Category: The Study

Love Suffers

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Love suffers long…

It is kind, even though I am thoughtless…

It is not jealous, even though I am faithless…

It is humble, even though I am proud…

It is sensitive, even though I am tactless…

It is generous, even though I am greedy…

It is not irritated, even though I am irritating…

It thinks I am valuable, even though I am worthless…

It is pure, even though I am indecent…

It silently covers sin, even though I advertise it…

It entrusts itself to me, even though I am unreliable…

It is certain, even though I am discouraged…

It pursues, even though I run away…

It is not driven out, even though I repel it…

I do not understand this love…

But I do know this…

He is faithful to me…

He hopes the best for me…

He loves me, for He is love.

“Beloved, let us love one another…for God is love.” 1 John 4: 7, 8

Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 originally from February 2016
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Can I Help You?

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I have a history of helping those I love. Sometimes I do so even at my own expense. I am not talking about Christlike service; I am talking about an unhealthy lack of boundaries. God has shown me that my need to help those I love does two things. Firstly, it makes them an idol to me. You see, I have been willing to fill other’s needs above what I am reasonably able to do, which puts them above my health and well-being. And that is a place only God should fill. Secondly, it restricts their liberty which once again usurps God’s position. When I mitigate the results of their choices by helping, it disallows God’s law of natural consequences to be exercised. This puts me above His law and is essentially blasphemy.

Help is a delicate dance. It must be balanced by godly love. Godly love says, I extend myself for other’s salvation, but allow them the liberty to reject it. It insists I do for others all that they cannot do for themselves. It demands I consider whether the help given will make them dependent on Christ or me.

There is one place where godly help can be given without reservation. It is in prayer. I can plead for the Lord to do for others that which I should not. I can remind God that His mercy transcends rebellion and ask Him to allay the sting of natural consequences. Intercessory prayer is the one arena where my desire to help need not be tempered with restraint. And it is the one place where the greatest power to help resides.

Read more like this:

Free to be Me

The Sixth Love Language

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Next Year

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For possibly centuries, Jews of the diaspora finished their religious New Year’s meal (Passover), with the phrase, “Next year in Jerusalem.” This expressed their desire to go home. Home to the land that shaped their faith and expectation. Most of the Jews who said those words had never been in Jerusalem, still their greatest desire was to be within her gates.

The world is overflowing with sadness. And “men’s hearts fail them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth…” Luke 21:26. I wonder what new sorrow this year will add. I am tired. I long to be in my heavenly home, where I will not even remember this place (Isaiah 65:17). With all of my heart, I join that other diaspora and say,

“Next Year in Jerusalem.”

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Nostalgia, part 3

baby-1767974In Bethlehem, Jesus took our broken flesh that He might redeem it. But He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The reality of His sacrifice, though not carried out at creation, was still a fact to Him. Fully omniscient, He knew all the details of His anguish before the universe was made. He knew that He would be sold for the price of a slave. He knew the taunts that would be hurled at Him. He knew He would be bruised and beaten. All of this He knew. But omniscience knows more than just the hard things, it also knows the joys. That means He knew that in human flesh He would reign king of the universe. He knew that He would be the great Second and Final Adam. He knew His DNA would restore and redeem humanity. Therefore before creation, as He diagramed all the components that would make up mankind, He purposed that the first Adam should reflect the last. He said, “Let us make man in our image. “ Not only in the image of His Godhead, but in the image of His future state, as a living breathing man, made of flesh and bones.

The entire story of Adam’s creation is a prophesy. But Adam did not know that his life was a type. He did not understand the he and Eve reflected the relationship between Christ and His bride, but it is so. Both brides were created from the pierced side of their beloved. Both brides fell and were given the hope of Immanuel. The only difference in the analogy is that Adam chose to sin and die with his bride, while Christ chose to obey and die for His. So when God said, “Let us make man in our image and after our Likeness,” it expresses what He knew He would someday do. He, our Immanuel, would “leave his father… And … cleave unto his wife: and they (would) become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

This christmas let us rejoice in knowing that we will soon be in the likeness of our beloved’s glorified flesh. We will live like Him, be wrapped in skin like His, see with the discernment of His eyes and feel with a heart just like He has. We will stand in the New Jerusalem and see Immanuel, our perfect Holy God; our beloved man of flesh. “We will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2

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Nostalgia, part 2

baby-1767974That first Christmas, The angels must have looked at God’s gift to man with awe. They must have hovered close and breathed His sweet baby smell. Or counted His fingers and toes. They might have seen His skin, still bathed in birth-dew and been amazed. When He cried, His voice must have thrilled their hearts. They never would have guessed that a tiny lump of flesh could hold eternity. But there He lay, the universe’s King, wrapped in humanity. Praise was the only response possible when they first saw the baby Jesus. “Hallelujah”, they sang, “Glory to God in the highest.”

 

 

Jesus Light of World 2We love the nostalgia of His birth, but Christ’s humanity is still breathtaking.  Today He is our faithful Priest and King.  “…because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.  Such a high priest truly meets our need…” Hebrews 7:24- 26   I am amazed that He sees my complete brokenness and still wants to rescue me. I am amazed that He sees my faithlessness and never leaves me. He is everything I need.  He is all hope.  He is our salvation.  He is our best gift.  Share Him with someone this Christmas season.

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Nostalgia, part 1

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Christmas holds our hearts in the nostalgia of scented pine, lights shining on the tree, and extra time with loved ones. We are griped in the joys of getting and giving.

 

 

 

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And because we love God, we revel in knowing the true reason for the season.  As Christians we take this time to acknowledge our gratitude and indebtedness to Christ for condescending to be born in human flesh.  We sing about his infant head resting in the rough manger.  We teach our children that he was born a babe and grew just like they do.

 

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We remind ourselves that in taking humanity, Christ became our high priest.  We remember, He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, faithfully making reconciliation for our sins.  Every Christmas we are comforted that our God came down to live our life, in our skin, with our eyes, and with our heart.

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The Most Valuable

The gem in a box of Cracker Jacks is not valuable. It only takes about 1/2 cent to make. The Pink Star diamond is worth 83 million dollars. It costs more for various reasons. One reason it is worth more is that greater resources were spent on acquiring it. That is simple economics. Here is a startling application of that principle, the great sinner is worth more than the saint because it took more to redeem him.

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Doubtful?

Let me prove it to you.

Enoch was a sinner, but he was also a good man. He was so close to God that he was taken to heaven without seeing death.  Conversely there is Manasseh, who was toxic.  After listing his sins, which included child sacrifices, 2 Kings says, “Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel” (verse 21:9).  But Manasseh was saved.  At the end of his life, “…He entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” 2 Chronicles 33:12.

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So in redeeming these men, on which did Christ spend more of His blood? Right, on Manasseh. And since Christ’s blood is the thing with the greatest value, simple economics insists that Manasseh is worth more than Enoch because more riches were used in his redemption. And the Bible agrees. “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound…” Romans 5:20. More grace, more value.

This concept is not just novelty. It is practical. It is supposed to change me. When I deal with a toxic person, I have to remember Jesus paid an enormous price for their sins. Therefore, the co-worker who lies about me, the ex-husband who had an affair with the best friend, or the white supremacist at a rally are precious, because great resources were spent on their opportunity for salvation.

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Seeing what they cost Christ should change how I feel about them. The value I place on that toxic person is proportional to the value I place on Christ. As long as they are unredeemed, the suffering He paid for their sin becomes suffering without recompense. That means that when I think of that person and the pain they cause me, it needs to be linked to the pain Christ experienced for them.

I would hate that Jesus should have suffered in vain. Therefore:

I will pray for the toxic in my life (Luke 6:28).

I will deal righteously with them (Proverbs 25:21).

I will turn the other cheek while keeping out of their reach. (Matthew 5:39, John 2:24, 25).

I will not allow them to indiscriminately hurt me because that increases their burden of guilt (Romans 12:19, 20, Matthew 10:23).

I will care about their salvation (2 Timothy 2:24 – 26).

I will not vilify them (James 4:11).

I will remember that their salvation cost Jesus more than most people’s (Romans 5:6).

In humility, I will consider them better than me (Philippians 2:3).

And in God’s strength I will strive to bring them to peace with heaven (Luke 19:10).

All this I hope to do, so Jesus will see the travail of His soul and be satisfied. (Isaiah 53:11).

“I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent.”  Luke 15:7

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Thrill Seeker

We have all heard commercials for the latest blockbuster that end with words like,  “This will be the thrill of your life!” 

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Or maybe you have been on that long line, wilting in the sun, while those ahead of you pile into the cars of the roller coaster, hoping to experience the most thrilling ride ever. 

There are many thrills to be had.  Whether it is the summer action film, the amusement park, the work promotion or the new house, they are all exciting things.  But they are transient.  The lights turn on, the cars stop and reality steals the surge of that last moment.

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The queeziness rises up from your stomach and you wonder if the roller coaster was such a good decision after all. 


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The promotion involves more work and politics than you expected. 


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The mortgage is just a drain on your freedom. 


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These earthly thrills eventually leave us empty and in the end they take from us instead of give.

But there is another thrill.  A thrill that never ends. 

It is being in God’s company.

That thrill remains regardless of the situation, because He is the adventure of a life time.

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Dark days may come, but He is your light. Psalm 27:1


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You may walk in the valley… but He is the mountain. Psalm 125:2


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You can have great joy, but He can bring you higher still. Psalm 18:33

The Lord is the answer to every thrill seeker, for He promises…

Your eyes will shine, and your he

heart will thrill with joy.…  Isaiah 60:5

 


Download my Top 10 Favorite Bible Verses: God Loves Fun

  • Ten verses that show how God encourages us to enjoy things.
  • Easy to memorize and share with others.

 


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Messages of God’s Love

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving

 

This year I am thankful that we have the opportunity to glorify God’s name. The Bible says, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come…”. Revelation 14:7. But how does one give God glory, He is already glorious.  I searched and found some texts that show some of the ways we can glorify Him.

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“Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me…”  Psalm 50:23


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“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13


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“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17: 4


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“O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders…” Isaiah 25:1


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“… whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified…” 1 Peter 4:11


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“… glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20


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“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” John 15:8


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“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16


hundredpercent_featured “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31


hand-1549399_1920 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more… to the glory and praise of God.”  Philippians 1:9-11


Since the bible instructs us to glorify God, this Thanksgiving, I invite you to…

“… magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.” Psalm 34:3

by our loving words, thoughts and actions.

 

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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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