Tuesday, June 30, 2009
John 9:4-5 (New International Version)
“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
These words of Jesus speak to the brevity of His first coming. Yet His mortal life contained the Incarnate Son. The illumination of that dwelling was marked by the life of God. When He entered Creation, He abandoned heaven for the constraints of space and time, but the light of His revelation and beauty He brought with Him.
Our time on this earth is measured. We only have the present to choose to be a part of the work of God. This means accepting His work in and through us. Not just thinking about it, but doing and living as Christ. Night is coming.
Monday, June 29, 2009
John 9:2-3 (New International Version)
2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.
We have life that we might display God in that life. It for His glory and purpose. The mystery of why “this” happened is revealed in this verse, for it is the work of God that we might know.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Genesis 22:16-17 NIV
"I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you..
When we, like Abraham, place our trust in God, He blesses us indeed. When we hand over the "son" of self, we find it given back in the fullness of God's blessing and the riches of salvation. This act of faith plays out today for every individual. The Lord gives as we give in to Him. We can choose to be like Abraham and walk with God.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Genesis 21:33 (New International Version)
33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God.
Monday, June 22, 2009
There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Hebrews 9:8-10 (ESV)
8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing
9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,
10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
This confirms that the Holy Spirit is behind all revelation. He has spoken through prophets of old, and in these last days, speaks directly to our hearts.
The first covenant was given as a temporary arrangement that washed the outside but did not provide remedy for the sin within.
Hebrews 9:7 (ESV)
7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.
This verse speaks only of unintentional sins. There is a vast array of sins which fall under the heading of “intentional”. These could not be addressed by the ministry of an earthly high priest. This was left to our heavenly high priest, Who alone is able to cleanse completely with His blood. His life was given for the many. We just have to be intentional to repent and receive the benefit of that blessed gift.
Hebrews 9:6 (ESV)
6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties,
These preparations are part of what God prepared for us long ago. The mystery of His plan was launched by the Word of His mouth and His will is being fulfilled. Jesus said that He was going back to the Father to prepare a place for us. He has done so. We need to make preparations to be ready when He comes back.
Hebrews 9:5 (ESV)
5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
The last thing we saw of the Garden of Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve was a flaming sword and cherubim guarding the entrance back to the Garden. Atop the
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Hebrews 9:4 (ESV)
4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.
Incense is commonly associated with prayer. Jesus said that His Father’s house was to be a house of prayer. Prayer connects us to God when we do so through the power and name of Jesus, name above all names.
The ark is a symbol of Christ. There are three items in the ark which are attributes of the Son of God. He is the Bread of Life prefigured in the manna from heaven that fed the Israelites in the wilderness. The staff can represent Jesus the Good Shepherd. Out of the staff of Aaron, representing the old covenant buds the life of the new covenant. Jesus has the words of life within Him, but now they are written on the heart rather than tablets of stone.
Hebrews 9:3 (ESV)
3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the
Jesus came that we would be able to find the way to God. The first curtain spoke of His incarnation opening to the
Hebrews 9:2 (ESV)
2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the
Paul was a tent-maker by trade, but he was a tent-maker in more than one sense. Our mortal bodies have been compared to tents, temporary shelter of spirits which will find true residence in the house of God. The Gospel he preached is the power of God to renew our spirits, made alive in these “tents” during our short existence here on earth. It is here we encounter the light revealed by the bread of life. It is for this reason that a tent was prepared.
Hebrews 9:1 (ESV)
1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness.
The first covenant had its purpose. It was given by the Lord and served to bring us to the second covenant. As a shadow of things to come, it included instruction of worship and the holiness of God. As John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord, the old covenant prepared the way for the new. In the childhood of our understanding we have been raised in preparation for the light of the Son, that we would be able to make sense of His coming.
When the time was right, Jesus came as the radiance of the Father, the light of the world. Through the first covenant we enter into the holy place. Through the second covenant we will enter into the Holy of Holies.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Genesis 18:9-15 (ESV)
9 They said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" And he said, "She is in the tent."
10 The Lord said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him.
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.
12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?"
13 The Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?'
14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son."
15 But Sarah denied it, saying, "I did not laugh," for she was afraid. He said, "No, but you did laugh."
We’ve all been there. We have all struggled with doubts about how things would work out. We don’t have God’s perspective and power, so without the peace of full trust in Him we often find ourselves thinking just like Sarah. Through our eyes we are limited in vision. God sees everything from beginning to end, from the foundation of the world to a new earth and a new heaven. Our journey here on earth gives us the opportunity to grow in faith and trust in the Lord.
Sarah laughs. Common sense precludes the promise of the Lord, but we do not serve a common God. That is part of the reason so many so many reject Him, or that is the reason often given, “That doesn’t make sense”.
Sarah was proved wrong. A child did come. There is nothing too hard for the Lord. As a reminder of the wonder of God and of her doubt, the child was named Isaac, which means laughter. Sarah learned that what the Lord says will come to pass. Her laughter of doubt became laughter of joy. That is what happens, for God will always have the last laugh.
James 1:27 (ESV)
27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
"What are we to do?" some will ask. Many don’t even ask this question, taking things into their own hands or listening to others instead of God. We come with our own flavors which suit our temperament, tradition, or for other reasons.
James distills true religion in this one verse for all who would listen. We are to do and be for others. Everyone is in view, but especially those in the midst of loss and difficulty. We are in a messy world, but we are to hold on to the cleansing we received when we trusted in Jesus. His power will enable us to walk in this world without the dust of the journey sticking to our feet. His cleansing remains as we remain in Him.
Be wary of those things which can muddy the water that comes from the fountain of life.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Luke 7:44-48 (ESV)
44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.
46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."
48 And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
Jesus turns away from Simon toward the woman. He continues to speak to him with words, but His words are more for her. His eyes meet hers as He notes the difference in how He was treated. He acknowledges her in a manner to which she was unaccustomed. He sees her as a person worthy of His love and attention. He lifts her up above His host, for she has exalted Jesus instead of herself.
The woman loved much, Jesus tells us, and He would know. He is able to see into the heart. He knew that her love was real. She understood the depth of His grace which reached down for her. She fully embraced this grace which can only bring forth love, much love.
Love is a sign of God. It is the engine of forgiveness, for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. That which is received continues to flow, for it is impossible for love to be contained. Just as God is without boundary, so is God’s love boundless. Her sins are forgiven, therefore she loves. This is Big Love.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Luke 7:41-43 (ESV)
41 "A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
43 Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly."
Jesus tries to speak to the heart of this Pharisee. To relate to the man and for the man to relate to what He was about to say, He opened with a worldly example of logic and mercy. He had to start where the man was to speak of the mercy of God, which defies the logic of this world. Is this not why the Son of God came? He came to where we are to take us to where we belong: with Him.
Simon gave the right answer to this question, but the ultimate question of God is still to come and it is one we all have to answer: “Do you believe?” How wonderful it will be to hear Him say of our answer, “You have judged rightly”.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Luke 7:40 (ESV)
40 And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."
The Pharisee said something to himself about the uninvited woman. These were not words anyone else were meant to hear. They could have been thoughts only, spoken within his heart. Maybe somehow Simon knew that they would not be appropriate in the presence of Jesus. Perhaps he thought himself kind even when he was being unkind. That’s not uncommon when one walks in the illusion of religion and not in the light of grace.
He must have been surprised when Jesus answered. No thoughts are hidden from the Lord. Like a child who thinks he can’t be seen when his eyes are closed, we like to think we are hidden when our hearts are closed to God.
Jesus says He has something to say. In his pride and arrogance, Simon says, “Say it, Teacher”. Even though he called Jesus “Teacher”, I suspect he wasn’t open to instruction, but to confirmation of his life.
This is an old story which is as current as our last breath. We are prone to seek those things which agree with our view and wants of life, rather than those that agree with God. Jesus has much to tell us. What we truly want are the words He has to give us. Let us be sincere when we answer Him, “Say it, Teacher”.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Notice in the Scripture from yesterday who was invited to Pharisee’s house and who was not. The decision of who would or would not be invited was based on the judgment of Simon. The true nature of that judgment would be exposed, revealed in the light of truth.
Simon had his own agenda in mind when he invited Jesus. The invitation was extended, but on his terms. He did not see Jesus as the Savior. He did not know Who it was that reclined at his table. Like the Samaritan woman at who offered the Lord water from the well, he did not perceive the man before him was He Who offers the living water of life.
Blindness is at the root of Simon poor judgment. He could not see the glory of the Son of Man Who graced His house. He certainly did not see the glory of the woman as a child of God. He could even see himself properly, his image disfigured by the mirror of his pride and nature. It is that very blindness that Jesus came to heal.
Jesus sees us all the same way. We are all sinners in need of grace. We are all worthy of His sacrifice and redemption. His love is there of each of us. When He looks at us He does see only the exterior flesh and its failings, but the wondrous being we are meant to be.
For this reason, we should close our doors to no one. It is not ours to judge but to be stewards of God’s grace, to ourselves and to others. His invitation is to all. So should ours.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Luke 7:36-39 (ESV)
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table.
37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment,
38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner."
Jesus accepted this dinner invitation from a Pharisee just as He did from any other sinner. One of big differences we will see as we move further through this encounter is that the Pharisee did not see himself as a sinner, in fact, he saw himself as quite the opposite. Pride and little mercy are both exposed here. Self righteous judgment abounds.
A woman enters, uninvited and unidentified, except as a sinner from the city. Without words she begins a beautiful ministration to our Lord. We know nothing of how her heart was changed, but we know without a doubt a change had taken place. Words could not add to her tears, the wiping and kissing of His feet, or anointing them with ointment as expressions of joy, thankfulness, and acknowledgment of Him as her Lord. Her love for Jesus goes beyond words. Jesus would later wash the feet of His disciples to demonstrate His love for them and to show how they were to live in the kingdom.
The Pharisee wasn’t able to see the beauty of this act or his own sinfulness. This is a problem for anyone who is unable or unwilling to recognize sin in their own life, but are quite able to spot it in others. We are all sinners in God’s eyes. We are equal in that respect. Jesus said He came to save the lost, to heal those who are sick. Jesus saw the woman truly, a child of God returned home. The Pharisee saw her differently, “she is a sinner”. How would life be different if we were able to see ourselves and others through the eye’s of our Lord?
Monday, June 8, 2009
Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Faith allows us access to grace. It is God’s grace that makes salvation possible. What was impossible for us is possible for Him.
Christ came into the world teach love and grace. He did so in the many things He did during His life on earth, but the ultimate act was being willingly nailed to the cross on our behalf.
What are we to do with this grace? First we must learn what it means, not just the dictionary definition, but the full revelation of this gift of God. This is a matter of mind and heart. Just as we are to become God’s love, we are to become God’s grace. These are the works God prepared for us beforehand. It comes with practice. It comes with action, for Paul says we are to live in them. Living in them means a continual receiving and giving. Both take place in our relationship to God and with others. The living water flows in and through us as we open our hearts in both directions. In doing so, we reflect His workmanship through our good works in Christ.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Matthew 18:21-35 (ESV)
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.'
27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.'
29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.'
30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.
32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'
34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.
35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
Forgiveness is not just something we receive from God. It is to become a key characteristic of our lives. Forgiveness is motivated by love. God’s love brought forgiveness for those undeserving of that mercy. He expects those who receive that love to reveal and reflect that love. We who are forgiven are to forgive.
If we ask how much should we love and how many times we should forgive, we have not understood or embraced what God has done for us. We have a way to go in our journey to reach the full stature of Christ.
The last two verses bring to light the expectation of our Father. We are to forgive our brother from the heart, truly forgive. It is not what we think that is appropriate or our judgment of right and wrong. That is not what we received and that is not what we are to give. What we forgive will never compare to the forgiveness we received from God.
The love and forgiveness of God is above our nature, but when we receive His Spirit we are able to rise above our nature. That doesn’t mean it is easy, for our nature does not go away as long as we are in these bodies. It complains and protests in opposition to the Spirit within. While it can be hard, just remember that Jesus overcame the world and His Spirit will make us more that conquerors. In Him we can forgive as we are forgiven, without measure or merit.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—
6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
His mercy is rich in its depth, deep enough to submerge us in the fullness of His grace. We who were so far removed from His Holiness are yet the object of His great love. We were a dead, unclean thing in His sight, but have been made alive in Christ and cleansed by His sacrifice. Not only that, but we were raised up and brought close to God, for we are in Christ and share in His blessings from the Father.
We don’t truly understand this thing called grace. It seems so contrary to our nature, which it is. We find it hard to rest in something that does not take some effort on our part. We find it hard to believe that everything we’ve done has been forgiven. We find it difficult to live in the fullness of grace. This is revealed in the extent we forgive ourselves and each other.
God’s grace is beyond our ability to fully grasp now, but Paul speaks of a time to come when we will be able to see and celebrate the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus. The good news is that we don’t have to know everything about grace to receive it. Placing our faith in Christ brings to you and me the full benefit of that immeasurable grace. We will know the true richness of that gift bye and bye.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
We are all refugees from the fog and menace of this world. Not from the earth itself, but from the one who delights in opposition to God, the prince of the air. We are reminded here of where we were, creatures following after vain and temporary pleasures, but always unsatisfied.
The Greek word that is translated here as “course” in verse 2 could have been translated as age, a reminder that his time of will be coming to an end.
In the meantime, each breath taken by the one not quickened by the Holy Spirit is tainted by the “prince of the power of the air”. Instead of the breath of life given by God, the foul air of disobedience fills the nostrils of the unsuspecting and uncaring leading to death.
We all are headed somewhere in our walk, or our life. There are two paths. We all follow after someone, either the prince of the air, or the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings. We are not masters of our own fate. We serve one master or the other, one the master of deception and the other the author of redemption. Our fate, our destiny, depends on which we follow. Let us take care who is leading, for it is true we will follow.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Ephesians 1:15-23 (ESV)
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Paul wishes for us that we would be able to fully comprehend what is ours in Christ. The breadth of our understanding can in no way approach the richness of this gift of grace, but with God’s help we can approach Him as we are able in spirit. It is in spirit we can come to our Creator through the Holy Spirit which He gave in addition to His Son. No longer do we just see the effects of the wind passing through the trees, but we are part of that cooling breeze.
Such a mighty thing He did and is doing in Christ. All things are given to Him Who overcame. But look at what is says in verse 23. We are His body, the fullness of Him. He Who fills the believer is likewise filled by those same ones believing in Him, Who fills all in all. We partake in the life of Christ and become part of that life. We are one in the fullness of Him.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Ephesians 1:11-14 (ESV)
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Paul says that our inheritance has been secured. It has been accomplished in accordance with our Father’s will. God’s revelation culminated in the person of Jesus, Who came forth from the Jewish nation, God’s chosen people. Through the Jews God prepared the way for the advent of His Son and salvation was made available for all who believe.
The Holy Spirit was given in assurance and guarantee of that inheritance. The deal has been done. Now we only wait for the Second Advent of Christ when we receive in full all the promises and wonder of God. Our inheritance is sure.