Welcome to Biblethoughts.com

Welcome! This blog basically offers two things. First there are my thoughts on biblical and Christian topics. These are not doctrines or teachings, just my thoughts. Second there is a collection of graphics with scripture. The pdf versions can be downloaded and are suitable for framing. Look for them in "Framables".

David


I Will Drink Your Wine, Part 2

If you haven't already, please read Part 1 of this series of posts. It sets the stage for what follows.

I started Part 1 with the following scripture reference on old and new wine.

Luke 5:36-39
36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

In the Old Testament, we get a picture of how God worked with the nation of Israel.  His consistency in working with them became, in a sense, a wine that they got used to drinking. They had, for example, expectations of deliverance when they were oppressed. Think of this as a part of the flavor of the wine. Consider this passage from 2 Chronicles, when Jehoshaphat sought the Lord because some nations had some against Israel.

2 Chronicles 20:5-9
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said:

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

This was the cry of all of Israel when the Romans occupied their nation. They sought God for deliverance, but they sought Him for deliverance in a certain way, the way any nation would expect to be freed from oppression. That was the wine they were used to drinking. That was their history.

But God was bringing something very different through Jesus. This difference is illustrated in what is commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus, in teaching his disciples, said the following:

Matthew 5:10-12
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus is not telling his disciples that their oppressors will persecute them. He is telling them that their own people will persecute them, that they will be rejected by members of their family nation. This is a very different wine; this wine has flavors of being despised and rejected in it, and Jesus was telling his disciples that they would be drinking this wine.

Jesus mentioned a few times to his disciples that he had a cup to drink. What was in the cup was this new wine, and it's not a tasty wine; especially when compared to the old wine. We still, today, usually prefer the taste of the old wine to the taste of the new wine. And the wine we drink can have an effect on how we expect God to work in us and through us.

Matthew 6:9-10
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

For some, this prayer is about what is going on externally. They want the kingdom to come so people will stop doing bad things. They want people to obey God's will on earth. This can especially be true in areas where people and governments have been highly influenced by Judeo Christian principles or ethics in the past but have moved away from those ethics. 

But when we make this prayer internal, wanting the kingdom to come and His will to be done in our personal lives, the results can be very different. When Jesus was persecuted by the Romans and crucified, that was God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. That was complete obedience. And the witness of this kingdom became something very new. When talking to Pilate, Jesus said:

John 18:36
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

The witness to Pilate that there is a kingdom and that it is not of this world was that no one came to rescue Jesus. No one came to his defense. This, again, is a very different wine from the Old Testament. 

Hebrews 13:11-13
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

We don't want to go outside the camp, outside the city. We don't want to bear this disgrace. We prefer a wine that says God wants to change the camp, to change the city, to change the nation. A wine with the flavor of being despised and rejected is not a tasty wine.  Yet this disgrace, this willingness to be pilgrims and outsiders, is the witness to the world that there is a city whose builder and maker is God and that our hearts are set on that city. 

In the book of Revelation, it talks about a time when the disciples of Jesus overcome the enemy. Not by changing their city but by the word of their testimony, even when it results in death. 

Revelation 12:11
11They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

This is God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. This is a manifestation and witness of the power of a kingdom that is not of this world but is here within us. This is the church drinking from the cup that Jesus drank from.

I've said this before in other posts but want to say it again. I'm not a fan of suffering. I will do whatever I can to avoid suffering, for myself and for my family. But the cry of my heart for myself and my family is that God's will be done in our lives as it is in heaven (that we are obedient) and that our lives be a witness to a kingdom that is not of this world. We choose to drink this new wine. Not because it results in suffering, though it may, but because of the purpose, which is awesome.

And that will be Part 3.

 


I Will Drink Your Wine, Part 1

Jesus told a parable using the concepts of wine and wineskins to illustrate different ways of thinking and the fact that it can be hard to adopt a new way of thinking; that we are usually more comfortable thinking in ways we are used to.

Luke 5:36-39
36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

I think this can be applied on many different levels, but I also think there is a "Big Picture" application that is very important. That's what I want to explore in the next few posts.

To start, let's look at the history presented in the Old Testament (OT). I did some searches online for OT timelines and had little success finding one that I liked. Then I started searching for OT timelines for children. And that's when I found an absolutely awesome OT timeline at We Wilsons. This was created by Laura Wilson.

Wilson OT Timeline small

You can download a PDF copy of this timeline, in black & white and in color from the We Wilsons website. I suggest you go ahead and get a copy to review. I'm going to touch on points in the timeline. It's not necessary, just a nice visual.

In the book of Genesis, there is an account of God making a promise to a man named Abram, who was later known as Abraham.

Genesis 12:1-3
1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Abram, or Abraham, had a son; Issac. Issac had a son; Jacob, who is also Israel. Jacob's family grew into the tribes of the nation of Israel. Jacob and his family moved to Egypt, and after several hundred years became a nation of many people. They were enslaved by Egypt so God delivered them with incredible wonders and miracles. He led them to a "promised land," a land he had shown Abraham, a land where they could prosper. 

So we now have a nation that started as a family, a family-nation. They are living in a land they see as being promised to them by God. For a while, they are lead by Judges but at some point, they decide they want a King so they can be like other nations. God says the people are rejecting Him but tells the Prophet Samual to appoint a King anyway, telling the people what they will be giving up by having a King. And then he says that He will use the King to bring deliverance to His people, which I think is amazing.

As you look through the timeline you will see an incredible history of God working with people, performing miracles, bringing deliverance. The people of Israel had every reason to believe this word:

Deuteronomy 4:7-8
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

And then, as if to really cement this word/promise, God said this to King Solomon after he had built and dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem. 

2 Chronicles 12b-16
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

Even when Israel was taken into captivity into Babylon, and Jerusalem fell to Babylon, God was still with his people. He did great miracles in the sight of all through Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah  And in time God brought Israel back home, and Jerusalem was rebuilt because God gave his people favor and covered them with great mercy.

All thought the timeline you can see God's hand on his people. They didn't make any of this up, all of God's words, his laws, decrees, and promises, and the way he worked with and delivered his people, all of this was a type of wine that he gave them to drink. And it was a very amazing and tasty wine.

And then the Romans came.

Like the Babylonians, the Romans completely conquered Israel. But they didn't drag them off or destroy them (at first). They let them live in their cities, put rulership and law over them, taxed them, etc. But make no mistake, they were completely conquered. The timeline ends with the Slaughter of the Innocents, where King Herod had all males 2 years and under killed in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Herod could do this, and Israel couldn't do anything about it, because they were conquered. 

I think I can safely say that, if they had refrigerators back in this time, that there would be a post-it note on every fridge that said "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." This scripture, and others like it, would have been posted repeatedly on Facebook (if they had Facebook). People would have been begging God for a revival of the Jewish nation, of what they considered to be God's Kingdom. And yet in all of this the entire nation had no idea what God was about to do. He was going to keep all of his promises, but with a very different wine. One that has a terrible taste.

Let me give an example.

Deuteronomy 28:12-13
12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

This is a tasty promise, a tasty wine if you will. Being the head is a good thing. And later in the same passage of scripture, God tells them that if they disobey his commands then they will fall under a curse and be the tail. Being the tail is a bad thing. 

But the new wine speaks this way; I know I'm the head but I choose to be the tail. Or to put it in a scriptural reference:

Philippians 2 5-8
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

This is a new wine. It's a very different way of thinking. I'll explore it more in the next post on this topic.

 


Role of Women in the Church

My daughter's church was going through Timothy and they asked her to teach 1 Timothy 2 since it speaks to the role of women in the church. This is her teaching. It is about 30 minutes long.

 

We talked a bit about parts of this concerning childbirth in some emails. Below are some excerpts from my thoughts on that topic.

Having a child can be a hard thing. Let's suppose, for a moment, that verses 13-14 were not new, they people had heard this before. Timothy had probably heard all of this before. If this was something that people in Ephesus had heard as teachers were dealing with some of the heresy there then one result could be that some of the women feared childbirth and saw it as a punishment for Eve's sin. But Malachi 2:15 says that God is looking for godly offspring. So having children is actually a blessed experience and not a punishment.

Maybe Paul is simply telling them that there is safety in living a christian life, that God will stand by them and have his hand on them during childbirth, that all his thoughts toward them are good and full of hope, not punishment. Maybe it was just important to let them know that they were not being punished. Genesis 3:16 is a consequence but looks like punishment. But because of Jesus the Holy Spirit not only hovers over but lives within every daughter of God as she is giving birth to the godly offspring that God desires. That's not punishment. That's awesome.

I like this version. It reminds us that a woman and her husband are one flesh.

Weymouth New Testament
Yet a woman will be brought safely through childbirth if she and her husband continue to live in faith and love and growing holiness, with habitual self-restraint.


God's Kingdom is Not of this World

In John Chapter 18 Jesus said to Pilate, "36 . . . My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

What does it mean when he says "my kingdom is not of this world?" There is a lot going on in this verse. For me, one of the things it means is that the kingdom of God is beyond the laws and politics of this world. That doesn't mean that we are unaffected by the laws and politics around us, we are definitely affected by laws and politics. But God's kingdom is beyond laws and politics and that is the focus of this post. Sometimes we lose spiritually when we try to "protect" God's kingdom through laws and politics.

The Pharisees wanted Jesus dead. They were jealous of him, angry at him, and wanted to get rid of him. Plus, they feared that the Romans would destroy Israel if the people followed Jesus.

John 11:48-50
48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

Caiaphas did not realize that he was prophesying Jesus' death. In his mind he was making a political decision necessary to save Israel, to keep Jews free to worship and follow God's laws, and to remain in power. But the result was to turn away from Jesus, their Messiah, and have him crucified.

The same thing can happen in us when we try to use politics to "protect" God's church. We can become so concerned about maintaining the freedom to worship in a way we are used to, and staying in power, that we forget much of what Jesus taught. 

We often pray "your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." When Jesus was crucified and his blood was shed God's will was being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 5:10-12
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Hebrews 13:11-14
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

If the laws and politics are such that Christians can worship and serve God freely then we are blessed. If the laws and politics are such that we are persecuted and fellowship with Jesus in his sufferings then we are blessed. In either case God's will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. In either case the Kingdom of God is being expressed in power. 

Revelation 12:11
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Do not think that if the laws or politics of a country turn against Christianity that the enemy is winning. If the kingdom was of this world then the servants of Jesus would fight to protect him and his kingdom. But we don't have to fight to protect him or his kingdom because in all things we are already triumphant. 

1 Corinthians 3:21-23
All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Do not fear. There is no law that can stop a word of healing or a word of deliverance. God's kingdom is everlasting and we can pray with confidence and full assurance that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


Being Highly Favored

What would it be like to be highly favored by God? Imagine God thinking to himself, "I really like those people. I'm going to pour out my favor on them." What would life be like for those people?

Mary was highly favored, so I'm going to use her life to draw some examples of what we can expect in our own lives when God favors us. Really favors us.

Luke 1:26-33
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

The number one thing that will happen in the life of someone who God highly favors is this; Jesus will be birthed in them. The Lord who sits on the throne of David, who reigns over Jacob's descendants forever, whose kingdom will never end, will live in the person God favors. This is the heritage of the saints of God, the Church; those who have this incredible life in them to share with the world.

Ephesians 4:11-13
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

This is God's desire for all of us. This is our path through life. That we reach the fullness of Christ.

Luke 4:16-21
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
    to set the oppressed free,
19  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

This scripture is also fulfilled today (everyday) in the lives of those God favors. Jesus of Nazareth, with his anointing, his message, his ministry, and his proclamation of the Lord's favor, will live in you if God favors you. And the amazing and glorious thing is that God has made this incredible favor available to all the world; to every sinner, to every "saint", to all of us. Jesus can live in us.


Thoughts on Voting

This is a big political year with what seems to be an amazing amount of chaos going on. The range of emotions, feelings, and actions being expressed is incredibly diverse and often passionate. So I thought I would add my two cents to the mix.

This is what I have been hearing in my spirit.

The love of money is the root of all evil
Let the dead vote for the dead
You come and follow me

This isn't to say that we shouldn't vote. What it points out is that the act of voting is not an expression of the Kingdom of God. The kingdom is peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit. If we recognize our brothers and sisters and honor what God is doing in them regardless of how they vote then that is an expression of the Kingdom. If we recognize great faith in God even through it is in someone who is obedient to a group or government that is persecuting and killing God's people (e.g. Jesus and the Roman Centurion) then that is an expression of God's Kingdom. If we can't show our love for one another because of political passions then, maybe, that is an expression of spiritual death. 

If you are wondering what love looks like, read 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.

It is important to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. Sometimes the passions of our flesh rise up even when we have seen God do amazing things in our lives. Luke Chapter 9 talks about Jesus sending out the disciples to minister, to drive out demons and cure diseases. God worked mightily through them. Then they saw Jesus feed 5,000 or more people. Peter, John, and James saw Jesus glorified and heard the voice of the Father. Then Jesus set himself to go to Jerusalem and sent messengers to a Samaritan village to prepare for him and the Samaritans rejected Jesus because he was headed to Jerusalem. So James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans. And Jesus had to rebuke them. They were with Jesus, but they still didn't understand Jesus.

Matthew 23:12-13
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

In the last days, because iniquity will abound the love of many will grow cold. We really don't want that to be said about us; that our love has grown cold because of the iniquity in others or ourselves. One of my favorite songs by the band PFR has this chorus:

Oh, where does that kind of love come from
They say that it runs in His blood
Oh, where can I find that kind of love
They say it runs in His blood
That Kind of Love by PFR

However you vote, if you vote or don't vote, whatever you do, let the blood and love of Jesus run through your life each day. God is calling people to follow him from every walk of life, every political persuasion, every nation. We will have to take up our cross each day and surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit in order to recognize all who have been baptized into the body of Christ, and in order to express the love of Jesus to each other and the world.

On a side note, my daughter says that the phrase "Let the dead vote for the dead" would make a great bumper sticker for christian anarchists, if they had money to pay for bumper stickers. Just a shout out to the brothers and sisters in the christian anarchism movement. 


Why the Gifts of the Spirit are Important

1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Matthew 1:23
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

John 14:9
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

I’ve heard different teachings over the years about what it means to be made in God’s likeness. One old world view is a physical likeness. Another view is the body, soul, spirit teaching. I do know that one reason for the likeness is so “they may rule.” But what does it mean to be made in God’s likeness or image?

For me, at this point in time, I take it to mean something very simple. That is, when you looked at Adam and Eve you saw the Father. Not physically, but wherever they were the presence of God was there, the image of God was there. The authority of God was there, the love of God was there, the heart of God was there.

That sort of got lost during the fall. God’s Spirit often rested on men and worked through men, but something changed when Jesus came. He walked on the earth as Immanuel, God with us. When you saw Jesus you saw the Father; the authority, the love, the heart, the Father. After the resurrection Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to live in us. This is very different than how God’s Spirit rested on men before Jesus came. When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit the image of God that was lost at the fall was restored to humanity.

Matthew 11:11
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

There were some amazingly great people in Old Testament times and we have much to learn from them and from how God worked with them. But the least in the kingdom is greater. We are the body of Christ, we are Immanuel now. We are the image; the authority, the love, and the heart of God on the earth today. Not because we are great people, but because God chose to place his image and glory in humanity.

Luke 14 15-24 tells the story of a man that prepared a great banquet and when it was ready the guests who had been invited didn’t come. They had other things to do. So the man had his servants go and bring the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. And then they continued to look for people to come to the banquet, wherever they could find people who would come, people who did not have other or “better” things to do.

God is not expressing his image through the great people of the nations, through people who are consumed with the things of this world. Instead he is expressing his image through the least of the nations. People who seem to be nobody. People others often ignore. Yet in the midst of these people you will find the image of God.

John 4 tells the story of Jesus meeting a woman from Samaria. He started to talk with her (something Jews didn’t do), offered her living water, and at one point told her something that he could only know supernaturally; that she had five previous husbands and the man she was with now was not her husband. She saw God’s mercy and love in Jesus, but it was that supernatural word of knowledge that caused her to see him as a prophet and maybe even the Messiah. And all of it together caused her to bring the rest of the town to meet Jesus.

We need the fruit and the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit working in us so people will see God’s image. God wants to love on the people around us. He may want to show an act of kindness or an act of forgiveness. He may want to give them something to eat or some clothing. He may want to heal them or say something supernatural to them so they will realize that he is there. And he wants to do that through us; in our homes, at the grocery store, in a bar, wherever there are people who don’t have other things to do. Let God’s Spirit work this amazing work in your life. Let’s be “God with us.”

 


Your Word is a Light

Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible, God’s written word, is able to; transform our way of thinking, show us how to live, fill us with faith, and reveal Jesus to us. Not the letter of the scripture but the spirit of the scripture, that God breathed intent that the Holy Spirit can bring to life in us.

Life is dynamic. We grow and mature. Second Corinthians 3:18 says “we are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.” This describes an ongoing work. But sometimes things in us can become stuck. We sort of become frozen at a point of growth and just stop. And sometimes it is our beliefs and doctrines that can be the hindrance.

Candles320

Consider this picture of candles as representing scripture. There are lots of things in the scripture that can change us, that are “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” And when we have faith in these scriptures and let them, they will work God’s purpose in our lives. But we can keep them from being effective, from achieving their purpose.

Here’s an example of what I mean. For many people, if you quote John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” they will say “I believe that.” If you quote 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” they will say “I believe that.” But if you quote Philippians 2:12-13 “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” they will start explaining why that doesn’t really mean fear but instead means something like awe. Often a belief created around one scripture (in this case 1 John 4:18) will be used to nullify another scripture (e.g. Philippians 2:12). And without realizing it some of the candles have been blown out. We still have light, but we don’t have all of the light working in us.

Candles 2 320

I want all of God’s written word to transform me. I don’t want to transform some scriptures to make them fit my beliefs. That means I have to let God’s word work in me even if I don’t understand it. So when I hear John 3:16 I want to believe it and let that scripture change me. When I hear 1 John 4:18 I want to believe it and let it change me. And when I hear Philippians 2:12-13 I want to believe it and let it change me. I want every candle to be lit, lighting my path and showing me the way.

Candles320


Tower of Babel

Genesis 11 tells the story of when the whole world had one language. The people, wanting to make a name for themselves, decided to build a city with a tower that would reach to the heavens. This would help them stand as one and not be scattered on the earth. The Lord decided to stop this by confusing their language so they couldn't work together. And he scattered them over the face of the earth.

What strikes me is that this "fix" seems to be designed to be temporary. The desire or drive to make a name for themselves didn't stop. There was just a language barrier. One that, over time, has become weaker and weaker. At this point in time it is extremely weak. We can translate web pages on the fly. We have mobile devices that translate language. And we still want to make a name for ourselves.

God's answer for his people is completely different than what he did with the world. We are to have the same language as everyone around us, but with a different heart and spirit. In the world, but not of the world. Instead of being scattered, we are integrated into everything around us, but not in unity with everything around us. And this often causes conflict. Our unity is with our Father in Heaven.

Matthew 10:34-39
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."

Hebrews 13:11-14
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

The scriptures above address our heart, our motives, our affections. The way we think. When God's people are full of power and walking in authority we will take up our cross and follow him. The mark of a Church walking in power and authority is that they have left the camp and are bearing the disgrace Jesus bore. And they are helping others to leave the camp and bear the disgrace of Jesus. That is the great commission, that in all nations you can find people who have been called out, who are outside the camp of that nation, who fellowship in Christ's sufferings. Still integrated in their nations, still participating in life, still speaking the same language, but with a different spirit. With a different unity.

Unfortunately, we like the camp. And we don't like disgrace. We like being with others, making a name for ourselves. So we try to make the camp a "Christian" camp; give the camp a Christian culture. That way we can speak the same language and have the same spirit. We can talk about taking up our cross without having to actually do it. Once that happens, however, it becomes a flip of a coin as to whether we touch people with God's love or smear them with dog shit. For example, there are people in different countries who think Americans are evil and should be destroyed. There are Christians who, at times, feel the same way about the President of those Americans. And as we think in our heart, so are we. When we make the camp our home, our heart becomes compromised. We move from being sensitive to God's Spirit to being sensitive to anything we feel threatens the camp. We become entangled in the things and affairs of this world.

If I am an ambassador of Christ, then my body; this earthen vessel I live in is not American soil. It's not Canadian soil, or French soil, or Russian soil, or Chinese soil, or any other country in this world. I am an ambassador of Christ to whatever community, city, state, and country I live in. And what I bring is the kingdom of God; peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit. Speaking the same language as those around me, but having a different spirit.

If you wonder what is going on in the world, well the answer is very simple. God is keeping his promises. He is faithful. He is keeping his promises. Every time we talk about God being faithful, every time we sing about God being faithful, we are confirming that he is actively keeping his promises every single day. That his mercies are new every morning.

I invite you to have faith in God. Come outside of the camp. Take on the reproach of Christ. Lose your life so you can find it. Touch people with God's love. In all you are, represent a kingdom that is not of this world.


Emergence, Part 2

In Matthew 5 we have Jesus calling his disciples to himself and teaching them. Chapters 5-7 are often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is teaching his disciples some fundamental truths they need to hear and receive.

He starts by describing what will happen to them if they receive and walk in what he is about to teach them, or what will emerge in their lives. The problem is that these things that will emerge are things we typically don't want. So he starts by telling them that they should consider themselves blessed when these things happen. In this present world these are not blessings, but in God's kingdom they are.

These are the Beatitudes. The blessings are not consolation prizes. This is a list of the results of paying attention to Jesus and serving him. Let's start by reading through them.

Matthew 5:3-12
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Now let's look at each of them. I've included some scriptures to think about and meditate on.

1. You will become a spiritual beggar.And you will be blessed with the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Greek word for poor in this verse is "Ptochos," which means:

  1. reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms
  2. destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour
    1. lowly, afflicted, destitute of the Christian virtues and eternal riches
    2. helpless, powerless to accomplish an end
    3. poor, needy
  3. lacking in anything
    1. as respects their spirit
      1. destitute of wealth of learning and intellectual culture which the schools afford (men of this class most readily give themselves up to Christ's teaching and proved them selves fitted to lay hold of the heavenly treasure)

This doesn't mean we don't have spiritual authority or power. It is more a picture of our realization that we cannot do any of this in our own strength, so we always seek God's mercy and power with reverent submission. Consider these scriptures.

Hebrews 5:7
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2. There will be times of sadness and sorrow, and God will pull you to his side and comfort you. There is reason for great joy in serving God, but there is also cause for great sadness; sorrow over the lost, over those struggling in the faith, sorrow because of persecution. There is also sorrow in life itself. This is a promise of our Father in Heaven seeing us and comforting us.

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Luke 19:41-42
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.

Hebrews 1:9
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Isaiah 63:9
In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

3. You will become humble, mild, and gentle with people, and you will inherit everything.

Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

2 Timothy 2:25-26
25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Titus 3:1-2
1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

1 Corinthians 3:18-23
18 
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

4. You will start to desire and crave the things of God, and God will make sure you receive them.

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 7:7-11
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Acts 4:29-31
29 
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Ephesians 3:14-19
14 
For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

5. You will start to overlook the faults in others, and God will overlook your faults.

Matthew 5:7
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

 Matthew 7:1-12
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

James 2:12-13
12 
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 4:6
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

6. Your heart will become sincere, and God will reveal himself to you.

Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Matthew 11:25
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

Matthew 18:2-4
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Psalm 24:3-4
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.

Proverbs 22:11
11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.

7. You will help people overcome discord and strife, and those who know God will see him in you.

Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

James 3:17-18
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Luke 6:35
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Philippians 2:14-16
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.

8. There will be strong opposition against you whenever there is spiritual opposition towards God. The more you live a life that God approves of the more you may be attacked by others. But your reward will be great. You will receive God's kingdom and be in fellowship with all who were persecuted because they were faithful.

Matthew 5:10-12
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

2 Timothy 3:10-13
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Matthew 13:20-21
20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Mark 10:29-31
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

2 Thessalonians 1:4
Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

If we let God's Word work in us these things will emerge in our lives. Being poor in spirit, being meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being peacemakers, and being persecuted will emerge as a result of yielding to God's Spirit. And the rest; the kingdom of God, being comforted, seeing God, being shown mercy, will also emerge in our lives. We don't have to create anything. We simply yield. We worship. We let him work in us.