Thought for Today

Obstacles to vision aren’t a sing to give up, they are a reminder to give in to God’s leading.

James 4:7-8a

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.

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Quote of the Day

Tim Keller: “You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” (5).

“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.” (30).

Waking With God through Pain and Suffering

The Son’s Sacrifice

It was God’s investment on our behalf that allows us to embrace the role of investing in him, and yet God wasn’t done—the ultimate restoration wouldn’t be experienced just by coming to earth and living as man, but only through the…

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Son’s Sacrifice (Isaiah 53:4-9) Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions (Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 300-400BC and developed, during Roman times, into a punishment for the most serious of criminals.), he was crushed for our iniquities (“The weight of the body pulling down on the arms makes breathing extremely difficult,” says Jeremy Ward, a physiologist at King’s College London.); the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth (silent before Pontius Pilate); he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b] 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked (he gets the worst punishment the Romans had—and as the custom you didn’t get a proper burial, until Joseph of Arimathea stepped in and asked for the body giving up his tomb), and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Continue reading “The Son’s Sacrifice”

Cleansing

Being connected to Christ is critical, and yet sometimes if we are being honest, we pull away from Jesus. We start trying to produce fruit on our own and we jump into the muddy madness of conforming to the world. It is at that point that we need some…

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CLEANSING  (John 15:2, 5-8) . He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. Sometimes, we have to fight gravity as we start growing in Christ, we feel the world pressing down on us, demanding that we conform to it’s image—but Jesus here distinguishes between two types of pruning: (1) separating  and (2) cutting back branches. Jesus promises to cut away at what infects us and then prune what is under-performing and purges what is poisoning the entire tree. Yet, there is another component, that sometimes under the weight a branch can fall down, Jesus cleans it up! Here is the cool part–it no longer comes about doing enough good things to feel good about ourselves, but as one commentary put it, “Fruit-bearing is not a test; that is, a branch does not have to demonstrate a level of productivity to be safe from destruction. Rather, fruit-bearing is a byproduct.” (NIV APP Commentary) There is no Jesus quota–where I have to earn his love, but there is a Jesus quality that starts over from the roots to impact the rest. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. Continue reading “Cleansing”

Athlete Training

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Paul’s first analogy holds no punches, putting us on the front line—managers rather than masters of our world, but his second analogy calls us to be like …

Athlete’s Training—Not everyone is as lucky or as cursed to have Michael Phelps’ training regimen which became famous during the 2012 London Olympics as he was reportedly eating about 12,000 calories a day. Simone Biles who worked over the competition was reported as completing 18 workouts a week to bring home the gold. We live in a 24/7 Sporting world, radio, television so we can connect with Paul’s words:  (2 Timothy 2:5) Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.

Just because we have been given time, talents, and treasure, how do we actually go about discerning and cultivating what we have?  Have you ever noticed how easy it is for someone to call themselves an athlete? Continue reading “Athlete Training”

Suffering #3: Alarm Ringing

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FIRE ALARM Ringing (Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:14-16) 17… he had to be made like them,[a] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted… Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

This lately has been one of my favorite verses. When people wrestle with evil, they feel like God has abandoned them, unable to help them, powerless to defend them, but we see that God experienced the fullness of what man had created in rebellion. IN fact, on the cross, Jesus rejected the gall drink which was meant to dull the pain, and he embraced our pain fully conscience, fully aware, and fully incarnate. He embraced it all in hopes that he would be our rescuer—allowing pain to prod us into action–rousing us from our slumber. Then he took the next step and became our deliverer, his body as a sacrifice which would atone for our sins, not temporarily, but eternally as he took on the role of the Great High Priest. The result is something undeserved, instead of being judged by our goodness, we are given his grace. It is in response to that gift that he calls us to turn back to Him.  Continue reading “Suffering #3: Alarm Ringing”

Part-Time

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You decided to go all in: heart, mind, soul and body; made new in the water.

Going head first not into darkness, but following the light.

Then somewhere between your pride and desire you decided part-time was fine.

You declared full-time rights as a member, but became a part-time attender.

Each groan from your mouth you decided should be respected as if from on high, yet you’re pew sits empty only blessed with your presence part-time.

You have an opinion on how each dollar is doled out, but your generosity is gutted, no forethought or cheer just whatever is in your pocket. You’ve gone part-time and in your mind that is just fine. After all, you have the rest of your life to think about.

You look at your schedule and donate an hour-proud of your soaring service, with a pat on your back, you kick up your feet. After all you deserve it. They will figure it out, things will turn out just fine with you as part-time.

Part-time like a high school romance: half-invested and half out of the door.

Yet, Christ came as the fullness of God-when playing a role part-time wouldn’t suffice, holiness refused to take a holiday.

Then came the madness of the moment still vibrating the foundations-crucified, cursed on a tree for you and me, when a half-measure wouldn’t do, a part time Savior wouldn’t satisfy. Now when things go quiet, we pray at all hours, double-minded expecting full-time God service.

Don’t kid yourself, your no longer your own, your owned by another, part time means it is time to reconsider.