Monday, February 28, 2011

Colossians 3

If you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above...put to death what is earthly in you - put off  the old self with its practices.  Put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge...put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving...put on love which is the thread which sews all of these pieces together for your new garment...let Christ's peace rule in your heart and be grateful.  Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, wisely teaching and admonishing each other, singing...Whatever you do, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus...Work heartily, as for the Lord...You are serving the Lord Christ.

These words issued personal challenges which swept over me like tidal waves slamming relentlessly in to the shore of my self. 

I can choose where my mind is directed; up above or down low or somewhere in between.  I must choose.  Daily choose.

I can put to death the earthly things...I must order the firing squad.  Even as Abraham was the one required to lift the knife against his Isaac; I, too, must personally handle the kill on the targets God directs me to.  Only I have the authority to execute this particular old person.

Old practices are familiar and comfortable; they have been my  go-to habits for a long time.  I must be very intentional and focused on changing those pathways and reactions.  I must learn the new-familiar...I must allow myself to become (the old person) I shudder at that opportunity...I must be willing to become lost...but that is okay, as only one of us (the old one or the new) can make it out alive each time we take that distant walk to the region of Moriah.

Renewed wisdom means the old smarts aren't smart.   Reasonable intellectualism is neither reasonable nor intelligent in the new life.

If love is not the binding seam on the new qualities, then they won't stay in place or dress me properly.

Christ's peace must rule in my heart...not as a co-regent; but as the Monarch...and be grateful for that.

The Word of Christ must be allowed to flourish abundantly in me...not be starved to death or treated like a hermit.  The Word of Christ should be the most densely populated spiritual suburb in my inner world...not a ghost town or a seasonal vacation spot.  Dwell richly...thrive in the luxury of kindness, humility, compassion, forgiveness and patience...without the roots or rottings of any sins left over from the previous tenants.

Remember that whatever I am doing...singing, serving, teaching, encouraging, etc., to do it as if I am doing for the Lord,  in His Name and I am serving Him as I do it.  Because, He may have a temporary recipient of my "doings;" but He is without a doubt the actual Recipient.  And as I bear His Name, I am doing it in His Name.  And, if the initial premise is true, that I have been raised up in Christ, then I am serving Him with my life.  Especially when I am confronted with the qualities of the old self in others, I must be very committed to serving Him faithfully.

Did that last trip to the pharmacy truly demonstrate a Christ-visit to the pharmacy-tech?  I must strive for more than just not killing someone (not really; but I was frustrated beyond my normal, operating level).  When I left, could the girl behind the counter tell a difference between me and the next person?  

God, please help me do it all for You and Your Great Name.  Particularly when You direct me to take gather up "my Isaac" and go to the mountains in the region of Moriah.

Colossians 2

I want you to know what a severe personal struggle I have for you - that you won't be deceived - make sure no one takes you captive with vain deceptions and intellectualism...that no one would defraud you...

Christ, You are Truth.  The enemy is the Father of All Lies.  Help me to always walk in Truth.  Give me a severe allergic reaction to deception...grant me spiritual wisdom and perception.  Please impassion me for Truth to reign in my life and in the lives of other brothers and sisters.  God, we do not wish to be tricked nor deceived - not really.  Please help us remember that and not be so lazy as to just fall into a well-crafted and comfortable half-truth, (spelled L.I.E.). Lord, a severe, intense, personal and inward battle for the truth for others...Please help me to take seriously the things You take seriously.  Strengthen me to pursue Truth and to lovingly speak Truth and give Truth...You.  Hearten me for the battle.  Thank You for Your revelation... Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Colossians 1

...walk in a manner worthy of the Lord...

 Just what would be worthy of the Lord?  He is the Sovereign King of the Universe, His attributes are without end, He is the Creator, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, the Only Wise God, Eternal King, Redeemer, Sin-Forgiver, Sin-Payment, Beloved, Messiah, Perfect Lamb, Rescuer from Darkness, Peace, Love, Judge, Worthy, Grace, Truth...(I could not ever finish this; but I get to work on it!).  

We bow for royalty, salute military, stand for ladies, nod for others, kneel for children, yield to flashing lights, ...what is worthy of our Lord?  Does what I do in a week truly resemble walking in a manner which displays His worthiness?  What do my words, habits, thoughts, choices, time, etc. say about what I think of His worth? Do I confuse religious activity and attendance with that worthy-walk?

Father, forgive me.

...I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you...

For whom have I become a steward of God?  Who is my "you"?  What effort do I make to regularly interact with the "you's" in my life?  How am I desperately seeking all of the "you's" God has entrusted to me?

Oh, God, You have chosen me to minister to particular "you's".  Give me eyes to see my assignment and a heart to love them as my own.  Gift me with creativity in ministering to each according to the design You've made.  You are worthy, let me walk in response to that simple, overwhelming, nearly incomprehensible fact.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Philippians 4

Just before Paul's final note, we learn of two ladies who evidently are embroiled in a big disagreement.  This situation is sufficiently out of control as Paul addresses it from where he sits by letter.  Paul implores them to settle the argument.  

Additionally Paul says to be full of joy, be considerate and pray about everything that they may experience the peace of God and the protection His peace brings.  God's peace in the heart and mind.  Is this the path to reconciliation? To righteous living? final thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing.

Paul's living, working, serving, persecuted, interactive model was one that he, himself, could put up for example for all to follow.  Indeed, we are still learning from his life.

  • Why can't I throw myself up as a similar example? Do I know one who could be that example?
  • How is it that I teach and give things other than what should be done?
The words preceding Paul's directive -are they the key to being a consistent model?  Is this the answer to the problem the Philippians experienced?  To my problem?  

My thoughts are not always on the true, the honoring, the right, the pure, the lovely, the admirable, the excellent and the praiseworthy...and when that occurs - like a pollution released into the environment - the mind is corrupted, the thought process is messed up and the actions yielded from that scenario are less than glorious...sinful, even.

I know this is not "think good thoughts and good will happen," (definitely not a karma statement); but as I think on those things...I realize again that God defines those things.  He is each of those qualities.  As I think on God and His attributes, I am able to properly frame whatever situation that comes to mind.  I am freed to be full of joy and to be considerate as I pray about all things.  I receive God's peace as I go to Him with the great news and the horrible.  Only God can filter and frame life so that peace is tangible, as only God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, has the true perspective.

I praise You Lord of All that You again show me You are the Answer.  You are All I need.  My All in All.  Grow me in experiencing You infusing every circumstance, every thought, passion, imagining...every experience I have.  I do want to be that exceedingly good example and not a terrible warning for Your Great Name.  Teach me faithfulness. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Philippians 3

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead... 

According to Paul's pedigree, he made the corps d'elite list of favorites and was a member of the Jewish illuminati.  He had religious cred, purity cred, street cred, law keeping cred; he had cred all over the place.  He was Super-Hebrew.  God shows no favoritism...He made you what you are.

Paul also was one of the most vehement, enthusiastic, successful and rabid enemies of the the Way.  God shows no partiality...even against His enemies.

Paul's encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ radically reorganized his life in terms of his priorities and pursuits.  He became just as dedicated to Christ as he had been to annihilating His Name previously.  Paul suffered greatly, served unfailingly and loved His Savior faithfully in his life and with his pen.  God's scales don't swing out of balance based on performance.  God does not have preference ratings.  He doesn't just click with some and not so much with others.

Paul could brag or he could cringe, he could become pompous in pride or become paralyzed in self-reproach.  But he chooses to forget what lies behind and presses onward towards the upward call of Christ.

Paul lived in response to his relationship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul did not get hung up or puffed up on his past; he merely pushed on.

Why do I get overwhelmed with some details to the point of being still and knowing, not that God is God, but that I can't do anything well or right - and then procrastinating about the work at hand? 

Why do I fall into the Slough of Despond (Pilgrim's Progress/Bunyan) when I am reminded of what God has seen me through - as if He will only do that one thing, ever - rather than dwelling on how God has worked so mightily in my and others situations?

Why do I focus on the events and not the relationship, the stuff and not the God, my (lack of) credibility and not His impeccable and perfect Name?

God, I need You.  Help me to live the "realationship" You have created me for and not be sucked into the sewer of living in the, defined and empowered by all the woulda, shoulda, coulda beens.  You are perfect.  You are never compromised by me.  Liberty, Father, liberty.  Help me to delight in making You famous...being Your poster girl.  Let me forget what is behind and press onward toward Your upward and gracious call.  Lord, let Your sweet amnesia free me for You.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Philippians 2

Paul tells us to not be selfish and to consider other people's needs like we do our own.  Be humble and esteem others as better than ourselves.   

Later he talks about how if the Philippians do as he says, then he will have a reason to glory on the day of Christ Jesus.  Even if he is being used up like a sacrifice, he is pleased to be happy for them.  Verses 19-24 speak of Paul sending Timothy to visit the Philippians so Paul can be cheered up by Tim's report.  Paul is going to dispatch Tim once Paul knows what is going on with his own plans.  Paul brags on Tim as Tim, unlike all the others who look out for their own self-interests, has worked well with Paul, was concerned for the well-being of the Philippians and looked out for Jesus Christ's interests.  Paul closes with his testimony about God's kindness to him by saving someone else's life...Paul would have been very sad and God had mercy on Paul - and that other guy who didn't die, too.

 As I read this twice, I was struck by how much Paul talked about himself and his circumstances after the admonition to think of others, be unselfish, be humble.  Is Paul that Paul-oriented?  I mean, God showed him mercy by saving someone else's Paul wouldn't be sad...

As I contemplated this, ( and believe me, I wanted God to give me a more noble lesson ), I was warmed to the  idea that I don't know Paul well at all.  I am, in essence, reading someone else's mail (by Divine Design, sure).  But, I do know quite a bit about Paul from his history and other writings, some of which are just a few verses away.  And while I do not understand this portion's motivation, I do know his heart and his passion.  I do know he's human and needed a Savior like I did/do.  So, when Paul's words bother me, remember grace.  When I am a bit befuddled, Grace.  I need it, I can offer it.

Now, the funny thing about this "lesson" is that recently I found myself in a similar situation.   Words I thought were clear were misunderstood.  You know when a scene is not playing out the way you intended by the sudden onset of silence.  The silence was concluded by a response that completely surprised me.  I had trouble even knowing how to frame it in order to answer.  But, when you know a bit of the heart and the passion, you can grace the speaker despite the words.  I know I did, I hope that the other person did, too.  Esteeming others as better than yourself is a choice; but a good one to make.

Father God, I thank You for these timely words which have brought me peace.  Strengthen me to choose humility, selflessness and self-sacrifice...those are not my natural tendencies.  I praise You that You have graced me and equipped me to grace others.  Let me be a grace warriorette for Your sake. 


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Philippians 1 has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ...The reason I am imprisoned is Christ...not some bureaucratic blunder, some prejudiced jerk in office, a misunderstanding.  Because of Christ, I am in chains.  My prison record is part of His greater plan to make Himself famous and expand His Kingdom.

When God allows an unjust, uncomfortable or unbelievable situation to come my way, do I have enough confidence in my obedience to be able to vehemently claim, "Because of Christ ..."?  

Am I as pleased as Paul to experience situations which I would not have written into the script of my life...if I were asked?  

When I am bound in a situation, do I make sure that the whole of the palace guard and everyone else are clear that it's all for Christ?  

Do I take into account the local talent around me in my would-be distress or do I just look for what I deem is significant?

For Christ.  Let me live and breathe for Christ.  Let my story be told for Christ.  Let any participants, front row folks or casual observers know it is for Christ.  The proper and worthy response is conduct becoming a recipient of grace, the gift of the gospel - make it so, Lord, make it so.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ephesians 6

Paul has been instructing us in how to conduct ourselves in relationship to one another...realize the unity through Christ and in the Body of Christ, imitate God not the doers of evil, walk as wise not unwise; his directions are to wives to husbands, husbands to wives, children to parents, parents to children, slaves to masters and masters to slaves.  His closing is, "remember, God does not show partiality."  Wait, is he trying to imply that maybe we do???

Paul then proceeds to spiritual admonition and equipping to be strong in the Lord so we can stand firm in the face of the real enemy for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  The enemies are not the sassy teenagers, the thoughtless family members nor the defiant children...not the boss, not the employee, not the clerk, not the neighbor, not the guy in the car in the next lane- but the EVIL RULERS, SPIRITS AND AUTHORITIES OF THE UNSEEN WORLD.

After all the exhortations on how to conduct ourselves - as if we have a problem in those areas - he drives home the enemy is not the relationships; but the dark and evil spirits warring against our flesh-and-blood selves.  

This poignant charge hits home today as I have engaged with some flesh-and-blood folk who have behaved like enemies (a.k.a. saints in the family).   The truth has to be held ever before me when I am in the cross-hairs of the ire of an irritable being; else I would respond as to an enemy.  Oh, the damage that could be done to the saints...the carnage to the Body...the abuse to the Name when the enemy successfully deceives me (us) with a bait-and-switch.

Father, help me ever-pray for Your Body, the saints around me and the saints that are far away...even in time.  High Commander of the Heavenly Host, please use me for collateral blessing rather than collateral damage.  Let the enemy taste the bitterness of defeat increasingly in his efforts to assault the relationships of Your people.  Open our eyes, inspire us with creativity to conspire against the evil one and keep us from falling into pits which we dig ourselves.  Praise You for the victory is Yours, from beginning to end.

We must truly be strong in His might to stand in holiness when some of our big buttons get hit by those that know them the best.  It also warns me that this is an area the enemy has great success in using against God and His Fame.  We are just pawns and casualties to the enemy - ones he delights to harm; but to the King of the Universe, we are His beloved children.  Buckle up, oh mighty warriors...the battle is in progress...let's unite to take back the stolen territory.  God, give us a heart for those needing triage...and keep us from joining them.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ephesians 5

Imitate your Father - what you see and know Him to do - do that...

Like little children playing house, imitate the activities and affections you learn from your Heavenly Father.  Don't pretend to do it; do it.  You know how to do it because He is Your are His child.

Father God, please help me to put on Your ways, manners and love that I may imitate You.  Grow me in my comprehension of You that I may accurately render a realistic and relational reflection of You. Teach me to imitate You, my Father, as I am Your beloved child.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ephesians 4

A prisoner for the Lord, unjustly held captive who had conducted himself peaceably, is advising believers to live in that manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called. The qualities the prisoner encourages them in are humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance in love and unity through peace.

The call-worthy walk is humble obedience, not harsh, rude nor sarcastic but compassionate and merciful in that gracious capacity to endure the wait - lovingly. All of this is done peacefully for the harmony and wholeness of the Body.

How on earth am I able to pull this off?  I rather enjoy being sarcastic at works for me.  How can the knee-jerk reaction be humble and harmonious when I have been hurt or offended?   Why is it sometimes such a choice between humility and obedience?  It is truly not in me; but thank You, my precious Savior, that You have given me grace according to the measure of Your immeasurable gift and that Your grace is enough for me. I need You, I need Your grace, I need Your Word to direct my path.  Thank You that You don't give up on me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ephesians 3

Briefly can I just put out there that verses 1-6  encourage me to pieces in that Paul starts with one point and takes a tangent off that point to enrich and explain something before he returns to the original point in verse 7.  This is perhaps the first place in which I can identify with the apostle...he takes an exit from his conversation highway and then gets back on the highway a few sentences later.  I do that, too.  I am so blessed!  (I also recognize that his exits are for excellence and mine often seem random; but stylistically, the same.)

The second blessing, which I can hardly process and feel very inaccurate in terming it just a blessing, I received from these words comes later in the chapter - verses 14 and following.  Paul gets down on his knees before his God that ... according to the riches of His glory He may grant you 

~to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being
~that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
~that you may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the
               breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love 
               of Christ that surpasses knowledge 
~that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Those acts of grace are amazing, mind-blowing blessings - and we have those available to us.  Thanks to God who, through Paul, teaches us to seek these qualities and gifts. 

Invigoration and revitalization, be made forceful and heartened through the Holy Spirit's power to my spirit - going from life support to life supply by His Spirit.

Can you imagine that it takes strength to comprehend the multi-dimensional aspects of God's love?  His love blows away knowledge.

I could have Christ abide, inhabit, attend, establish Himself in my heart not just sit in a corner or be treated poorly by the unjust landlord (me).

I don't even understand being filled with ALL the fullness of God; but now that Paul mentions it, I sure do want it.  I have this (wrong) picture of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory's Violet Beauregarde after she chews the gum...she is blowing up like a blueberry balloon...that in holiness and grace and faith and love and peace and ... I could spiritually expand like that - with all the fullness of God.  

Okay, so the Sovereign King of the Universe wants us to know about such fantastic and prodigious things...He makes them accessible to us.  He does not hoard His treasures.  He teaches us how to ask for name them. 

Paul asks for those incredible qualities to be distributed among the faithful; then he says, "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us..."  We can't even ask or think about what all God can all we can request or dream up in the massively imaginative collection of our minds doesn't even begin to touch the shadow of the history of His very great reputation...far more abundantly than all the fullness of God.  (i don't get it...but i am feeling very small - in a good way)

We serve an mind-blowing God, a God who is Indescribable, Undiminished, Incomprehensible...and makes available to us the fullness of all the fullness of Himself.  

Father, how great you are.  Thank You for letting me in Your family.  Strengthen me to receive what You have for me.  To the praise of Your exceedingly great Name!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ephesians 2

...His great love with which He loved us...

I am loved with a great love, a Great Love.  God is Love and He loves me with a great love.  Who needs a Valentine's card? He doesn't love me with a general love, a casual love or even a sympathetic love.  It's not a superficial love, a conditional love nor a seasonal love.  It is not obligatory nor demanded.  His love is not based on me, my performance, my track-record, my is Him.  All Him.  

                                HE   LOVES   me

It is great.  The same word is also used in the New Testament as: 
even more
great/greater/greater numbers/greatly
high price
large/large numbers
lengthy, long
many/many more
very much 

That's the Love He loves me with...His great love. No greater love.

God of Love, let me receive Your love and respond to You and others from Your great love.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ephesians 1

Paul writes to believers who are faithful in Christ, those who were known for their faith and love.  He then confesses that he prays that they would be given a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that they would know the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.  Did they know there was more?

Is this like having keys to the Kingdom; but not using them until death's demand?

I can be a faithful believer and sealed with the Holy Spirit and still lack insight and that intimate knowing of God, I can be saved and not know the hope of His calling, I can be part of the family of God and not know the riches of the glorious inheritance, I can have the indwelling Holy Spirit testify to my salvation and not comprehend the incredible power for me...

God and Father, I do not want to miss, not know, lack or fail anything I am allowed to participate in by Your Grace.  Please give me wisdom, give me revelation, let me know You me to devote myself to that end.  Teach me of the hope of Your calling - the confident expectation of Your invitation - what do You desire I know?  I want to know and live now in the fullness of the eternal blessedness of being Your daughter.  You are to be praised for Your amazing, limitless, undiminishible power and You will that I would comprehend it.  Make it so, Sovereign Lord, make it so. I receive what You have for me.   Wow.  Thank You, God my Father, Jesus my Savior and Brother and Holy Spirit my Seal and Guide to All Truth.  Wow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Acts 28

Paul has just survived the shipwreck, the incredible Euraquila typhoon strength storm, lack of food, threats of death, swimming to land and possibly lack of sleep.  As the natives kindle a fire and kindly and warmly welcome the ship's passengers on that cold, rainy night, we find Paul gathering wood for the fire.  Why can't he just pass out like the rest of the people?  Like I would.  He's not laying around trying to warm himself, rest or even regale others with tales of his perspective on the epic loss of ship.  The man, with a thorn in his side, is working and serving.

He continues to serve and employ his spiritual gifts to the benefit of others.  The group he travels with seems to be a bit smaller throughout the rest of this passage, (but that is speculative on my part), and yet he still makes great the Name of Christ.  

We leave this chapter with him continuing to speak out the grace and mercy of Christ while under 24-hour guard.  He's not penning his last thoughts or experiences of being a shipwreck survivor, hoping for a book deal, suing the ship's owners, nor seeking therapy from the great philosophers.  He is witnessing of God His Father and the Lord Jesus Christ for any that would hear.  Does the man not get tired?  Run down?  Need sleep?

Father, I am so addicted to comfort and sleep...You know, "cozy" is a verb in my home.   I need Your strength.  I need You to manifest greatly Yourself over the seduction of rest and for You to truly be my Consolation.  I confess, that the comfort is excessive, indulgent and rather luxurious; it is not a relief from any pain or injury nor an assuagement for distress or discomfort.  I desire to be just get to the weekend so I can do what I want.  That is not the heart of a slave of God.  Please cultivate in me the slave-mentality which is so foreign to me and the urgency with which Your true slaves are known.  God, all I am is Yours, all I do is for You, and all my time is Yours (there is no off-the-clock time)...and please help me to be glad and gracious in that slavery

Acts 27

Perhaps it's because I think I have the super-hero power of invisibility, (pretty sure it's not a spiritual gift), that I noticed Paul lacking sufficient influence to affect the course of the ship despite having a word of wisdom regarding the trip.  He even had the concurrent testimony of the weather to bolster his admonition; yet, he was overruled, ignored, not heeded.  The voyage continued and it didn't work out so well for those which rebuffed his warning.

Why would the LORD give Paul future knowledge and the liberty to speak it without the accompanying pull to benefit from it?  I can imagine a couple of answers; but what I can observe directly from this passage is God will let His precious child experience risk, harm and hardship because of another's rejection of Him or His Word.  From my understanding of the story, God did not "fastpass" the suffering and danger, either.

Another observation is the respectful fashion in which Paul responded to the refusal of the wisdom.  He did not have a fit, threaten them with doom or even repeat himself.  He pitched the warning and accepted their answer.  His calm demeanor in the face of troubling plans challenges me to better conduct.  How many times do I repeat myself? How do I trust God's words and His timing when my cloak of invisibility is concealing any authority I may have in a given situation?  What habits can I adopt to operate in trust and belief rather than frustration and fear?

Sovereign King of the Universe, I praise You for You are never in a predicament.  I know that all details are Yours, nothing escapes Your notice or plan.  I am constantly mystified and surprised by how Your ways are not my ways, even when I am seeking Your ways.  Lord, my Provider, please forgive me for allowing my meager understanding of a situation to trump the grandeur of the scene You have authored.  Help me to never think that I have enough of the picture that I can run with it...I need You to direct my every step, opportunity, prayer...breath.  Let all that I am comply joyfully with Your story.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

1 Peter 5

And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ...As a fellow elder, I appeal to you...

Peter is writing to his peer group, he introduces himself as an elder like they are and then appeals to them as a fellow elder.  But, he gives the badge of being a witness to Christ's sufferings as the extra weight to his words.  He didn't say that he was "the Cephas," one of the inner three, "Transfiguration Pete", or that he had even walked on water; Peter self-identified as a witness of Christ's sufferings.  That was clout in his eyes.

Peter was discipling the elders, penning scripture, and yet his trump card was having been a witness to the brutalities his Christ suffered.  I am just...stuck here.  

Why do I not believe that my witness of Christ's sufferings is authority for me?  I know I am not a firsthand witness; but I have scripture, a sanctified imagination and the Holy Spirit confirmation.  Why do I not operate in the same authority amongst my peer group?

Lord, I just don't get it.  Help me to not miss it.  You call us to and promise us sufferings, Your sufferings were the thing that one of Your closest mates called up and it was his memory of Your sufferings that was his warrant for influence.  I usually just skate over the suffering part of Your Word.  I know I don't have much reference for suffering and the gracious way You wired me causes me to be unable to dwell long on anyone experiencing hurt...I drive off the road to not hit a frog...a frog, God.   I don't know how to frame sufferings (plural), except that You endured them and Your believers are promised them.  Forgive me for the spirit of procrastination regarding this integral component of a life of faith.  I confess, I don't want suffering to happen to anyone; but I know enough to not want to pray anyone out of a blessing You have wrapped as hardship or harder...even myself.  God, please help me to not miss this critical aspect of Your design.  I need You to accomplish this work in me and my very meek heart.  And as I am living this life You provided me, let me be known by what I know of You and not what has happened to me. 

1 Peter 4 for the will of in the spirit according to the will of God...good stewards of the manifold grace of that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 

God's will, God's grace, God's glory...

Am I living for God's will?  How much does my will compete with His?
How does my life reflect the multifarious grace of the Most High God?

How precisely does my life-story communicate His glory?

Even in suffering, for whose honor, distinction, magnificence and preeminence do I work?  

Whose name do I try to make good in hardship and trouble?

Lord, it is so straightforward.  That renewed life of the one who 
                     ~survives and succeeds in the Spirit
                     ~accepts and abides as a bearer of the Almighty Name
                     ~loves intensely and demonstratively
                     ~welcomes others courteously, graciously and spontaneously
                     ~intercedes with tenacity
                     ~decides and does with divine discernment
  it is all for You...of Your will, by Your grace and for Your me to keep it simple and focused on You, of You and for You.

Friday, February 11, 2011

1 Peter 3

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

This passage has caused me some wonder...I see that Christ died and then the subject is baptism; the intervening portion related to what Christ did in the spirit and when is what puzzles me.  

The also which is bold-faced above is the same word interpreted as even, (which we looked at a couple of days ago),  indeed, actually and certainly.  I could read that verse as He even went (so far as) to witness to those who were in the days of Noah but are now spirits in prison awaiting the final judgment.  That makes sense and it matches up with the promise Jesus gave the thieve on the cross that "Today, you shall be with Me in Paradise".  

As I sit, examining the words and the context, a phone call comes.  My (hero) husband invites me to lunch with the goal of visiting Umesh, a man who wanted to know about Jesus and Santa Claus, (seriously).  Remembering verse one which instructs me to be submissive to my husband (hero), I readied myself to leave.

As I was driving to lunch, I was struck by the thought that I was musing and meditating on what I did not and could not definitively know.  But I had an opportunity to share with another what I did have; knowledge of the True, relationship with the One, hope in the Faithful, salvation for eternity.  How encouraging that was to me that God is still mysterious after all these years, I can still operate from what He has absolutely shown me and it is a good thing to submit to my hero (husband) and my Hero God.

Thanks and praise to You, Glorious One.  You have deep and deeper still; some things are not clear to me and yet, what I need to know has been made clear and available.  How perfect are Your ways, oh Lord, how incredible are Your mercies that You would include me in Your plan.  Help me to always have a heart for Your purpose, a desire to fulfill my part and to not get stuck in the unknown parts.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

1 Peter 2

...For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves...You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect...For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you.

                              Accept His authority with all respect.  

Salvation - - slave.   Just switch a couple of letters around...makes all the difference in the world.  God is my authority, I am His slave.  Don't switch those couple of things around...that's an eternal difference.

Master, help me to submit to Your authority with all respect.  Help me to get rid of all evil in my sounds so easy, like taking the trash out; but it's sticky, lumpy and both smaller and larger than I can find or handle.  I need You to cultivate in me Your desires and disciplines.  Help me, in liberty, to be the God's-slave You created me to be.  Let me serve You faithfully, let me adore You completely and let me love You well.

1 Peter 1

...and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance

 These two verses cause me to wonder how I am supposed to truly look as a daughter of the Most High King.  

Do I look like I am rejoicing greatly?  Is my joy inexpressible and full of glory? 

I feel rather ordinary, if not invisible, most days...If I had this exulting, thrilling, glorious joy overflowing, wouldn't I be obviously pleased and ...dare I say, radiant?  
Contrast that beaming countenance with the admonition to not be shaped and molded by the former evil desires from my ignorant stage (pre-Jesus-follower).  Now I was five years old when I responded to my Savior's I am not terribly certain what my evil desires were; but of this I am confidant: they were all I-ME-MY oriented. 

My person should not reflect what the i-me-my person would...What I want, when I want, how I want, as much and as long as I want...I am charged with not looking like these former ways and, I think, that means I don't look like those who are living in these ways...That means I watch different things, I listen to different things, I pursue different things...and by different, I mean God-pleasing.  I may have knowledge of the world; but I am not to harmonize, correspond or coincide with it.  

Oh, LORD of All, I confess too often I resonate with the world's melody and neglect the rhapsody of my King.  May I be known for the joy which wells up from within me by the life-support system You have given me.  Let my pattern and habit be not of this world; but of Your Kingdom and consistent with Your design - to the praise of Your Gloriously, Joyously Name and Reputation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hebrews 13

...for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by God's grace (God's favor and spiritual blessing)...

my heart should be strengthened by my God's grace.

His grace makes strong, establishes and ennobles my

how am I allowing and encouraging that strengthening to occur?

what do I miss by not being fortified, deepened, magnified by God's grace? 

Father, I so desire Your strengthening and deepening in my life.  Please make it the cost which must be paid for Your grace to do its work - as You have already paid great cost to supply grace.  God of Grace, have Your way with my heart and with me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hebrews 12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

The immense group of witnesses is large enough to blot out the sky, not just a little, black raincloud.  And since that crowd is all around us, we need to set aside, cast away each individual opposing element and the whole of the opposition which will burden or encumber our course of life and the sin, the missing of the mark, the wandering from the path of uprightness and honor, the offense which so skillfully and besettingly wraps it tentacles around our physical, emotional, spiritual selves.  And, in steadfastness and constancy, allow ourselves to run, hasten, strive hard, spend our strength, take upon ourselves great risks which demand overwhelming sacrifice in order to overcome those struggles, contests, battles or trials as they are appointed or destined for us.

It is not just a race, not just a burden, not just a is whatever trips us up, distracts us, weighs us down from the goal of winning the race.  It is whatever causes us to undershoot or overlook the mark, to delay us from the pursuit of triumph, to miss holiness.  And it is life.  LIFE.

The witnesses, as the "Therefore" implies, are those that are referenced in the previous chapter.  But, consider that those witnesses to the life of faith are not the only witnesses of our lives, our races, our finishes.  What about those that tangibly surround us; our family, neighbors, co-workers, clerks, ... Those that see firsthand and often without any divine enlightenment or faith-filters how we endure the race, how we put off any besetting thing, how we avoid the snares and tangles of the world and the enemy.  How would they describe holy, if they only had me for example?  Would what I discard and desist be for their good?  Do my cultural interludes glorify God or the world...the enemy?

Some months ago, the Lord strongly directed my to lay down watching two of my favorites a matter of fact, they were the only shows that I watched that year.  When I understood what He asked, I had a choice - which was, only by His grace, an easy one. As I consider the content of the shows, and I shudder to think of how I promoted that by my attendance.  What the shows purported to be about often fell by the wayside as the subplots screamed perversion, unholy passions and just plain meanness, (and it was just regular T.V.). Sure, the music was great in the one and the crime-solving was interesting in the other; but when I mention the names of the shows, rarely were those attributes discussed.  

Whatever ensnares, entangles or threatens, Lord, help me to cast it off.  Please help me to be useful to help others cast off the same in their lives.  Help me to see Your holiness as the measure and purity as the goal that I may be a credible witness to a life of faith, as those who have gone before me are proving to be for me. Strengthen me, that I might have the tenacity for constancy and that my rebellious ways may be used to push away from sin.  I praise Your Faithful Name.   

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hebrews 11

...even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.

Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.

He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.

The use of "even" struck me in this passage. It's as if the Divine Author penned the words to draw my attention to something beyond the improbability of these "events"; something past the surpassing impossibility of each. I mean, that God would say "even" this occurred. I know nothing is a stretch for the Undiminishable One; but that He would say "even" makes me wonder about what does He want to say "even" in my life? Where am I shortchanging His glorious plans for the comfort of my finite estate?
God, I know that You are completely trustworthy and I confess it is a bit difficult...okay, it is difficult to say that I want You to be able to say "even" me; but I do want Your "even" in my life. These folks lived through very challenging lives and circumstances, they had tremendous wait-on-God events; but You write of them as if they impressed You. I understand that they cooperated with the work You were doing and that You accomplished the miraculous in their lives; but they complied with You and waited on You and then they made the "even" list. They lived at capacity for Your plans for them...God, help me to live and love at capacity, for the glory of Your Name and the expanse of Your Kingdom.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hebrews 10

And in accordance with this will [of God], we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ (the Anointed One)...  For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.

Why do I believe I am accepted in the Beloved but behave as though I must offer sacrifice?
This single offering has completely perfected those who were made holy, according to God's will.

When I am in a hurry, do I remember that I have been made holy and am perfected?  Why do I speed?  or fuss?  or fret?  
In the dailyness of my life, how do I demonstrate this cleansing and sanctification? How do my priorities reflect His work in my life? 

Jesus help me to live the live worthy of Your sacrifice.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hebrews 9

Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to...regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.
  But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle... through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.... how much more will the blood of Christ,..., cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?...but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. 

The prior arrangement for worshipers' sin was an external cleansing; but not a perfected conscience.  At the time of reformation, at the consummation of the ages (isn't God's story magnificent!), Christ Jesus was manifested, putting away sin by His own, very great and complete sacrifice.  Sin was subjugated so thoroughly which allows our consciences to be cleansed (as we respond to the invitation of the elect) which frees us to be noble servants of the Sovereign King of the Universe.   Jesus will come again, a second time for salvation...and this time He comes without reference to sin.  Sin will not be the issue for the heinous blight and spiritual toxin it had been was  profoundly and ultimately conquered and cured at the point of His all-sufficient sin-offering.

The timing in which I find myself in this majestic story is after the defeat of sin and before the return without reference to sin - I am in the time of service to the King.  

What does my service look like?  Service is action, not just a know-how.

I am not serving my King:   

                               if I only study about serving
                               if I become only a knowledgeable historian of His Kingdom
                               if I just agree that serving is good and important and necessary
                               if I am too busy doing things which are not of His Kingdom
                               if I apply myself to His service once or twice a week

                                              I MUST SERVE MY KING

                               I must know what He wants
                               I must conduct myself in the fashion which pleases Him
                               I must be willing to be appear foolish for obedience to His Name
                               I must trust that He knows best
                               I must be available, listening and willing to obey - be prepared
                               I must obey because regrets and apologies don't get my job done
                               I must believe that He is the King of All, King of my everything

Father King, give me eyes to see Kingdom ways, give me a heart to be a noble servant of the Most High God.  Help me to live in Kingdom freedom.  Please help me to not desire to be Your servant while taking time to party with the enemy.  My time is Yours, You attend my celebrations.  Cause me to remember that You are the Only King.  Help me to have the scope of vision for Your Kingdom.  Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, in my life as it is in Heaven.  So saturate my life that I would bear obviously the trademarks of Your Kingdom to those not of Kingdom-status.  Let my accent be of Your language, my dress reflect Your styles, my mannerisms demonstrate Your ways, my choices reveal Your holiness, my conduct becoming Your grace, my love like Yours and whatever else I don't know to ask for..., please, please continue Your transformation of me to that which brings honor, glory and fame to You, My Great King.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hebrews 8

 But this is the new covenant I will make
      with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
   I will put my laws in their minds,
      and I will write them on their hearts.
   I will be their God,
      and they will be my people.

The original covenant was written on stone tablets, hard, immovable, fixed.  The new and better covenant is written on the hearts and put in the minds of the people.  Living people, not rocks.  

The result is the God will be their God and they will be His people.  Living people.  The New Covenant is about life and living, not a mere display.  It wells up within us and directs the flow of our thoughts and lives.  The purpose is to live the New Covenant.

Father, I know I knew this; but I thank You for drawing me to this truth and refreshing me with it.  You intend for me to live in the context of Your God-ness.  Your promises, Your faithfulness, Your purpose and Your love direct the law of life.  I thank You for breaking the shackles which held me in bondage to the statue of the law of sin and death.  I praise You for Your empowerment and direction to live that life - loving You with all of my heart, soul, strength and essence and for Your goodness to grow me in that love that I may love others as I do myself.  I also ask that You would help me to love myself rightly.  To the praise of Your Very Great Name and Love.

Hebrews 7

But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. 

Even though the offering was given, the one who had the promises was blessed by the greater one.  

I am the one, now who has the promises...grafted, accepted, redeemed, sanctified, justified, glorified...I have been blessed by the Greater One...indeed, the Greatest!

Now, the Spirit of the Greatest lives within me...who am I blessing?  How am I a faithful vessel for the Greatest to bless others and expand His Kingdom? 

Lord, I know that I am unable to even steward my awaking well; but You, through me, can.  I can bless no one; but You are greater and You do bless.  Please let me yield (by Your power, wisdom and discipline) to You that I may be useful for Your blessing others.  Only by Your precious grace am I one with promises.  I praise You for You keep Your promises.