Saturday, October 30, 2010

It Is Not Enough To Feed A Man; He Must Encounter Jesus

We need tot remember that we have been called to good deeds for the sake of compassion, not salvation. Certainly there is a good chance that people will want to know the root of our compassion and will be open to our testimony, however that is not a condition of our good deeds. I have met so many Christians who became disillusioned because people threw the offered kindness back in their face. There are others that say if it doesn't end with salvation we should not be involved in it, but this is wrong as well. We all know there is only one way to salvation, and that is through Jesus Christ, not improving the human condition. Yet, we have been commanded to offer kindness and good deeds without conditions.

It is like there are two prongs to what we do and sometimes those two prongs merge together. I have to be careful here because I do not want to simplify the matter either. Let's consider it this way; in Matthew 12 Jesus explained:

When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. (Matthew 12:43-45)

Unless there is a rebirth then the familiar will return and the condition will be worse. We see this with alcoholics who try to reform themselves. They will struggle all their life unless there is an authentic re-creation which only comes through Jesus Christ. This is the same for drug abusers, people of violence, thieves and all the others suffering from terrible vices. We can work with them until the "cows come home" but unless there is an inner reformation the outer actions will turn to the familiar and often times will be in worse condition. William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, once said:

“To get a man soundly saved it is not enough to put on him a pair of new breeches, to give him regular work, or even to give him a University education. These things are all outside a man, and if the inside remains unchanged you have wasted your labor. You must in some way or other graft upon the man's nature a new nature, which has in it the element of the Divine.”
This is also true for those who suffer from things like depression which is a form of mental illness. Depression is in epidemic proportions in our society and everyone should become familiar with its symptoms and cycles. The only true way to deal with this and many other such illnesses is to completely die to self and allow Jesus Christ to fully, and I mean fully, possess us. If we try to repair ourselves, if we try to beat it on our own, we will find ourselves in a terrible cycle where we fall deeper and deeper with every attempt. Only Jesus can renew our mind and heart. These healings are a benefit of salvation as we learn to receive our purpose and joy from Jesus and we realize that nothing here holds any value for us because Jesus is everything we need. It requires total surrender, total abandonment of all things here, a total thrusting of ourselves into his arms. Peace, contentment, joy comes with trust and obedience.

Our good deeds address the needs of the physical man and they are essential in our service, but don't expect salvation to result from them. We offer them because they are the natural fruit of the compassionate heart of Jesus. Jesus healed a lot of people, gave sight back to the blind, even raised the dead without requiring worship. He did these things because his compassion reacted to the suffering of humanity, and so should we. However, we have also been called to be his witnesses which is a work of Salvation. We have been called to tell others about Jesus, to be used in signs and wonders, to remind humanity that they are all perishing. We cannot do one and neglect the other, we have been called to both.

Sometimes compassion and salvation merge as we perform miracles and people run to Jesus to receive salvation. What a great thrill it is when this happens but do not think that your good deeds is all that is required of you. Do not hide behind the humanities and think that by offering comfort to the body we have discharged our duties. We have to tell others of Jesus in our word and deed, through acts of compassion and acts of power. Let's stop building our institutions and get back to the expansion of the Kingdom through the power, the anointing that we have been given to do this work. Let us seek to do as Jesus commanded and William Booth demonstrated, let us seek the relief of the suffering of man physically and spiritually, not giving up until our life is spent and we are called home. They need an answer and we have it; his name is Jesus.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I'll Fight To The Very End

No one is ever so bad that we can write them off. We do that in our society because we do it personally. If someone becomes too much of an investment for us we tend to back away from them. Perhaps they are really "messed up", we have told them everything about Jesus and there is no response. They seem to consume huge amounts of our time, our energy, even our emotions. We get to the point where we decide that they are never going to change, that they are wasting our resources that would be better used with someone else, so we move on. Adults do it, kids do it, teachers do it, pastors do it. Praise the Lord, Jesus doesn't do it.

As hard as it is we can never give up on people. As long as they have air in their lungs we have to believe that redemption is possible. Jesus didn't leave us here because our mission would be an easy one. He left us here to fight for people as he fought for people, as he fights for people now. The one group he continued to have problems with are those who thought they knew the truth, those who thought they had the answers, the religious ones. Because they thought they had all the answers they had no room for the truth when the truth presented itself. In Matthew 12 these people asked Jesus to give a miraculous sign as proof of his authority. Jesus told them that he would give them the sign of Jonah. Here he made it very clear what was about to happen. He would die and be buried, rising on the third day just as Jonah had been in the belly of the great fish for three days. But Jesus also told them that they would still not believe.

In fact, Jesus told these very religious people that on the Day of Judgment they will be condemned by the actions of the men of Ninevah:

The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:41)

That's the problem with the religiously minded people, they do not believe they need to have a repentant heart. They believe they have made it, that their system, their church, their prayers, their sacrificial system, their religion will save them; that they have nothing further to learn. At least the worst of sinners know their condition and are not slow in saying they are messed up. It is much more difficult for Jesus to penetrate the heart of the religious than that of the lost. We write off the "messed up" people not realizing that the truly lost as the religious people.

None of the religious people in Jonah's day had any hope for the Ninevites; they had written them off. Even Jonah ran away when God sent him to deliver a message of their doom. Jonah thought it was a waste of time to warn the people of this city and he even looked forward to their destruction. But the people surprised Jonah and actually repented in a very serious manner. God received their repentance and withheld their destruction. The religiously minded Jonah was upset because he did not understand God's mercy and grace. Unfortunately many of us are like that.

I know it is hard for people to receive but I am going to say it anyway; even the worst offenders in our society are capable of receiving God's mercy and grace when they are given the chance to repent; when they hear the truth and respond. In fact, most of these "low-life scum" are in a better position to repent than many "fine upstanding citizens" because at least they know their condition and are willing to admit their offenses against God. As long as they are willing to be honest we should never write them off because some of them will repent and experience a new birth. The old will be wash away and the new will be placed on them like a new skin or a new garment. Their hearts will be changed and their minds renewed. They will be our brother or sister for eternity. In fact, their actions will stand as a condemnation against us because of our lack of repentance.

Do you remember Jesus' parable about the two sons. The dad asked the one son to do something and he refused but later he changed his mind and obeyed. He asked his second son to do something and the son said yes but never did it. Jesus asked the question, "Who was the obedient son"? It was the first of course. Rebellious at first but in the end he obeyed. The second son only had the appearance of obedience but in the end remained in a rebellious state. This is the reason we can never give up on people who have the appearance of rebellion. General William Booth charged his son to go for souls and then he qualified that charge by telling him "Go for the worst". Never give up. Never give in. Never walk away. No matter what the cost, do not give up on the people Jesus has brought into your life. They are yours to love into the Kingdom. Remember, Jesus never gave up on us. Let me leave you with a quote from the great General William Booth that I pray will provoke us to respond to the Spirit in us:

“While women weep, as they do now, I'll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now I'll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight, I'll fight to the very end!” - William Booth

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Be Careful Little Tongue What You Say

Yesterday we considered the fact that we are going to be judged by our decision to accept Jesus Christ or to reject him. In this sense our eternity is in our hands. This is not exactly what I had intended to write but went with the Spirit. So this morning I want to go back to my starting premise yesterday, which is that we are going to have to answer for the words we speak. It was from this thought that the Spirit took me to the all important confession of Christ; we believe in our heart and we confess with our mouths. However, it doesn't end there, because even as Christians we are going to have to give an account to Jesus for the actions or lack of actions that we take and the words that we speak.

A few days ago we considered what Jesus said about the good and bad fruit:

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (Matthew 12:33-35)

For me this is a very powerful teaching and a reminder that I must allow the Spirit to do his work of producing good fruit in me. That fruit is not for my benefit but will be a blessing to everyone around me. This explanation or warning from Jesus is quickly followed by this warning:

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37)

Did you take note of that: to give an account for every careless word? Of course this would mean every careless word that we have not attempted to repair and that we have not sought forgiveness for, but still, they should not be spoken in the first place. How are we with our tongue these days? Of course the point Jesus is making here is that good words come out of a good heart and bad words come out of a bad heart but most of us have days when the old nature seems to overpower the new birth and a cloud forms over our hearts. We speak words that hurt, usually the people we love the most. Perhaps it helps knowing that we will be held accountable for every careless word spoken.

This is more important than perhaps we may consider it to be. The Spirit is working away in us but we have to be willing participants. As things come into us that do not align with the heart of the Father we must be willing to reject it. If we allow bad moods, jealousy, pride or even hatred to occupy our thoughts then it will effect our heart and eventually pour out of our mouth. It is far better to examine those things, realize they are not part of us and reject them. I mean totally refuse them. Just say, this does not belong to me, and push it out.

We can never forget the power of our words to build up or to tear down. The Scriptures warn us:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:9-12) 

It obviously is a matter of the heart. We should take this as a warning then; if we are not able to control the words that come out of our mouth, there is something wrong with our heart relationship with Jesus. It takes an effort on our part to remain submitted to Jesus, to the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Worship goes a long way in keeping Jesus over us. If we are not worshiping then it is an easy thing for our flesh to rise up. James is very blunt on the matter of the person who cannot control his tongue:

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (Matthew 12:26) 

The Word even warns us not to sin in our anger. If you think you can get away with it because it is just you and your wife talking or you and your friend then understand what Jesus warned:

Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. (Luke 12:1-3)

The words that you speak matter because they reveal the condition of your heart. Our words are meant to bless, encourage, lift up and at times to correct, but never to curse, tear down or destroy. Remember we will have to give an account for every careless word we utter. It is better to be part of the solution in this world than part of the problem. Let us be a source of inspiration, hope, encouragement and love for a world that is wallowing in its darkness. Speak the truth into people and set the cursing aside:

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jesus Said "It is finished"; Now The Rest Is Up To You

I find it incredible how much of our future God has left in our hands. He gets blamed for a lot of bad stuff that happens in people's lives but, if we take a very close look at the facts, most of those things happen because of our decisions. If it wasn't caused by our decision then it was caused by someone else's but it still comes down to the fact that bad things happen because of bad decisions. Even when it comes to our eternity, God has left the decision in our hands. In fact, he has left most things about eternity in our hands; whether we get to spend it with him in paradise, what kind of reception we will receive, what kind of rewards will be waiting for us, what will be the matters we get judged on.

I can't help but laugh when I hear people put out the one liner, "If God is a God of love he would never condemn a person to hell". Dummy, that isn't God's decision; it's yours. This is the thing people do not get: we are a tragic race, condemned by simply being born. It all happened a long time ago when our forefathers made the decision to enter into a relationship of disobedience and separate themselves from the perfection and glory of God. Our Father made something beautiful and we broke it. Was that Dad's fault or our own? Blaming our Father would be like blaming parents because the child broke the vase in the room he wasn't allowed in. It's not called negligence but disobedience.

So because our forefathers did this thing, all of us are condemned to be separated from God for eternity; except that he loves us so much that he came up with a plan to restore us back into a right relationship with him. He didn't have to do this but he did it anyway, because he loves us. Get it? He went through this huge effort not because he is obligated but because he wanted to. In the whole complicated plan we only have one thing we have to do and we have to do it right. The one thing we have to do is make a right decision.

Do you see the beauty of the plan? It was a wrong decision that got us all messed up; it will be a right decision that gets us out of that mess. At the end of ages it is this decision that we will decide our eternity, not our Father's decision. In the end, after all the work our Father and Jesus put into the plan, our salvation rests in our hands, or, more accurately, on our tongue. Jesus said:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Most of the world knows that bit. But do they know what follows it?

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)

That bit catches a lot of people by surprise, including Christians. A lot of Christians choose to ignore it because judging and condemning is such an easy and natural thing. If we do not judge and condemn we may actually be left with nothing else to do but love. This is really an important point to make because Christians have done a very poor job of representing Jesus to the world. We are too busy condemning an already damned race of people. Jesus did not come for this; he came to show people the way out, how to make the right decision, how to escape from the trap. Our Father has no desire to condemn anyone and Jesus made it clear with the next bit that the only ones who condemns us is ourselves:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (John 3:18)

You see, after all God's work to open the door for us, the decision is left with us whether we walk through that door. At the end of ages it will not be Jesus or the Father or anyone else who will be condemning us; we made the decision ourselves. And Jesus made it clear that not making a decision is making a decision and unfortunately it is the wrong decision:

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. (Matthew 12:30)

Funny, this was not at all what I was going to write on this morning, so it must have some significance to you. Our Father never forces anything on us. All of his blessings are either received freely or rejected freely. We cannot blame him for anything in our lives because he has done everything he can for us except for one limit he put on himself; he refuses to cross the line of coming against the decisions we make. He loves us, the cross is proof of that, but he also respects us. The position of the Christian is to present Jesus to the world so that everyone is making an informed decision when they accept or reject our Father's offer. Perhaps most Christians fail at this because most of them fail to understand how much of eternity is in our own hands, or, once again, on our own tongue:

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

So, if you haven't done so already, get off the fence, make your decision and stop blaming my Father. He has done everything possible and some stuff that is impossible so that you have the ability to now make that decision. Decide wisely.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Consider The Source Before You Allow The Words To Have An Effect

Lately there has been a lot of criticism aimed at my wife and me simply because we fell in love and married each other. Some of it has been heavy to bear and other bits have been down right laughable. In one of the laughable cases a close friend reminded us, "Consider the source". She was right in pointing this out because the source of criticism came from a very dark and confused place. Some people who are in that dark and confused place in life often reach out with criticism of others in order to be distracted from their own messed up life. It is often how bullies are born. Now, as I read the Scripture this morning, I am reminded of that advice, "Consider the source".

I always thought of that advice as something that indicated we should look at the life or the record of the person in question. This examination does not have to be as a result of criticism that they are expounding; they may have entered the filed of gossip, or advice giving. Regardless, I thought "consider the source" meant to examine that person's life, and it may mean exactly that, but, due to the Scripture this morning, I realize that for Christians in means a little bit more. As Christians we need to be open to the true sense of criticism, when a person may critique our actions or our words from the perspective of the Spirit. We must always be open to correction, but we need to make sure that we consider the source of that correction. Listen to what Jesus had to say to the Pharisees on a point of correction:

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (Matthew 12:33-35)

"Consider the source" takes on a new depth of meaning as we apply these words. Of course, with Scripture, we must always apply it to ourselves first. What is the condition of my heart? Am I totally surrendered to Jesus, giving him priority over everything else in my heart and life? Is the fruit that is being produced in me coming from a good heart, that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are being produce by the Spirit of God in me.? Now, having realized that this is what I desire for myself, I should also look for this in the lives of those I will allow to speak into my life. I should be considering the source of the words that are attempting to have an effect on me because the source is vital.

Words that come from a wrong source will tear down with no desire to build up. They are intended for evil not good. They come from a wrong heart that can only see the faults and mistakes but also cannot see the good and the bright future of change. Mean and hurtful words are used as jackhammers, slamming away at the surface of our heart, to wound and destroy. A heart possessed by the Spirit of Jesus Christ would never do this. When words of correction are spoken from a good heart, from a good source (Jesus in us), they are always spoken with the intention to lift us up to a higher place. Some brokenness may be required but these are wise words that tear down the wrong to lift up the right.

Why would we choose to allow a wrong source, an evil source to speak into our lives? That is foolishness. They may speak with the best of intentions but consider the source. What do they know of love when they reject the very definition of love; God is love? It does not mean we hate them or reject them but we refuse their words to have any power or effect over us. We need to love them and be patient with them but we do not need to accept their words. Sometimes we react to them by attacking them. Take your example from Jesus who never defended himself from them but instead warned them and taught them. He did not take it personal because he would not accept their words into his life but he took advantage of the situation to warn them about their own condition and to warn others to be wary of them.

Some of you allow other people's opinions to burden you too much. Consider the source of those opinions. If you are offered advice, direction or even a critique from a person who demonstrates good fruit (not good deeds but the fruit of the Spirit) then you should consider those words carefully. However, if words come at you from a source that you recognize as not being submitted to the Spirit, to Jesus Christ, then let those words fall away and have nothing to do with you. Jesus said to the religiously minded, "how can you who are evil say anything good". I know we do not like to call people evil but remember that those who are without Jesus are the enemies of God. The Father still loves them and is desperately trying to rescue them from that evil but that does not make them less evil.

Keep that in mind as those who are without Jesus try to speak into your life. Remember as well that those who label themselves as Christian are not necessarily possessed by Jesus. This is the reason Jesus told us to look for the evidence of the the good heart which is the sign of the good fruit (not good deeds) that is produced. A good tree does not produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. So, consider the source, and let that which is of God remain and that which is evil fall away.

Monday, October 25, 2010

We Have The Power That Jesus Would Be Revealed To The World

We have been given the authority and power to reveal Jesus Christ to the world through signs and wonders. Most of the Church no longer believes this because we have become like old musicians who have forgotten how to play music. As soon as man started to control and dictate to the Spirit we saw the political power rise and the spiritual power fall. What fools we are to think we can define and control the Holy Spirit, the Living God within us. All we can do is obey and disobey, so the moment we begin to control the Spirit we are entering the realm of the disobedient. This is not a good place to be because some of the strongest warning Jesus gave was against disobedience to the Spirit.

It is a tragedy in the Church that we have become masters of our own destinies. Jesus once described people of the Spirit as ones who come and go as the wind comes and goes. The wind cannot be controlled and those who are under its power realize that they must do as the wind dictates. When we are submitted to God the Spirit, we lead a life of obedience to him. When he tells us to go over there that's what we do. When he tells us to stop for a while that's what we do. We speak when he tells us to speak and we say what he tells us to say. We are soldiers taking orders from the general, or we should be. Instead, we are rogue agents doing whatever we "feel" like doing. So some days we don't get out of bed and other days we are climbing mountains. There is no consistency so when we get in trouble we start ordering the Spirit around as if he serves us. The angels may serve us but we serve Jesus Christ, his word, his instructions and his will which he conveys through the Spirit in us.

We are more than "do gooders". Living our life with compassion and grace is a major part of what we do. Filling the world with acts of kindnesses is a must but we are more than this. We are spiritual warriors. We are fighting for the salvation of the world and we have been given the power of signs and wonders, through the Holy Spirit, to draw people to Jesus. Signs and wonders are not for the faithful, it is the faithful who are suppose to be doing the signs and wonders by the Holy Spirit. This is the tool we have been given so Jesus does not end up appearing like a Gandhi,a wise man with wise sayings and a compassionate heart who thought well of humanity. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, with authority over all things. Signs and wonders reveal to the world that Jesus is no ordinary man. But we have forgotten how to let the Spirit work through us with his power.

This is a dangerous thing because Jesus gave us a warning about the Spirit:

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:30-32)

Considering that the great majority of Christians won't even acknowledge the place of the Spirit in their lives and faith, this is a frightening thing to hear from Jesus. Christians need to lift the Spirit up from under their feet and lift him to a place of honour in their lives. Imagine this, we can say things against Jesus and be forgiven but if we come against the Spirit there is no forgiveness. What have we done and what are we doing? If Jesus says the Spirit is this important what are we doing ignoring him completely?

The fact is that we have been given a mission to present Jesus Christ to the world. People are not going to be convinced by our words alone. Paul explained this to the Corinthians:

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

That's where most of us are, using wise and persuasive words to put forward an argument on the existence of God based on man's wisdom. God cannot be explained by man's wisdom. Only when men are absolutely convinced of the power of God will they begin to believe that he is able to change their heart. When they are confronted by the reality that God goes beyond our understanding and that his power is governed by his love for us will men then break down and surrender their hearts to him. Jesus said it must be this way. It was written by the prophet Joel a long time before that God would pour out his Spirit into his people, men and women. He did that nearly 2,000 years ago and here we are still arguing over the power of God.

There are those who say that the age of the apostles and miracles passed away with the death of John. Then they set up a system where there was only one apostle who dictated to the Church. We set up a political system whereas the Spirit was suppose to be running the show. The age of the apostles never passed away and miracles are done by the living saints not the dead ones. Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest prophet, even greater than Elijah who performed miracle after miracle for the nation to see the hand of God. Then Jesus said that the least in the Kingdom is greater than John. It's time to shake ourselves from our slumber, to put on the mantle that we have been given as the witnesses of Jesus Christ and allow the Spirit to have the freedom to do what he wants to do through us. Pray, Lord baptize me with your Spirit that I may be filled with your power to convince the world that you are who you say you are and that you will do what you have promised to do. May the lame walk, the blind see, the mute testify that Jesus is everything.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dare To Believe You Have The Power To Live No Ordinary Faith

We all have them in our lives, people who love to throw a bucket of cold water on our dreams. It is why most people are too afraid to speak the content of their heart because there is always someone around to tell them how stupid their dreams are. They give them a list of a dozen reasons why it will never happen. These people also exist to dampen our faith. They themselves do not know how to believe so they dump on anyone who is strong enough to believe the impossible. These are the people who state, "I'll believe it when I see it". Here is a clue for you dreamers, believers and holders of faith: take a close look at the lives of these people. Ask yourself, "What have they achieved?" When that reality sinks in, walk away.

Jesus was dogged by a small minority of "nay sayers". Every time he raised his head above the crowd they were there to try to knock him down. Considering how much further he was above the crowd you can understand how often he got hit. However, he is the Son of God so he was not affected by these people he referred to as "you of little faith", but the ones who were affected by these "nay sayers" were those who were on the edge of believing:

Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." (Matthew 12:22-24)

It is one thing for a person to decide to turn their back on Jesus but another for them to also try to destroy the faith of others. I believe it is a "safety in numbers" thing. If they can get a whole bunch of people to feel just like them then they can't be wrong, or some similar thought. I believe people who do not know how to dream are afraid of those who do, so they make it a point to try to pop those dreams. They go out of their way to try to keep people dragged down to their meager existence; one that is composed of only the things we can see and nothing beyond. They never achieve anything out of the ordinary because they can't see beyond the ordinary.

Followers of Jesus are no longer restricted to the ordinary because they are being transformed into the extraordinary. We are told to dream and have visions. We are told that we will do greater things than Jesus did. We are told that we will be part of God's signs and wonders. We are told that the Spirit will manifest himself through us with the spiritual gifts we have been given. But the pretenders among us, those who want to limit us to an ordinary understanding of God, scoff and tell us how wrong we are, that these things cannot be, that they are just a manifestation of our own demented thinking. But I will stand by the Word of God over their limited understanding any day. These little people do not understand that we live in the Day of the Lord. The Spirit has been poured out on us and we have become the people of the extraordinary:

 And afterward,
       I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
       Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
       your old men will dream dreams,
       your young men will see visions.

 Even on my servants, both men and women,
       I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
(Joel 2:28-29)

Do not allow these limited people to darken your understanding of who you have become in Jesus and the way he operates through the Holy Spirit in you:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

This is the Word of God but the "nay sayers" believe they have greater understanding than the Word when they tell us that this was only for a certain age of the Church. I guess they have had some extra Divine revelation because that is not what is said by the Word of God or the Spirit in me who teaches me the Word. In fact Jesus warned us, his followers:

It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! (Matthew 10:25)

There are large sections of the Church that are dying to the Spirit. They operate in an echo of the past but not possessing what has been given to us because they have been convinced it is not real. They have been convinced that the true manifestations of the Spirit is trickery or a forgery whereas they are becoming the real forgery because they are denying Christ in them. A follower of Jesus Christ is filled by the power of God by God the Spirit in us. He operates through the gifts we have been given. We have the power to lay on hands and see the sick healed. We have the power to stand before thousands of people and have the Word of God pour out of our mouth so that their hearts are freed and they are able to see Jesus. We have the power to see into the lives of people so we know how to intercede for them. God longs to speak through us into the hearts of those who are desperate for him but we allow ourselves to be robbed of our usefulness by those who are so religiously minded that they refuse to see the truth of God.

If you have fallen prey to the "nay sayers" of this age and if you have allowed fear to block you from the Spirit, REPENT! Confess both your doubt and fear to God and make yourself available to him. Give the Spirit permission to work through you and believe what you see, hear and experience as he does great and mighty things through you. The Kingdom of God is no ordinary thing and it must come with more than just words in order to change the heart of Man:

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

To the Thessalonians Paul wrote:

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5)

Do not allow the flame of the Spirit to go out in you. Do not allow them to strip you of the dreams and visions the Spirit has given you. Do not allow them to take away the power you have been given to impact this world for Jesus. Love shown through good deeds is a daily matter for us but we have power that goes beyond good deeds and he is the Holy Spirit in us. Dare to believe you can pray healing into your friend. Dare to believe you can speak anointed words of life into your co-workers. Dare to believe that you have the power in you to see changed provoked in this world in no ordinary matter. You, the servant of the Lord God Almighty, have been called and equipped by our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, believe!

Friday, October 22, 2010

We Must Stop Hiding Behind The Skirts of the Bride.

I have to admit from the beginning of this blog entry that I am a huge fan of the Church. I absolutely love her, every aspect of her, simply because she is the Bride of Jesus. I can see what the Father has intended and I can get frustrated at times when we miss the point, but nothing can mask or smear her true beauty. I have great concerns when we try to prostitute her and turn her into some kind of commodity to market and sell to the world, but I have read the book and I know the ending; she will prevail even through this current ugly age. The thing is, many of us get so fascinated with her beauty, which is that Jesus loves her, that we forget we have a mission; we forget that we must go out from the warmth and comfort of the Church to tell the world about the Bride.

I believe that is part of the problem, we keep trying to sell the world on the virtues of the Bride whereas we are suppose to be lifting up the groom. In reality the Bride is rather pitiful and ugly, it is the Groom's love for her that makes her wonderful and beautiful. So there are no real virtues that can win the world over to the Bride. It is the Groom who came and sacrificed himself; it is via the Groom that the world can go to the Father; it is the Groom who watches over and protects his own; it is the Groom who is pursuing the lost; it is the Groom who has the great compassion for the suffering. We should not be marketing the Church from the comfort of our armchairs and laptops; we should be out in the world, lifting up Jesus. We need the Church and everything that happens in the Church but if we only "do" Church it is us who have missed the point.

I am going to refer to an odd bit of Scripture here. Yesterday we read how Jesus dealt with the religiously minded people who thought man-made definitions of God's law was more important than compassion. They left him to plot how to kill him. Then we are told:

Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was. (Matthew 12:15-16) 

As we read through the gospels we are going to often see where Jesus tried to get people to be quiet about the miracles. He would heal a blind man and tell him to say nothing. He would give a person back the use of their legs and tell them not to tell anyone. He would heal their leprosy and tell them to remain quiet about it. A strange thing to do considering he had come to tell the Jews about the Father's rescue plan. One would think he would want to shout it from the mountain tops. However, Jesus knew what would happen if word of the healings spread. Crowds would come to see the miracles and his mission would be limited.

We need to keep in mind that Jesus started off with the purpose of casting out demons and preaching the good news. The casting out of demons was to allow every person the freedom to make a choice without demonic control in their life. (I think we need to get back to that.) He only began to heal because the compassionate heart of God could not stand to see the suffering that his creation was going through. He did not heal to make money or to draw a crowd. In fact it was just the opposite; he tried to heal in secret so there would be no crowds. Jesus did not want crowds because crowds would keep him out of the towns and villages. Jesus did not want to be stuck out on a mountainside preaching to a multitude. His desire was to be in the villages, towns, cities where he could talk to people where they worked and lived. He wanted to enter their world not have them leave what was familiar to meet him in an unfamiliar place. This is the wonder of our God, meeting each of us where we are.

If you were to look at the events of Jesus' life in chronological order you will see that Jesus spoke to people in the market place, in their homes, at the local pub, in the village synagogue, at the docks, in people's homes. But as word got out about the miracles, Jesus was forced to stay outside of these places so he could accommodate the thousands who flocked to see him and his miracles.

The point I am making with this is that we need to meet people where they are. Most salvation takes place outside of churches and is later acknowledged in church. Of the many I have led to the Lord only two took place in a church, all the others were in people's homes or in offices, parks, cars or other every day places. So often we try to get people to come to church as if that will be a place of miracles. People do not need to come to church to encounter Jesus, all they need to do is meet the Christ in you. After they need the Church to be built up in their faith. But right now, you tell them about Jesus' love, show them with the compassion he has placed in you, let them see the miracles as you pray for their "illness". We have an advantage over Jesus when he was walking this earth, we will not have multitudes of people following us. We can fit in their world. We can go to the market place or into their homes. We can meet at the local park or even the grand amusement park or perhaps the movie theatre. We need to stop secluding ourselves and enter the world of those who need Jesus just as Jesus did.

The Church is beautiful but she has a specific purpose. Although we need her and we need to be part of her (because we are her), we also have a mission to fulfill. It really is time to understand that this mission was not given to the Church but was given to you and me. It is not the Church's responsibility to make disciples but ours. We need to trust what Jesus promised, that our mouths would be filled with the words to speak, that we would be given what we ask (such as when we pray over people to be healed), and that he would remain with us to encourage and empower. We must stop hiding behind the skirts of the Bride, be bold in the Spirit, and step out into the world to seek out the objects of the Father's affection. That is our mission.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Don't Get Distracted By People Who Miss The Point

Continuing with our thoughts on the religiously minded, I am amazed how the rules change when they have to apply it to themselves. At least the Pharisees did what they insisted everyone else must do, even if they did it from a shallow heart. Today, the religious throw stones, sling mud, point fingers, shout at people through megaphones and accuse on so many different levels but when they find themselves in that same place they start singing about grace. That's great that they get that revelation of God's grace but they need to apply it to other people as well. I am not kidding, there are Christians who are on the prowl to catch others doing things they consider to be wrong. They are like the "righteous" police who can't wait to find someone in the wrong so they can blow the whistle on them. What a very sad existence.

When Jesus was confronted by these people he didn't argue with them, he simply pointed out how silly they were being. Jesus ran into some Pharisees in a synagogue he was visiting. They wanted to trap him in an obvious sin. There was a man present with a shriveled hand. Knowing Jesus was a healer they asked the question, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" I am sure that was a forbidden activity in their large definition of the law and they knew Jesus would not be able to resist. How gleeful they must have been at their cleverness. Now look closely at Jesus' response:

"If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:11-12)

Jesus simply points out what any of them would have done on their farm. None of them would have been willing to lose a sheep because of a man's definition of what work was or was not. Think of how petty one could get in defining what constitutes work. That does not mean we should not keep the Sabbath day holy, set aside for the purpose of gathering and worship. The Word states, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25) But I digress; this is only one example of the law that became twisted. We have our own man-made laws today that we treat as if they are from the Holy Scripture but are only a definition of our interpretation. We make people suffer because of these silly things. We crucify people over nothing. We leave them with a "shriveled hand" because it isn't convenient or its the wrong time or its the wrong place.

We are so silly, failing to understand that the law, which Jesus came to fulfill not abolish, was given to strengthen our relationship with God and our neighbours. The religiously minded have miss the point of the Spirit writing that law on our heart so that it has become a living, active thing in us. On paper it is only a document that is lived externally and causes a lot of damage. On our heart it is a powerful thing that the Spirit uses to guide us in all of our relationships, so that we are less and Christ is more and where we consider ourselves less important than our neighbour. They law written on our hearts make people, not things, activities or rules, the most important because they are the most important to our Father. If our rules are destroying people instead of drawing them closer to our Father then we have become religiously minded and we are prat of the problem instead of part of the solution.

Nothing in our lives is more important than the love and compassion our Father has for people. The command about the Sabbath was to facilitate the worship of Jehovah and to provide rest from work for the benefit of people. To turn around and make that command a tool to prolong suffering, to withhold compassion, to avoid assisting another human being goes against the purpose and spirit of the command. What better way to worship then to show such compassion to the suffering. As I stated yesterday, the religiously minded is missing the point. I know that I for one desire to be part of God's solution for mankind's suffering not part of the problem with which he is dealing. Ask the Spirit to show you your own heart in this matter. Is there anything you have been twisting so that it is now contrary to the Father's purpose? People need to be our priority because they are Jesus' priority. Compassion and sacrifice for others is a cornerstone of our service to Jesus. Don't let a bunch of cultural rules distract you from what God is doing. Don't deny grace for others until you need it for yourself. Apply to others today what you yourself know that you need; compassion, love, mercy and grace. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Are We Honest Enough To Admit That We Are Missing The Point?

One thing I have learned over time is that you can never satisfy the religiously minded. I should know, I was one. Many of us are, without knowing it. I didn't think I was until I went through a series of events where our Father showed me grace after grace. Suddenly many of the things I used to judge people came tumbling down as my eyes were opened to the ugliness of my heart in comparison to our Father's glorious love, compassion, mercy and grace. My eyes were also opened to see how much we judge people without possessing knowledge or understanding of the greatness of our God. It is like when a teenager gains a bit of knowledge and then suddenly thinks he knows everything. It can get ugly.

As we turn from Matthew 11 to Matthew 12 we see that Jesus comes face to face with a group of people who had a little bit of knowledge and almost no understanding. They had the knowledge of the law but no understanding of it. They knew the words but not the heart. In fact, they tried to better define the words by adding definitions to the law so that a simple thing became very complicated. There was a reason for this. The Pharisees were the guardians of Jehovah worship. The nation had been subjected to the rule of other nations since their captivity. Each nation had impacted and influenced Judaism so much that it had become almost unrecognizable. The Pharisees went to the extreme to hold on to the Mosaic law and their identity as a nation.

Understanding this then, we have Jesus arrive on the scene, who wants to take God's people from a surface understanding to the revelation of the Father's heart. On this particular Sabbath Jesus and his crew were walking through the grain fields. It was the accepted practice at that time that a person was not considered a thief if he took a little for his own consumption, so this is what the disciples did. However, the ever watchful religiously minded folk were watching, as they always do and they accused the disciples of "working" on the Sabbath. Remember, these folks had come up with a definition of work which also included how far a person could travel in a day. It had nothing to do with God's law but instead man's interpretation of that law.

Jesus gently gave them two examples to show them how ridiculous they had become in over-defining God's law:

Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. (Matthew 12:3-6)

Keep in mind that these people had the best of intentions but they only had a little understanding. They had forgotten the purpose of the command to keep the Sabbath Holy. It wasn't to shackle people but instead to free them to give thanks and to worship. The religiously minded had stolen the joy from the the purpose of the day. Jesus reminded them of some Holy Scripture that was more revealing of the Father's heart:

If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:7-8)

If only we could all understand these words. They are at the heart of what Jesus said to Nicodemus:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)

It's what Jesus was saying when he rebuked his disciples for wanting to see the cities destroyed where Jesus had been rejected. It is what Jesus was talking about when he told us not to hate our enemies but to love them. It is a hard thing for the religiously minded people to understand because it is all about love, mercy and grace. They operate in the realm of clearly defined rules that go beyond the Word of God and are wrapped up in denominational thinking or based upon the traditions of man, just like the Pharisees. They have the best of intentions and love God (as far as they understand love) but they only possess some knowledge with very little understanding. Their judgments are often based on their own opinions. They follow the practice and thinking of those who are like minded instead of seeking the Father's heart for themselves.

It is a shame that as Christians shout at the homosexuals and abortionists we are revealing our ignorance of the Father's heart and how much we are missing the point, just like the Pharisees. Sin is sin no matter how you slice it. It doesn't matter which sin we are talking about, it all offends our Holy God. However, he has reached into this depraved world with a holy hand of love and said that he has not come to condemn but to save. There is one day reserved for judgment and we need to leave it to the only one who has the knowledge and understanding to do it. The rest of us in the 'here and now' need to learn what is meant by 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice' , because we are missing the point big time and a world that is dying is not being given the opportunity to see the heart of the Father.

Let's stop being so religious and get on with the task that has been given to us. Let's put away the language of judgment and follow the example of Jesus. The only ones he ever spoke harshly to are the ones who should have known better, the supposed mature and leaders of the people. Let's acknowledge our own lack of understanding and ask for help to put into practice the bit of knowledge we presently possess. Let's stop accumulating knowledge for the sake of knowledge and let's start living according to the heart of the Father as revealed in the words and actions of the Son. If Jesus showed love, mercy and grace to sinners doesn't it only make sense that we are to do the same? Stop with the "love the person and hate the sin" because all you are really doing is condemning the person. Set that aside and just get on with loving people. Yes, find a way to tell them the truth of their situation, as Jesus did, but do it in a way that convinces them you are telling them because you love them not because you are better than they are. Convince them by being part of their life regardless of what they do and say. You are going to have to get a whole bunch "dirty" if you want to honestly walk in Jesus' steps.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weary and Burdened In The Face Of The Promise Of Rest

I am currently working through a time crunch in my life. It has created an invisible stress in my life that I can't seem to get my hands on to take care of. Most of my stresses I can recognize and deal with before they start affecting me. Having experienced burn out a couple of times, I am very eager to avoid it again. However, time has always been in a deficit in my life as I take on too much and refuse to rest until each and every task is completed. There is a lack of prioritizing and willingness to leave lesser tasks unfinished until another day. This time deficit or time crunch leaves me with an invisible stress that I am unaware of until it has already started to have an affect on my health and mental well being.

I am not alone in carrying unnecessary burdens. Millions of people every day are feeling the stress of the pushing and pulling on their mind and heart. Some of it will be caused by problems at home or financial situations. Others are due to failing relationships or the burden of people's opinions. Much of it is imagined problems, things that might be but have yet to happen. Face it, we are an overburdened society and much of the blame falls on our own head. These words of Jesus should be like cool water on a hot summer day:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

This is the beautiful invitation from Jesus that many of us admire and talk about but few of us take advantage of. Oh yes, I feel weary and burdened but I am also a great one for excuses. "This is the Lord's work." "What could I possibly let go of?" "I'm too busy to even consider priorities." "There are people busier than me." This last one is true and I have to ask myself why they don't feel this same time crunch. It could be because they have taken Jesus' yoke upon them whereas I am still wearing my own.

I am ashamed to admit that much of what I do is done on my own accord. Tasks present themselves and, like the great general Joshua, I just plow ahead. But when Joshua moved on from the battle of Jericho he made the mistake of assuming what God's will was instead of consulting him. It led to a defeat that saw people killed. We, or I should say I, often assume that the tasks that are presented are what God wants me to do. I don't consult and so many times it leads to my defeat in that I become overburdened, stressed and no good for anyone. My yoke, my decision, my burdens, and they are slowly killing me.

Jesus is telling us to set aside our notions of how to do things, our thoughts, our methods, our choices, our priorities. We are to allow him to place his yoke on us. This is how he will guide us, give us commands, direct us in his paths, send us to do his work. His yoke is very important for us living for him and bringing him glory, which is the desire and purpose of our life.

He tells us that we are to learn from him. We have to admit we don't know or at least that we don't know as we aught to know. We need to admit our need to learn and then humble ourselves before Jesus and say, "Teach me Lord". If we think we know then we cannot learn. It is like a student coming to school thinking he has nothing to learn. With such an attitude we will not be able to learn. We have to admit to Jesus that we need him to teach us because we don't know.

It is in Jesus' humility and gentleness that we find rest. Rest doesn't mean that there is no work to be done. The rest is from our personal burdens that threaten to destroy us. Oh, there is plenty of work but it is different because it belongs to Jesus. It is his right to lord it over us, to force us, to push us but that is not his character. He is patient with us, never giving us more than we can bear, training us over time to be stronger, to be better, to be able to handle more responsibility. His training is gentle and we find rest in his methods and love.

The yoke on myself is too great, too burdensome, so heavy it will kill me. Even though I am a long time Christian, a pastor of many years, it does not mean that my own nature does not often carry me away with my own ideas and agendas. I am not the only man to make this mistake often; many of us are ruining our lives according to our own agendas. This is why we need more time in prayer and reflection, in conversation with our Lord. We need to make sure that we have allowed him to put his well fitted yoke on us, a yoke tailor-made for each of us individually. We also need to make sure we are carrying his burden which are much easier than our own. When we are busy with his agenda, doing his work, we can trust that he is looking after us, watching out for us and that he will not destroy us.

It is time for me to re-examine the yoke I have on me. It is time for a re-assessment of what I am doing, why I am doing it and if it is the Lord's burden or my own. One thing I know, there are only 24 hours in a day and the Lord would not ask me to do 36 hours of work in a 24 hour day. He will tell me to move mountains and to exercise great faith in many situations. He will tell me to dream big and receive great vision but he will not ask me to go beyond my capacity. I am not the worker of miracles, Jesus is. He will accomplish great things through me but it will be Jesus accomplishing them, not me. He is capable of working past my capacity but it is him who is doing it. He just tells me to be faithful to the yoke and burden he has given me which will allow him to work the miracles. He says the same thing to all of us.  "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Where Is Jesus Operating Today?

It's difficult for an academic to see God. I didn't say it was impossible, only difficult. We get so puffed up with our own knowledge, opinions and thoughts that the world appears to become a concrete place and the knowledge of man far superior than ever before. It's also because we have a short memory and fail to learn from our past. Many of us believe that man is de-evolving instead of evolving. We make the mistake of thinking of technology as our advancement but technology is only a tool. That tool appears to be in the hands of a race of people who are coming unglued at the seems. So often people claim that a pursuit of academics will free the mind and open us to many possibilities. I find that it does the opposite.

I am not knocking academics. Considering that I am a principal in a parent-funded Christian school, I consider the pursuit of expanding our knowledge and understanding to be of vital importance. However, there is one element of education that we seem to quickly forget:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
       and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10)

So many drop the thought of God as they get puffed up on Man's knowledge but the fact is, it all begins and ends with  God Jehovah. Forgetting that is like forgetting there is a nose on your face. The existence and involvement of God in our lives is clear for those who choose to see clearly, but denial is also a very powerful tool.

There is a reason Jesus prayed this prayer of thanksgiving:

I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. (Matthew 11:25-26)

Notice who Jesus spent most of his time with. Also notice to what family he was trusted to. As well, take note that he grew up in the region of Galilee where nothing much was ever expected to come from; no scholars, no prophets, no great men at all. This was the region of farmers and fishermen, common folk, hard workers, people who did not operate by theory but by the practical, every day view of life. These were the ones who were totally dependent on God for their livelihood. These were the ones who knew that life was bigger than they were. These were the ones who readily believed that God had sent his Son to save them. They made up the bulk of the disciples, the women who supported Jesus came from here, and Jesus praised the Father for doing it in this manner.

We should realize that there is a plan in place and it is not our plan. As much as we want to come up with a way of advancing the Kingdom it is the Father who has designed all of this and it is he who is advancing it. We need to let go of our ideas and get into his stream of thinking and doing. We would be much more productive if we were to operate according to his will. Listen to the plan:

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

Now add to it this Scripture:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

The teaching is much greater than this but I give you these tidbits to get you started on understanding this truth. It is true that the Father desires everyone to be saved but he knows that there are certain types of hearts that are prepared to believe and others that are closed to him. Sometimes we are so foolish to believe that it is our words and our actions that brings a person to salvation. Salvation belongs to the Lord. It is his work. The Father draws people to the Son and it is the Son who reveals the Father. Sometimes we are used as tools and instruments, we are given words or actions to take, but we possess nothing to convince anyone of anything. To take credit for someone's salvation would be like the mixing bowl taking credit for the cake. That aside, our Father continues to draw those with hearts that are open to him.

I am thankful for those who minister in the academic world. I am thankful for ministries like Campus Crusade. I am thankful for the churches ministering among the better neighbourhoods. However, I also mourn the loss of the churches who move away from the city centers, who move out of the rougher neighbourhoods, who give up on those who appear to be lost. These people are no worse than the finer neighbourhoods except for the fact that the finer neighbourhoods have learned to keep their sins behind closed doors. The finer neighbourhoods are actually less open to the Father's call. The only reason the rougher neighbourhoods don't respond is because the tools used for calling them have moved out.

As Jesus ministered he did not concern himself with the social graces of the time. He was not looking for respectability. He simply knew who would be more receptive to the Father's call. It didn't mean he did not minister with the more affluent. He still went to the big social parties and he spent time with the Pharisees but we can also see how he was treated. Why are we not willing to recognize this in our day and age. When William Booth decided to move the church from the building to the streets he soon discovered that no respectable church would accept these new Christians from the street. He had no intention to start his own church but he was left with no choice. And guess what happened. The people came in droves and thousands were introduced to the Father, Son and Spirit. Where is Jesus operating today?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Urgency Of Making The Most Of Every Opportunity

It could be that one of the saddest things in life is lost opportunities. Look back on your life and I am sure you will have "book marked" these moments and you may even revisit them from time to time. Perhaps you play the "what if" game, imagining a different outcome if you had only taken advantage of that missed opportunity. Be careful, such games can lead to growing regrets and regrets are hard to let go. Some of these lost opportunities may only be small, insignificant, easily forgotten events. However, there are some, when we remember them, that want to rip the heart out of us as we realize the significance of what we have lost.

If this is true for things in this world, imagine the regret we will have when it comes to eternal matters. Unfortunately most of us are "here and now" people, dealing with situations that effect us today, putting off tomorrow's situations. We are more into damage control then we are into prevention. It means we often do not realize the significance of our decisions and their outcomes until they are already on top of us. Spiritually this will mean absolute disaster for us when we miss the opportunities our Lord provides us with. It will have an impact for all of eternity.

Matthew records a moment when Jesus denounced the cities in which he had performed miracles. The people in their stubbornness refused to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand the opportunity they had to repent and turn to God. In denouncing these cities he was accusing them of this missed opportunity as well as letting them know what lay before them:

"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you." (Matthew 11:21-24)

Sometimes I think that we who have accepted Jesus' gift of free salvation forget the urgency of the matter. Are we more concerned about increasing our numbers to make our churches financially viable? If we are not that crass, could we then say that increased numbers is a measure of success? Or is it just a matter of getting to a place where we are comfortable and happy with our church? Are we forgetting that people missing the opportunity will mean that the eternal consequences will be severe? It's not about numbers but about eternal salvation. How convincing are we in presenting Jesus? I realize that we are not responsible for getting a person saved, that is the work of the Spirit, but we are responsible for telling others about Jesus. Are we convinced about the importance of this; that there is nothing of greater importance in all of life?

We know not everyone will believe. They did not believe Jesus with all the miracles he did and seeing him face to face. They did not believe the disciples after the resurrection, when they were filled by the anointing of the Spirit. But this did not mean Jesus gave up and take note that the disciples pressed on until their lives were taken from them. The disciples worked with earnest urgency, believing that any day could be the last opportunity. We certainly can't claim that we have this same sense of urgency, but we should. What Jesus does through our words and actions may be the only opportunity some people get. Are we working to represent him with that thought in mind? Are we giving our very best?

At the end of the day the decision people make belong to them. Jesus did not wonder if he could have done better because he knew he gave his best. He did not own any regret for the decisions or lack thereof of the people in those cities. He may have mourned their loss but it still comes down to the decision of the individual. You can't force them if they choose to deny the Spirit and that is what they are doing because when you share about Jesus there is anointing in your words that penetrate the heart. It is at that moment that the person makes the decision to open their heart or to close it to the Spirit. Perhaps there will be other opportunities or perhaps this is their last. If it is their last it is the most tragic lost opportunity they will ever regret.

Keep this in mind as you move through your day today. Be sensitive to the Spirit and the people around you. Be willing to be used and to present Christ to the best of your ability. Allow the anointed words of the Holy Spirit to flow out of you and into the heart of the listener. Pray that they will receive and be transformed for eternity. Remember the consequences if they miss the opportunity that will be presented through you.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (Colossians 4:5)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Let's Get To Work

A wise man once said to me that as a pastor I would make my people happy 100% of the time: 50% of them would be happy with my arrival and 50% of them would be happy with my departure. Those words have proven accurate in every place except for where I am now. We Christians seem to be a very fickle bunch with fickle preferences. We get tossed about all the time by the latest trends or the newest teachings. So much of what we believe depends, not on the Word but, on the part of the world we are raised and the culture of that place. It is scary to discover just how many of our beliefs are not biblical but instead traditions based on culture, albeit Christian culture.

In our fickleness we need to ask ourselves the question, are we influencing our society or is society influencing us. We the Church and we as individuals, are suppose to be the salt in this world, adding God's flavour wherever we are. I say suppose to because I find that we are not much of an influence on our society at all but rather it is influencing the Church. Whatever changes are taking place in our society today we will find in the Church within a few years. It is sad but true as we continue to strive to make the Church relevant for today. We don't realize that in trying to keep her relevant we are destroy her. Instead of understanding how God has designed her, we, in our limited understanding, are patterning her after models we find in the world. We are following business practices and building mega churches and consider this success. Meanwhile our western countries continue slipping further into darkness.

We have not heard the words of Jesus' as he pointed out the reaction his religious society to differences between him and John the Baptist:

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions." (Matthew 11:18-19)

Our Father does not give us what we want unless it also happens to be what we need. He gives us all "good gifts" is how the Word is phrased. We don't learn from this example and continue to try to build the Church on "wants" instead of purpose. Today's trend is 'this' and tomorrow's trend is 'that'. We tend to cater to our own wants and leave the world out in the cold. We are into big time entertainment, like we do in our Youth Groups. We want to entertain people into the Kingdom. We are still trying to bring people 'in' instead of going 'out' as we were instructed to do.

My conviction is that we are spending far too much time in 'training' Christians and not enough time in 'doing' the mission. We have tons of seminars to bring people in. We have great teachings every Sunday. We have tons of books and studies to fill up people's time. But is any of this actually producing anything other than overfed Christians who want to change things to attract people in instead of going out into their world? We need to leave the programs behind us and get back to relationships. We need to enter the lives of people and stay there with them. We need to show that Jesus is the Lord of fisherman and farmers, factory and construction workers, prostitutes and druggies, prisoners and tax evaders. The rich need salvation as well but most of them are not interested in the real Jesus because they don't 'need' him. Yet the Church spends a great deal of effort trying to attract the more "respectable" people of society. We should consider who Jesus spent most of his time with, who he hung out with and why he was known as "the friend of sinners". What a great title to bear.

The Church is not meant to be a place of entertainment because it is our place of training. It is here we worship and are renewed in relationship with our Father. It is here that we receive instruction and are trained in the correct handling of the Word. It is here that we surrender again and again to the Spirit because over time our 'self' creeps back in. We need daily and weekly surrender. But the real mission work takes place when we step outside of the Church, and it is based on relationship, just as Jesus taught us. It is true that Jesus taught a bit in the Temple and in a few synagogues but 99% of his time was in the work place, on mountainsides and in people's homes. He entered their lives, their workplace. He did not bring them into the synagogue or the Temple, he went to them.

We need to throw off this idea of going with the latest fades and trends. We need to stop shaping our lives according to our society and the popular way in the Church. We need to let go of our western concept of success. The only direction we follow is that which is given by the Spirit. We need to stop building our own kingdoms and get on with the work of God's Kingdom. Let's stop worrying about the size of our churches. One small church made up of ten Spirit-filled obedient Christians will be more effective than 10 ten thousand membership churches filled with entertained Christians. We have been called to 'do' the Word, to love the unlovable, to sacrifice for the lost, to befriend the friendless, to open our home and our hearts to the sinners of this world, to get dirty in their world so the door would open into ours. Enough of the entertainment; let's get to work.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's Your Excuse?

There are many excuses we use for not responding to God's calling. Just like Moses we present such things as our believed inabilities to him, from our lack of training to our fear of people. We dismiss his calling as a thing of our imagination because "God knows me and would never ask me to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable".

Are you kidding me?

Are you reading the same Bible I am?

This is the Father that told his Son to leave all his rights and privileges behind, to enter into creation as part of creation, to face every temptation we face, to face rejection, to love without being loved back, to suffer at the hands of an ignorant creation, to take on himself the ugly, detestable sins of the world and then to die a horrible death on a cross. But don't stop there. Consider the many people he called to be prophets, evangelists, apostles, teachers, pastors. Many of them have been beaten, jailed, made to watch as their families are killed, and they themselves are killed. We don't have to look back a couple thousand years ago, it is happening today.

You seriously don't think that our Father would call you in your weakness, to serve him through his power and strength? Of course he does and it is his preferred way. When he calls us to serve him in our weakness, he receives the glory. When we try to serve him in our strength, we often get the glory, even when we try to direct it to him.

The thing is, we are to forget that we are serving him in our weakness and step into it as if it is a strength because we are not doing it in our strength but in his. In Jesus' explanation about John the Baptist he said this strange thing:

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. (Matthew 11:12)

I've always avoided this Scripture because it makes me feel uncomfortable, being that my weakness is shyness. However, I also did not like it because of the way people have used it as an excuse to be rude and "in your face". Lately I am discovering that it is a Scripture that cannot be ignored because it is a basic truth to our calling.

This Scripture is not an excuse to be rude but it is a release from our inhibitions, a release from our excuses, a release from self. It is a statement that we must be bold in our calling and service to our Lord. It is a boldness that comes from the realization that we are doing nothing in our own strength and what we do we do with Jesus' authority. He has anointed us with the authority to love. This means we can be bold and lavish in our love. He has anointed us with the authority to forgive. Be bold and lavish in your forgiveness. He has given us authority over demons and sickness, so be bold and lavish in this authority. Come on now, lay hold of what you have been called to and anointed to do at the bidding of the Spirit.

I'll confess to you that I often use the excuses of busyness and tiredness to deny God's calling in my life. It is easier to get busy with the mechanics of things and remain hidden behind routines. This is my shyness trying to exert authority over me. I have ignored many promptings of the Spirit, many times when he has revealed things to me about people for me to respond to. It is easy to cover these things up with excuses and fail to walk in the boldness of realizing our calling and Jesus' strengths. Every time I do it I am denying Jesus in me and I will have to give an account for these times, unless I repent and walk in my full calling. You probably realize the same thing for yourself. It is time to walk in the boldness of the reality of our God.

Let's face it, our Father wants us totally dependent on him so of course he is going to call us to our weaknesses. It only makes sense. Peter was a fisherman, not an orator yet look at his life. Paul was blinded by his national pride, prejudices, and narrow understanding of God, until he was called to serve Jesus outside of the box with the Gentiles. Both men had to learn not to limit God and to walk in the boldness of Jesus' strength. What will be said of you and me? Let's set aside our excuses today. Let's offer up even our weaknesses for Jesus to use. Let's make ourselves totally available to our Lord, whatever he would have us do. Let's serve our God without fear and with great boldness, for the sake of a lost and dying world. Let us take hold of the Kingdom of God which is forcefully moving forward.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You Are More Significant Than You Can Imagine

As we go about our daily routine many of us lose sight of who we are. I know we know who we are to ourselves, to our family and to our friends but we often forget who we are to God. Then again, who we are to our family and friends can change with every action we take. Some think more highly of us and others more lowly, depending on how they interpret what we do. However, God's opinion of us never changes according to our actions. We are always the objects of his affection, who he lavishes with his love. The only thing that changes is whether we actually allow him to pour out his affections and blessings on us.

The Word tells us that we were the enemy of God and still he loved us. He loved us as his enemy enough to send his precious Son to open the door to his forgiveness. It is through this forgiveness, the sacrifice on the cross, the spilling of Jesus' blood, that we are able to enter into a rich fellowship with the Father, Son and Spirit. As his adopted children we are precious to him. If he loved us as his enemy, how much more as his children? As his children he is able to pour out his affection in the form of many blessings. However, he is also a good Dad who allows us to walk through many storms for our benefit, that we would grow and mature. Even in this he blesses us with strength, determination and the knowledge that he is with us in it. There is nothing that encourages us more than knowing our Dad is standing beside us in these storms of life.

Yet it is in these storms or even in our daily routine that we can lose sight of who we are to our Father. We forget our importance and the promises he made. We need to be reminded by someone or we need to remind ourselves that we are the precious of Jehovah. Jesus made that abundantly clear as he was explaining the importance of John the Baptist to the crowd. Jesus had just sent John's disciples back to encourage John. He told the crowd of John's significance as a prophet, as the forerunner, as the "Elijah". John's role was vital in preparing the people for the Messiah. In a nation that was entirely messed up by its ideologies, worldliness, and struggle to survive, it was John who had been calling them back to Jehovah worship. Yet, this is what Jesus said:

I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)

Our perception is so much different than our Father's. So often we consider ourselves unloved, yet he loves us in great abundance. We consider ourselves weak and of no great significance, yet even the least among us is greater than the great prophet John the Baptist. We look at this man with great respect yet we are greater than he was. We have more knowledge, more power and a better relationship with the Father than John could ever imagine having because of our relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. You are not insignificant. In fact you are more significant than you could possibly realize but the enemy wants to convince you otherwise.

You see, as long as the enemy can keep whispering his lies, keep convincing us that we are not significant, he is able to keep this threat under control. That is what we are to him, a threat. We have the resurrection power pumping through us and we are the objects of our Father's affection. Dad wants to do great things through us, like love the lost, care for the dying, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick; reaching out with arms of compassion and love, spreading the good news, calling the world to repentance, letting them know the Kingdom of God is at hand. But the enemy does not want us considering anything our Father wants us to do so he convinces us we are insignificant so there is nothing much we can do but survive. We reduce our life down to work, eating, cleaning and being entertained, whereas our Father has called us into glory, to join him in his work.

It's time to throw off the lies of the enemy and step into who you are in Christ Jesus. You are called into the Father's work. You are of great significance. You are precious to him and the object of his affection. You have been called greater than the likes of John the Baptist and even Jesus said you would do greater things than he had done. You are a power house of the Holy Spirit. So let's approach our day with this attitude and expect the unexpected. To God be the glory!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Mere Whisper In The Dark

After a small break for my wedding it is nice to be back with you in this form. It was an unbelievable weekend and I wish all of you could have joined in, but I've also missed this activity with you. This morning's look at the Word is a bit short because I am unfortunately a bit late and we have school set up this morning.

In case you haven't noticed let me inform you, the enemy is crafty. He's not as powerful as we give him credit for but neither is he as weak as some may think. He can't touch us without the Father's permission but he certainly can fool us with his whispers. He is very good at what he does, as we saw with Eve. He knows the exact moment when we are at our weakest because he has had so long to study us. He knows the exact words to be whispering because he has had so much practice. He knows the exact doubts to plant in our mind to try to separate us from our Protector, our Shepherd so that we are out in the open to be destroyed. He knows, if he can separate us from Jesus, we are nothing more than dumb, defenseless lambs. We need to know that it is only when we are covered by Jesus that he is powerless to destroy us. So you can imagine how he employ's his craft against us.

We are familiar with the famous temptations that he brought to Jesus in the desert but many people do not realize that this was not the only time the enemy attacked. After these temptations the Word says:

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)

The enemy is very good at finding opportunities but his favorite is when we are alone. He loves to whisper to us late at night, in the quiet of the day, when the family is away, when there is no one else to talk to. We enjoy the quiet moments to spend with Jesus but he loves the quiet moments as well, to distract us, to fill us with fears and to plague us with doubts. So don't think it was a coincidence that John the Baptist was prompted to ask his question when he did.

Jesus had just sent off his 12 disciples on their first solo mission but he did not sit around twiddling his thumbs waiting for their return. According to Matthew 11 Jesus returned to his home region of Galilee to preach and teach in the various towns. I am sure he was surrounded by his supporters but his 12 disciples were gone. For the enemy this would have looked like a perfect opportunity to attacked Jesus with a question of doubt. It isn't that the enemy can make people do anything but he can present us with doubts. John the Baptist was alone in his jail cell with plenty of time to think and play with some nagging doubts. The enemy would have made sure that it built at this moment, prompting John the send his disciples with this one question:

"Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Matthew 11:2)

If you ever want to cripple a leader, doubt his leadership. Even if it does not cause him to turn aside it will cause him to second guess everything he is doing. It will lesson his resolve, fill him with self-doubt and rob him of some of his power. Or, should I say, this is what happens to those who do not understand where the true source of power lies. The enemy tried this and I am sure tried many other tricks but Jesus was no ordinary man. Yes, he had all the weaknesses we have, the temptations were real and he would have felt those edges of doubt but he knew something greater; the Father's love.

Jesus dispatched John's disciples with a simple word of encouragement:

"Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." (Matthew 11:4-6)

Jesus could not be shaken with such a simple tool of doubt because he knew who he was, he knew his mission and, most importantly, he knew and trusted his Father. The enemy has no power over us unless we give him that power. There is no place for fear and doubt unless we invite them in. The enemy cannot attack us, even in our weakest moments unless we have allowed our relationship with the Father, the Son and the Spirit to slip. When we are busy with the Father's work, as Jesus was, and when we walk in his abiding presence, as Jesus did, no fear and no doubt could ever stick to us. Our reply is the same as Jesus': look around at what the Father is doing, Kingdom work is happening, and I am part of it all. Our Father's work is a matter of the heart and when we are fully engaged with him and his work then the enemy has no hope of separating us, even when he tries to bring all his power to bear on us.

Honestly, who is he compared to Jehovah? The enemy is nothing more than a whisper in the shadows of our heart. This whisper is drowned out by the roaring call of our Father and those shadows are dissipated by the brilliance of the light of Jesus. The only power the enemy has is when we allow ourselves to be separated from that light. So stay strong in the faith, remain in the Father's love, keep step with the Spirit and put the enemy to flight:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7-8)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tomorrow I Am Marrying An Incredible Woman

Good morning my friends. I hope you do not mind if I take a few days break from my blog. You see, tomorrow I am getting married and right now I am finding it hard to concentrate on anything more than remembering to breathe. It's not that I am nervous; more like a paralyzing excitement. There is a natural nervousness about all the little things left to do. There is a nervousness about forgetting to do something important. There is a nervousness about making it the best day possible for the woman who deserves for it to be just that;  the best day of her life. However, the overwhelming sense is that of excited anticipation of the beginning of something new and wonderful.

I am amazed at the incredible grace of our God, who continues to create beautiful things out of our ugliness. I am in awe of his ability to create holy and awesome things out of the common ashes of our lives. I love him even more deeply for this. If I could, I would give him a great big incredible hug right now for the way he has turned my life around and filled it with blessing after blessing. I have done nothing to deserve it. This is simply a result of his lavish love for me.

Tomorrow I am joining together with the most incredible woman I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. People judge by packaging but my God has shown me that the packaging and appearance of people is superficial and for the immature. The real measure of the worth of a person is God's love for them. I am marrying a lady who has learned to not only receive that love but to live that love for the other objects of the Father's affection. Whether they be friend or foe, she loves them with a deep passion, accepting the pain that so often comes from love rejected. In many ways she understands the Father's heart, both highs and lows, more than I have been able to know over the years. In these last few months the Father has drawn out of her a maturity that is quickly surpassing the maturity of many old travelers on this road of faith. There are times it has sucked the breath from me as it caught me unaware and revealed my own lack in the face of similar situations. The Father is doing something incredible here.

None of us should think that we are a completed work. That would be a very big mistake on our part. Falling in love with Melodie-Joy has forced me to face many of my own imperfections and realize that I have a lot more of me to surrender. Several people have asked what I see in her; I see my salvation; I see my Father's hand; I see my Father's heart and his love for me; I see a mountain of grace; I see something that has been missing from my life; I see a vision of beauty far too inspiring to love me and yet she has chosen to do just that. I may be many things but I refuse to be a fool in this one thing. I am loved from a heart that has learned to love in the face of much ugliness; a heart that loves passionately from a depth many people refuse to encounter; a heart that has taken possession of me with its full embrace.

I am determined to return that love; to live in a way that will always honour and cherish that love. I will not turn to the right or to the left and I refuse to step back. My challenge is to understand and embrace this incredible woman, to learn from this love and to try to love her back with the same intensity. I am determined that she will never live a day of regret for making this decision to embrace me, my life and my calling. I am determined to see her walk in the full authority of her calling, to embrace her, her life and the path that God has set her feet upon. I am determined to love her with the love of Jesus.

Tomorrow is the beginning of a new season ...

To God be the glory!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Very Serious Thing

It concerns me that we do not realize how much we represent Jesus Christ in this world. It is like we think it comes with an "on" and "off" switch so that when we no longer feel like following Jesus' example we can just step away from it. You know, like those times when you lose your temper and start yelling at the offending person because it makes you feel good. Or when you are in your car and buddy decides to cut in front of you without his turning indicator so you lean on your horn to feel better. Or when someone says some mean and nasty things about you that are not true and you tear into them with all your fury just to even things off. These are just a few of those moments when we throw that switch and step away from our representation of Jesus.

I don't mean to put any pressure on you because I am actually talking to me. I am reminding myself of every time I fail to remember who I represent in this place. I sometimes forget that I am no longer working on my reputation but am demonstrating the love that caused me to give up everything for Jesus. I think we need some pressure to remember that it is often what we do and how we react that makes it easier or more difficult for a person to encounter Jesus. In fact, I don't think we really understand just how important our role is in people coming to know him. Consider these words:

 He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. (Matthew 10:40)

There are many people who encounter Jesus all on their own, by direct intervention. I was one of those people as Jesus met me in my bedroom and called me to him. Then there are still more people who come to Jesus through us, his representatives. There is something incredible that happens when an unsaved person accepts a Christian into their life, if that Christian understands who he is representing. Jesus says that if they receive us they receive him and if they receive him they receive the Father. That is pretty amazing as far as I am concerned, it also causes me to stop taking any of these relationships so lightly that I think I can do and say whatever I feel like. What damage am I doing when I fail to follow the lead of the Spirit in all my responses in the day? But don't stop here, there is more.

As Jesus brings home this realization of our great responsibility he also tells us that there is a reward for faithful service to the marginalized people of this world:

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. (Matthew 10:42)

It is not man helping man that is awarded but instead it is the fact that we do it representing Jesus. We do not do it out of our inconsistent and fickle love and compassion but instead we do it in the steady grace of our King. We have to stop throwing the switch and walking away from this representation. This is not a job we work at 8 hours a day. This is who we become, taking on his character, not working through our emotions but by the Holy Spirit who fills us with his consistent love and compassion. We realize that we cannot get angry at people when they offend us because "me" is no longer important. Jesus and that person is more important than the "me" or the "us" and how they perceive Jesus will be according to the words we speak and the actions we take.

So "me" take note of this. I have a very important responsibility here of representing Jesus Christ. No more denial of Jesus by my lack of love and patience. No more excuses about being tired and stressed. No more thoughts of having a right to defend myself. Self, submit to the Spirit now so that Jesus will see me as a workman approved by God, representing him to a people who don't even know how desperate they are to meet him. I need to have the character of Jesus so that people would want to know me and in knowing me will soon know Jesus and our Father. Don't take this lightly. Don't ever take this lightly and make up excuses. This is a very serious thing.