Remembering Accurately

Associated reading:

  • Genesis 8 & 9
  • Psalm 8 & 9
  • Joshua 8 & 9
  • “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling

As I read the chapters yesterday and today, they helped remind me of the the importance of remembering accurately. It also helps that I’m listening to another book on the subject of accuracy vs misconception on Audible (“Factfulness” by Hans Rosling), that was given high praise on LinkedIn by a co-worker.

When we are given instructions on how to do something — as Noah was with his instructions concerning the Ark, as Joshua was with his instructions concerning the town of Ai, and as the Israelites were in receiving their instructions for life through Moses — it is important that we remember accurately those instructions, so that we can follow them accurately. And this is critically important in the short term. Like daily manna, if we rise from our slumber and go out into God’s Word each day to gather our daily bread, and if we meet with Him in the garden for intimate time alone with Him, and on the seashore for time of restoration, and even at the cross for reflection and repentance — we will remember Him more accurately through our day’s plans, tasks, circumstances and surprises.

We also do not want to forget what He has done for us in the past or remember wrongly the history of our lives, of our family’s history, and the history of the world. Relying upon our own memory alone can be tricky — as we have a tendency to forget, to embellish, or to be selective in our long term memories of things. We are not perfect in our memories like God, even though God has favored us so undeservedly as David describes, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them… You made them only a little lower than the heavenly beings”. Humankind not only has our individual memories, but we have our spoken and written and recorded history as well. We have all that we speak amongst our families, friends, neighbors, acquaintances and strangers during our waking lives. And we have all that might be read, listened to, or watched that we have done that might even exceed that short span of our breath- filled lungs.

Since God is of utmost importance in the story of the life of one who “walks in The Way”, shouldn’t He be the ever present salt that flavors our shared remembrance, and the testimony of our trials be the pepper and herbs, and our profession of Christ risen from the dead be our life giving drink? Just as Joshua sat the people down to hear the whole of God’s commands then, shouldn’t we gather together to read and hear the whole of His Word amongst ourselves?

As I am going through this “Old Testament” reading plan ( http://bible.com/r/H ), I don’t look at this example and pat myself on the back for making it 9 days in faithfully — because I remember accurately how many times I have started and never finished such an undertaking. And I’m not ashamed or in despair either about it. Nor am I flippant about my wanting to make it through to the end consistently this time. It reminds me accurately that but for the grace of God, I would be those people drowned outside the Ark, I would be those enemies appointed for judgement, I would be like Achan who stole from the Lord and deserved to be set up as an example of “what not to do”.

But for the grace of God, what would be remembered accurately about our lives?

What history would be left in the wake of our selfish, prideful, foolish, wicked, sinful lives if a better way (even the best and only way) hasn’t been revealed to us?

As I sat down for lunch with a leader yesterday, we talked about how our “default setting” is not that best way and that we both rely on God’s grace and power daily to strengthen us and carry us through. That too often, we make the same foolish mistakes as all the other characters in the Bible, save the one perfect Lamb of God who “got it right”. It is so refreshing and encouraging to sit with friends over a meal and just experience friendship and fellowship together!

As for me and my house, I want us to remember accurately all that the Lord has done for us. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like or how we live it out consistently, day by day — for our own benefit, for the world to see, but most importantly for the glory of God — but I’m eager to see what the Lord has in store, and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. Amen.

A, B or No

Have you ever had someone ask you if you’re this or you’re that — proposing a type of multiple choice question to you as if those are your only options — when your answer may not fit either of those options? Where they want you to confirm and show your support for either a simple answer of A or B, but the complexity of the situation may have you answering outside their question with a “No”?

The first thing that comes to mind is political parties. Yes, there are people that are die hard fanatics for a certain political party versus another and who will blindly follow whatever propaganda is fed to them by those handing out the manipulations and the agendas. But many rational, reasonable and wise people can see the corruption and wickedness on both sides of an issue. In fact, any judge with time on the bench will tell you that the true rarely lies exclusively on one side or the other side recalling of the events of a dispute, but it is most commonly found “somewhere in the middle”.

I love how Joshua 5:13-15 provides us with a wonderful picture of this type of interaction. Joshua encounters unexpectedly a man with a drawn sword and asks in a way — Are you A) for us or B) for our enemies? Expecting a confirming answer from this warrior…

Let’s stop right there for a moment, and let’s try to make this a little more real. Imagine you are about to go into your favorite football game between your team and their rival, and this impending moment is foremost and up front in your thoughts. You see another person within a block of the stadium carrying a football, but not wearing the colors of either team. And you ask, “Are you for the Clemson Tigers, or are you for the Alabama Crimson Tide?”

This more familiar situation might make the ego-centric nature of the question be revealed a little easier — because I’m not sure how many of us have commonly encountered unshielded men with drawn swords in our day to day lives (at least if we are talking physical reality and not metaphorically speaking). Can we see that the question of A or B in these situations imposes upon others that what is most important and familiar to us in a situation — most assuredly must be important to them as well.

We make these types of mistakes with other people constantly — labeling people as friend or foe when they are really just stranger or acquaintance, stereotyping and judging people wrongly, etc. And we also make these same types of mistakes about God.

How many of us fools pray “trying to get God on our side” of an issue or problem or challenge, and never talk to Him again until we need to place another order at the metaphorical drive-thru “have it my way” fast-food prayer line? Missing out altogether on who is God and who isn’t in this equation, and missing out on the work that prayer is meant to do within us more often than around us.

Some of these bratty children that I see demanding things from their parents, and some of these bratty adults that I see and hear demanding things from society and others, some of us in our wants and desires — need to hear a surprising “No”.

Some of us need to understand that our personal perspective may be blocked and hindered because we have been only considering A or B, me or them, etc. — when the right answer is “No” and our response is instead, “What does the Lord have to say to His servant?”

And when we reach this place of holy surrender, we aren’t just standing upon holy ground where we can stack up stones to create an altar or marker that others can see. We are establishing a point and time in our lifesong where a true miracle of correction, revelation, repentance and spiritual victory has been won. Amen.

Related Reading:

  • Genesis 4 & 5
  • Psalm 4 & 5
  • Joshua 4 & 5

The Contrast

There is a great contrast between the grace and mercies found in intimate closeness to God — versus the harsh reality of death, darkness, and destruction that comes to those separated from and opposed to God.

Genesis 2 lays out for Adam and Eve an explanation of the consequences of “choosing the wrong side” when they are told “If you eat its fruit, you will surely die.” And Psalm 2 contrasts those who do not submit as “you will be destroyed in the midst of all of your activities” to “what joy for all who take refuge in Him!” And even Joshua 2 lays out a choice and consequences for Rahab the prostitute, who helped them.

In each of these situations, we see kind advice communicated — like a good father would warn his children about not touching a hot stove top — but we also see the opportunity for submission or opposition. And even more importantly, we see that the ones giving advice and extending grace have the wisdom and insight to indicate the “If you choose X, your consequences will be X — our If you choose Y, your consequences will be Y.” It would be foolish for a father to not warn his child about the consequences of a hot stove — just as it would be foolish of a child not to heed his father’s advice about the hot stove.

But we have all at times in our lives ignored the advice of our heavenly Father and traded what is best for a different set of consequences. In fact, being a slave to sin is having our joy and our greatest blessings stolen from us repeatedly, day after day, as we are tricked into giving up willingly what is best — in trade it for the momentary pleasures of “sin”.

Instead of seeing sin as “getting to do what I want instead of having to follow God’s rules” — we must understand that sin is always us “giving up what is best for us in trade for something less”.

A good father knows that his child might be foolish, and isn’t telling him “don’t touch the hot stovetop” to keep him from enjoying exploring some new areas of the kitchen — but to protect him from the hurt that he knows will be the inevitable consequence. In fact, a good father isn’t waiting eagerly to beat the foolish child for touching the hot stove and getting burnt — he longs to share wisdom and good advice for the benefit of the child.

Unfortunately, I fear that much of what extreme evangelical teaching has used (seemingly as a shortcut for denomination centered religious “conversions” not Christ centered life-altering “salvations”) — by scaring people with an emphasis upon hell and eternal torment and a wrathful, vengeful Father God, with Jesus as a “get out of hell free card” if they can explain the “Roman road” and recite a “sinner’s prayer” — has completely skewed the common understanding of God as Heavenly Father and how “sin” is understood. I know that I personally misunderstood this for decades of my young church going life.

To look at “sin” from a “do this and don’t do that” perspective alone is having information but not knowing how to truly understand it. This is what is meant by “the letter of the law kills”. That is the religious, judgemental, hypocritical perspective that would enjoy and take pleasure in repeatedly beating a child for placing their hand on a stovetop that wasn’t even hot — while using the excuse “it’s for his own good” to justify their perverse pleasure in doing harm to the child. That is not how God operates, and those who act as if it is — not only do not know Him personally — but clearly know very little “about Him” as well.

When we look at the love of a father who warns us of the dangers, yet allows us to learn — either by being his advice and enjoying the fruit of wisdom — or by ignoring his advice and experiencing the consequences of the prodigal — that grace available for both the wise and the foolish, will either have us grateful like the prodigal son, or confused and mad like the jealous older son in that story. This is the gospel, and it sees things from a spiritual perspective.

Related reading:

  • Genesis 2
  • Psalm 2
  • Joshua 2

​“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