Tuesday, September 19, 2017

we stink

2 Corinthians 2

15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. 

But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.

16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. 

But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. 



This passage has always been interesting to me.

It just explains why some people react the way they do to a follower of Jesus.

Now I'm not talking about the kind of arrogant, sanctimonious behavior that seems to be so cache now amongst white middle class evangelicals in America right now.

I'm talking about people who walk humbly in the life they have because of Jesus & merely try to fulfill Jesus' mandate to "love God & love others."

Non-believers are just uncomfortable around the Holy Spirit that lives in us.

They probably wouldn't quantify it that way, but essentially that's what's going on.

There is an essence about those of us who live a life of servanthood to Jesus - not because we intentionally try to project that.

It's just helpful for me to remember that one of the reasons people are sometimes hesitant about connecting with me doesn't have anything to do with me & everything to  do with the way others respond to the presence of the Holy Spirit.



So, how do we handle this reality?

Would it be safe to say we should be "wise as serpents but as gentle as doves"?

iow, we connect gently with some people because we know that their spirit is very uncomfortable with the Holy Spirit.

iow, we reach out to people in a gentle, humble spirit, not as some self-righteous jackass.


Think about that today as we each move among a sea of non-believers...

Monday, September 18, 2017

121

Soak in this for a while...



Psalm 121

1 I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there?

2 My help comes from the LORDwho made heaven and earth!


3 He will not let you stumble;


  the one who watches over you will not slumber.


4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.


5 The LORD himself watches over you!


  The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.


6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.


7 The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.


8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

7 words that will revolutionize your life

I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11



Read the Bible, every day, without fail.


Read the Bible, every day, without fail.



Read the Bible, every day, without fail.



Read the Bible, every day, without fail.



Read the Bible, every day, without fail.



Read the Bible, every day, without fail.



Those 7 words, if you follow them, will absolutely & positively revolutionize your life.


In January, 2003, 

at the age of 52 1/2, 

after almost 30 years in ministry, 

with a Bible reading habit that can be described generously as higgledy-piggldy, 

that's what God mandated I do.


Thank You, God, that I did.


I've never been quite the same since.


I've said & done things I NEVER would have done on my own unless I had been reading the Bible every day without fail.


I don't know how I made it before...

how did I make it before?!

I musta been wandering around like a blind sow in a rye patch!!!

Well, yeah, I was...


I will warn you... if you do this, God. will. mess. with. you.


And He will start by messing with you in the very area(s) you absolutely don't want Him to.


I speak from experience...


These last 14 years, I've heard people say many, many times...

"I just can't seem to get God to tell me what to do, like speak to me is some way."

Trust me on this - since I started reading the Bible every day without fail, I can't get Him to shut up...


Do it - read the Bible every day without fail...

Please...

God will talk to you...

I promise...

You may not like what He says...

But He will NOT be silent...

Saturday, September 16, 2017

9 words

Here is what Paul says in his first letter to the followers of Jesus in Corinth...



1 Corinthians 15:58

So, my brothers & sisters, be strong & steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work,

for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.



...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.


...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.


...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.


...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.


...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.


...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.


...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.


...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.



9 words that express an earthshaking thought, no matter the perspective or emphasis.


How many of us feel put on the shelf, clueless, insignificant, useless, unimportant, out of favor, forgotten?


Paul says something here that should bring us a ray of hope, if we're willing to believe it, even in the face of a life that seems to repudiate it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

all I got today

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.

  You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.

3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.

  You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.

5 You go before me and follow me.

  You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!


7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

  I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

  if I go down to the grave, you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

  Darkness and light are the same to you.


13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born.

  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.


17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
  
They cannot be numbered!

18 I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up, you are still with me!


23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

love

This says it all...



! Corinthians 13

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, 

but didn't love others, 

I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I had the gift of prophecy, 

and if I understood all of God's secret plans 

and possessed all knowledge, 

and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, 

but didn't love others, 

I would be nothing.

3 If I gave everything I have to the poor 

and even sacrificed my body, 

I could boast about it; 

but if I didn't love others, 

I would have gained nothing.



  4 Love is patient and kind. 

Love is not jealous 

or boastful 

or proud

5 or rude. 

It does not demand its own way. 

It is not irritable, 

and it keeps no record of being wronged.

6 It does not rejoice about injustice 

but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

7 Love never gives up, 

never loses faith, 

is always hopeful, 

and endures through every circumstance.



  8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. 

But love will last forever!

9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, 

and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!

10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.


  11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. 

But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, 

but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 

All that I know now is partial and incomplete, 

but then I will know everything completely, 

just as God now knows me completely.



  13 Three things will last forever...

faith, 

hope, 

and love;

and the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

blessed

These are "The Beatitudes" that are located in the very beginning of what we have come to call "The Sermon on the Mount"

This colossal sermon covers chapter 5, 6, & 7 of Matthew.

It's a stupendous sermon in which Jesus lays out many of the things that are cornerstones to followers of Jesus. 

These few verses are always of interest to me.

They're right at the beginning of the sermon.

They talk about how some of us are endemically blessed simply because of our basic identity.

Just read it & see what I mean...



Matthew 5

3 "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.


4 God blesses those who mourn,
  for they will be comforted.


5 God blesses those who are humble,
  for they will inherit the whole earth.


6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
  for they will be satisfied.


7 God blesses those who are merciful,
  for they will be shown mercy.


8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
  for they will see God.


9 God blesses those who work for peace,
  for they will be called the children of God.


10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.


  11 "God blesses you when people mock you 


and persecute you 

and lie about you 

and say all sorts of evil things against you 

because you are my followers.

12 Be happy about it! 

Be very glad! 

For a great reward awaits you in heaven. 

And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.