​“Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to come up out of the riverbed.” – Joshua 4:16 NLT


I’m reminded that the real work of ministry is dirty. 

It isn’t self reflection in a pristinely clean attempt to look perfect in our presentation, in our performance, in our acting out the part of “looking like a real Christian”. No, that is the hypocrisy of many religious gatherings of people wearing their plastic masks that hide the death and rot that lies underneath. 

No, ministry is getting past the walls, past the “keeping up of appearances” and getting to the heart of the matter when someone’s life is bearing poison that is harmful to others around them. Ministry is helping people work through their bitterness and unforgiveness and offense that they have with someone else – not teaching them how to bury it or hide it. Ministry is bringing into the light those things that most believe are best left in the darkness and seeing people delivered from the chains that bind. 

We are called to step out into these waters and get past an empty religious practice that is self centered and self seeking and self focused where we could become very good at polishing the outside of the cup. We are called to get our feet into the mud so that the people can cross over to safety. There is a harvest and the Lord needs laborers willing to get their feet wet.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! – Isaiah 52:7 NLT

I pray that you hear the call, friend. I pray that you are the need of your brother and sister around you. I pray that you get to enjoy the amazing blessing of serving others, of washing their feet, of showing them the way, of sharing the truth of our testimony and of His example,  of letting them know that it is safe to cross over into the arms of their Lord and Savior by grace through faith. I pray that you will not be afraid to get your feet dirty in this ministry of reconciliation. I pray that you will have the feet of those who carry the Good News of the gospel to the world, but more importantly,  I pray that you will cross over into His grace, into an abiding relationship with God, into a new life delivered, renewed, born again. Hallelujah, praise the Lord! Amen.

 

“Today” & “”Tomorrow”

​And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” – Joshua 3:5 NKJV

“Sanctify yourself for tomorrow”

קָדַשׁ

מָחָר

“Show yourself set apart for God’s use in preparation for what is to come.”

Planning and preparing for tomorrow, even for eternity, not just living for the day. 

Yes, vision that sees past the moment and looks to the future. Grasping hold of what is most enjoyable in the moment can come with costs unexpected for tomorrow. A child with no wisdom yet doesn’t under stand this. They will give up the promise of ten in the bush for the reality of one in the hand. In fact, or very nature cries out for this even if we are adults – but our experience has taught us something different. 
For example, as a married man,  don’t I know from experience that letting my eyes wander will result in me forgetting the amazing blessing that I have been given in my wonderful wife? 

For example, as a working man, if I spend up my paycheck the weekend after I get paid, or buy and live past my means,  don’t I know from experience that not having any self-control and discipline in my handling of the smaller things like money will leave me in debt and servitude to others, and will impact my ability to help those truly in need around me (the heavier matters of life).

For example, as a studying man, if I think of myself as wise and able to instruct others,  won’t I eventually encounter something that is past my understanding, and won’t I be humbled by the laborer, mechanic, plumber, farmer, ditch digger, and garbage man when I find that I could do very little for myself in a world where they do not provide for me. 
So when I’m saying be sanctified, be set apart,  I’m not saying be divided from the people. No, how can you poor out the love of Christ or share the Good News of you isolate yourselves from the very people we are called to go out and reach? 

No, I am saying,  be separate by your resisting the desires of the flesh, the last of the eyes, and the pride of life. I’m saying that the Lord has a purpose and mission and destination for you, Child of God, and you should prepare yourself for what lies ahead. I’m saying,  don’t let yourself get tangled up in the chains of the dead, but cast them off and prepare yourself for His Holy use. 

For you do not know when “that day” comes. You do not know when your running total of “todays”will come to its end. You do not know what work will be done in you and through you to accomplish His will today and prepare you for tomorrow. 

Are you sanctified? Or are you bathing in sin and worldliness and self in order to satisfy the desires of your evil heart? 

Do you know the Lord and love Him or do you hate Him? Don’t answer me with your words, we are proving it today with our lives. I pray that this truth is not bringing condemnation upon you,  because I pray that you are consecrated for His Holy use,  I pray that you are a peculiar and set apart people – and I pray that if you are not that you will repent while it is still “today”.

Yes, we will choose today who it is we will serve. If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, return to your vomit,  enjoy the rain that He sends down upon both the just and the unjust,  enjoy your today until tomorrow comes if that is indeed your decision. I have stood on the mountaintops and sounded the trumpet,  and so many have returned to their true love instead of remembering their first love,  He who loved you before you were even in your mother’s womb. If you have chosen a better party than the wedding feast of the Lamb, I will go and invite all from the streets and the dutchess and the highways and the hedges to come instead. They will be grateful because they will understand that they have been forgiven much.

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” – Revelation 19:6‭-‬9 NKJV


And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,  and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.  Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’  But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.  And the rest seized his servants, treated them  spitefully, and killed them.  But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.  Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’  So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.  So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him  into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:1‭-‬14 NKJV

Be strong and courageous

​This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:8‭-‬9 ESV

I’m sure there are some who have to hear me talk about Jesus all the time who would “just like me to not be so religious” and for the Word of God to not come out from my mouth. They might find some hope in believing this is what the Scripture is saying,  right? 

Sorry to disappoint you, but hang around, you might find something else of interest in a minute. That phrase “shall not depart” really means something like “will not be removed”. Another way to describe what this is saying is:

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. – Jeremiah 20:9 ESV

And another description is:

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” – John 7:38 ESV

Yep, it actually means that we just can’t shut up about our God.We just can’t stop singing His praises. And it’s because He’s with us. “Do not be frightened,  do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you WHEREVER  YOU GO.”
So when that picture caught your eye and led you to “that” website, yep, God was there. He knows.

When you did that thing,  yeah, that one that you hope people don’t ever find out about. He knows. 

In fact, He knew you when He knit you in your mother’s womb. Pretty freaky concept,  huh? Some stalker God that’s always watching, “knows when you’ve been bad or good…” Well, not really. See, you’ve never actually been good. 
What? I crossed a line? You mean you didn’t leave after the “I can’t shut up thing” and you made it past the “God is a stalker” thing,  and you’re going to leave just when I’m talking about our favorite person,  self?  Come on, how bad can it be. Hang around just a little longer…

So, why does God want you to meditate on His Word? So you can get a big fat check? Isn’t that what He means by “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Well, let’s unpack it before either the prosperity gospel folks start flooding in along you to send them your prosperity bribe… oops, I mean tithe… or the stodgy old religious conservatives get so uncomfortable with the whole idea that they decide we should try to shut the door of heaven quickly before any sinners can get in. LOL. Okay,  sorry for the sarcasm,  folks,  it’s getting late. 

So what in the world is the point of my ramblings tonight? 

It’s pretty simple, I’m here to tell you that God is for you. Jesus Christ,  God come in the flesh to live among us, died for your sin. 

Yep. Died. 

On a cross.

It was really awful. Have you seen The Passion? Don’t try to eat pizza through that movie, I’ll tell you. Not a good idea. 

Anyways,  man… I’m all over the place,  right?  why in the world would someone take the time to read something so disorganized and chaotic as this? Have you met our kids? Have you met us these days? ADD is the new baseline and people want everything in 5 second sound bites or chock full of enriching rabbit trails and jokes. Now where was I again? 
Right, I was there,  with the hammer in my hand,  nailing Jesus to the cross. What? Yep,  those were my nails in his hands. 

I see you threw the brakes on hard there,  right? You’re wondering how they were my nails unless I’m some 2000 year old vampire,  or I’m some Dr. Who type with a time traveling tardis, or I’m just insane and joined up with a bunch of religious crazies like all the other “many paths to heaven” that Oprah is selling (or giving out to people from underneath their chairs).

You see, even if no one else in all of history believed, I believe that He went to the cross for my sin. And I believe that His Word is true and that this whole God thinner,  this whole Jesus Christ died on a cross,  was buried and risen from the dead is true. And I’ll tell you that Jesus is Lord – not because He needs me, not because I need to gather recruits, not because I need to live a more perfect life, not because I will burn if I don’t. 

I’m just telling you because that’s what I do now. I celebrate. I am strong and courageous now, because shame and guilt and fear and worry is out the window if I’ve got, Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth with me and He says, “Don’t worry, kid,  I’ve got this.”

Yep, my Daddy is pretty sweet and amazing. Yeah, that’s what I call Him sometimes when it’s our time just the two of us. I tried Abba Father,  but that just sounded too pretentious. He just smiles because He knows the name that my heart cries out to Him. And He is there,  and He never leaves me. And it isn’t creepy, it’s wonderful. 

I hope you have this. I hope you know Him closely and personally. If not,  dude,  you’re so missing out! I mean,  we’re talking about God here. I mean,  really,  for real. What is going to top that? Yeah,  I know you have Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead revised that you haven’t watched yet,  but Daddy is saying,  not just to me,  but to you as well,  “meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Do you hear what He’s saying? 

Even if it sounds too good to be true,  why not give it a double take. I mean,  you’ve read my ramblings this far, why not read and meditate on some of His Word. I promise you that it will captivate you a lot more than my writing if you open your ears, your mind,  and your heart to heart it.

Go, meditate, do what is written. Then come back and tell me about it. I dare you. What have you got to lose if I’m wrong? 

Even more importantly, what have you got to lose if I’m right? 

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” – Romans 10:9‭-‬11 ESV

Repent? But I’m saved by faith!

2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Galatians 6:3-5 ESV
For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

James 1:23-25 ESV
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 1:6-8 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jas.1.6-8.NLT

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
James 2:14-17 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jas.2.14-17.NLT

Lamentations 3:40 ESV
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord.

Acts 17:30 ESV
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent

1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “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.

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
Luke 3:7-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.3.7-9.NLT

“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord , then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord .”
The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord , for he alone is our God.”
Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord , for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.” But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord !”
“You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the Lord .” “Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.” “All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord , the God of Israel.” The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him alone.”
Joshua 24:14-24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jos.24.14-24.NLT

Titus 3:5 ESV
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Revelation 2:5-6 ESV
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

From Prisoner to the Flesh, to Student of the Word

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
Acts of the Apostles 20:24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/act.20.24.NLT

My life without Christ at the center was worth nothing. The wrong and selfish choices that I made brought bad consequences for myself and for those around me. My carnal nature had me chasing sensuality and all kinds of temptations that never satisfied me long term,  but only left me wanting more. I provided an example to others around me that led them into darkness and into their own bad consequences.

“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Luke 6:43-45 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.6.43-45.NLT

Continue reading “From Prisoner to the Flesh, to Student of the Word”

Why study?

If being a follower of Jesus is a heart change and not just head knowledge, then why do we focus our time on studying scripture?

Joshua 1:8 ESV
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Psalm 119:11 ESV
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:105 ESV
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

The Word of God is a valuable tool for the Christ follower.

Hebrews 4:12 ESV
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

We who follow Christ are seeking to discern what choices are good and acceptable and perfect. We are c sering to examine our own thoughts and desires and take control of them.

Romans 12:2 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This understanding of the difference between our carnal desires and the right will of God grows as we renew our minds with the Word of God and the things of heaven – and as we apply these instructions within our lives when the opportunities come to prove our faith (trials). That is why we set our thoughts on the things of heaven,  not just the things of this world.

Colossians 3:2 ESV
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

We are putting on Christ,  learning to rightly divide the Word of God, learning to walk in the Spirit not in the flesh,  we are training and competing in a race for a prize.

Christ did not say, “Claim me in name once and you will receive all the rewards of heaven.” No, He said, “Follow in my footsteps” and “Bear the burdens of one another” and “if you turn back you are not fit for the kingdom of God”.

You see,  He wants us to be fit for the Kingdom of God,  focused and unwavering in our faith and in our dedication to a life following His example. He sets the bar so high,  telling us that even to be angry with someone to the point of hatred is committing murder in our heart, telling us that to look at a woman with lust in our heart is the same as committing adultery. He is wanting us to reach higher than where we are today, He wants to make us fit,  He wants to refine us and grow our strength through trials.

Yes, this is the point of Christianity – not to raise your hand once,  or pray a sinners prayer once, or to get dunked in water once, or to have an emotional reaction to the Word of God once – only to realize later that you had only become a “religious convert” and not truly a follower of Christ. The point is to decide today whether or not you will serve the Lord – and to mean it, to Believe. And when we believe, it changes us. It changes our desires and our motivations, not just for a season, but for eternity. An emotional reaction to the Word of God can cause someone to spring up and chase after the promises of freedom from consequences. But belief results in a life chasing after freedom from sin,  following in the footsteps of Christ.

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,  but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.”  Then the disciples came and said to him,

“Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:  “
‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,  and you will indeed see but never perceive.”   For this people’s heart has grown dull,  and with their ears  they can barely hear,  and  their eyes they have closed,  lest they should see with their eyes  and hear with their ears  and  understand with their heart  and  turn, and I would heal them.’   But  blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.  For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.  

“Hear then the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.  As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,  yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Matthew 13:3-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.13.3-23.ESV

In battle, do we lift up our eyes, or just charge blindly?

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord . Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my Lord say to his servant?”
Joshua 5:13-14 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jos.5.13-14.ESV

How often do we see the world as men and women of flesh and blood who are either for us or against us?  But the Bible tells us about our real enemies –

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
http://bible.com/59/eph.6.12.ESV

Joshua “lifted up his eyes and looked” and gained something very valuable for His battle. He didn’t charge blindly into battle because the enemy was nearby – he “lifted up his eyes and looked”.

This commander of heaven’s armies demonstrates to Joshua clearly that his loyalty is to God, not to a nation of people  – when Joshua asks a question expecting an A or B answer and instead gets a whole new answer outside his original frame of reference.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come? 
My help comes from the Lord ,
who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.121.1-2.ESV

You see,  sometimes our frame of reference reverts to this physical world and the ways that it operates and we don’t have the spiritual vision or awareness to understand what it means from that higher perspective. If this battle was just about one people against another, then men receive glory from each other for the victory. But Joshua was not called to receive glory for himself or even for Israel. He wasn’t called to be loyal to men but to God. The glory of the battle was meant to be for God.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:1-2 ESV
http://bible.com/59/col.3.1-2.ESV

When we lift our thoughts out of the distractions of this world and remember that we are not at battle against men of flesh and blood, but that we do battle against principalities and evil forces that work through those around us who are still in chains of bondage – we begin to realize that it’s about the Lord being glorified in our choices, our decisions,  our reactions.

Each moment of opposition felt from another person is actually an opportunity to show them love, mercy,  forgiveness, gentleness,  kindness, and self control in return. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that Christ has won yet another battle in our lives and that we are not simply walking in the flesh,  reacting the way that the world expects.

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:12-13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.9.12-13.ESV

When struck in the face by another, when accused unjustly, when shamed and spit upon by the world, the world reacts in kind – but Christ calls us out to be set apart as a peculiar people. He tells us to turn the other cheek. He tells us to give and love even to those who would steal from us. He tells us that lost souls in need of love are more valuable to win over as friends of Christ than to let die as enemies.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:4-7 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.15.4-7.ESV

Yes, He tells us to pick up our cross and bear it for one another. Not to bear it for those we think are deserving of His love and forgiveness,  because none of us, are deserving. Not me. Not you.

But we love because He first loved us.

Our battle is not against one another.

And our loyalty is not to self.

He is Lord, He is Savior, He is Redeemer, and He has won the victory!

To God be the Glory in our lives today.

Who do I serve?

1JN 2:1-6 ESV
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
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We know that we know Christ if we keep his commandments.

If we say we know him but do not keep his commandments, we are a liar and the truth is not in us.

But if we keep his word, His Love is perfected in us.

And if we do stumble and sin, we have an advocate.

We can know that He abides in us if we are walking like He walked.

So walking like He walked is our goal. Since we are imperfect and will stumble, this means that we should always be seeking God and growing and learning, because we are not yet perfected – we are still in the flesh.

This Grace is sufficient to cover any and all sins. But grace is not continuing to live in lawlessness without repentance – it is not a free ticket TO sin. Neither is grace a salvation by works or legalism without forgiveness – it is a gift freeing us FROM sin.

So the questions are:
1) Have I accepted and received this grace?
2) Have I experienced this Grace as a change in my life FROM sinning TO keeping his commandments?
3) Am I sharing this Grace with others through a fruitful life of serving God and serving and loving others?

We are not perfected. We are still in the flesh. And a battle rages on. But there should be a struggle. If we have Christ in us, He is stronger than the temptations and trials of this world, and He will win the battle. He will overcome. If there is no battle. If there is no light and life in us, if we are content living in our sinful ways, not being convicted to make any changes, not being corrected and disciplined when we are outside God’s will for our lives – shouldn’t we be sure that we have actually received this Grace and that we have Christ alive in us?

This morning, are you sure?
If not, He is only a prayer away, friend. He promises if you seek Him, you will find Him.

This morning, are you obeying his commandments?
If not, He is only a prayer away, friend. He promises that with Him, no weapon formed against you will prosper. He offers forgiveness, renewal, and healing. His mercy and peace is there for you to receive it.

Today, will your life reflect Christ’s love that lives inside you?
YES, IT WILL! Open fellowship with Christ this morning, and walk with Him today. Be mindful of Him, keep His Word close to your heart, keep your eyes open for the opportunities to love and help others, let His light shine, tell people that Jesus lives them – first with your actions and your example, and then even use words if necessary. I hope that I can do the same.

Joshua 24:15 NLT
But if you refuse to serve the lord , then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the lord .”

Whose will is apparent in my life today – my own sinful desires, or obedience to God’s commandments?

Who am I serving today?

God?

Satan?

Me?

Galatians 5:13-15 ESV
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

His Protection

Joshua 1:5 NLT
No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
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I look at today’s verse and honestly, it was a little scary when I first read it.

Yes, it is encouraging that God will not fail or abandon me.

But that part about “no one will be able to stand against you as long as you live” – if I just blindly apply this sentence to myself without any further examination and without any context, that isn’t very good study or application of the Word of God.

For example, I can’t just read that and decide that I’m justified doing anything that I want, sinful, wicked, or contrary to God’s will and still expect to be blessed and protected by God.

No. The children that are His and that He loves, He disciplines and corrects. If we have this gift of the Holy Spirit, it convicts us of those things in our lives that need to be changed. And there are always things that need to be changed in our lives.

And this talks about him being with Joshua like He was with Moses. And yes, that same Holy Spirit that was with both Moses and Joshua is with us, IF WE HAVE RECEIVED IT.

So the question we want to be sure of is, HAVE I RECEIVED IT?

And if we have, if we know this relationship with Christ daily guiding our lives and leading us, convicting and warning us against those things we used to long for, disciplining us when we don’t heed the warnings – that is very different than our old lives. It is even very different from our old lives when we acted religious, went to church and tried to reluctantly follow the rules, but found ourselves still chasing sin.

Once we have it, and once we are resting in this Grace, a grace that is along the narrow path, a grace that is neither lawlessness nor legalism – it is then that we know his protection. It is then that we see him turning even our mistakes into opportunities for learning and growth and change in our lives. It is then that our hope in God is proven true – that our faithfulness begins to reveal his faithfulness.

I pray that you either have and are aware of God’s Grace today in your life, friend – or that you seer it and find it right now, friend. We never know when or time will be up. I’m not telling you this to sell you my religion, I’m telling you this because He is a true and faithful friend, and I want you to know my friend as your friend as well.

May God bless you and protect you in your day ahead, friend. May no weapon of the enemy prosper against you, friend. May you know the presence and the glory and the wonder of God’s grace in your life today.