THE LAMB OF GOD…

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John 1:29 – “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  NKJV

I want to take an approach that some might call ‘splitting hairs’ in this devotional and address what Jesus did on the cross when He sacrificed His life for us.  He died for THE SIN of the world.  Notice that this is singular not plural and deals with SIN not acts.  What was the SIN of the world Again, some will consider this ‘splitting hairs’ and declare that Jesus died for our sins and He did but His specific purpose on the cross was to take away THE SIN that separated man from God.  The SIN that separated mankind from God initially transpired in the Garden with Adam and Eve’s rebellion, disobedience and electing to move God from the center of their universe to a peripheral position and elevated self to the center replacing God they became a god unto themselves.  We call that THE FALL of man and it was when the first Adam, by his choice and action gave the devil ‘legal ground’ to become the ‘god of this world’.  Jesus came to negate that and satisfy divine justice so that man could be ‘redeemed’ or ‘bought back’ from the control of the devil and a door for restoration opened so man could once again be reconciled to God.

Sometime I fear that we spend too much time on ‘sins’ or commissions of wrongful acts rather than the root condition of the heart where SIN has separated us from God.  Jesus came so that SIN would be taken away and a door to the Father opened.  Does that mean that He does not forgive our ‘acts’ we call sins?  Of course He does and that is part of the package but the root is SIN that SEPARATED which is the condition of the heart in rebellion.  I had someone tell me that man is basically good and drifts from God and I would suggest to you that the Bible identifies man, since the fall, as depraved and bent toward evil needing a Savior.

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God!  There is none good, not even one!  It is by grace we are saved and that not of ourselves it is the gift of God!  Isaiah tells us that our righteousness is as filthy rags’ in His presence and Jeremiah advises that the heart is ‘desperately wicked’.  Psalm 51, Psalm 58 and Ephesians 2 all reveal that we are born ‘dead’ in transgression and sin as unregenerate man and in bondage to sin.  We are told in 1 Corinthians 2 that man (lost man) loves darkness rather than light and in verse 18 declares that man rejects the gospel as foolishness.  That is a heart condition and that is what Jesus addressed on the cross first and foremost.  When He said, “It Is Finished” He was declaring that Redemption for mankind had been won and the price paid to redeem us.  He went on to declare in Luke 10:19 that He has given us ‘authority’ over all the ‘power’ of the devil.  Paul declares in Colossians 2 that Jesus made a public display of the devil, triumphed over him and put him to open shame as He disarmed the devil.  His work on the cross is completely complete we have access to the Father!

It is my view that too often we focus on the acts a person commits rather than the condition of the person’s heart.  You may get someone to ‘clean up’ their act and act like a Christian but if you have not dealt with the heart condition they are only clean on the outside and inside a sepulcher full of dead bones.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to die that our HEARTS could be transformed.  The heart is what God is after.  I equate it to fishing you first catch the fish then clean them not the reverse.  God focuses on the inward (heart) while we tend to notice the outward (acts). 

            May God be with you as you go through your day!

PATIENCE – – Virtue or Gift?

Spiritual Blog - Stop Chasing

Luke 21:19 – “By your patience possess your souls.” NKJV

I wonder how many who read this have difficulty ‘waiting?’  The inability to wait is an indication of a lack of patience.  Most in today’s modern world have zero tolerance and demonstrate almost no patience, most of the time.  We want what we want yesterday or sooner!  I believe that patience is a character quality that God desires to develop in our lives and is not a spiritual gift.  It is learned then developed and is a process.  It would be like praying for patience and saying, “Lord give me patience and I want it right now!” 

In our technological, fast food, instant everything world we find it virtually impossible to be patient.  How can we possibly teach the oncoming generation the art of ‘waiting’ when we cannot?  I heard about a man that became so angry at dinner over seeds in grapes and laid down the law to his wife that there would be no more grapes with seeds in the house.  She let him rant then asked, “Do you know why the seeds bug you so?”  He sarcastically said, “Of course when I bite into one of them it spreads through my mouth and ruins the taste of the grape.”  She said, “NO!  It is because you are too impatient to dig them out first.  The grapes with seeds actually have a better flavor but they take more time to enjoy!”  I think that is us too often!  We are too busy with busyness to enjoy that which God has provided.  We have such an aversion to waiting that we say, “Let’s do something if we do it wrong!”  WHAT?  That is impatience not progress.

Waiting is a natural and normal part of life and is part of the maturation process whether we like it or not.  We face yellow and red lights as much or more than we see green ones.  Waiting is learning to ‘rest’ in God instead of fretting and worrying.  It is to recline in the arms of God and trust.  It is a skill that is learned not a gift deposited in us.  You can ‘fake’ waiting.  We’ve all done it.  We were a shambles inside but plastic on the outside with our mask on.  We appear peaceful but inside we are a raging storm.  Fake it till you make it won’t work long term!

You probably have heard the story from the Korean War era where some American GI’s rented a house and hired a young Korean to clean, cook, and do their chores.  He had an unflappable positive attitude and was always smiling.  They played tricks on him, nailed his shoes to the floor and he just pulled the nails out and kept smiling. They put grease on the stove handles and buckets of water over the door to soak him and he just kept smiling with never a complaint.  Finally they felt guilty and told him, “We want you to know that we are never going to trick you again.  You have such a great attitude we are ashamed and won’t do it anymore.”  He looked at them and asked, “No more nail shoes to floor?” They assured him no more.  He said, “No more sticky on stove?”  They assured him no more.  He said, “No more buckets of water on door?”  They assured him NO MORE!  He was satisfied and said, “Okay, no more spit in soup.”

Spiritual Blog - Patience

If you want to read a beautiful passage on patience read Psalm 62.  We need to learn to ‘wait’ for God to direct our steps.  We need to learn to ‘trust’ God to provide for our needs.  We need to learn to ‘wait silently’ in ‘stillness’.  We need to ‘wait’ in stability and confidence.  They that ‘wait’ upon the Lord renew their strength and we could all use renewed strength from time to time.  We need to mount up with wings as eagles. We need to be able to run and not be weary and walk and not faint.  That comes from WAITING ON THE LORD!

So instead of hurrying into your day pause a moment and ask God to help you learn to wait!  Blessings as you go through your day!

FORGIVENESS – – How Much Do You Owe?

Spiritual Blog - Forgive

Matthew 18:21-22 – “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.“ NKJV

If you will notice from verse twenty-three forward Jesus relates one of the incredible parables about ‘forgiveness’ and/or the lack thereof.  We have the ‘king’, the ‘servant’ he forgave and the ‘servant’ whom this servant refused to forgive.  In verse thirty-two when the king finds out about this he summons the unforgiving servant and said, “You wicked servant!  I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.”  Incredible!

I have learned that in Christianity or Christian circles so often the claim to spirituality fails miserably on the forgiveness front.  We are to forgive ‘just as…’ but here we see something of what is involved in ‘forgiveness’ and ‘unforgiveness.’  We read this story with a Western mentality and miss some of the revelation provided.  The coinage is important for they do not speak in dollars and cents they talk about talents and denarii so we must wrap our heads around a society over 2,000 years ago and hear what they heard.  They are hearing it from one of the most astounding story tellers of all time, Jesus.

The servant is brought before the king and owes ten thousand talents’.  We have little concept of talents and/or denarii so what does that equate to for us?  10,000 talents = 6,000 denarii and the average worker earned about 6 denarii a week.  It would take 1,000 weeks (20 years) to earn 1 talent but this is 10,000 x 1000 weeks.  What is Jesus saying?  The debt was impossible to repay.  In fact the annual taxes for Judea, Galilee, Samaria, Pariea and Idemoea were only about 800 talents total and this man owes 10,000 talents.  Can you feel this?  The man pleads for an extension and the king refused to give an extension but rather ‘released’ and ‘forgave’ the debt.  It is important to see both words in this context.  The king let the man go free.  However you have to understand that debts do not just go away so in a real sense the king paid the debt and it was an incredibly costly act of benevolence on his part.  The wages of sin is death and Jesus paid our debt!   This is more than just an act of benevolence that can be causally passed over it is astounding!

This servant apparently missed the awesomeness of this act of the king for we find him confronting another who owed him 100 denarii.  Comprehend this if you will 100 Denair is 1/600,000th of the debt the other was forgiven.  100 denarii is a sizable debt but payable.  If you converted 10,000 talents into nickels it would take 8,600 men carrying sacks of nickels weighing 60 pounds each.  If they walked with about 3 feet between them the line would be 5 miles long but if you take 100 denarii and convert it to nickels you could carry it in your pocket.  Are you catching this? 

Spiritual Blog - Forgiveness

The debtors used the identical words asking for patience one was forgiven an unpayable sum and the other refused patience for a payable sum.  When we forgive, we release or we have not forgiven!  We unlock the prison and let them walk free for we are releasing them to God!   Likewise when we refuse to forgive we ‘put them in chains’ and in so doing bring to ourselves incredible hurt.  There will never be a moment peace as a result we cannot retrieve that which is owed and the wound festers and grows.

Notice the king did not intervene it was a matter between servants.  One person with an unforgiving spirit can wreck the local congregation.  Remember Achan?  One man affected the entire nation of Israel.  When I refuse to forgive I am blocking the supply route spiritually to that person and affecting the entire body.  I won’t get into it but if you read the rest of the story you find that the king called the unforgiving servant back in and ultimately turned him over to the torturers due to his unforgiving heart.  The king did not reverse his decision he and his family were not thrown into prison as was first decreed.  No he was handed over to the torturers until the debt was paid which it would never be.  They were Middle-Eastern bill collectors and nasty folks at that.  They came by regularly as a reminder and although he was still in his home and his family not sold as slaves it was mentally, physically and emotionally draining.  He left the other servant in jail so he clearly did not get it.

Here is what I want you to catch in verse thirty-five Jesus said, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespass.”  Remember the words of the Lord, “Forgive us our debts AS we forgive our debtors.”  Sin is our debt we owe God and it is a debt that can never be satisfied by man.  I owe and have to pay but I cannot pay for you cannot forgive yourself and wipe away sin.  But Jesus comes and forgives us and opens the supply routes so that we can be free.  If I have been forgiven an unpayable debt how can I refuse to forgive pocket change? 

How often shall I forgive my brother?   The message of Jesus was an infinite number of times if necessary remembering our own forgiveness!  You will hurt me if you fail to forgive me but you will hurt yourself even more.  When we forgive we release those we have forgiven and the life flow of God comes to us like a refreshing river.

            May God be with you as you go through this day!

HOW MUCH IS YOUR SOUL WORTH?

Spiritual blog - Soul

Matthew 16:26 – “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  NASU

1 Thessalonians 5:23 – “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  NASU

I have had people insist that the church is to be a hospital for the hurting but I want to suggest it is to be more than a hospital. I would like to suggest that being a hospital is not the primary objective but to be a soul spa, gymnasium, rehab center and university of life.  I believe that it is to be a place of healing but beyond that it is to be a place where the spiritual man is developed to its fullest potential.  That, in my view, is not the picture of a hospital.  If we spend all our time doctoring wounds we are not accomplishing the purposes of God.  If we are to be the Glorious Church that Jesus said He was building then we must rise to our full potential and development in Christ.

In the natural a baby has the capacity to interrelate with the physical world through the sense of hearing but for that capacity to become fruitful it requires time and maturity for that baby to understand what he/she has heard.  Each of us requires time and effort to become fully developed and remain healthy naturally and spiritually.  The inner man requires care just like the outer for health and life.

Sadly, sometimes we view success in the church in terms of ‘nickels & noses’ and that will only produce frustration and fatigue not health and life.  Many are dissatisfied with their religious life and experience and I heard one preacher say, “God I believe in you and the Lord Jesus Christ but if there is not any more to this than what I have discovered thus far I’m quitting at the end of the year.”  There are too many people frustrated in their experience.  They are not deliberate hypocrites but do not know how to change or grow.  The Christian walk, to them, is a constant struggle and they end up wearing masks to hide their frustration but inside they are struggling daily.

We like formulas and sometimes substitute them for development and experience.  Christianity cannot be reduced to a formula but requires work, development, commitment and results in growth in the inner man.   Having said all that let me ask the question of the title and address that briefly.  Have you ever really asked God what He thinks of you?  Have you ever asked Him how much you are worth?  Do it now! 

To God you are worth as much as God Himself.  Why or how can I say that?  Simply because worth is determined by the price paid for it.  In your natural life have you noticed that if something is valuable you take much better care of it than something that is inexpensive?  The word in the text is ‘forfeit’ (zemios) not (appolumi) which would be lost sheep alienated from God this is forfeiture and indicates ‘damage’. 

spiritual blog - worth

 I want you to quickly consider eight ways for the determination of worth:

  • Who made it.
  • What was made.
  • Uniqueness or Scarcity.
  • Personal preference and choice.
  • Potential worth or value.
  • Price Tag.

             God made you and that in His own image so you are a unique one of a kind original.  God chose you and called you and you are an eternal soul.  Your soul’s health brings practical benefit here and now and you were purchased at a great price – The Blood of Jesus!

So how much is your soul worth?   The Blood of Jesus!   So with that in mind go forth as whose you are and in the worth God has placed on you!  Blessings!

A PLACE OF PROMISE…

Psalm 91 – – Suggested Reading.

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Due to brevity of space I will not give this Psalm in its entirety rather refer to it.  Psalm 91 is a picture of the Place of Victory that God desires His children to attain and live.  Jesus came that we might have LIFE and that MORE ABUNDANT.  He came to redeem us from the curse and bring us to full and total victory causing us to ALWAYS TRIUMPH in Him.  It brings God no glory for us to live beneath that place of promise He purchased for us.

I would like to remind you that when Moses brought the Children of Israel to the place where they could enter the Promised Land and take possession of their inheritance God gave each tribe a prophecy and a promise.  Please take note that for them to possess the promise they first had to dispossess the occupants thereof.  That is important!   Jesus has purchased us the full inheritance but for us to enjoy that promise we must move in and through the Spirit of God and dispossess the one that is camped on our inheritance.

As they came to the borders of the place of inheritance and promise prophecies were given as found in Deuteronomy 33.  Consider them briefly:

  • RUBEN (v.6) – – Life with many heirs.
  • JUDAH (v.7) – – Sufficiency.
  • BENJAMIN (v.12) – – Protection and Deliverance.
  • JOSEPH – – (vv. 13-17) – – Presence of God, Holy Spirit, Gifts.
  • EPHRAIM & MANASSEH – – (v.17) – – Glory.
  • ZEBULUN (v.18) – – Joy
  • ISSACHAR (vv.18-19) – – Prosperity.
  • GAD (vv.20-21) – – Increase.
  • DAN (v.22) – – Authority.
  • NAPHTALI (v.23) – – Satisfaction and Favor.
  • ASHER (vv.24-25) – – Anointing and Oil.

LEVI was identified as the priestly tribe.  These promises combined translate into a picture of the fullness of life we are to have in Christ as Kings and Priests unto God walking in the fullness of our inheritance.  Just as they faced occupants who were occupying their inheritance there is an enemy that would attempt to prevent us from entering into the fullness of what God has provided for us.  Remember the Bible says resist the devil’ and he will flee.  It did not say that he would automatically leave or leave without a struggle.  We are more than conquerors through Jesus and it is time that we POSSESS the PROMISES in the Power of the Spirit of God and on the Authority of God’s Word.

We need to move into God’s Vision and away from our individual survival visions that tend to prevent us from fully entering in.  Remember the words of Jesus “fear not little flock for it is My Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”   It is time to Possess the Promise! 

May God be with you as you go through your day!

A PLACE TO BE GAINED….

Spiritual Blog - Real Medicine

Proverbs 4:20-27 – “My son, give attention to my words;  Incline your ear to my sayings.  21 Do not let them depart from your sight;  Keep them in the midst of your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body.  23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.  24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you.  25 Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. 26 Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. 27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.”  NASU

 

In a devotional, space and brevity prevent a full exegesis of almost any passage so bear with me as I attempt to highlight what I sense the Lord would have me convey.  It is my settled conviction that God’s word should serve as our guide in life and practice.  It is as we delve into the precepts and principles taught therein we find a place in God that is lofty in our daily lives.  God never presents lofty precepts and principles attainable only by a privileged few but desires them for all believers.  Those lofty places in the Spirit of God are never based on performance but heritage.  It is because God is our Father!  Here we find some incredible instruction that will lead us into that loftiness in the spiritual realm.

GIVE ATTENTION…

The instruction is ‘attend to’ or ‘do’ the word.  We are admonished to follow the instructions contained herein.  We are to hear, understand and implement them in our lives.  Truth that is not appropriated and applied is knowledge that will ‘puff up’ but will not advance our lives or the kingdom.

INCLINE YOUR EAR…

We are to ‘listen’.  As we learn to listen we find our understanding is illuminated enabling us to comprehend what is being taught, to properly respond to that truth.  It is as we understand that we can truly become a ‘doer of the word’ not just a hearer.

NOT DEPART FROM YOUR EYES…

We are instructed to keep the instructions in the forefront of our minds or in our consciousness.  We know from scripture and science that we become what we behold or what we are continually placing in our consciousness.  It is as we keep the covenant of God steadfastly and continuously in our heart and mind we find our natural response is to obey that instruction.

IN THE MIDST OF YOUR HEART…

Simply allow your spirit man to be so filled with the words of the Lord that you are continuously ‘Spirit-led’.  The encouragement is to allow the word of God to permeate our spirits so that what comes out of our hearts and mouths is God’s Word.

Spiritual Blog - Heart

The result of those four things is two-fold as is evidenced in verse 22 – Life and Health.  The writer takes us further in vv. 23-27 with the requirement of carefully watching over our hearts because out of the heart comes life and to avoid deceit from us guarding our words.  He counsels us to keep focused on the prize watching how we live and resist the temptation of straying from our firm commitment.

We can live in the abundant life that Jesus has purchased for us but we will not achieve that place spiritually unless we value the food of the soul the Word of God.  May God be with you as you invest in His word and kingdom!  Blessings!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE….

Spitual blog - Christmas

Luke 2:8-14 – “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”   NKJV

 

The Christmas story as it is often called is one that never grows old to those of us who have experienced the Greatest Gift of All Time – Salvation!   God’s incredible love that allowed this to become reality is more than amazing as is His grace.  On that eventful day there was born the Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Remembering this event on any day is worthy and since this is the day set aside to recognize that event I celebrate Christmas and wish you a Merry Christmas and truly pray for “Peace on Earth and good will toward men!”

I can only imagine how the shepherds felt when this awesome event began to transpire and the angel of the Lord appeared before them with the spectacular events in the heavens.  I have no doubt that the biblical characterization, “…and they were greatly afraid” is an incredible understatement.  I would imagine they were petrified and then I can only imagine the sense inside as they heard the words of the angel assuring them they had nothing to fear and revealing what was happening.  I would love to have heard the heavenly host burst forth in their praise.  What an awesome sight and sound that must have been.

In today’s world we often become so busy with our busyness that we sometimes forget to pause and reflect on what it is all really about and who it is really about.  It is about Him but it is also about mankind the object of God’s incredible love.  In today’s world we see anything but peace on earth and goodwill toward men.  We see our communities, nation and world being torn apart with strife and hatred that has been birthed from the pits of hell and often proclaimed as being somehow righteous or justified.  It is neither it is evil to its core and as we celebrate Christmas may we allow the Holy Spirit to infuse in our hearts a lasting desire to have ‘peace and goodwill’ among the human family.  I do not suggest that we abdicate or abandon our faith and convictions but that we demonstrate the Love of God in a deeper and more consistent manner.

Spiritual Blog - Peace

It is my deep desire that this day of celebration be wonderful for you and those you treasure.  I pray that God grant you peace, health and a measure of prosperity that enables you to do the things in your heart for the kingdom, family and others.  May you know you are blessed for you are in the Savior who was born in the city of David, Christ the Lord!

            MERRY CHRISTMAS!