the hopeless, the angry that are the bullies in life because they need love. They need it so badly but don’t know how to cry out for it in a profitable and useful way. So it comes out of them in pain and hurt shoved onto others because it is overflowing their lives and they don’t know what to do about it. I explain that we can share a seed of love with them so they might taste its sweetness in comparison to the bitter taste that other way leaves in their heart, and that we can tell them that this is the bread that we get from Jesus so we can share it with the world. I share that we hope that many might choose to start following Jesus too and reading His Word so that He can sow those new seeds of love into their life as well. 
And some nights like last night, as she read the explanation of the parable of the sower, she asked,  “But we’re not the ones that hear it and have it stolen away,  are we?” She asked this with fear and concern in her eyes, truly needing to know if that enemy could steal away this precious Word of God from her. And I got to point out that is days that is when people don’t understand the Word of God. And that understanding is not just knowing what it says,  but believing what it says,  and that it is something valuable and precious to cling to and apply in our daily lives. Then I showed her how it also says that getting excited and emotional about it but falling away isn’t the way. And I showed her how letting the concerns of this life get in the way and prevent us from our calling is not either. Then we talked about the good soil,  that fertile soil,  and how it multiplies the seed of love that is planted there. 

My 5 year old daughter wants desperately to be that good soil,  that vessel that doesn’t just lose hold on it but clings to it and lives a life following the Way. 
Lord, help us all to not be a stumbling block to these children. Help us to hunger for your Word and to not let it be stolen away,  or twisted and counterfeited in sensuality, or for us to allow the many idols offered in this life to take our eyes off of You, Your Way, Your Purpose and Plan for our life today. Amen.

Good?

godisgood

In my world, there are no good, only redeemed or lost. So don’t think that I am a hypocrite thinking myself good and others bad.

No, I know the Truth.

I’m not good. You’re not good.

We all need to REPENT and BELIEVE in order to be BORN AGAIN as a NEW CREATION.

See, many may think that this is my home, because they’ve seen the lies of my past with your own eyes. They may think that they know I am and ask themselves, “Isn’t that Jean’s son? Isn’t that the one that used to _____________.” – but I’m keeping it real,

I know the truth.

Look a little closer into my heart, and maybe you’ll see it too. Maybe you’ll wonder what happened to that boy you used to know. Wasn’t he chasing a different path, singing a different tune?

But you see, he’s dead. He got tired of playing the pointless games, chasing the next great hunger, thirsting for yet another drink at the well, storing up instead of sending out. There’s a new life in these bones, a new breath in these lungs, a new song in my step.

I know the Truth.

Jesus. The Truth, the Way, the Life.

I know Him.

More importantly, He knows me – and that changes everything.

#TheTruthKnowsMe #Redeemed

Songs of Deliverance

​Songs of deliverance. Hallelujah!  
We who are delivered into this new life – as an ambassador of the gospel of Jesus Christ – as a slave to the Lord and free indeed from the condemnation of serving that other master – as a new creation with our minds set upon the things of God not the temptations of the world and the flesh – we have a lot to sing praises about! 
We don’t just sing about some theoretical or theological God who has been powerless and motionless against our enemies of sin, of pride, of a self serving nature, of wickedness and of immorality – NO, we sing a song a deliverance where we have seen the anger of the Lord towards sin, even while realizing the mercy and high price paid at the cross for this grace. 
It is this, that firmly plants our faith, in a heart that has been torn up and tilled by the conviction about the truth of our past rebellion – and that proves our Hope founded upon a solid rock when He is faithful to forgive the humble and repentant heart so that we can come bold into the presence of our Lord, God.
Who could ever deserve such grace,  such mercy,  such love – but the one who paid the price at Calvary,  my Jesus, my Savior,  my Lord, who has led me back into my Father’s house!
And now it is mine, by promise, by realization, by demonstration, by His healing hand, by His life giving breath, by the fire He has set in my bones to proclaim His glory!
Thank you, Jesus! 
We sing your praises,  not just in song,  but in our reasonable service, laying down our lives to pick up our cross and follow you. 
2 Samuel 22:1‭-‬51 ESV

And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said, 
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,  

my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, 

my shield, and the horn of my salvation, 

my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; 

you save me from violence.  

I call upon the Lord , 

who is worthy to be praised, 

and I am saved from my enemies.

  

“For the waves of death encompassed me, 

the torrents of destruction assailed me;  

the cords of Sheol entangled me; 

the snares of death confronted me.  
“In my distress I called upon the Lord ; 

to my God I called. 

From his temple he heard my voice, 

and my cry came to his ears.  
“Then the earth reeled and rocked; 

the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked, 

because he was angry.  

Smoke went up from his nostrils, 

and devouring fire from his mouth; 

glowing coals flamed forth from him.  

He bowed the heavens and came down; 

thick darkness was under his feet.  

He rode on a cherub and flew; 

he was seen on the wings of the wind.  

He made darkness around him his canopy, 

thick clouds, a gathering of water.  

Out of the brightness before him coals of fire flamed forth.  

The Lord thundered from heaven, 

and the Most High uttered his voice.  

And he sent out arrows and scattered them; 

lightning, and routed them.  

Then the channels of the sea were seen; 

the foundations of the world were laid bare, 

at the rebuke of the Lord , 

at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.  
“He sent from on high, he took me; 

he drew me out of many waters.  

He rescued me from my strong enemy, 

from those who hated me, 

for they were too mighty for me.  

They confronted me in the day of my calamity, 

but the Lord was my support.  

He brought me out into a broad place; 

he rescued me, 

because he delighted in me.  
“The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; 

according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.  

For I have kept the ways of the Lord 

and have not wickedly departed from my God.  

For all his rules were before me, 

and from his statutes I did not turn aside.  

I was blameless before him, 

and I kept myself from guilt.  

And the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, 

according to my cleanness in his sight.  
“With the merciful you show yourself merciful; 

with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;  

with the purified you deal purely, 

and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.  

You save a humble people, 

but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.  

For you are my lamp, O Lord , 

and my God lightens my darkness.  

For by you I can run against a troop, 

and by my God I can leap over a wall.  

This God—his way is perfect; 

the word of the Lord proves true; 

he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.  
“For who is God, but the Lord ? 

And who is a rock, except our God?  

This God is my strong refuge 

and has made my way blameless.  

He made my feet like the feet of a deer 

and set me secure on the heights.  

He trains my hands for war, 

so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  

You have given me the shield of your salvation, 

and your gentleness made me great.  

You gave a wide place for my steps under me, 

and my feet did not slip;  

I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, 

and did not turn back until they were consumed.  

I consumed them; 

I thrust them through, 

so that they did not rise; 

they fell under my feet.  

For you equipped me with strength for the battle; 

you made those who rise against me sink under me.  

You made my enemies turn their backs to me, 

those who hated me, 

and I destroyed them.  

They looked, but there was none to save; 

they cried to the Lord , 

but he did not answer them.  

I beat them fine as the dust of the earth; 

I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.  
“You delivered me from strife with my people; 

you kept me as the head of the nations; 

people whom I had not known served me.  

Foreigners came cringing to me; 

as soon as they heard of me, 

they obeyed me.  

Foreigners lost heart 

and came trembling out of their fortresses.  
“The Lord lives, 

and blessed be my rock, 

and exalted be my God, 

the rock of my salvation,  

the God who gave me vengeance 

and brought down peoples under me,  

who brought me out from my enemies; 

you exalted me above those who rose against me; 

you delivered me from men of violence.  
“For this I will praise you, 

O Lord , among the nations, 

and sing praises to your name.  

Great salvation he brings to his king, 

and shows steadfast love to his anointed, 

to David and his offspring forever.”