Category: The Study

The Obsession

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He walks down my street every day.  He carries a white shoulder bag as he carefully takes his Seven – Five – Seven – Two – Nine – Seven steps.  Between each series he pauses and it is obvious he is counting seconds as he waits to begin his march again.  Sometimes he pretends to be busy with something other than the routine.  He will check his watch, look at flowers or adjust something in his bag.  He proffers the appearance of a leisurely stroll, but the overmastering purpose is clear.  He is a captive to the ritual.

The third time I saw him do this I realized his saunter was more than a constitution.  I saw it was constitutional; a deep-seated or inherent process that possessed him.  And since chaos scares me, I saw him as a threat.  But months have gone by and summer is over and today he is walking in a cold autumn rain.  Water is pouring into his shoes from his pant legs, his hat and coat are soaked, and I wondered, “What will he do when it snows?”  But I know the answer.  He will worship with zeal.  He will parade down my street in the midst of lake effect snow and count out his Seven – Five – Seven – Two – Nine – Seven steps.  I feel so sorry for him.  I wish I could free him from slavery.  But I realize he finds a kind of freedom in the daily drill.  It keeps his demons at bay.  So even though he is a slave, he is free.  The ritual affords him the ability to cope.  Within its borders he is protected from anxieties that incapacitate him.  Without it, darkness would possess his soul and he could not survive.  So in a sense his faithfulness to the obsession keeps him alive.

I am sorry to say I am not as steadfast as that man, but I want to be.  I want to be obsessed with Him that keeps me free through storms.  I want to study and pray and worship Christ; for He is my freedom.  And like this serial walker, I want to be a slave.  I want to be captive to God.  For He destroys all my demons.  He calms my soul.  I know there is a heaven to hope for, but today there is a liberty to live out.   For I was born to be free (Galatians 5:13).

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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 

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Avinu Malkenu

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This Jewish prayer is sung on the Day of Atonement, which is celebrated from October 29 through the thirtieth this year.  This festival falls on the first month of the Jewish civil calendar.  Because ancient Jews had both civil and religious calendars the month of September – October is sometimes considered the Jewish New Year, even though the religious new year occurs in the spring.

This Biblical holiday is the most important feast for Christianity.  Although we usually focus on Passover, which is Easter, the Day of Atonement is actually our great expectation.  Like all Biblical feasts this one is a story that describes Jesus and His ministry. During Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, the high priest, who represented Jesus, removed the record of all sin from the camp.  This feast tells us what Christ is doing for us today.  And so with that in mind I share this prayer with you.  May you be blessed with its fulfillment.

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Hear our prayer.


guy-2617866_1920 We have sinned before Thee.


family-2517894_1920 Have compassion upon us and upon our children.


dove-2680487_1920 Help us bring an end to pestilence, war, and famine.


no-hate-2019922_1920 Cause all hate and oppression to vanish from the earth.


love-2647700_1920 Inscribe us for blessing in the Book of Life.


calendar-2626675_1920 Let the (civil) New Year be a good year for us.

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The Wedding Dress

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about God’s romance with us and how we need to get dressed so we can go to the wedding supper with Him. This week I want to discuss the wedding garment. The bible says, God expects us to wear specific wedding attire. “She was given clothing of fine linen, linen bright and pure. For the fine linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:8.

The clothing is symbolic.  It represents the righteous acts of the saints. The phrase, righteous acts, actually comes from a Greek word which is defined “an ordinance, a sentence of acquittal or condemnation, a righteous deed” (Citation).  This word has a legal component.  It is a judgment given either for or against a person.  It echoes the work done in the Biblical feast of the Day of Atonement.

Like all Bible feasts, the Day of Atonement, is a story that describes some of the work Jesus does in our behalf. During Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, judgment was made acquitting or condemning ancient Israel. Each person was supposed to confess his sins, believing that God would blot out the ones they had repented of. These sins had to be blotted out because a catalogue of forgiven sins was archived in the blood that had been sprinkled in the sanctuary. Every day the blood was put on various parts of the temple and the stains kept a historical record of sin. The rituals on the Day of Atonement erased them.  By the end of the day any person who had not confessed all their sins was exiled.

How does that translate to us? Well, we are God’s people just like ancient Israel was.  And we are to believe Christ blots out our sins from the heavenly archives.  Actually, the story of the judgment in the Day of Atonement is mentioned in the New Testament.   Revelation 14: 7 says, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come…”  Daniel 7: 9, 10, 22  expounds on it. “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat… and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him… the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened… and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High…”

This special day is a wonderful time in Bible liturgy because in it we are acquitted and no record of our wretchedness remains because “as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.”  Psalm 103: 12

This year the Day of Atonement is celebrated October 29 – 30th.  Let us enter this heavenly holiday with our sins confessed, and confident that Christ removes all our failures so far away from us that they can never be found.


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It Is Time To Dress

statue-adam-eve-garden-eden-581805-printWe often look at biblical love stories to find out how we should behave in relationships and this is right. We should dwell on Adam and Eve.  Their Edenic love story teaches the ideal. We should study Abraham and Sarah. They exemplify a love that overcomes obstacles. Reading about Isaac and Rebekah inspires us in believing God’s providence can bring romance out of nowhere and at any age. And we could mention Jacob and Rachel, David and Bathsheba and others. But we seldom look at the entire bible as a love story. Still, that is what it is. Humanity is Christ’s bride. (Isaiah 54:5). And the whole bible from beginning to end is the world’s greatest love story. It is the tragic, yet beautiful saga of God wooing His bride.

Adam-and-EveAt the fall, mankind severed his relationship with God. And from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 we see God trying to restore it. At first the Lord focused on a single family.  Abram’s family was chosen as the one through whom He would bless humanity. The plan was for Him to marry Abram’s descendants and through them bring salvation in the birth of His Son.  In Exodus the Lord courted his future bride.  In it we see the suitor find the girl and rescue her from a bad situation.  He provided for and protected her. He did great feats in her behalf and finally swept her off her feet, taking her away from a toxic abuser. In chapter 20, the Ten Commandments were promises they made to each other.  From this beginning one would hope they lived happily ever after.

The relationship had problems right from the start. But none of that failure was God’s. He was the great romancer. He was the perfect suitor, husband and the best of friends. He loved His bride flawlessly, yet she broke His heart every chance she got. He declared, “What could have been done more to my vineyard (bride) that I have not done in it?” Isaiah 5:4.  But despite His perfect love, the relationship was a total bust.

children-652270_1920Like the fractured personality of a person with dissociative identity disorder, Christ’s fiancee became two women.  The Lord Himself  divided her, not because she was mentally ill, but because she was rebellious.  Judah and Israel became twin sisters in a relationship with the same Man. After a while, Israel refused Him completely and He divorced her. He embassy-2052553_1920continued trying to make things work with Judah, but she followed in the example of her sister. “Have you seen what faithless Israel did?  She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. I thought, ‘After she has done all these things she will return to Me’; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.”  Jeremiah 3: 6 – 8.  With anguish these verses recount the abuse He took from His beloved brides. But the story did not end there.

copper-1649649_1920Judah did not only follow in her sisters footsteps, she went further. “Men give gifts to all harlots, but you give your gifts to all your lovers to bribe them to come to you from every direction for your harlotries. Thus you are different from those women in your harlotries, in that no one plays the harlot as you do, because you give money and no money is given you; thus you are different.” Ezekiel 16: 33, 34. In an effort to save His fianceé from self-destruction, God took a break from the relationship and sent her to Babylon.  There she had the opportunity to remember where she came from. She was supposed to recall her original captivity in Egypt and appreciate how God had rescued her. And for a time she did. She straightened up her act and after 70 years of being separated, she was brought home.

If this was a hollywood movie, the story would end here and the couple would live in peace. But reality is never like the movies. Judah had not really changed. She actually just went undercover. Instead of flagrantly abusing her boyfriend, she complied with the expectations of the relationship, but underneath she still hated everything He stood for. bride groomCenturies went by and finally, Jesus came to give her His blood as the engagement gift. And instead of treasuring Him, she killed Him. There was nothing left for Him to do. He divorced her and chose her cousin, the New Testament church, to be His future wife.

This new relationship is fraught with difficulties too, but this time Jesus will get to take His bride home to His father and consummate the relationship. He longingly waits for the wedding feast. It is a wonder to me that He has chosen us.  It is a greater miracle still that He allows us to have power over His heart.  I hope to hasten the ending to this epic story by being faithful to our excellent Lover and getting ready to go home with Him. It is time to dress, so He can have His dream come true.

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“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19: 7

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Blow Wind

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There’s a wind blowing on the horizon,

And it’s churning the waters of strife.

I can see them they’re quickly approaching;

They will prove who’s in charge of my life.

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Blow wind, blow wind;

Raise the waves and stir up the foam.

Blow wind, blow wind;

Fill my sails and carry me home.

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There’s a gale and it’s coming much closer,

Evil men perch their boats on it’s waves.

Merchandise and the gold that they carry;

Will be cast to the dust and the caves.

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Blow wind, blow wind,

Raise the waves and stir up the foam.

Blow wind, blow wind,

Fill my sails and carry me home.

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There’s a cyclone and it is upon me,

I am pressed by the weight of the wave.

Still I sleep in sure safety and comfort,

For I’m tied to the Mast that can save.

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Blow wind, blow wind,

Raise the waves and stir up the foam.

Blow wind, blow wind,

Fill my sails and carry me home.

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Adam Lived Alone

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And God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them… but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:19, 20

 

It did not take long, for that perfect mind to grasp the fundamental concept that a he needs a she.  Every mammal, reptile, bird, fish and bug was an anthropological study that said, “Society is based on him and her”.

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So though Adam worked, he knew he was alone. And after naming each pair he thought, “The next creature He brings me must be my mate.”

But it did not happen.

And what Adam did and did not do is monumental.

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Adam kept looking to God.


wood-working-2385634_1920 Adam continued in his task.


man-1838601_1920Adam waited.


magnifying-glass-479742_1920 Adam kept looking for his mate.


celibate for what Adam remained celibate.


404_love_tip-1002509-TwoByOne Adam did not defile himself.


black-swan-341583_1920 Adam did not resent that others were in pairs.


52442db27a243 Adam did not settle for a monkey as a partner.


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 Adam did not give up hope.


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Adam did not doubt God…


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And lived fully, though alone.

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Second Skin

Second Skin

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It is something covering the original, but with a perfect fit.

If a garment fits like second skin, it does not pull or chafe.

 

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You move with ease when wearing it.

And it empowers you to do certain things, you could not do without it.

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Racers wear second skin to become aerodynamic.

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Divers wear second skin as protection from the cold.

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Surfers wear second skin to avoid board rash.

Ultimately, second skin is liberating.


 

God has promised us second skin.

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“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me…” Job 29:14

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Christ’s character is that second skin.

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It covers the original and reshapes the imperfections.

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It does not chafe to do right when wearing this skin.

We can easily move forward in love because of it.

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And through it we have power to do all things.

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With it our hearts can fly into God’s presence.

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In it we are protected from this cold dark world.

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And in our second skin the bitter burn of life’s cruelty loses it’s sting.

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Ultimately, this second skin is liberating.


“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness…” Isaiah 61: 10

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Life Among the Wolves, part 3

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As I have discussed in the last two posts, there are times Jesus asks us to go minister to His church, which is full of wolves. (Luke 10: 1-16). But He does not send us on such a treacherous errand without teaching us how to survive the ordeal.  Our first defense is loving the brethren unconditionally.  The second tactic is remembering that the very blessings they reject, come back to us.  The third great lesson in this passage is shaking the dust off our feet.

In verses ten and eleven, Jesus says, “But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you…”  This symbolic action instructs us how to remove ourselves from the abuse heaped on us by our wolfy brethren.  Firstly, we recognize the blessings we intended for them are not accepted. Then we need to stop helping them, because continuing to help a person who does not want to be helped is unreasonable.

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Finally,  we are to wipe their dust off our shoes.

But what does that mean?


The Biblical Meaning of Wiping Off the Dust

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Dust is a form of punishment.  God promised to send Israel dust as a curse if they were disobedient. (Deuteronomy 28:24).

Lesson: The curses the wolves pummel at us need to be removed.

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Dust thrown at someone expresses hatred. (2 Samuel 16:13).

Lesson: The hatred communicated cannot be absorbed.

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Dust is a component of deep mourning and affliction.  (Joshua 7:6).

Lesson: The sorrow the experience causes can be forgotten.

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Dust licked from someone’s feet is a sign of complete submission. (Psalms 72:9).

Lesson: The humility with which we have born the trial needs to give birth to the courage to remove ourselves from it.


 

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As christian sheep we try to imitate the meek and lowly characteristics of Christ, but have a hard time donning His stronger attributes.  And although we are to love unconditionally, we are not to accept abuse without question; Jesus never did.


 

“And all they… were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of a hill… that they might cast him down headlong.

But

He passing through the midst of them went His way…”  Luke 4: 28 – 30.


“Then took they up stones to cast at Him:

but

Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”  John 8: 59


“Therefore they sought again to take Him:

but

He escaped out of their hand.”  John 10: 39


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We are called to follow our Master.

A self-sacrificing lifestyle is our mandate.  But self denial is not staying where we are unwanted. It is not being accessory to our own victimization.  The law of liberty demands that we allow the wolves to howl.  We are to love them, bless them and sorrow over their ultimate destruction.  But when they choose to remain in the pack, we are to walk away in conscious innocence.  And as the unrequited blessing returns to us, it heals our wounds.


 

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So next time the howling wolves refuse to be tamed,

Start bleating like a lamb…


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Defend the feeble…


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Champion the faint hearted…


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Forget their evil surmising…


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Dismiss their accusations…


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Ignore their rebellion…


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Concentrate on the desire you had to bless them…


 

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Focus on the commission you have been given…


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Pray “Lord, help me bless the wolves.”


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And like Jesus, when necessary, escape out of their hand.

 

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Life Among the Wolves, part 2

download 2Jesus sent 70 people out to do missionary work among the Jews.  When giving their charge, He told them, “I am sending you out as sheep among the wolves”.  It was an amazing statement, which He repeats to us today.  We are sent to minister to our own brethren, and sometimes, unbeknownst to us, they are wolves.

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Couched in this passage Jesus teaches us how to survive when ministering to His very foible children.  He said, “And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say Peace be to this house.  And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.”  Luke 10: 5, 6.

This is critical advise for those called to work in any ministry.   The primary relational purpose is to bring God’s peace, thereby blessing His people.

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But sometimes we try to help and are rejected.

When you try to facilitate changes that will better the school and the teachers balk; when you work at training in discipleship and the parishioners prefer to be pew warmers; when you have perfectly plumbed the house and the christian homeowner accuses you of gouging him, that is when it is time to remember the bible says that the blessings you offered will come back to you.

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Do not even think about the wolves.

Forget their evil surmising. Dismiss their accusations.  And ignore their rebellion.   Concentrate on the desire you had to bless them.  Focus on the commission you have been given.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and “be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6, 7.

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If you keep your mind on Jesus, the very peace which you wanted to minister to the wolves returns to you. (Luke 10:6).  God takes notice of your unrequited blessing and He balances the scales.

Then being full of peace you can go and pray…

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“Lord, help me bless the wolves.” (Luke 6: 28)

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Life Among the Wolves

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In Luke, chapter 10, Jesus sends out seventy of His disciples “into every city and place, wither He Himself would come.”  This is His final missionary journey.  It is part of His trip back to Jerusalem and ultimate death.  Knowing where His ministry is tending, He dispatches these missionaries to warn the multitudes that the “kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”  (Verse 9).  He wants them to be prepared for His arrival in the towns, that they might recognize Him as their Messiah.  These seventy are called to a great, but treacherous work.

Jesus says they are sent “forth as lambs among wolves.”  (Verse 3).


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WHAT?

He is sending them to their religious brothers, the Jews, and to their spiritual cousins, the Samaritans…

Yet He calls them wolves?

Wolves are the enemy!


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Now you may say, “Well, the Jewish church was not His church.  He founded a new church, the Christian church.”  This is true, but not at the time in which the statement was made.  When Jesus sent out the 70, He was sending them to God’s church on earth.

A church full of wolves.


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Biblically, wolves have a bad reputation.

The first time they are mentioned, they are described as ravenous and devouring.  (Genesis 49:27).

In Zephaniah 3:3 they kill and eat at night, leaving nothing till morning.

Paul says that after he is gone “savage wolves will come not sparing the flock.”

So is Christ is calling His church a pack of ravenous, devouring, gluttonous, and indiscriminate wolves?  That is odd because these are the same people who are the apple of His eye. (Zechariah 2:8).


How do we reconcile this?

It seems to me there is only one way to do it.

  1. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”  (Jeremiah 17:9, 10).  Jesus knows the church’s true character, He is the only one who does and He calls them/us wolves.
  2. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8).

So regardless of our wolf-y nature,

GOD LOVES US.


scales-1333455_1920It is a balanced equation of unconditional love.

        We are wolves …yet… He sends us missionary help.

                                               We are wolves …but… He comes to us.

                                               We are wolves …still… He died for us.


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Now, I know, we read these verses and assume that we are the lambs.  But we must admit that as God’s chosen people we often have wolf-y characters.  Recognizing the truth about ourselves will allow us to reject our lamb-like delusion and accept…

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His help,

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His presence and

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His sacrifice.


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So next time you hear the wolves criticizing someone, or finding fault in the morally weak

start bleating like a lamb…

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Defend the feeble…

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Champion the faint hearted…

for the “kingdom of God is come nigh unto you…”

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So Loved…

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son… 

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To dwell among us… John 1:14


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To carry the weight of our sin from eternity… Revelation 13:8


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To be made in the image of man… Philippians 2:7


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To be a servant… Philippians 2:7


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To understand our weaknesses… Hebrews 4:15


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To be weary with His journey… John 4:6


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To be hungry… Matthew 4:2


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To be thirsty… John 19:28


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To be overwhelmed with sorrow… Matthew 26:38


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To weep… John 12:27


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To be amazed by wonderful faith… Matthew 8:10


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To end condemnation… Romans 8:1


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To be obedient unto death… Philippians 2:8


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To die for us though we hated Him… Romans 5:8


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To raise Him from the dead for our sakes… Acts 2:24


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To rejoice in our salvation.  Luke 15:6


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To reconcile us to Him…  2 Corinthians 5:18


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To be a man forever… Romans 8:29


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..that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

 

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Not If, But Though

Jesus’ actions toward us have been and always will be motivated by the “Though” kind of faith.


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Though He reproves our unbelief and self-confidence, He never fails to give us the help we need.”  The Desire of Ages, by E. G. White


 

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Though He is the Son of God, He strengthen(ed) His faith by prayer, and by communion with heaven gathers to Himself power to resist evil and to minister to the needs of men.”  Acts of the Apostles, by E. G. White


 

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Though Christ had just been repulsed by the Samaritans, His love toward them was unchanged.”  The Desire of Ages, by E. G. White


 

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Though He was the son of God, yet He had taken human nature upon Him, and He was moved by human sorrow.  His tender, pitying heart is ever awakened to sympathy by suffering.  He weeps with those that weep, and rejoices with those that rejoice.”The Desire of Ages, by E. G. White


 

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Though now He has ascended to the presence of God, and shares the throne of the universe, Jesus has lost none of His compassionate nature.  Today the same tender, sympathizing heart is open to all the woes of humanity.  Today the hand that was pierced is reached forth to bless more abundantly His people that are in the world.”The Desire of Ages, by E. G. White

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Made Sin for Us

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I often think of sin as an objective thing.


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It is a lie told, or an angry statement uttered. 


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But the truth is that sin is intimate.

It is what I am.


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Romans 8:7 says, my default is the denial of God’s sovereignty.

“…the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”


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And because of this I look at everything in life in a horizontal plane.


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It rains on the picnic and my day is spoiled.


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The ex-husband committed adultery and it broke my heart.


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Whether the circumstance is big or small, I interpret everything as to how it affects me. 

That means that at my very core I am self-centered, which is sin. 

Therefore transgression is not only an act, it is who I am.


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But…

“… He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”.

2Corinthians  5:21 


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That means that every objectionable thing was in Him too.


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He was intimate with sin.  Yet never actually sinned.


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He became like me.  But without a fault.


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 “He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors”

Isaiah 53:12


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He took my sin and transgression, making it His own.


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The core of who I am was planted in His soul and died…


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that the sum of who He is could be planted in me.


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Therefore sin is very personal.

It is what Christ became for my sake.


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It is the pain He suffered for my freedom.


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It cost Him more than it costs me.


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And because of this I need to begin looking at life on the vertical plane.


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When it rains on the picnic, my parched soul should be watered.


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When I remember the ex-husband committed adultery, I can sympathize with how very broken he was.


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Whether the circumstance is big or small, I want to interpret everything based on how it affects Jesus.


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Then I will be God-centered.


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And I will be like Jesus.

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The Twins

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Faith and repentance must always be linked; when divorced neither remains.

twins-1628843-1Faith cannot be realized unless it’s recipient is worthy of the trust.
We trust God because he is perfect.
Being in His presence highlights our sinfulness, which yields repentance.

baby-772439Repentance without faith is only shame.

Unless there is hope of healing, the sting of guilt and the sorrow for sin remains a galling weight.

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True repentance highlights the forgiving character of the injured and yields faith.

cross-1448946“Whoever under the reproof of God will humble the soul with confession and repentance, as did David, may be sure that there is hope for him.  Whoever will in faith accept God’s promises, will find pardon.” Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 9726.5)

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No Tears, No Sorrow, No Comfort

The Father suffers in silence.  

The mourning shawl hangs in its place. 

No tears, no sorrow, no comfort… 

Rebellion robbed Him of His sons. 

In justice they were smitten, with 

No tears, no sorrow, no comfort…


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Aaron is a type. 

His wicked sons, rebelled. 

Justice demanded her way, fire came from God and Aaron’s sons were consumed. 

Yet The Lord instructed him to

“Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people….”  Leviticus 10:6  

The oil of the Lord that consecrated Aaron to intercede for the sins of Israel, demanded that he forego his natural affections that they might live.

For Israel’s sake, Aaron took it like a man…  

No tears, no sorrow, no comfort….


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David is a type. 

He begged the soldiers,  “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” 2 Samuel 18:5  

But Joab killed the traitorous son. 

David went up to his room and cried when he heard of Absalom’s death.  

Joab rebuked him for weeping and making those who had just risked their lives for the kingdom feel ashamed. 

He said, “Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go out, surely not a man will pass the night with you, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now…”  2 Samuel 19: 7

And that is what David did. 

He stopped yielding to paternal affections. 

For the sake of the living, David took it like a man…  

No tears, no sorrow, no comfort….


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Jesus is the Archetype. 

He ministers in the most holy place, anointed by His own blood.

And as the rebellious masses condemn themselves to eternal death, He works with a broken heart. 

His natural affections demand  expression, they clamor that He stop all work and mourn for His lost children.

But He does not yield. Like Aaron and David, God weeps in the quiet of His soul. 

To ensure our salvation, Jesus takes it like a man…  

No tears, no sorrow, no comfort….

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Uninterrupted Pain

 

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Yes, Christ is the roaring lion

and the whispering lamb.

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He is Immanuel, the union of the human and divine.

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He is The Dichotomy.


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The Christ.


But “Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him. When there came upon Israel the calamities that were the sure result of separation from God,—subjugation by their enemies, cruelty, and death,—it is said that “His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” “In all their affliction He was afflicted: … and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” Judges 10:16; Isaiah 63:9.”  Ellen G. White, Education p 263.

Jesus’ understanding of the pain of sin is not only an objective one. He feels the pain of our personal sorrows. “Christ feels the woes of every sufferer, when evil spirits rend a human frame, Christ feels the curse. When fever is burning up the life current, He feels the agony… His Spirit “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” As the “whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:26, 22), the heart of the infinite Father is pained in sympathy. Our world is a vast lazar house, a scene of misery that we dare not allow even our thoughts to dwell upon. Did we realize it as it is, the burden would be too terrible. Yet God feels it all. In order to destroy sin and its results He gave His best Beloved, and He has put it in our power, through co-operation with Him, to bring this scene of misery to an end.” The Desire of Ages p 823.4

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Great Rescues

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“…When the even was come, He saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship.  And there were also with Him other little ships.  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?  And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:35-39

 

boat-962791The boats set sail.   The largest vessel was like the sun.  It lit the way, while the little ships bounced in its wake.   Expectations must have been high as they headed into that sunset.  But then the storm came.  The disciples managed the swells with ease.   They battled the sea with confidence born from experience.  Their boat was strong and had conquered storms before.  But the gale intensified and the disciples hit rock bottom. After hours of trying to save the ship, they thought of Jesus and He saved them.

 

boat-997019But did you ever stop and wonder what happened to the occupants on those little ships?

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You see little boats are not made for storms.  They own the strength for day trips.  When the weather glowers, they head home and wait until the sea is calm.  Little ships manage little waves. Like amphibious creatures they spend half of their lives on land. I think that when the disciples started bailing, the little ships were full.  When the disciples lightened their vessel, the little ships spew their human cargo into the depths.  And when the disciples finally cried out in fear, the passengers on the little ships were crying out their dying anguish.

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Mark mentions the little ships as a passing thought.  The main actors, Jesus and the disciples, keep our attention.  When this story is told in the book of Matthew, the little ships are omitted.  They are extras on the set.  Their lives are silhouettes behind the drama.  Jesus is our hero, the disciples are the supporting actors and the little people on those little vessels only day actors.  Their names do not appear in the credits.  But even though the men writing the stories seem to have dismissed the trauma the little people experienced, it seems to me that God did not.

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You see, the people on the little ships were saved.  The miracle was theirs as well as the disciple’s.  Actually their miracle was greater than what the disciples experienced.  To be saved from a perishing boat is less than to be saved from the raging ocean.  And in that greater salvation I see God’s compassionate hand.  Jesus was on the boat, but God was in the sea.

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And here is the thing, I am small.  A little person, in a little life, never noticed on the big stage.  And although the audience’s view is focused on a different part of the screen, my little life and my little boat holds God’s attention.  He has His eyes on my experience and when He saves me from all my trouble, it may be that my rescue is the greatest story of all.

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Alpha and Omega

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First Breath

First Teeth

First Step

First Friend

First School-day

First Job

First Love

First Child

First Wrinkle

First Death

At the end of it

all there is…

Jesus.



Last Sigh

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Last Fall

Last Parting

Last Lonely Day

Last Separation

Last Loss

Last Pain

Last Injury

Last Death

At the beginning

of it all there is…

Jesus.

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Baby’s Breath

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“…And the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.” Leviticus 1:9


foot-1756405Pagan deities require food offerings.


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Often, bowls of choice morsels, strategically placed before the fetish, rot.

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Or as in the epic myth of Gilgamesh the food gift is cooked and the gods eat it.

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The Lord also asked for food offerings, but He did not eat them.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?”  (Psalm 50:12, 13)

ram_2So what exactly is the relationship between the offering and the Lord?


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Does He just watch the ritual from a distance?
Leviticus 1:9 says that the priest shall burn the offering to be a sweet savour unto the Lord.

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The smoke is the fragrant residue of something burned;
and that perfume is for God.
He receives the offering by smelling it.
I imagine He breathes deeply of the sweet scent and takes it into His own being.

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Psalm 141:2 says,
“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense;
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

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Hmm…
my prayer,
like sacrificial incense,
ascending into the courts of glory and wafting to the throne
to be received by God?

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A great author once said,
“Prayer is the breath of the soul…”
So my prayer, or the breath of my soul, rises to God as a sweet smell?
It reaches His nostrils
like
incense?

Isn’t that slightly ironic?
Me, a creature who is dependent on His breath of life, giving breath back to Him?
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But that is the thing about my Father, He loves everything about me.
man-933701 Like a father nuzzles close to his baby and savors the sweet smell of her breath,
God loves the breath of my soul
and that is amazing!
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New Year’s Resolution: What do you want?

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Every New Year we evaluate our lives and make resolutions. Those decisions tell volumes about our desires. We never resolve to be unhealthy.  Neither do we choose to increase our impulse spending.  New Year’s resolutions reveal our deepest desires for life, happiness and love.  They reflect what we want.  So in thinking about my 2017 New Year’s resolution, I have to think about what I want.  And I have two great desires in my life.

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Firstly, I want to see my grandchildren grow up. I want to go to their sporting events, I want to hear their musicals. I just want to be with them.  I don’t want to provide for them.  I don’t want to raise them.  Their parents are doing that.  I just want to hang out with them.  I want to watch them and listen to their conversation.  I want to see them interact with others and witness their lives becoming beautiful in God’s sight.

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Secondly, I want to do more for God in my last half of my life, than I did in the first.  I want to serve and share and give the world everything God has ever given me.

So what kind of New Year’s resolution can I propose with those desires?  My grandchildren live 563 miles away from me. Watching them grow is currently on facetime.  And there isn’t enough time to relate the blessings God has given.  Which means like many New Year desires, mine probably won’t be realized.

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So this year, I am putting my resolutions into God’s hands.  I invite Him to take my wants, reinvent them and shape them into His. I resolve to learn what His desires are and make them my own.  If they match mine, then I will live close to my grandchildren; I will also articulate the beauty of His character.

And if they don’t, He will create in me a hunger for the very thing He wants to do in my life. Since He “…know(s) the plans (He has) for (me)… plans to prosper (me).. plans to give (me) hope and a future…” (Jeremiah 29:1), I suspect He can create and deliver my 2017 New Year’s resolutions.  And as soon as He does I will let you know.

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But I want to leave you with one question.  What do you want?   Is it health, happiness, or love?  Maybe you don’t have a New Year’s resolution?  Why not join me and put your New Year’s resolutions into God’s hands.  Then…

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

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