How do we address harmful thoughts and voices in our lives?

I am praying right now for several people I love who are dealing with very negative and harmful influences in their lives. The first is a middle school boy who is being verbally assaulted and abused by a kid in school who keeps telling him that he should “kill himself” and is picking on him repeatedly. The other kid is a trans kid with a lot of other issues, and it seems like the school system does not know how to handle the situation without facing a possible lawsuit from the woke movement that cry out for “justice” for “people like us” even while they might be insisting what is unjust and unreasonable and hypocritical. I’m not getting political, because there is injustice and and hypocrisy on the other extreme as well. Then I have friends who are dealing with depression and anxiety who are battling, and who have or who are considering hurting themselves or others. Then I have friends who have faced traumatic circumstances and are facing the unknown, dealing with close personal loss, etc. I. all of these situations, there are thoughts and voices at play — both internal and external — that can be harmful, and that have to be dealt with.

Recognizing, filtering and battling the thoughts and voices that want to tear down instead of build up is not just a life long battle, not just a training ground for our heart and soul, but it is the place where faith grows the wonderful fruit that can be shared with others — our own testimony, our own character, and our own walk.

Doing it alone is treacherous. But even then it offers us the wonderful opportunity to turn to the one who is able and whose grace is sufficient to bring us back from the precipice.

And by being there for others, seeking how we might serve their needs — our own needs and those harmful thoughts and voices seem to gain less traction and less focus on our day.

When we feel isolated and attacked, our best open door escape from that prison is to seek how we might be able to participate with others who are also hurting in their own ways. Whether this is in small groups, in programs like Celebrate Recovery, in charitable organizations, in churches, in corporate worship, in community service projects, or other things that bring us together in selfless acts, that is the sweet prescription — and the underlying love and sacrifice is the cure — the very Holy Spirit of God.

It can seem so counter intuitive to “get up” and “get active” and “serve others” when so much is screaming to us to “hide” and “run” and “shut down”. Having people near me that understand that at times I do need alone time to cope with anxiety and social awkwardness and fatigue — but who also know when and how to use “my love languages” to pour into me in a way that I best receive when my cup is low — really helps. We need others to recharge us, and we need connections to those who naturally pour out in the ways that best fill us up. Community and support will turn what was once debilitating into a wealth of personal experience and wisdom that we can share to help others who are going through the same things.

What doesn’t kill you does hurt a lot, but it makes you stronger — not so you can be seen as strong, but so that you can be a good friend, even be Christ, to those in need around you.

So take pleasure in the trials and the sufferings, as you are sharing with Christ in those “on this side”, you will share with Him as heirs in all the other “on that other side”. Amen!

2‭-‬4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 5‭-‬8 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. 9‭-‬11 When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing. 12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. 13‭-‬15 Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer. 16‭-‬18 So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. 19‭-‬21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. 22‭-‬24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. 25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. 26‭-‬27 Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
James 1:2‭-‬27 MSG

Why am I wrestling and broken right now?

If you have been struggling and you don’t know why, I want to introduce you to two times in Jacob’s life.

At Bethel, Jacob saw a ladder going up into heaven… but at Jabbok, he wrestles with the Lord, he is broken, and he sees the Lord “face to face”.

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
Genesis 32:30 ESV

Every believer needs a Bethel experience to get to heaven, but every believer also needs a Jabbok experience to make us fit for use here and now.

And God can’t use you until He breaks you.

The two names made me think about how in the south, I’ve seen many “Bethel Baptist Church” in different towns — but I get the feeling that if there was ever a church named “Jabbok”, it might be more likely to be a revival, a service ministry, or a Pentecostal church because the focus isn’t on evangelism/salvation, but on service.

That isn’t a dig at my beloved Baptist brethren — it just points out a difference in purpose like a hand is different than a foot, but both are necessary for the whole purpose and proper working of ther body.

At Bethel, Jacob saw a ladder going up into heaven… but at Jabbok, he sees the Lord face to face.

“Some people can’t praise God and give Him glory because they haven’t been broken. They can’t shout and lift their hands and glorify the Lord. They are still too full of their pride. You still got good health. You still got enough money. You still got enough friends… God hasn’t broken you yet… and that’s why you can’t shout with enthusiasm. But just like you need a Bethel, you need a Jabbok.” – from the Youtube sermon I’ve linked below

Thank you, Jesus!

​“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.


Monday-Thursday? No, Maundy Thursday.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”  And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.  For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.  For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”
Luke 22:7-8, 14-22 ESV

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”  Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”  Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”  For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”  When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.  I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’  I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
John 13:2-20 ESV

Today,  we remember Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy likely comes from the Latin mendicare, Old French mendier, and English maund, which means “to beg” (verb) or a “small basket” (noun) held out by maunders (beggars) as they maunded (begged). It reminds us that we are to be servants at the feet of our fellow man, putting the needs of others above our own selfish wants, humbling ourselves before God, treating others as more important than ourselves.

When sharing the Good News with the lost who do not know Him, many times I am taking the stance of beggar, pleading in my heart that they will please take this bread of the Word of God, the example and testimony of His life, and please take this blood of His sacrifice poured out as the costly, necessary payment for our sin so that we can be restored to have a relationship with righteous and holy God. My hope is that they will hear the truth in their hearts and accept it, and receive it, and believe that Christ died on that cross and was raised to life for them.

Today, I am at your feet, dear child, precious friend, beloved creation of Almighty God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and the Lord knows the plans that He has for you, for good and not for evil, for love and life abundantly. When I am physically at your feet as a living servant,  at that same moment, I am spiritually at the feet of my Savior, Jesus Christ, in grattitude as I am annointing His feet with my grattitude through my service to you. Because He tells me that when I serve you, I am serving Him.

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:37-40 ESV

And my service,  when offered with that right heart – not out of obligation, not out of religious practice, not out of seeking rewards or exhibition, but out of gratitude for the prize He has already offered me – it is a pleasing aroma of my bringing praise and glory to His name. My life following His example is the living sacrifice that I offer my Lord, out of gratitude for the grace and forgiveness that He has offered me freely – gratitude for the undeserved mercy that He has shown me because I believe and have faith in His promises and His faithfulness.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.  For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
John 12:1-8 ESV

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”   “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred  denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:36-48 ESV

I do not bring offerings of my own good works to the feet of Christ because I think that they are valuable or worthy to Him – or because I think that they might buy me something in heaven (He tells me that my greatest works are like filthy rags). No, I bring the dust of my life,  these worthless rags of my works, the foolishness of my preaching,  to the altar because even though I know nothing I can offer is blameless or perfect enough for Him,  it is no longer about satisfying a payment due,  it is about testifying about the price already paid.

You see, I am bought with a price that I couldn’t pay – so any of my service and love poured out onto others isn’t because I’m trying to pay what is due, it’s because His payment in love for life is so overwhelming that my cup runneth over,  and I must pour out this love in service to you friend. I’ve tried being quiet. I’ve tried being still,  but this fire in my bones won’t allow it. Because I know how amazing it would be for this fire to catch hold of those still lost in the dark like I was,  because I know how hungry and thirsty I was before I found the only thing that satisfies eternally in Jesus Christ,  my Lord and Savior.

Whose feet are you called to wash today with forgiveness, with love, with encouragement, with help,  with selfless sacrifice of your wants so that their needs are fulfilled?

There are plenty of opportunities, Christian, for you to stoke the flames of that Holy Spirit fire in you through loving service to others. There are plenty of opportunities,  Christian, for you to awake, arise, and follow in the footsteps of Christ. There are plenty of opportunities,  Christian, for the world to see Christ’s love poured out today as you serving them humbly at their feet.

Please,  Lord,  soften our hardened hearts before we find ourselves so separated from you that we begin to wonder whether or not there is even a glimmer left of that flame. Please, Lord, quicken us in your Holy Spirit so that others might see past our imperfections, past our faults, to catch a glimpse of Christ at their feet – so we realize we can come to you from exactly where we are – so that we can know that you are close and not on some far away mountain – so that we can experience the love and the life change that comes from grateful obedience and service that delivers us from either empty religious compliance or outright rebellion. Lord, lead us in your ways, help us to seize the opportunity of seeing your Kingdom come in our lives today, as your will is done. Forgive us for our many imperfections as we fall short of your perfection, reminding us that we are pressing forward towards that upward call. Teach us to love you, Lord. Draw us into your presence. Change us to be more like the loving,  humble,  faithful servant we strive to know in our lives. Amen.

The call is going out, the trumpet is sounding

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there  were very many in the open valley; and indeed they  were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God , You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord ! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord .” ’ ” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there  was no breath in them. Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God : “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ’ ” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God : “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord , when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord , have spoken it and performed it, ” says the Lord .’ ”
Ezekiel 37:1-14 NKJV

You are called to wake up, sleeping Christian. You are called to rise and walk upright in the strength of His Holy Spirit, of Christ who lives in you. Prepare yourself,  for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to  the  poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to  the  captives And recovery of sight to  the  blind, To  set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord .”
Luke 4:18-19 NKJV

You have been called, not to sit stationary and unchanged, not hidden amongst the shadows of this world – but to bring the light of Hope, Faith, and Love into a lost, diseased,  sinful, dying world.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV

You are called both to be a disciple and to make disciples. You are called to be a student of the Word of God,  seeking His face,  His way,  His truth,  His life come alive in you,  today and forevermore.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
Revelation 12:10-12 NKJV

it is the Blood of the Lamb that frees you, the power of His Holy Spirit that empowers you, so that your living testimony can shine the light of His grace and glory into this dark world,  and so that your picking up your cross and bearing the burdens of others will be an undeniable manifestation of Christ alive and at work,  still today feeding His Sheep and leading them through the trials of this world into the peace of eternal life in Christ.

Let our lives be a living testament that Christ lives and moves and serves His faithful today, the same as it ever was.

Your Reasonable Service

What is “your reasonable service” to Almighty Father God, to Lord Jesus Christ, to the Holy Spirit?

Is it to live in the ways of the world?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which  is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 NKJV

Choosing to turn towards sharing in the sufferings of Christ, also means turning away from the ways of the world.

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Hebrews 11:24-26 NKJV

Faith is not an idea or a belief in concept only. Is a woman impregnated by just thinking about a man,  or is it only when she surrenders and submits to him that a seed is planned? Isn’t it the same with the Holy Spirit of Christ who lives in us believers?

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:21-22 NKJV

Even if that worldliness, that compromise, that conforming to the ways of the world,  offers you promises of wealth and prosperity in this world – are you so easily satisfied with your temporary treasure here, or are you seeking those things eternal?

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:13-16 NKJV

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
I John 2:15-17 NKJV

And our choice matters:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
Matthew 16:24-27 NKJV

What does  it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does  it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
James 2:14-19 NKJV

What will your reasonable service be today, for Christ who was slain on the cross for you?

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it —  lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,  saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?  Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.  So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:27-33 NKJV

“For the kingdom of heaven is  like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his Lord’s money.  After a long time the Lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’ “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his Lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:14-30 NKJV

Are you dressed for service?

Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning,  as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks.
Luke 12:35-36 NLT

So we should ask ourselves:

1) Am I clothed in His righteousness? Am I believing in Him at this very hour?

2) Am I eagerly awaiting His return?

3) Am I ready to open the door and let Him in?

If the answer in your heart cries out,  “Yes,  come,  Lord Jesus,  come!” then I urge you to continue pressing on to see this race to its finish.

But if your mind tells you the answer you are supposed to respond with,  but your heart is not quite yet in step – I urge you to go to the Lord in heartfelt and humble prayer,  asking Him to come into your life and overcome your doubt and unbelief. I encourage you to lay down any unforgiven essential or bitterness you have towards others and accept His forgiveness for your life. My hope is that you might know the hope and joy and gratitude that comes from a life saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.

And this change of direction is just the beginning. He has a life and purpose ahead for you who are willing to follow. He calls out to each of us to go forth, to follow in His footsteps – He calls us to be faithful servants.

And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.  If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.  I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.  But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk?  The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.
“And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.  But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.
Luke 12:42-48 NLT

The Gospel

He is…

Not Ashamed?

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.
Romans 1:16 NLT

What things do we do that demonstrate to the world and even to ourselves that we are not ashamed?

What things can we do to grow bolder and more confident in the Word of God, in the Good News of Jesus Christ?

Will we do them?

Continue reading “Not Ashamed?”

Walk it out. Talk is cheap. Love is valuable.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
James 2:14-16 ESV

What do our works today say about our faith?

What areas of our life are growing to be more like Christ today?

What is more important to grow in:
– our practicing religion
– giving money to the church
– our knowledge of the law
– our position of honor amongst men
– our ability to rightly divide the Word
– our loving and serving others

Jesus demonstrates His distaste in Matthew 23 for hypocrisy and religious practice. Demonstrations of religious practice is not what he seeks. Religious sacrifices are not what He seeks. Surrendered lives and renewed hearts are the things that He seeks.

Jesus describes hirelings and false prophets and points out the dangers of these wolves in sheep’s clothing. He tells us to be open handed to the point and needy and to be a cheerleader giver to the local church. He gives instructions to the church,  not about building great monuments and buildings,  but about helping the needy,  the poor,  the widows,  and the orphans. He doesn’t say make money and pay someone else to do your good works for you. No, we are all to participate in His Kingdom Work.

Jesus tells us to equip ourselves for sharing and defending the gospel. But He doesn’t say that we have to earn a degree in the law that is a curse to men,  He tells us that we can know all things,  but if we have not love,  we have nothing. He tells every believer to go out and make disciples and baptize in His name. Yes, it is for the elect,  but the elect are not just clergy,  the elect are the children of God. Do not listen to wolves and hirelings who want their payment in silver coins and tell you that the work of sharing the gospel is not for you, but yours is to give money. They are liars.

Jesus tells us to be first we must be last. He says that those who are exalted amongst men have received their reward already. So our goal is not that we be exalted,  but that He be given all the praise. If we are striving for honor and glory and position for ourselves, that is not honoring God,  that is honoring self.

Our ability to rightly divide the Word of God,  our ability to hear and recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd,  our ability to judge between the tricks of the enemy are important to us in our own walk more than they are in our correcting the walks of others. Our example speaks much lower than words. If we know how to rightly divide the Word of God in our speech,  but not in our lives – if we believe that the darkness that we walk in is light,  how deep is that darkness?

But when we walk in the Holy Spirit of Love,  when we see past the veil of the law, when we have the light within to examine with spiritual eyes, we know that Love,  True Godly Love, fulfills the law. All of the law and all of the words of the prophets hang on loving God and loving others. When we walk in this spirit,  the law is fulfilled. And walking is not just talking,  but it is active and doing. It is serving the hungry in the streets,  it is visiting the lost in prison,  it is visiting the afflicted in the hospital, it is sharing this gospel with the lost, it is showing compassion to the strangers,  it is helping those who have no way of repaying us. It is giving of ourselves until it hurts.

Christ’s example was that He traveled from town to town sharing the gospel even to people who hated Him and tried to kill Him, and then He died on a cross for you and for me,  so that He could be raised to life,  as the first of many songs and daughters of God to be raised to life. He told His followers,  pick up your cross and follow me – and they did it,  walking into persecution and death for the gospel message just like their teacher. Loving and serving all along the way.

So are we committed,  friends?

Are we serving daily?

Are we helping those in need? Or satisfied with our own wants?

Do we have compassion for those in need?

Or are we focused on ourselves?

Let’s open our eyes today and see the ways we can be more compassionate to those in need.

Walk it out, Christ followers.

My Father’s Way
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,  and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,  even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Continue reading “My Father’s Way”