Monthly Archives: February 2017

Ex. 6; Luke 9; Job 23; I Cor. 10

 It’s February.  So as I type this, I lay in bed under a bunch of blankets.   The heat is turned up and there is a cup of coffee at my side.  I’m warm and cozy.  It’s 19 degrees outside.  I DREAD those first 5 minutes driving to work before the car warms up.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”   Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”   Luke 9:57-58

I love spending time with my family. During the most ordinary of times, while watching television or having dinner, there is no place I would rather be than with my family.  So, naturally I give priority to my family on significant occasions such as weddings and funerals.

He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”   Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”    Luke 9:59-60

I’m a planner.  I can see myself doing something momentous for the Lord, but it would have to be well planned. For example, if I was headed off to a mission field, I would need the time to make sure all my affairs were in order at home, before I left.

 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”  Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:61-62

This is a tough passage!  I’ve studied it myself and researched what many commentators have said hoping to find the loophole.  The bottom line is that Jesus is telling me that my comfort, societal norms, and my preferences are of little value compared to following him.  The work he has set out for me is urgent and requires great personal sacrifice.

Am I listening?

Lord,

I confess that I struggle with the cost of following you.  Provide me a glimpse of the treasure that lies ahead of me that I may more willingly leave all behind to follow you.  Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

From the archives. Originally published February 23, 2011.

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Exodus 5; Luke 8; Job 22; I Corinthians 9

I’ve heard it said that God’s word is rhema; that is, “It is a word that signifies the action of utterance (my emphasis),” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhema. Not superfluous, surface, or meaningless words. So I submit that neither can we listen passively; rather we should be active listeners expecting God’s word to bear fruit. It is usually easy, at least in America, to hear God’s word spoken, written, paraphrased, and even misquoted. Childhood songs like “Jesus Loves Me,” or “This Little Light of Mine,” are tunes familiar in many homes, daycare centers, and after-school programs. And though I take the words directly quoted from the Holy Bible to be true, I am not always likely to grasp the fullness or the revelation of those words because of familiarity, disassociation, or resistance.

Eliphaz lacked ears to hear God’s heart for loving one’s neighbor as he loves himself. Quoting Scripture, Eliphaz instead talked the entire time; accusing, pronouncing judgment, and mocking suffering Job, who sought to only speak truth. How often, I too have thought, “I’ve got this,” and used the Sword of the Spirit to slash away at imagined demons in the mist only to find wounded innocents in the clearing.

Jesus said in Luke 8:10, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’” I wonder how many of the over 800,000 words, reportedly printed in several versions of the Bible, (words are like seeds), have found root in my own soul’s soil. “The ones by the wayside hear, but the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts. The ones on the rock hear and receive with joy, but have no root and are tempted away. The ones among the thorns hear but the word is choked out by cares, riches, and pleasures of life. The ones who hear with a noble and good heart keep the word and bear fruit with patience (Luke 8:11-15).” Without revelation, I stumble over chapters and verses that do not seem relevant to my modern-day world. Yet, how amazing to hear someone preach on the same passage of Scripture in a way that illuminates God’s will and exponentially increases my faith.

I think my worst error in experiencing the active voice of God is resistance. I may listen to, understand, and even set out on my calling from God. Then I behave much like Moses early in his mission. God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses heard these words – “Tell Pharaoh, ‘Let My people go.’” Yet when Pharaoh did not listen to Moses, but ordered more hard labor from the Israelites, Moses complained to God, “Why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.” Just a little resistant? Not a burning bush, not having Aaron by his side, not even given miraculous powers could stop Moses from complaining. I, too, find myself questioning why I struggle in the midst of doing God’s will.

I want to be like the Apostle Paul. He writes to the Corinthians that since he received God’s calling to be a minister of the gospel, he listened to God, and with overwhelming passion, ran “with certainty.”

Lord God, You are a God of great compassion. Forgive me for listening half-heartedly, for failing to seek Your deeper truth, and for resisting Your calling. More importantly, open my ears to hear Your voice and embolden me to do Your will. In Christ’s name.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Ex. 4; Luke 7; Job 21; 1 Cor. 8

“Your knowledge is admirable, but it’s what you’re doing with it that I’m more interested in…”

“While knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.” 1 Corinthians 8:1

Recently, I came upon a broadcast I wasn’t prepared for… an older woman was literally climbing over piles of stuff to make her way to a bed, which only had a very small area revealing a mattress. Shortly thereafter, I learned I was watching an episode of the series called “Hoarders”; a show that attempts to assist those dealing with a destructive disorder related to uncontrolled accumulation of things.

I cannot get the vision of what I saw out of my head… and it got me wondering… am I a hoarder? I mean, not in the traditional sense, but do I hoard knowledge? What do I do with all that knowledge? What is the fruit? Ever since leaving the armed services, I’ve been consumed with learning… always trying to pick up or master something new… it’s been a passion of mine for a host of reasons. If I am true to myself, I’d say that learning for me is more about security than anything else… to increase the probability of job security; to know I won’t be taken advantage of if I need the services of a mechanic or a plumber. And what about my faith… I’ve become obsessed with growing my faith by reading and listening to whatever and whenever I can about God and the lessons of Scripture. Great undertaking, but is the fruit of all this effort of accumulating knowledge, love?

So how does God see knowledge? I can imagine that while He sees knowledge as a good thing as He’s put so many things on this earth for us to discovery, I believe He’d be more concerned with what we do with the knowledge. Pastor Tony Evans, in one of his sermons on truth stated “truth without love is cold orthodoxy; love without truth is frivolous sentimentalism.” In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul expressed “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” I believe there’s something very deep to be gleaned from these passages… that God is more interested in love, the fruit of our quest for truth through knowledge; that while knowledge is helpful in pursuing the Christian faith, knowledge needs to be seen as a means to an end and not the goal itself. Does our knowledge cause us to love more genuinely? Or, are we just hoarding knowledge for the sake of having it, just in case? (Ouch!)

To keep things in perspective, I am not advocating a boycott on learning! I believe God expects us to expand and grow our minds, as He will one day ask us what we’ve done with the gifts He’s provided to us! (Need a refresher? Check out Matthew 25:14-30; The Parable of the Talents.) But what are we doing with our knowledge? Consider the possibility that knowledge allows us to be more like Jesus… more self-less rather than self-ish. Knowledge serves us, the learner… love, on the other hand, the potential fruit of knowledge, serves others! And since the concept of love appears in the Bible between 300 and 500 times, depending on the translation, love must be precious to Him.

The rewards for greater knowledge are usually recognized here on earth alone, or, the real celebration can happen once we see Jesus face-to-face… it all depends on what we do with what we’re learning. So, what is the smarter goal? Knowing? or Loving??

Greg (gstefanelli)

Lord, help align my mind so the goal of what I learn is all about You… all about loving others! Amen!

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Exodus 3; Luke 6; Job 20; 1 Corinthians 7

 

All from Luke 6 and my heart today:

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. ESV emphasis mine

Lord, you see into the deepest depths of hearts. You called your disciples and you chose the apostles. You gave Simon a new name. You gave him the name: Peter. You knew the traitor: Judas Iscariot. You knew him for who he was- to the uttermost. You know me. And my spirit quickens…- what is my new name in You? You know the name.

And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. ESV

…for power came out from him and healed them all.

Lord, you heal to the uttermost. All. You healed them all. The surging crowd. The troubled throng. The power of God to heal. With a word, with a touch, just in Your very Presence. There is no formula. There is only You.

The Beatitudes

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. ESV

The comforts. The place to run to when troubled, when struggling, when hurting in heart and soul. Only by your grace can I be eternally minded, O Lord. Only through you will I be enabled to rejoice! Help me to be oriented rightly toward you. The world presses. It presses. There are cares and concerns.

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[b] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. ESV

Lord, hard words, but good. So good. Help me apply this to the specific situation in my life it belongs unto. Help me to love my enemy and bless those who curse. Help me live generously.

Lord, I free my spirit when I choose Your kingdom way. I release Your power in my heart and life when I lay myself down.

My favorite:

 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” ESV

And there is so much more. But here, I will halt. Lord, let me live a generous, poured out life. I want that good measure, shaken together, running over, pouring into my lap. Let me love mercy- not just in my head and with my words- but with my life. Let me draw close to You because knowing You is not about a formula- it is about a relationship, a union with the Living God. I bow my face to the ground. You are holy. Forgive me. You name me. You heal me. You are Mighty. You are Mercy. I will give. And giving is about more than material goods. It is a giving of myself to Your ways and Your goodness and Your heart and Your kingdom. Praise be!

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

 

 

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Exodus 2; Luke 5; Job 19; 1 Corinthians 6

Outcasts, aliens and misfits. Moses straddles two worlds. He is the adopted Hebrew son of an Egyptian queen and then a criminal on the run. He has carried the pain of the alienation on his journey; it is heard when he names his firstborn Gershom, for “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.” Exodus 2:22

Job is drowning in sorrow, forsaken by God and man:

“He has stripped my glory from me and taken the crown from my head…He has put my family far from me, and my acquaintances are wholly estranged from me. My relatives and close friends failed me; the guests in my home have forgotten me.” Job 19:9…13

He clings to the surety of God’s love; this prevents him from being overcome by punishing waves of sorrow, loneliness and pain:

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” Luke 19:25-27

Jesus reaches out to those who are despised and rejected. You can hear the derision in the words of the Pharisees and scribes:

“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Luke 5:30

It’s for the rejected and needy that Jesus stands up:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31

At one time or another, we are all the middle schooler sitting alone in the crowded lunchroom, the refugee, the homeless, the forgotten. Christ opens his arms and invites himself into our lives and our homes. He was despised and rejected so that I would not know separation from God.

Paul invites me to abandon the crowd mentality and the futile living that threatens to wall me off from joy of knowing Christ. He tells me that I am a temple of the living God. As God said,

“I will live in them and walk among them, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separated from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean: then I will welcome you, and I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. 1 Corinthians 6:16-18 

 

Lord of all creation, thank you that you humble yourself and pursue me. Jesus, thank you for taking the rejection, pain and sorrow that belonged to me so I would not be separated from you. Show me the parts of my life that I hold back so that I might repent and surrender all that I am to you. For you are my Father and  I am your daughter. Show me  what it means to live for you you today. Amen.

Klueh

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