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Showing posts from August, 2012

Fasting From the World to Find the Kingdom, part 4

James, chapter 4 illustrates the need for fasting from the world:

What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your cravings that are at war in your own lives?  You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask.  You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings.

 You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?  Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? God jealously longs for our faithfulness in the life he has given to us?  But he gives us more grace. This is why it says, God stands against the proud, but favors the humble.  Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.  Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you …

Fasting From the World to Find the Kingdom, part 3

“Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are?  Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?  And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth.  But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these.  If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith?  Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’  Gentiles …

Fasting From the World to Find the Kingdom, part 2

Fasting, by definition means to abstain from food.  I learned from Christian elders that you can also fast from things like reading the news paper or watching television.  I few years ago, I read about a church that was fasting from gossip.  We might need to fast from things that get out of control in our lives.  Like a weed or an unwanted plant in your yard, these things start small and get bigger and can take over, if totally ignored.

I noticed in Matthew 6, that right after Jesus gives some instructions on fasting (don't do it in a show-off  way), that he talks about some other things that can get out of control in our lives and need to be abstained from.

Imagine a movie about a time before the modern era.  Perhaps the first, second, or third century.  A man or woman looks for pebbles all day, gathers them, and puts them on display.  He or she wakes up each morning and gazes fondly at the pebbles.  The person might also have friends that collect pebbles and they compare and mu…

Fasting From the World to Find the Kingdom, part 1

“And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward.  When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
  -Mathew 6:16

Jesus mentions fasting, in the sermon on the mount, in Matthew, chapter 6:  He says, “and when you fast..."  Jesus gives instruction to his disciples on how to fast differently than the super-religious people of the day.  The purpose of fasting, like all kingdom activity, is to bring our lives into alignment with heaven.  God rules and reigns in heaven, without restriction.  In fasting, we seek God's rule and reign in our whole being.

I got the idea that we can fast from the world to find the kingdom of God.  This was perhaps the original idea behind monasteries and  hermitages.  Th…

Jesus Wants The Key to Our Painful Room

Jesus said to her, “Go, get your husband, and come back here.”  John 4:16 (CEB)

When Jesus said this to the woman at the well, he was abruptly changing the subject.  They had been talking about worship.  She had a passion or interest for worship of God. 

Their conversation also crossed social and cultural  boundaries.  Jews were not supposed to talk to Samaritans and men were not supposed to talk alone with a woman.

She was bold to talk to Jesus.  She went to the well at the noon hour when no one would be there, but Jesus was there.

Jesus and the Samaritan woman were having a discussion about worship and then Jesus abruptly changed the subject and said something, asked a question, that seems strange, "go get your husband, and come back here."

Jesus' question seems rude.  A normal response from her could have been, "excuse me?"  But Jesus is not rude.  Jesus also is not mean or shaming.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit suddenly gave him that question and a word of knowledge…

Keep Working at All Y'all's Salvation in Holy Awe

Carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God.

So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved.

Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.

Be keener than ever to work out the salvation that God has given you with a proper sense of awe and responsibility.

Keep Working at All Y'all's Salvation in Holy Awe.  

Philippians 2:12b (CEB, MSG, CEV, NLT, PHILLIPS, Sevy Southern Accent Translation)
We live in a narcissistic, individualistic, consumerist society here in the west.  I think it is very easy 
to view Philippians 2:12 as individualistic, as in, "I have to work out my own salvation before God".  I believe strongly in personal responsibility and assertiveness, so my mind tends to go in the individualistic direction.  But I discovered that is the wrong or not the best or fullest (exegetical) interpretation of Ph…

God has judged and The Government of God

They sang the Song of Moses, servant of God; they sang the Song of the Lamb:

Mighty your acts and marvelous,
O God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Righteous your ways and true,
King of the nations!
Who can fail to fear you, God,
give glory to your Name?
Because you and you only are holy,
all nations will come and worship you,
because they see your judgments are right.

“Great and awe-inspiring are your works,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
king of the nations.
Who won’t fear you, Lord, and glorify your name?
You alone are holy.
All nations will come and fall down in worship before you,
for your acts of justice have been revealed.”

“Lord God All-Powerful,
you have done great
and marvelous things.
You are the ruler
of all nations,
and you do what is
right and fair.
Lord, who doesn’t honor
and praise your name?
You alone are holy,
and all nations will come
and worship you,
because you have shown
that you judge
with fairness.”

Revelation 15:3-4 (The Message, Common Engli…

God Turns a Heart When You Turn and Go

And it hath been, at his turning his shoulder to go from Samuel, that God turneth to him another heart, and all these signs come on that day.

And just as Saul turned to leave Samuel’s side, God gave him a different heart, and all these signs happened that very same day.

Saul turned and left Samuel. At that very moment God transformed him—made him a new person! And all the confirming signs took place the same day.

-1 Samuel 10:19, Young's Literal Translation, Common English Bible, The Message
God changes hearts.  When Saul took leave of Samuel, God did the big thing.  God turned Saul's heart.  The private prophetic word was given in person.  But the miracle from God only happened when Saul left the meeting with the prophet to go.  Saul had to see that it was God who would do the things spoken of by Samuel.  The prophet was just God's messenger.  The power and the lifting up of Saul all came from God, and to God Saul owed worship and fidelity.
Things began to happen to Saul,…

Where does your teaching come from?

Whoever wants to do God’s will can tell whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own.  John 7:17 (CEB)

Being a teacher was a popular profession in Jesus time as it is also today.  In church gatherings, Bible Studies, small groups, huddles, and one on one discipleship; there is a lot of teaching.  Secular teachers dispense knowledge.  Teachers and those taught have knowledge of a topic, from drivers education to astrophysics.  Jewish and Christian Bible teachers teach doctrine, knowledge of the scriptures; what the scriptures mean and how they apply.

When Jesus was living his earthly life, some people were concerned that his teaching was wrong and that he might be a false or heretical teacher.  He told those concerned ones that his teaching came from out of God, rather than from himself.

For those investigating him and his teaching, he said that God is the common denominator:  If a person is desiring God, desiring God's path, has passion in their heart to know God;…

Moving In The Opposite Spirit of Cynicism

In this post, I want to share the idea that we can move in the opposite spirit that our flesh wants to take us.  We get to do something in our spiritual growth.  We get to walk by the Spirit and add more into our spiritual lives, like someone adding weights at the gym or increasing the distance or altitude of their walk, run, or hike.  And all of the good fruit that we're seeking to move in doesn't come from our efforts, but from Christ.  He paid for the exchange.  Following him means we get the exchange, the "in place of" or "instead of".

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,…