His Work and Your Work

I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  -John 17:4

Did you know that God has work for each one of us?  It is work to be started and finished by the time our lives are over here.  How many of us live with this awareness?  Part of the meaning found in life is through doing the work that God assigns to each one.

You might cut grass or lead a large company and the only thing that counts is are you doing what God has given you to do unto God's glory.  Is God being exalted through your work?

Did you know that the whole point of your life is God's glory?  It is the same as Jesus life.  God gave you this life to glorify Him.  How is that going?  We were not put here to figure things out or to live for pleasure.  We are here to participate in God's kingdom and bring glory to God.  Jesus showed the way and that is the path that we are all to be on.  The path of glorifying God.

We glorify God on earth by completing the work that God gave us to do.  God gives everyone work to do.  Do you know what God has given you to do?  What is your task?  What is your assignment?  We are saved unto good works.  You may describe your work as plural or multifaceted.  God has works for you.  

One man might be married, have children and grandchildren, lead a business, and lead a ministry.  Like Jesus, his primary focus in life is to follow God and glorify Him.  He has multifaceted work that God has given him to do.  Another person may be in mid-life and single with no children.  God gives this person work as well.  Both people are equally God's children and on earth and in heaven, their pay is the same in God's grace and love.

Jesus came to the end of his life on earth and he could say that he had finished the work God gave him to do.  Will you be able to say that?  Do you know your life's work and purpose?  Or will you be filled with regrets if you die any time soon?

Jesus was so present-future oriented that he could say that he had finished the work God gave him, even before he went to the cross, died, and rose from the dead.  Jesus had his "eyes on the prize".  The path to the cross is very painful and the cross itself was among the worst pain a human can experience.  The word excruciating comes from the pain of crucifixion.  

Jesus knew the torture that was coming.  He was aware of it.  As he got closer, he prayed to the Father and asked if there was any way to avoid it, but there was not and Jesus was obedient to let himself be tortured to death for the sins of the world.  And on the cross, Jesus declared, "it is finished".

We also have suffering to bear as we accomplish our work.  Heartbreak and "mission accomplished" go hand in hand.  God will supply the grace that is needed to accomplish the task, job, assignment, or work that He gives you to do.  We work out what He works in (Phil. 2:12-13), and remember that, "the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6)

The graphic art picture above was borrowed from this article How to Recognize Your Life's Work
by Neal Skorpen.

The Great Unknown: Jesus Christ

If you have really known me, you will also know the Father.
From now on you know him and have seen him.
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father; that will be enough for us.”
Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
-John 14:7-9 (CEB)

One of the great paradoxes are Christians that don't know Christ.  

It is a mystery and an enigma how people could be Christians, "in name only".  It is a conundrum and a puzzle to both the onlooking world and to Christians who do know Christ and have made him their Lord and Savior, walking in a mutual knowing discipleship relationship with Jesus through all their days.

Many people who call themselves Christian are truly longing to know and to see God.  

"Some day, I will see God when I get to heaven!", a self-identified Christian might say.  Another Christian might say, "I hope God shows up at church today!", or "I am traveling to this conference or meeting to get a touch from God".  They sit in the audience and hope for Moses to lead them to the mount of God or for Moses to share some of the presence of God that he or she got on their mountain.

Jesus tells Philip and he tells us that we are not in the old paradigm any more. 
If you have really known me, you will also know the Father.
From now on you know him and have seen him.
Jesus has come to reveal God.  Today, by his Spirit, he is with every believer.  He also ministers to each one through his body.  Moses and Elijah are gone.

Jesus is the head of His body. 

What if we recognized Jesus as God and Jesus as the head of his body, the church; and then saw leaders in the church as hands, feet, arms, legs, necks, or backs?  All of the body is a supportive structure for the head.

What if the place God is leading us to is a place where leaders are "faceless".  What if the body was so supportive of the head, that when we experienced the body, the church, that the main thing we would see and walk away with was a lasting impression of Jesus?

In the New paradigm, the New Covenant, we are each and all the house of God.  

We don't go somewhere geographic to find God.  God is dwelling in us, with us, and among us all the time.  When we do meet up or gather with other believers, we come from having been with God.  We come together fellow-shipping and mutually edifying one another.  We celebrate and we strategize about how to "take it to the streets" and win others to the love of Christ.

"Come let us go up to the mountain of our God and worship the God of Jacob", and "I rejoiced when they said unto me let us go to the house of the Lord": had very different meanings before Christmas and after Easter.  The mountain of God is now in your living room, your back yard, your neighborhood; it is wherever you go, if you are God's child.  You also are now the house of the Lord.  He dwells in you.  To go there is to step inside or to welcome Him who is already there.

A great leader of our time said, "the meat is in the street".

It is a gargantuan mistake and spiritually blind to not see God and know Him in everyday Christian life.  God is at the beach, in the mountains and desert.  God is at the local coffee shop and God is in your living room.  Invite Him to show himself there to you and yours.  God is very much out there in the streets as well.

The invitation still stands to know Christ and in Christ to know God.  You just have to say yes and begin the relationship.

Cry With Those Who Are Crying

Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying.  -Romans 12:15

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort.  He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God.  That is because we receive so much comfort through Christ in the same way that we share so many of Christ’s sufferings.
-2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Jesus wept.  -John 11:35 

The Bible teaches people of faith to be "come along side" people.  We are sent into the world, into people's lives.  The Gospel is the good news.  Good news is good news to those who are in a bad place.  Christ is light to the darkness.  We, as believers who carry Christ, are meant to shine in darkness and bring light.  The light of Christ is not just belief and teaching, but presence.

Christian people carry Christ and all the good news contained in Christ.  We have received the greatest comfort and the comforter, the Holy Spirit.  God so loved the world that he sent Jesus.  Jesus so loves the world that he sends you and me, as the Father sent him.  Jesus taught and preached, Jesus healed and cast out demons, Jesus made disciples, and Jesus spent time with the Father in prayer.  But that's not all Jesus did.  Jesus was constantly among the people.

What did Jesus do among the people?  We have a number of stories.  He listened and responded and spoke and was just there.  Jesus whole life was incarnational and Emanuel.  God came and lived a life among us and God was with us.  It is still the same today.  God's people, Christ-In-them (Christians) people, are meant to carry Christ to a battered and dying world.

Jesus didn't invite people to his meeting, Jesus met with people.  We invite people to share in the relationship with God through Christ.  The way we do that is to go into people's lives and bring Christ there.  Sooner or later, we invite the person to share life with other believers in a community of mutual edification and discipleship that is mutually nurturing.  Then that person who has newly received Christ goes and shares this life in Christ (good news) to those in their lives (family, friends, neighbors, co-workers) that do not have it.  This is how Jesus builds his church, his assembly, his gathering, his legislative apostolic body.

Jesus is the incarnation.  The Christmas story is that Jesus came to our lost and dying world to save it, by being born into it.  He did not just "beam down" like in a science fiction sense or appear as angels do.  He could appear like an angel and he did that and does that.  But to save the world, he did not do it that way and He is our model on how God uses us to bring people to salvation.

"As the Father sent me, so I send you into all the world, to make disciples of all nations."

We, as Jesus' people, have to get into, come alone side of people who are hurting.  We need to weep with those who weep and offer comfort as comforters.  We have received comfort and from that comfort, we can be comforters.  This is the christian life, going into all the world, "as the father sent me so I send you".  We are all missionaries.  The mission is love, sacrificial love.

We all are called to enter into other people's hard, painful, mournful, sick, and even demon possessed worlds; in order to bring the love of Christ there.  You are Jesus' hands and feet, arms, face and eyes.  Use these instruments of God's comfort to be with people.  Come along side the crying world and cry with them.

Mooring The Mourning

When Job’s three friends heard about all this disaster that had happened to him, they came, each one from his home—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuah, and Zophar from Naamah. They agreed to come so they could console and comfort him.  When they looked up from a distance and didn’t recognize him, they wept loudly. Each one tore his garment and scattered dust above his head toward the sky.  They sat with Job on the ground seven days and seven nights, not speaking a word to him, for they saw that he was in excruciating pain.  -Job 2:11-13

Do you want to help a person in mourning?  Do you want to be a friend to someone you love who has just suffered great loss?  Do you want to minister to and show the love of God to someone who has just had a tragedy?  Be with them and don't talk to them.

You might need to say something, like, "I'm here'', but no advice, no counsel, and no pontifications.  When the person in mourning speaks, just listen.  No dialogue, no back-n-forth, no point and counterpoint.  It's time for their monologues, time for their letting forth of raw emotion, rational or irrational.  No correcting, just listening.

Job's three friends did this.  They agreed to come.  They may have made an appointment with Job, with Job's wife or brother; or they may have made an appointment among themselves.  They acted.  You, the friend or family member or minister, must act and clear your schedule, and make your arrangements.  The mourner or family might call you.  Make it happen, the best you can, and go.

Job's three friends had the aim to comfort and console Job, but without words.  Some of us love words.  We love to read, write, or talk.  During raw crisis or deep loss or tragedy, personal sympathy is first expressed by presence, by being there, by being next to.  No advice, no pontificating, no trying to fix them, no trying to get them over it and moving on quickly.

The person who is suffering loss does get to talk as much as they want to, if they want to.  They might speak out "what if's", "if only's", "I wish I had or had not", and "why" questions.  Your job is to listen.  Just listen.  Be in the questions now with them.  This is part of their process, not yours.  You may have many answers and many questions answered in your mind, but keep your mouth shut and let them do their personal grief work.  Their statements may seem to be a dialogical question to you, but they are really not.  Your only intervention is to keep the mourner from harming themselves or harming others in their grief.  Mooring the mourning.

Real sympathy is when you mourn with the mourner.  Their loss is your loss.  The mourning person is the leader in mourning and you follow them into their pain.  To see someone in their state of mourning is comforting to them,  Are you seeing them without trying to fix them or process the pain away?

Comforters come along side and stand with the person(s) in loss, with them in there space.  We hold them up, we keep them from being washed away.  Consolers and sympathizers are there with, in the space of; standing or sitting with, the mourner; mooring the mourning.

-This post was first published in 2012.

Want Revival? Read The Word

The Lord’s Instruction is perfect, reviving one’s very being.  The Lord’s laws are faithful, making naive people wise. -Psalm 19:7

We want revival.  We have heard about past revivals in the church and pray for a new one.  It is already here.  I am not referring to a set of meetings, usually with a guest speaker; but there is nothing wrong with that.  

Some say that the church doesn't just need revival, but needs awakening.  Our nation has had great awakenings in the past and I agree that we need another one.  But that is not my message today.

We each need reviving daily.  We get that by reading God's word.  To not read the Bible is a grave mistake for the believer.  It does not matter what stream you are a part of in Christ's church.  You need personal revival daily, which you can get through reading, studying, and chewing on the Bible.  

God's word satisfies your soul.  The more you partake of it, the hungrier for it you get, until your appetite is voracious.  You might treat yourself to servings from various parts of God's word and have a buffet, or you might savor one chapter or one verse.  You might read large portions fast or memorize single verses slowly.  You might read different translations side by side.  It's all good.  The important thing is to do it.  Just eat the food of the word.

The Christian who does not look at, read, or listen to the Bible, the Word; is going to be emaciated spiritually.  Getting into the word revives you and restores you.  It brings you back to life.  It centers you back on God.  The Christian who has not learned to do this is like a person who is malnourished.  That person is like a person who is susceptible to and contracts diseases that the rest of us never worry about.

People who are "Spirit-filled" believers, charismatics, or Pentecostal Christians; who believe in personal and corporate revival through moves of the Holy Spirit in their meetings are deceived if they do not read their Bibles at home.  According to the Bible, they are fools.  Don't be a fool.  Read your Bible and get revived daily, whatever your style of worship gatherings.

"Revival meetings" where the Bible is not spoken, are suspicious because the Bible is the Holy Spirit's favorite book.  The, "this is that", word(1.) is naturally spoken when there are movements of the Holy Spirit.  I am not saying that scripture should be quoted throughout ministry time, but there is nothing wrong with it.  If the Spirit is authentically moving, "this is that", inspiration would naturally flow.

Young and old Christians who are learning to move in the power of God in ministry with the Holy Spirit ought to learn the Biblical basis for it and see and read about what they are doing, in the NT.  Not a problem that they might learn to minister before they learn the Word.  That is called discipleship and the first movers in power learned that way and didn't even have the completed NT that we have.

We all need daily revival of our very beings, our souls, and we can get it through the Word.  Enjoy your life.  You might enjoy your programs on the tube or your other reading material.  You might enjoy the radio.  You might play games or be social.  But it is the word of God that gives us life to live by which you take with you into all your relationships and living.  You and I need that restoring of our souls into our relationship with God before we go out into all the other things we live in, and then life works and we make better choices and might come back to the Word for seconds and thirds, rather than eating "empty calories" or toxic things.

1. Acts 2:16

Worshiping in Sad Times is the Most Authentic Worship

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of heavenly forces!
My very being longs, even yearns, for the Lord’s courtyards.
My heart and my body will rejoice out loud to the living God!

Yes, the sparrow too has found a home there; the swallow has found herself a nest
where she can lay her young beside your altars, Lord of heavenly forces, my king, my God!
Those who live in your house are truly happy; they praise you constantly.

Those who put their strength in you are truly happy; pilgrimage is in their hearts.
As they pass through the Baca Valley, they make it a spring of water.
Yes, the early rain covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength, until they see the supreme God in Zion.
Lord God of heavenly forces, hear my prayer; listen closely, Jacob’s God!

Look at our shield, God; pay close attention to the face of your anointed one!
Better is a single day in your courtyards than a thousand days anywhere else!
I would prefer to stand outside the entrance of my God’s house than live comfortably in the tents of the wicked!
The Lord is a sun and shield; God is favor and glory.
The Lord gives—doesn’t withhold!—good things to those who walk with integrity.
Lord of heavenly forces, those who trust in you are truly happy!
-Psalm 84

Are you suffering?  Are you in exile?  Are you living in disappointment?  Has your world been turned upside down?  Are you bereaved?  Do you feel lost?  Are you on the outside?  Are you chased by depression?

Dwell with God.  Turn your heart toward home.  Refocus your desires.  Walk toward God.  Dwell with God where you are.  Worship God in your loss, your ruins, your dark day.  Worshiping in sad times is the most authentic worship.

We might think of worship as thanking God for the good things, the blessings.  "Thank you for the people in my life, the wealth, the food, the protection, the success.  Thank you, I am so thrilled Lord to have all this good from you.  Thanking you, I worship you for the comforts, the peace, the positives in my life; oh I praise you for these."

We might even weep tears of joy while we worship God, thanking him for his favor.  I shop and buy things I thank the Lord for.  I have many friends.  A few have not worked out, but many people like me.  I praise the Lord for this.  My children are growing up into God and serving the Lord.  I praise God for that.  I also praise God for good health and a happy marriage.

But what about when life is bad?  Cancer, divorce, lay-offs, war, poverty, betrayal, theft, death, loss, loneliness, interpersonal conflict, rejection, slander, and other disasters.  Can you worship when these are in your life?  Worshiping in sad times is the most authentic worship.

When we are on the outside of the good, in the midst of the bad, the right focus is on God.  Seek to dwell, then dwell with God.  Dwell with God, worship God in the crisis, in the loss, in the negative experience.  Worshiping God in the sad times is the most authentic worship.  Have you experienced the sacrifice of praise?  Do you present you body as a living sacrifice?

When you worship God, seek God, dwell with God; in the midst of your sadness, it is the most authentic worship because it is not about you.  Worship is always all about God, but when we are in loss, we recognize this more.

In all worship, we are saying, "more of you and less of me".  But, when things are good, we carnally take some of the credit for our blessings, thinking that we have received these blessings because of who we are, like we earned it or deserved it.  What a delusion!

Psalm 84 is about focus and direction and journey.  No matter what the disaster, I want to dwell with God.  God's dwelling can be found in the spirit, no matter what I am going through.  Distractions and mood altering addictive activities will not heal my heart, but only living in your presence will heal me.

Seek God, says David, the warrior.  David says that dwelling, seeking to dwell with God is a journey or pilgrimage.  We have to set our heart on going on that journey.  David says that the seekers who are journeyers are also weepers.  We must do our grief work.  Grieve your small and large losses.  Grieve it, grieve it, grieve it.

You are seeking, journeying, weeping & grieving; finding authentic worship.  You are walking through your valley and making it a place of springs.  You will find that it is true that when you draw near to God, God draws near to you.  You can see God's glory in your deepest wound and be dazzled (St. Augustine).

Worshiping God in sad times is the most authentic worship.  Welcome to the dwelling place of God, the place of healing and vision and life.

Joined To God or Good For Nothing

So I went to the Euphrates and I dug up the linen undergarment from the place I had buried it. But it was ruined and good for nothing.  -Jeremiah 13:7

Are you joined to God?  Do you cleave to God?  Are clinging to God?  Relationship with God means to cleave or cling to God.  You know the first verse about marriage in the Bible, "a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife" (Genesis 2:24)?  It means "joined".  God wants all his people joined to him or the relationship will not work and they will become good for nothing.  Are you joined to God or good for nothing? 

You might think you are joined to God, but if you do not listen to, which means obey, God; then you are not joined to God and have become good for nothing.  If you are chasing after other gods (no-gods), then you are not clinging to God and are good for nothing.  If you are worshiping anything other than God, then you are not clinging to God and are good for nothing.

God wants a people who will cling to him, be joined to him, and cleave to him.  God wants a people he can glorify himself through.  God wants a people that he can display Christ through.  That people is intimate with God.

Just as a linen undergarment clings to the body, so I created the people of Israel and Judah to cling to me, declares the Lord, to be my people for my honor, praise, and grandeur. But they wouldn’t obey.  -Jeremiah 13:11

God told Jeremiah to buy a loincloth or undergarment.  He told him to wear it for a while without washing it.  Then God told Jeremiah to take it off and place it between some rocks.  Some time went by and then God told Jeremiah to go retrieve the garment and by that time, it was no good.  God then told Jeremiah that this is what his people are like when they refuse to cling to him, but proudly get involved in idolatry. 

If God called for intimacy and faithfulness from his people in Jeremiah's day, isn't God the same today and also desires and requires intimacy and faith-fullness from his people today?   

To be joined to God is a life style of glorifying God and being cleansed from sin and the affects of sin by God.  To be joined with God means a life of relying on God's grace to walk in obedience.  To be joined with God also means a life of repentance.  When sins take place there is immediate repentance, because we are so close to God that our sins are exposed by the light and repentance is instant.  To be joined with God also means no idols, no idolatry, and no worship of no-gods.  Idolatry can not co-exist with and in the heart that clings to God.

Those who say they are God's people, but do not cling to God, become believers, "in name only", or "I never knew you", people.  These people are good for nothing.  There is a delusion that you are ok, but you are not.  It is never too late to repent, to start over, to come to your senses.

Be joined to God.

Are you the apple of God's eye?

Watch me with the very pupil of your eye!  Hide me in the protection of your wings, away from the wicked who are out to get me, away from my deadly enemies who are all around me!

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.

 -Psalm 17:8-9 (CEB, ESV)

Are you the apple of God's eye?  Are you very important to God and very well protected by God?  If you look into God's eyes, can you see a reflection of yourself?  When you are in trouble are you looking deeply into God's eyes and seeing evidence that He sees you?

Do you know the song, "I saw the Lord", by Dallas Holm?  For me, the key phrase in the song is, "and He saw me" .  Seeing the Lord is wonderful, but did the Lord see you?  Seeing the Lord is revelatory.  But knowing that He sees me is healing.

David learned and knew that a personal relationship was available with God and kept asking for it.  He didn't just pray for God's protection, but made his prayer specific and intimate. 

David had a revelation that we are each God's child and that God watches over each of us as we would watch over our own beloved child.  God is intimately aquainted with each one of us.  God is not just completely knowledgeable, but all loving towards those engaged with him.  I wrote about covenant love previously.

The apple of one's eye describes something that is precious, valuable, and delicate; that must be protected.  Our eyes are a very important part of our bodies.  They are both exposed and protected.  They are in our skull and protected by lids, brows, and lashes.

David asks God to protect him intimately.  He is saying, "protect me as your most valued and keep your eye always on me".  David is exposed to danger and David knows that if God is watching very closely, God is protecting.  David asks for God to be close as he heads into danger.  Whatever the danger is, he asks for God to be close and protect him in it.  David says, "watch me so closely that my reflection is in your eye".

Are you the apple of God's eye?  If you are in Christ, you have been adopted by God and are his child (1 John 3:1).  Being watched over intimately is available to you.  God may be watching over you as the apple of his eye and you don't even know it.  What kind of a different life will we live if we get it that we are each the apple of God's eye?  How will you love when you know you are loved.  What if each challenge you face is seen through the truth that you are the apple of God's eye?

Whitewash The Tombs