My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,  and do not give the devil a foothold.
-James 1:19-21, Matthew 5:21, Ephesians 4:25-27 (NIV)

Photo: Pixabay
Are you angry?  Did you get angry today or yesterday?  We have opportunities to get angry all the time.  
Is anger good, bad, healthy, or unhealthy?  Is there righteous anger? Do I have a right to be angry?
The Bible mentions anger many times and James has a word on anger.  He shares a piece of wisdom about anger: that our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Behind this admonition and the hearers of it must have been folks who had an angry style and thought they were on the path to righteousness.  We use the words “self righteous” as a negative description of someone who has religious pride in themselves and in their spirituality including lifestyle and knowledge.
This is a word to Christians who have anger mixed in with their Christian lives.  Irritability is a sign of weak spirituality and not of Christ’s life in your life.  Quick anger is also a sign of immature self-contentedness.
We can also have anger in our spirituality that goes above and beyond anything God calls us to.  From the first century, up to today, there have been people who kill others, because of doctrinal differences.  This begins with words and words come from an unrighteous heart.
Jesus makes the connection in Matthew 5, that murder stems from unrighteous anger.  We don’t have a right to that kind of anger.  Specifically, Jesus equates calling someone an “idiot” (you fool or good for nothing), as equal to murder.
In other words, calling people ‘idiots’ is not ok.  Calling yourself an ‘idiot’ is also not ok.  When we are tempted to do so, it is time to be reconciled to God and to be reconciled to that person.
When I think of anger, my mind goes to James 1:20, which says that our anger does not produce the righteousness of God.  I want God’s righteousness.  I don’t want to be self-righteous, but I want Jesus’ life in me.
James does not say that we don’t get angry.  We do get angry.  He says not to fool yourself that anger is part of the Jesus style or God’s life in your life.
Then, we have Paul’s words, in Ephesians 5, that tell us, “In your anger, do not sin”.  The literal translations say, “Be angry and do not sin”.  How do we do that?
We do have things that happen to us, just about every day, that can and do spark us to anger.  With both small and large offenses, we do feel the “Ouch!”, which is the natural reaction to being hurt.
After the experience or expression of hurt is the crucial step to take so that we do not sin.  
Are you ready?  
You experience anger, which is irrational: it is just a feeling or emotion.  It is actually a secondary emotion: a reaction.  The primary emotion is the hurt.
Beneath the anger is something and we need to feel and express that.
If we do not feel it, then we are disconnecting from it and disconnecting from God, others, and ourselves.  I can tell you all about what they did to me or how I was ripped off and it is all true.  I critique, level charges, accuse, judge, and make sure I get my story out there; but in so doing, I am disconnected from my pain and there is no redemption for me and no reconciliation.
There is another way of telling your story and telling it truthfully and for healing.  And that is to express the loss, the sad and the bad, the shame and the fear, the hopelessness and the emptiness.  That is honestly, transparency, and authenticity.
In the moment, in the midst of the feeling of anger, we must turn away from criticism, blame, and judgement.  We must not yield to the temptation to set ourselves up as judges and mete out punishment.  We must not take on the role of “prosecutor” or “accuser” of the other party.
You might say that there is no way I can not do that, because what was done to me was so bad, so hurtful, and so grievous.  I would say, I understand that you feel pain.  Passing judgement through criticism and blame, just reacting to the offence will not heal you, but make it worse.
We need to experience the pain, the loss, the sadness, and shame; with God.  We need to open the door of our hurting hearts to God.  That will heal you and bring wholeness.  
We might need another believer to be a priest to us in these times, helping us connect with the hurts and open our hurting hearts to God, and find a deeper connection, for healing.
When you “vent”, which is a term we use (venting), are you expressing criticism and blame, making the case against your offender?  Or are you connecting with your sadness, loss, pain, and even shame; and expressing that to the other?
When you have a loss, an injustice, or a person in your life that seems to be standing in your way to God’s best for you; you have a bad feeling.  You have to steer that feeling towards God and surrender the hurt, the confusion, the loss, the disappointment, to God and let God into that space.  You have to choose to turn away from anger, from judgement, criticism, and blame.
When you do this, you get yourself free and you allow God to move, to bless you, to compensate you.  If you choose anger as a place you live, you are choosing stuck-ness.  It is a cul-de-sac that you stay in, until you choose the “feel it and heal it” way of getting better instead of bitter.

A Great Salvation

How will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.

-Hebrews 2:3
Photo: Pixabay

Like all the letters, Hebrews is written to believers.  Believers are people who have believed in the gospel and become saved.  They are Christians, people now in Christ.

Hebrews has that name because it seems to be written to Hebrew or Jewish Christians.  The backdrop may well have been the collapse of Judaism, with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem around 70 A.D.  Besides the Jewish flavor, the context of the letter is suffering and the subject is Christ.

The author is bridging the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, and pointing out the continuity between the two, while the New comes from the Old and the Old looks to the New; the Old no longer carries life and should not be fallen back to as a way of life.  For, Jesus, whom we see now (2:9) has opened a new and living way to God.

Jesus is the climax of God’s story.  Not just his death, but his person.  Hebrews lays out the facts that Jesus is Messiah, the one who is the way.

Jesus came to save.  This salvation is great because Jesus is one with Father, The Son, Son of Man and Son of God.  The incarnation and the revelation of God in Jesus makes this salvation so great.  God, Son of God, God’s only Son became a man and saves up.

The writer of Hebrews is reminding readers how great this salvation is.  It is greater than everything that Judaism is all about.  God is the author of the Mosaic Law and Jesus is the fulfillment of that law.

The author and finisher has now come and fulfilled and fully brought about salvation.  We now find our righteousness wholly in him.  He now comes into us and lives God’s life through us.

This is the great salvation and the message of the gospel.

The question that this verse asks, “How will we escape if we neglect such a great foundation?”, is a rhetorical one.  We can’t escape.  A famous poet said, “You either have faith or unbelief.  There’s no neutral ground.”

If we neglect the message and revelation and the call of Christ, it is to our peril.  In other words, it’s not ok.  It is like being instructed or taught or commanded, as a general contractor, that you must build on rock or pour cement to certain specifications, when you build; and there is no escaping destruction, if you build on sand: the shifting under the load will collapse the house when the storms come.

In other words, you can not hear the message of Christ and not change your life.  When the tax man, Zacchaeus, encountered Jesus (Luke 19), he immediately made changes in his lifestyle and Jesus exclaimed that salvation has come to this man.  Others heard Jesus and made no changes or tried to co-opt him for their plans or rejected his message.

Let’s imagine that the readers of Hebrews were Jewish Christians who had come out of Judaism and to one degree or another, continued Jewish faith and practice, centered on the Temple in Jerusalem.  Then, in 70 A.D., the temple was destroyed and they had to flee the Jerusalem area, and leave everything behind.

They had to process all this and they may have been told the words of Jesus that predicted the sacking of Jerusalem.  At some point, the letter we have, to the Hebrews, comes to them.  My point is that these folks who had a very rich heritage might have been confused, disappointed, suffering, and in grief.

This word, that I am discussing, comes to them, “Do not neglect this great salvation”.  In other words, it can be neglected and rather than neglect it, cultivate it, celebrate it, draw life from it.  For salvation is a person, Christ.

He came, telling us that he is the way.  Those who experienced him told the next generation or folks who did not see and hear Jesus, the message of salvation through Jesus, who is God’s Messiah.

What was the message of salvation Jesus spoke?  Jesus taught, preached, and announced the kingdom of God.  Salvation is tied into the kingdom, the gospel of the kingdom.
Born anew life, born from above life; “thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, life.  That is the great salvation.
The salvation and the life (the way, the truth, and the life) is the message of Jesus.  The message is the kingdom.  God is king and we are citizens.
Christians are not just people who believe something and who may or may not gather in one way or another for worship and other traditions.  Christians are people who have salvation.  And salvation does not mean intellectual ascent or a box checked off.
Salvation means a saved life, a life of continual deliverance and break-through.  Salvation life is a life of endurance in suffering a growing and growing into Christ forming in us.  Salvation is a life where we not only believe in his cross, but carry our own individual cross and die daily.
Salvation in a life where we live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, where we are continually committed to learning his ways and following him on the best adventure ever.  Salvation is a life lived, loved by Father; where we learn his ways of loving others.
Jesus message and his command was not, “remember the cross”, but, “love one another”.  On the cross, Jesus loved us and  loved his Father in obedience, so save the human race.  We are also called to radical love and sacrificial generosity, letting him live his life through ours.

The last supper is where Jesus tied together his life with us, his death for us, and his resurrection life now in us; to his disciples.  The Eucharist or Communion is not magical or mournful, but is Jesus call to us to live his life together, in love; which is Christianity or the great salvation that the author of Hebrews is referring to.  The salvation is a person.

We must not neglect the person of Christ who works through us for the salvation of the world.  We gather together in his name and love each other, sharing life, his life.  This is the great salvation that saves the world because the door and the table is open.

Deliverance and life is through a person.  His faithfulness.  My little faith says “yes” to that and then I add obedience to that trust and cultivate his life in mine.

Christ is always on my mind, how I can please him, and how much I adore him.  Worship is a life of continual thankfulness, cultivating his life in mine.

And suffering is part of the package, but he compensates me and comforts me and always has a plan and me his love never fails.  Oh how He loves us.  I will not neglect his saving life in me.

Decision Making In The Church: notes from Michael Green

For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things.

-Acts 15:28

Photo: Pixabay
These are notes and quotes from “Thirty Years That Changed The World: The Book of Acts For Today”, by Michael Green (1993: Acts For Today, 3rd Ed., 2004)
Chapter 11: What of Their Church Life? –The decision making of the church:

“How should decisions be made in the Christian church?  In many churches, decisions are made by the minister alone, or a group of elders.  The assumption is that they know best; that they are appointed to lead, and that therefore the church would be wise to let them get on with it.  However, this has led to some very bad decisions in many churches, so a strong reaction, coupled with cultural trends, has led to the opposite assumption: the church is a democracy and decisions should be made by arguing a case, by lobbying if need be, and then by voting.  The fact that this leaves a dissatisfied and probably aggrieved minority is reckoned to be just too bad.

The trend in recent years, at all events in mainline churches, has been to follow more closely the way of secular decision making, with its politics, its synods and its powerful standing committees.  The early church did not make decisions that way.  The overall principle they adopted, as we shall see, was to seek the will of God together, and then resolve to follow it.  There is no hint of voting, of powerful groups behind the scenes influencing decisions.  We see them proceeding in a variety of ways.” (p. 199)

Green then gives six ways of decision making shown to us in Acts (pp. 199-205), then writes this summary:

“All of these varied ways of decision making have one thing in common: there was an utter dependence on God to guide them, and an overwhelming desire that their personal preferences should not prevail but that God’s will should be done.  Prayer, scripture, and testimony to the present working of the Lord were all part of the process that led to decisions, and then, with the possible exception of Acts 15:36ff, it was put firmly in the hand of God for him to show his will.  As a result there was growth in fruitfulness.  And because it was done in this way, we do not find a minority of dissatisfied people angry with any of these decisions.

I believe that we have much to learn today from the decision making of the early church.  I have been on many committees and councils where major decisions have been hammered out, and have often missed the love and warmth I see in Acts, the prayer, the reverent wrestling with Scripture, the determination not to push one’s own view but rather seek God’s will.  Certainly these things have sometimes been given verbal ascent.  There has been prayer, maybe, before the room fills with smoke and the gloves come off.  But my lasting impression after many years has been that very often our decisions are man-made.  We seek to run God’s church our way and then ask his blessing on the result, or imagine that the Holy Spirit must be behind the majority.  We ape secular parliamentary procedures in our synods and wonder why the minorities are so resentful of what has been steamrolled through by the majority.  If we want to learn at all from the life and structures of the early church, we could do worse than allow ourselves to be influenced by their ways of making decisions.” (pp. 205-6)

Decision making through prayer, scripture, and testimony; is how they did it in the early church, chronicled in Acts.  It was neither a top-down, nor a pure (voting) democracy.  They discussed, they listened to each other with honor, and they searched the scriptures and prayed together about their decisions.

Listen, pray, go to the scriptures, listen, and pray.  

Of No Reputation

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

-Philippians 1:27-2:7 (KJV)
Photo: Pixabay
Reputation.  We ought to have a good reputation among people.  But our life’s reputation does not qualify nor disqualify us from Christ or his call upon our lives.
Many people God called, in the Bible, had checkered pasts or made huge mistakes while called.  It is also clear that our resumes, pedigrees, or popularity do not get us a ‘leg up’ with God either.  
Jesus made himself, “of no reputation”, meaning that he set aside his divinity, or emptied himself of it.  Jesus being fully human and fully God, yet setting the God side aside, is hard for us to get our minds around, but he did it.  Jesus had the full human experience, and fully redeemed humanity.
We are also called to a life in Christ of “no reputation”.  That means humility.  That means not living and representing Christ in selfish ambition or vain conceit.
I believe that the “setting aside” or the lifestyle of “no reputation” also means that our sins or bad things we have done do not define us or somehow hold us back, in Christ.  I say in Christ, because that is the Christian’s life.  Neither your accomplishments nor your sins, failures, or blunders are what gives you favor or disfavor with God.
It is completely ridiculous to say or hear, “aren’t you the one who did that bad thing (insert scandalous behavior)”.  Your so-called “bad” reputation does not define you, and your good deeds also do not define you.  We’re called to humility.
It is interesting that people who do beat themselves up or wear shame from their badness are actually not humble.  They are bound to their sin, have not set it aside, have not let that reputation go.  There are people who are both ashamed of their sin, mistakes, failures, or blunders; and are proud of themselves: their race, their social standing, their wealth, their knowledge.
Christians are called to humility.  Christ and others first.  Service.  A life marked by the fruit of the Spirit.

More Thoughts on Resting in God As You Anticipate New Things

I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.

Only in God do I find rest; my salvation comes from Him.

-Psalm 62:1 (HCSB, CEB)
Photo: Pixabay
Are you anticipating a move of God in your life?  Expectation is in the air.  You have your hopes up again.
These are some more thoughts of mine about how to live in this season.  Remember that everything we go through, is always about our relationship with God.  The process is of more importance to God than is the destination, because the process is about our relationship with Him.
Let that set in.  We want the position, the promotion, the success, to meet that person and marry them, or a hundred other destinations.  But God sees the process as the important part.
God has a destiny for us, a destination for us here.  But those destinations are always secondary to relationship with God.  We need to get this and then choose it.
If we do not understand and treasure the relationship we have with God and let the process of life enrich our relationship with Father, we may find ourselves at the destinations we have desired without intimacy with God.
Sometimes the breakthrough to someplace in your life requires you to go deeper into God, rather than God doing things for you, while you stay the same.  At a strategic time in my life, when I needed God to make it happen for me and lead me to open doors; He instead gave me Galatians 2:20, which reads:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

That was not what I wanted to hear, but that is what God had for me.  I got zero breakthrough where I wanted, but God was preparing me for a different and better breakthrough, gift, or destiny in my life.  About 6 months after hearing Gal. 2:20 from God, as my word for that season, my life became massively disappointing.

My dad died and my life goals felt like a dead end.  But, about six months after my dad died, I met my wife and we had our first date on my dad’s birthday!  God took me through death, the death of my plans and my own dad’s death; and on the other side, brought me into new life that I have been living in ever since.

Christ is still living in me and I am still called to live my life by his faithfulness and through his love.  In everything that is coming, that is ahead; I see that I need to rest in God and let Him save me or deliver me.  When I am anxious or afraid, fearful or tired from worrying, I need to rest in God.

God might seem to say “no” to what we want, and we might be anxious about that.  But, God does not actually say “no” when we are asking for something good.  He calls us to walk with him, abide in him, and rest in him; towards the answers.

I wrote this on Holy Saturday, on Facebook:

Holy Saturday
Easter is about communion with, the dying of, the death of, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today is death day. It is tempting to fast forward from dying on Friday to resurrection on Sunday and skip the mourning and grief of Saturday.
Holy Saturday is about the space of loss and hope, the space of unknowing and disorientation, and the loneliness of letting go of one thing, before arriving at another. It is a very uncomfortable place where our faith is refined. In death, we may believe in resurrection, but we let go of knowing what it will look like.

Today, we let our faith go deeper and acquiesce to the mystery, and the ambiguity. We live with unknowns and walk with more questions than answers. We walk in the paradox of the already and the not yet. We resist the notion of having to understand or have things figured out, and instead yield to God, living in the moment, of uncertainty on the one hand, while receiving the loving embrace of Father on the other. We slow down, cease our striving, unbusy ourselves, and learn to be still and know that God is God, trusting our Father.

When we are in the “in-between”, we must lean into God, abide in Christ, and rest in the Lord.  Walking with the Lord, there is going to be some or a lot of disorientation and it is good, because it results in more of Him in my life.

Here are some more translations of Psalm 62:1

Part a:

  • Truly my soul waiteth upon God. (KJV)
  • My soul waiteth in silence for God only. (ASV)
  • To God alone is my spirit resigned. (AAT)
  • To God alone I commit myself silently. (Har)
  • Truly my soul looks in stillness to God. (Ber)
  • Only in God is my soul quieted. (ABPS)
  • Leave it all quietly to God, my soul. (Mof)
Part b:
  • My rescue comes from him alone. (Mof)
  • From him is my deliverance. (AAT)
  • From him comes my safety. (Jerus)

Resurrection Life

Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.

So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God.

-John 11:25, Colossians 3:1-3
Picture: Pixabay
Everyone who experienced Easter, with the celebration of Jesus rising from the dead; whether you celebrated privately or publicly, alone or with a small or large group, has been moved into an awareness of the resurrection, which means resurrection life for Christians.  There was a 40 day lead up to Easter called Lent, culminating in the holy weekend, of which we are now on the other side.  My question is, “Now what?”
What is all the Easter talk, thoughts, reflections, meditations, and celebration unto?  Every good message should have an application.  Yes, and the result of Easter is resurrection life.
The message of the gospel is that when you believe, you get life: believers become living-in-Christ-people; or “liver’s” for short.  You get to live in Christ and have Christ live in and through your life.  The everlasting life of John 3:16 is now and forever.
The message that Paul gives in Colossians 2 and 3, is that becoming a Christian does not mean you become a ritualistic, legalistic, religious person; but a person living in Christ.  In Christ, there is life. The Christian life is life in Christ, where the sinful life dies and the life I live in Christ flourishes.
We don’t stay as the same people who now do certain religious things.  We put to death our sinful ways and begin, over and over, to live in Christ.  Death and resurrection.
When we come to Christ and become Christians, we die and then live.  Our sinful nature, called ‘the flesh’ in some translations, dies; and we begin to live in Christ, in his resurrection life.  This is the aftercare, the result or life after Easter.
This is the message that every Christian should have gotten from Easter.  Now, we are focused again on resurrection life in Christ.  The Monday, Tuesday, and all the days after Easter are about getting it, if you did not get it; and then living it.
When we see each other, after Easter, we can ask each other, “Did you get it?”, or, “How is life?”, and we encourage and pray for each other.  Easter and after Easter is the time to remember, start over, and get everything back in focus.
Now to live the life.

In God, Upon God

My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock.
My refuge is in God.

-Psalm 62:7  
Photo: Pixabay

What does your life depend on and what are you famous for?  And what is your beginning and end, your source and your sustenance, that wraps around you and sustains your life?

What is your glory?  What is glorified in your life?  When you stand up, what do people see?
Do you reflect God, honoring him, or is your life filled with dishonor?  When you stand up, do people see a reflection of God or do they just see you?

We all have a testimony.  I have my story of God saving me.  God has glorified himself through my life.

Salvation means deliverance.  We are saved from and delivered from sin and bondage.  We need more deliverance and more saving, as we live our lives and continue in our journey.
Whatever we are facing, we depend on God for saving and deliverance.
Whatever glory we are destined for, that also completely depends on God.  It is all in God.
Some people seek glory apart from God or give lip service to God, while not genuinely having God’s glory.  There can be a lot of God talk without God’s presence.
This verse and this song reminds me that my life is in God and I am completely dependent upon God:

I am at rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will never be shaken.

How long will you threaten a man?
Will all of you attack
as if he were a leaning wall
or a tottering stone fence?
They only plan to bring him down
from his high position.
They take pleasure in lying;
they bless with their mouths,
but they curse inwardly.  Selah

Rest in God alone, my soul,
for my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will not be shaken.
My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock.
My refuge is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts before Him.
God is our refuge.  Selah

Men are only a vapor;
exalted men, an illusion.
Weighed in the scales, they go up;
together they are less than a vapor.
Place no trust in oppression,
or false hope in robbery.
If wealth increases,
pay no attention to it.

God has spoken once;
I have heard this twice:
strength belongs to God,
and faithful love belongs to You, Lord.
For You repay each according to his works.

Are we resting in God’s salvation?  I see that as a key.  It is all in God and upon God, but I get to play, to participate.  I receive his works, and my glory is his glory in, through, and upon my life.

My soul continually rests in God, while salvation and deliverance come to me; sooner or later.  And God is glorified and I share his glory because I am his and it is his work in my life.  It all depends on God and God works it all out.

When I rest in God, knowing salvation and my reputation or the outcomes of and in my life depend on Him, I can partake of his love and enjoy him and be at peace, while exercising faith, on-the-ground.  On the battle field of life, on earth, there is love and resting in God.  This is a revelation, and an epiphany, a learned thing.

Do you get it?

Life is hard, there are hardships and difficulties, and even lost battles.  But there is joy, hope, and love always in and from God, in my relationship with faithful Father.  Though the battle rages, there is rest and there is communion with the Lord.

This is the way of the warrior who is a son or a daughter of God.  All of salvation is in and through God.  How will he make a way?  He will.  Rest in him and let him do it.

The rest is in the refuge of God.  He is my place of rest, my hiding place, my place of safety and immunity.  Out of that place, the place of rest in God is my life and my salvation.

When You Are Lonely God Is Lonely For You

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.”

“Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

“If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”

“Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.

“I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.

“In a little while the world will see Me no longer, but you will see Me.Because I live, you will live too. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you. The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.”

Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it You’re going to reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.

“I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful. You have heard Me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced that I am going to the Father,because the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over Me. On the contrary, I am going away so that the world may know that I love the Father. Just as the Father commanded Me, so I do.

“Get up; let’s leave this place.
-John 14

Photo: pixabay

It was the one night a week that I arrive home to an empty house.  I had been busy doing some yard work before dark and was now preparing dinner and was about to watch a movie.  Then, I had this moment where I sensed the Lord’s presence.

I suddenly had this revelation, a thought, idea, or impression; that every time that I am alone is a special time when the Lord is with me.  The Lord actually enjoys, desires time alone with me.  Those times when I feel like I don’t have someone for fellowship, friendship, or community; are times when God is completely available and wants to be with me.

Did you know that God is lonely for you?  When you are lonely, God is lonely for you.

The idea I got was that, those times when I am alone are actually special times that I have in my life when I get to lean into the Lord and be with him.  Yes, the Lord is with me also when I am with others, but there is something different when I am alone.  It is like loneliness is there and the Lord fills it with the opposite.

He takes the (potential) sadness of loneliness and turns it around and gives me comforting fellowship.  When you are lonely, God is lonely for you.

All I have to do is turn to the Lord.  It is so easy, in loneliness, to turn on the tv, the radio, or look at the computer or handheld device.  When I do those things, the Lord is still there, but I do not have undivided fellowship with him.

He waits for me to turn to him.  I can turn to him all the time or none of the time and his love is unconditional.  I am the one who misses out, when I do not turn to the Lord.

Another aspect of my revelation, impression, or “ah-ha, I get it” moment; is that all the lonely times in my life are opportunities, blessings, or gifts; of being able to commune and have close times with God.  I could say, “why do you have me alone at all these times and places?”, and feel self-pity and feel cheated of human relationships.  But I get it that in each of those lonesome times, the Lord is wanting to enjoy time with me.

The Lord is Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1;23).  The incarnation is a wonderful and powerful part of God’s story.  Jesus promised also, “I will be with you” (Matt. 28:20).

I believe that the lonelier you are, the more lonely or lonesome your circumstances are, that the greater blessing is in store for you from the Lord.  You just have to turn to the Lord and let him love you.

The Lord Will Make A Way For You, If You Make Him The Way

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

-Isaiah 43:19, Psalm 68:4, John 14:6 (ESV)

You and I are each in a place in life, but many of us would like to be in another place.  Call it your promised land.  We have a dream, a destiny, a calling, an inheritance, or a birthright not yet fully received.

The path to the promise is the one who is the way.  The Lord will make a way for you, if you make him the way.  It is as simple and profound as that.

In between here and there looks like a desert.  Maybe to you it looks like an ocean, or a mountain range that is in your way.  But the word of the Lord is that God will make a way for you.

The way through the desert, the way through what seems impossible is the Lord.  He has always been the way for you and I.  Our part is to abide in him and let him take us on his journey.

The path is the one who is Lord.  He is the way to the Father and the way to the kingdom.  The Lord will make a path and lead you, if you abide in him.

The story of Isaiah 43 is the people of God going back to their land of promise, and God encouraging them, that he would make a way for them, in the desert.  This same principle holds true for believers today, because Christ is the way.  Wherever you are in your journey, Christ is with you; you are in Christ who is the way.

The past is our important story.  We learned and we gained good things and we also have scars from how we were hurt.  We are not victims of our past, nor triumphalistic deniers of our brokenness; but we have been redeemed and God redeems out past.

We are overcomers, wounded warriors, the walking wounded; we are all broken people, being made whole by Christ.  We have been receiving provision for our losses, exchanging crowns of beauty for ashes; having oil of joy instead of mourning; and being clothed with praise instead of despair. (Isa. 61:3)

Christ is the way to heaven and the way for life here on earth.  The Christian life is, “Christ in you” (Col. 1:27).  He is the way and the life, so he sustains you on your journey in and on the way.  The way in is the way on.

The past is in the past.  We can make amends and reconcile with people.  We obviously can not go back in time and it is foolishness to be obsessed with the past, idealizing it or wearing shame and despair because of the failure or defeat in the past.

God says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth.  Do you see it?”  We can be blind to the present, because of an obsession with the past.  The past is over and gone.  Let it go.

God does not erase our past, but redeems it.  You get to keep the wisdom you gained from your past, while you get released from the sin and free from any bondage to the past, including the people, places, and things in your past.  You may still be with those people, in those places, and have those things; but you have changed and you have been redeemed.

The Christian life is life in Christ and it is inside out.  We have Christ in our hearts, so that he changes our identity and how we think and then how we live.

We love him and trust him with our hearts.

We often refer to getting saved as, “asking Jesus to come into our hearts”.  After we invite him in, we give him permission to live there, and make him Lord.  When he lives in us, we enter into a transformational relationship with him, that we call discipleship, which is where we learn how to live in Christ, letting him live his life through our lives.

In order to find the way, we have to let go of the past; grieve it and receive healing for how we were hurt, forgive others, and be forgiven for our blunders.  Then we can be ready to see and believe the new thing that God will do.  And the only way to get to the land of promise, our destiny, and receive our inheritance and come into our birthright, is to abide in the Lord.

Trust in him at all times.

It starts and continues, inside out, from the heart.  Have faith by walking by faith, with the one who has saved you and is taking you in and on his way towards your destiny, on the journey that is unique to you.

He is the way for you.  Other ways are detours, holding patterns, and cul-de-sacs.  This is the good news.

The path is the one who is the Lord.  He is the way to the Father and the way to the kingdom.  The Lord will make a path and lead you, if you abide in him.

It’s The Fruit

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

“As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.

“I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. This is what I command you: Love one another.

-John 15:1-17

Photo: pixabay

I had a dream about the fruit.  The message I got, was that the fruit is the program.  We’re supposed to be bearing the fruit and living in fruitfulness.

It’s the fruit!

Yes, first for Christians is Christ.  We find Christ.  Christ finds us and we get saved.

We begin living the Christian life, which is life in union with Christ.  And his fruit flows through us.  That is what a Christian is.

The interesting thing about the fruit from God that he wants to bring in our lives, is that we do make it.  We produce fruit only by being in union with Christ.

What John 15 is saying, is that the life does not work, unless we abide in Christ.  The key verse, to me, is verse 4, that says, “Remain in me and I in you”.  He is calling each one of us to a mutual relationship with him.

The mutuality of our union with Christ, is that it goes in both directions.  He is in us and we are in him.  It is not one or the other, but both.

We will only bear fruit if we abide in him.  If we do not abide in him, then what?  We have no fruit.

The fruit is the manifestation of Christ’s life in our lives.  This is what a Christian is, a person who is abiding in Christ.

The fruit that comes from being in union with Christ, is what makes the Christian life.  We are mistaken if we think that it’s knowledge or gifts that is what the life of Christ is all about.  Knowledge and giftedness come after the fruit.

And the fruit begins with love, loving people out of Christ’s love in us.  This is the life of Christ in his followers

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