Hear the Cry

The world hates wicked people who have wronged them, hates hypocrites who try to tell them what they are doing wrong, and hates God who they cannot accept as Lord, Savior, Creator, Righteous, Holy, and worthy of praise.

A Christian knows that they have been wicked and wronged others, knows that they have been hypocrites with their eyes set upon the specks in others eyes ignoring the log in their own, knows that it is only by God’s mercy and grace that they know God as Lord, Savior, Friend, Creator, Righteous, Holy, Merciful, Mighty, Holy and worthy of all praise and honor and glory forever, Amen.

When you hear a man crying out against the wickedness and hypocrisy of his neighbor — wonder whether his accusations lie against God — because many adherents of darkness masquerade as agents of light, and where there is no love (or only truly love of self) God is not in that place.

But when you hear a man crying out of his own wickedness and hypocrisy that he has committed towards his neighbor — isn’t it clear that his confession is against his own sinful weaknesses — and his testimony truly glorifies God?

I have hated you.

I have wronged you.
I have made up accusations about you in my mind.
I have spoken lies about you behind your back.
I have thought horrible things about you in the dark of night.
I have spoken great, high minded things loudly in public only to slink away to my wickedness in private.
I have seen the Lord be faithful to me time after time and I have found myself faithless yet again.
But that old man who loved such things is both dead and dying.
Those desires that pressed me on into the darkness are redeemed and replaced with something new.
There is a new resident that rests and walks and lives in this skin wrapped vessel.
Those old things are washed away.
Those old poisons no longer taste like delicacies anymore.
I have seen and tasted of the sweetness of the Lord, and I cannot go back to the vomit and the slop and the pigs and the dogs.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
Do you hear the call?
Do you feel the tug?
Will you come?
Come to Jesus.
Lay it all down.
Come and be made new.
Come and be made whole.
Come and know life abundant.
Come, know Jesus the Son, fall in wonder and awe of Almighty God the Father, and live through the Holy Spirit, Child of God.

You others, you enemies of God: Know that the end is near. Choose salvation today, repent and turn to God — or know what lies ahead. Know that it is both a warning of the coming destruction and a celebration of the coming Lord that we sing and preach far and wide.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
John 15:18‭-‬25 ESV

Holding Onto or Abandoning

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:34‭-‬38 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mrk.8.34-38.NLT

This morning, when reading this section of scripture, I notice especially the concepts of “holding onto” and “abandoning”.

Jesus talks about if you want to “be my follower” or “follow me” or “come after me” or “ἐλθεῖν ὀπίσω μου” (depending on your preferred translation) that you must:

1) Give up your own way

2) Take up your cross

3) Follow [Him]

About your life He says:

1) Hang on = You will lose it

2) Give up your life (for the sake of Christ and the Good News) = You will save it

About benefit, He says:

A) Gain the whole world + Lose Your Soul

B) Is anything more valuable than your soul?

And finally, He compares NOW to THAT DAY:

NOW

Adulterous and sinful days

Anyone Ashamed of Christ and His message

THAT DAY

He returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels

the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person

——

In reading this passage, it discusses repeatedly and in multiple layers this concept of holding onto and abandoning.

When we are given a choice between two opposing alternatives, we will cling to one and abandon the other.

Joshua touched on this concept in his call to the people in Joshua 24:15 to:

“choose today whom you will serve… But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

And Jesus spoke of this concept in Matthew 6:24:

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. ”

And our conscious speaks to us this morning, asking:

“Who will you serve today when your opportunity comes to face opposition, persecution, unfair treatment, suffering, pain, heartache, temptation or whatever lies before you? Will you serve the Lord? Or will you serve yourself? Will you hold onto the Lord and abandon the cadres of this world? Our will you abandon the Lord to lay hold of the things of this world?”

It should be a sobering contemplation, knowing how many times we have failed and fallen short of such perfection in the past. If this thought doesn’t humble a mam to repentance, how hard might his heart have grown cold — how much leaven of self- righteousness might have crept into the whole lump?

But we don’t hope in the past. A man who holds onto his past has his past firmly in his hands and had abandoned his hold on Christ for something else.

Our faith is not in the things seen already, but in Christ and His work.

Lord, help us to cling to you alone today. Help us to abandon everything else that might hinder our testimony our not being you glory and honor. No matter the abundance of our past failures, lead u.s back home to you. Remind us how sweet it is to be in your arms. Hold us in your hand and never let us go. Teach us to do the same. Amen.

Leaven vs Testimony

Leaven: Picking out things from scripture that you know you “get right” and blasting your trumpet continually in this way.

Testimony: Sharing things from scripture that convicted you to personal repentance and humbly admitting your own failures while praising God for revealing and delivering and empowering change.

We should look at our habits and tendencies when it comes to our “public prayers” and “street corner preaching” online — to see what we are “shouting from the rooftops” and whether it comes from a place of humble awe and wonder concerning this Good News of Jesus Christ — or a place of prideful religion saying, “I do X/Y/Z but look at ‘them’ and what ‘they’ do!”

I say this knowing that many of my own messages fall short in this area. Lord, help us to find that position of washing feet, of inviting in — not of accusing and casting stones — of proclaiming YOUR GLORY, not our own.

And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:10‭-‬12 NLT

Are we standing on our proverbial street corner proudly saying, “You should learn from me!”

Or are we proclaiming, “Come and listen to the Teacher, the Christ, the Savior of the world!”

Lord, help us. Amen.

We Neither Choose Nor Work For It

“God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.”

This statement is a stumbling stone to the religious, the self righteous, the rebellious, the proud, and those who are blind to the depths of the grace and mercy of God.

This answer comes from the question:

Why did God love Jacob and hate Esau?

To which Romans 9 answers:

though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls
Romans 9:11 ESV

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth😉
Romans 9:11 KJV

But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.”
Romans 9:11‭-‬12 NLT

This explanation continues:

In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.” For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
Romans 9:13‭, ‬15‭-‬16 NLT

A man might say, “But I made a decision for Christ when I was ___ years old.”

To which I would say, “If you have truly confessed the name of the LORD, and you have laid down your old life of sin to joyfully be an obedient disciple of Christ, going forth to share your testimony of this Good News to the ends of the earth and to all nations, loving and serving your fellow man and glorifying God — then these things are simply outward evidences of the work God is doing in and through you, as a vessel chosen for His use, so rejoice!”

But if what I have described beyond my first comma sounds nothing like the ‘Christian life’ you know of and walk everyday, I encourage you to examine yourself to see whether you are actually called and chosen as a Child of God to be His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. Because many have spoken promises to God that they could not keep, and many have said aloud and publicly that they were vessels of light but were actually agents of darkness.I wil encourage you to seek God like your eternity friends on Him, because it does! If you have no real interest in seeking God, in knowing Him, in learning of His glory, His righteousness, His grace, and His mercy then you won’t know His peace nor will you be grateful to see Him one day face to face. And if you can’t stand spending time with Him now and would rather chase after the world and refuse Him today, are you not longing to be free from Him for eternity? I couldn’t say such things ti those who haven’t known of and tasted of the sweet things of God, but for you who are backsliding, I say, remember His great live for you, and choose today who you will serve. Your freedom is given not so that you might choose the sinfulness of the world, if you say you are “free indeed”.

If you have never truly recognized and admitted your need for God as LORD and Savior over your life. If you have never felt as if you “must choose God or I wil die in my own sins” and that you “cannot stand before a holy ands righteous God and live”, I’m telling you these things now — not because I think that you must choose God in order to earth His favor — but because I know that if you are His chosen, that you will hear the call and will respond. You see, even when we who are His think that we have “chosen God” and our whole lives are irrevocably changed and we are “born again” into a different life (not just signed up for a ceremonial participation) — it is a seed planted and watered and light shone upon us to not only break through the soil of these clay pots, but to bear the fruit of a unique nature and character far beyond our childish, selfish prideful ways. It is the glory of God shining through even such clay pots as me and you.

Do you long for the LORD? I know you do, betrothed of the off the LORD! Do not wait to get oil for your lamp. Do not hide your light. Be filled ands let it shine today. Amen!

A Second Touch

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
Mark 8:22‭-‬26 ESV

We know that the Lord has the power and ability to completely restore with a single touch, even with just a single word spoken (as we see in the case of the Roman Centurion). So we can know that this is not a case where the sickness or infirmity was beyond His ability to heal immediately, because He is all powerful.

So there is a purpose, a lesson, in this second touch — for this man and for us.

Some might quickly say, “But the man’s faith wasn’t sufficient!” And we have scriptural evidence demonstrating that Jesus didn’t perform many miracles in his own hometown because of their lack of faith. But we have no mention of this man’s faith or lack of faith, so that could be dangerous presumption and aging to the scriptures. And since we’r know that “Faith is a gift of God that no man might boast” that type of presumption might lead the proud and the religious zealot to a wrong application of this passage that has them comparing one wretched sinner against another — instead of in humble awe of God.

So what is of interesting note is that it doesn’t mention that the man himself asked Jesus to be healed, does it? It says, “some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him.”

We are not told whether these people just found a local blind man and brought him along with them sho that they could see a show of miracles — or whether they genuinely cared about this man and genuinely had faith that Jesus would heal him. They could have been seeking after signs and wonders and “testing” Jesus with a blind stranger they barely knew — or they could have been holding out hope ands faith that Jesus would heal their friend from his infirmity.

When comparing this account to the story of the men losing their friend through the roof, we can see the difference in the description of the account and in how Jesus behaved and spoke from one instance to the next. Jesus didn’t perform the miracle right then and there when the people brought him, Jesus “took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village”. And after he is fully healed by the second touch, Jesus tells him, “Do not even enter the village.” That seems like another important point, don’t you think? Doesn’t it demonstrate that Jesus made a specific effort and gave specific instructions to insure that this blind man given sight wasn’t “just for show”?

Jesus took the time to lead him out of the city. Jesus touched the man and spoke with him and listened to his answers, and then touched him again and made him whole, and then sent him home with instructions to make it clear to the man that this miracle was for the benefit of the man, not to fulfill the cravings of those seeking a show, and not even for Jesus to draw a crowd — but it was to be an important, intimate, life changing experience between the Lord and a man.

Someone needs to remember this today.

He isn’t looking to make a big religious show. He wants time with you. He is willing to be patient with us. He will give us a second touch. He will speak with us one on one when we walk with Him.

What Comes Out

My tendency to enjoy digging has me lingering on the following and uncovering treasures rather than speeding by just to keep “on schedule” with my Whole Bible in a Year reading plan this morning (and so many other mornings). Lol.

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:20‭-‬23 ESV

So yes, I’m blessed to start my days with the Lord, His Word, my family, and my friends in that order each morning — but mindful to not let “schedule” and “plan” get me stuck in a dead pattern. Feeling especially grateful this morning.

I remember days not so many years ago when those things mentioned in the verse came out of me. But my encounter with the Lord has changed me, like the wild man in the graveyard, like the adulteress they would have stoned, like the woman at the well, like the woman who touched His garment, like Paul on Damascus road, I have a grace and mercy story that I must share.

To all who will listen and call upon the name of the LORD — God bless you and keep you, and may His face shine on you. May His peace rest on you, and may you know the great pleasure and awe of serving and praising and worshipping our great and wonderful God all your days. Amen.