Wait and Hope

When we find ourselves in circumstances where we have been receiving “bad” or “challenging” news repeatedly for a while, the words “wait and hope” can seem… well… tiresome to be quite honest. If you were struggling, and I told you to “wait and hope”, that might not seem very helpful if you were worn and tired and didn’t know if there was any reason to continue to hold out hope any longer.

You might be weighing the options trying to decide whether to hold out hope in the direction you have been headed, or whether a change in direction is necessary. You might be at the end of your own strength ands no.t knowing how much longer you can make it under the current circumstances.

The Psalmist writes:

I wait for the Lord , my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
Psalms 130:5 ESV

And Isaiah tells us:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28‭-‬31 ESV

And Matthew tells us:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 ESV

So when we understand “wait and hope”, it doesn’t just mean to “wait for the bad to pass” and “hope that better things lie ahead” — it means “wait upon the Lord” and “hope in His word”.

You might ask, “What does it even mean to wait upon the Lord?”

“Waiting upon” is not the same as “waiting for”.

If I am “waiting for” someone — I have an expectation of their arrival, they are coming to meet me.

If I am “waiting upon” someone — I am serving them, I am going to them.

Can you see the difference in direction?

“Waiting for” means I’m expecting someone to come to me, while “waiting upon” means I am going to them and serving them willingly.

So can we see the difference in perspective with respect to God?

Are we “waiting for God” to “fix” or circumstances to what we think they should be — expecting God’s to come to us on our own terms and conditions?

Or are we “waiting upon God” as God and faithful servants seeking God’s wil and His glory in whatever circumstances the day brings to bear?

And when it comes to “hope” — are we “hoping for” what we want instead of “hoping in” His Word?

Again, we see the same difference in direction with regards comparing a carnal “hope for” versus a spirit filled “hope in”.

So yes, if you are tired, if you are weary, if you do not know where to turn, I say “wait and hope” dear friend — wait UPON the Lord and hope IN the Lord. And in that perspective, you will know peace even in the midst of the fiery furnace and the raging storm.

This is How I Fight My Battles!!!

This recording is unlike most praise and worship songs. This is a recorded testimony. It isn’t acting or performance, but is the raw emotional reality of my life — where I could see the very real recognition of the powerful enemies that lay in front of me as I tried to sing this song as a garment of praise even in the midst of the storm. Come see the Lord is faithful and true:

Today I deal with 3 enemies or challenges that seem to be encircled against me. I will not mention how these 3 particular enemies are named/manifested in the world around me — because you may be facing enemies this morning that are quite the same at the core but that wear different shells/appearances in your current circumstances.

The point is — that these enemies were like mountains seemingly standing in my way. I do not know what my right next steps should be.

I sought counsel this morning in Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord , and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalms 1:1‭-‬6 ESV

I was encouraged about direction this morning in Psalm 143:

Hear my prayer, O Lord ; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah Answer me quickly, O Lord ! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord ! I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! For your name’s sake, O Lord , preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.
Psalms 143:1‭-‬12 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.143.1-12.ESV

I was reminded of the way of the enemy in I John 3:

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:4‭-‬10 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/1jn.3.4-10.ESV

This passage from 1 John about sin and righteousness will either offend and condemn the dead, lost rebellious who feel justified to do as they please, or raise up the leaven of prideful self righteousness in the dead, lost religious hypocrite who feels self justified in their outward performance — or it will remind the humble Christ follower in that awe and wonder energized by the fear of God that leaves us even more grateful for the cross today than the day we first heart this Good News, knowing that otherwise we would be doomed.

If you are offended, repent:

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
Genesis 4:6‭-‬7 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/gen.4.6-7.ESV

If you are pridefully self- righteous, repent:

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33‭-‬37 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.12.33-37.ESV

As for me, and only by the grace of God, I was reminded of my hope in:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord ‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord , that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:1‭-‬3 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.61.1-3.ESV

My next step is to:

– bring good news to the poor

– bind up the brokenhearted

– proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound

– proclaim the year of the Lord ‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God

– comfort all who mourn

And in setting my eyes upon those goals, what once seemed like mountains will be laid low below the feet of an eagle soaring high above them. By setting my sights upon the needs of others to hear this Good News, to be set free, to be readied, to be comforted — I will know that God has it all firmly in hand.

He has won the victory, and like Jehosephat in 2 Chronicles 20, we will know rest and our enemies will be laid low through faith, through putting on the garment of praise, ands by humbling ourselves to seek God first:

After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord , and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord ; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord . And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord , before the new court, and said, “O Lord , God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord , with their little ones, their wives, and their children. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord , worshiping the Lord . And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord , the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord , for his steadfast love endures forever.” And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the Lord . Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the Lord . And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around. Thus Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. He walked in the way of Asa his father and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord . The high places, however, were not taken away; the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers.
2 Chronicles 20:1‭-‬33 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/2ch.20.1-33.ESV

Are you seeking the Lord today for victory, for redemption, for deliverance, for freedom, for comfort? He is the only way these things well truly be yours. Don’t trust in your own plans and efforts to get you through. Repent. Set your sights on trusting the Lord, put on the garment of praise today, lift up His holy name, and see that He has won the victory for you too.

Hallelujah!

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.

Know Him

I could know all the answers “about” someone based on reading the opinions/ perspectives of others but never actually “know the person”.

It is the same with God.

Seek to know “about” God, but you cannot stop there — knowing the common answers and rebuttals and opinions and assumptions about God are not the finish line. Seek to KNOW GOD — not just intellectually, not just logically, not just superficially, and not just religiously — but personally, intimately, closely.

To KNOW SOMEONE brings along through the RELATIONSHIP an ability to be so closely familiar with who they are — to be a friend who knows them like they know themselves — so much so that you could even recognize opinions and assumptions and statements made by others that you can recognize quickly that are “accurate” or that “just don’t fit” the character and person of your FRIEND.

Jesus Christ is not some dead, silent, historical figure that you are to “read about” and “emulate” and “grasp intellectually”.

He is alive, He speaks, He heals, He leads, He teaches, He touches, He comforts, He corrects, He is a FRIEND to those who will be friends with Him. In fact, He is closer than a friend.

Child of God, you won’t just “read about” Jesus, but you will read and pray and speak with Him and He will speak with you because He gives your ears to hear and eyes to see where you were once blind and dead to the things of God. Does that sound a bit illogical, crazy, scary, like something beyond what you can explain? Yes, that is what we are talking about — an Almighty, Supernatural, “His ways are higher than your ways” God.

Child of God, you won’t have to strive to “emulate” his teachings and actions, but He will come live in you and through you, guiding you in the way, changing your heart’s desires to be aligned with His will, bringing you through the trials in ways that don’t destroy you but stretch you and grow you and mold you into an outward demonstration of who He is within you.

Child of God, you won’t have to “grasp intellectually” all of the intricacies of man’s religion and tradition and ceremonies and laws, because He will put the words in your mouth to answer the religious, and He will establish your steps to live out the love of God that is the worship God actually accepts and that fulfills the law.

We see this difference clarified when Jesus speaks to the outwardly religious but inwardly dead in John 5:

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. “Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you.
John 5:39‭-‬42 NLT

And the prophet Amos speaks of in the old testament:

What sorrow awaits you who say, “If only the day of the Lord were here!” You have no idea what you are wishing for. That day will bring darkness, not light. In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion— only to meet a bear. Escaping from the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house— and he’s bitten by a snake. Yes, the day of the Lord will be dark and hopeless, without a ray of joy or hope. “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.
Amos 5:18‭-‬24 NLT

Do you know the parable of the ten virgins? Do you have oil for your lamp?

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.
Matthew 25:1‭-‬13 NLT

Do you have the oil?

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
John 3:3‭-‬8 NLT

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.
John 14:23‭-‬29 NLT

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:19‭-‬26 NLT

Have you contemplated the consequences of dead religion:

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Matthew 7:21‭-‬23 NLT

Have you realized the significance of true, saving faith that is Christ in you?

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.
Matthew 7:21‭-‬29 NLT

———–

You who ask, “What do I do? What can I say? How can I respond?”

I tell you, “Repent and believe!”

That means, turn away from your old waysand turn to Christ!

Take joy in the fact that you have heard the call, that you have heard the Truth, that you have seen the Way, that you have encountered the Christ today.

Ask Him to forgive you, to change you, to save you from yourself, to come and be your Teacher. Seek Him out in The Word of God, speak to Him in prayer andask Him to write His Word and His willupon your heart. Go out and tell the world of what He has done for you today, and seek others who can’t help but tell of His mercy and live and kindness as well. Learn to know Him and to know The Way, and don’t depart from it, but if you stumble, come back to Him, because He is faithful to forgive.

‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’
Numbers 6:24‭-‬26 NLT

Division and Debate

A bug on the ground looks at the world and describes it one way. An eagle soaring high above describes it another. The wise ones listen to each other. The fools insist on proving to everyone the other is a fool and a liar.

Christian, it is the same with a hand, a foot, a rib, a heart, and parts of the body of Christ. Refusing to listen and insisting on debate is a cancer that kills the body.

Whether you are the cancer or you are the body being threatened by the cancer, the prognosis of the doctor (and the recommendation from Paul in his second letter to Timothy) is that the two should be removed from each other so that the harm does not continue to spread.

—————-

Where there is division and strife and toxicity, when you speak and they will not listen to you (or you will not listen to them), and you have taken opportunities to try and reconcile one on one — and you have taken opportunities to try and reconcile along with others — and if even the gathering is involved and there is still a spirit of debate and arguing and pride that does not welcome you and does not listen but insists on debate — common sense (and Mark’s instruction in chapter 6) underscores that where there is war even when you have made all efforts to make peace — it is better that we separate than remain together.

A cancerous and prideful fool might shake the dust from his feet to make a show to “those people” —

but a bold disciple who cares more about what God says in His Word than what people think of him might do so only because this is the wise instruction given, not because the people will see it and hate him for this offense against them, but that God sees in heaven that he is willing to obey his teacher and not bow to men

— so I recommend checking and carefully weighing your own heart in these matters.

Speak to the LORD, and He will give you wisdom.