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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The highway of hope

Matthew 12:15-21 / Mark 3:7-12…

Jesus was able to read the thoughts of those who were now out to kill Him, and their faces undoubtedly gave themselves away also. He withdrew from the hostile environment of the Pharisees and went about doing good things and healing people (Acts 10:38).

Again, Jesus mirrors the Old Testament (Isaiah 42:1-4), showing that His story is the point of history. All the events in the redemptive history of the Jews are learning points along the path of our own redemption (1 Corinthians 10:1-13 / Romans 15:4). If you follow along with Jesus, you will be following the will of God, and you will see how He had followed along with God’s people then (Genesis 12:7-9, 18:1-3, 32:24-30 / Exodus 3:2-6 / Joshua 5:13-15 / Daniel 3:23-25), and in your own experience, how He follows you along your journey now.

He is right there with you (Hebrews 13:5-6), and you will be able to find Him all along the way. Jesus interacted with the people, even though sometimes hidden, and now He still interacts with us. Even though we don’t see Him, we see His action. His presence is with us in the power of the Holy Spirit, and you will know it. That is, if you care to follow along. Jesus didn’t come to hurt, He came to help, and if you follow Him, you will have tribulation but you will also have victory (John 16:33 / 1 John 5:4), because He is the highway of hope.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Jesus made me mad

Matthew 12:9-14 / Mark 3:1-6 / Luke 6:6-11…

The movement of God is always moving against the murmuring of the religious crowd. When Jesus is moving, around you, through you, or to you, that is when the people will be looking to catch you in some supposed infraction. They went against Him; they will go against you, even when you are doing good things. It is always lawful to do good; just make sure you know what good really is (Galatians 5:22-23).

Jesus didn’t hold back, He knew what they were up to, yet when He in turn questioned them, they went silent (1 Peter 2:12, 15). You might be mad that people aren’t glad when you’re trying to do good; but you need to be careful how you relate to these things.

And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart. There is a bad, human, self-centered anger (James 1:20), and a good, godly, God-centered anger (Luke 11:52 / Ephesians 4:26). One is because we are dishonored; the other is because God is dishonored. We have to be careful, because we often think we are honoring God but we are not (Luke 9:51-55). How often do we presume to be standing up for the honor of God, and yet we do so in a manner not worthy of His grace?

The anger of Jesus was a grieving anger, not bitter, mean spirited, vindictive, or violent. His anger was because of His radical love. We should be mad at sin, but remember, we need to strike at the serpent, not his prey. We shouldn’t just rail at people who are practicing wrong things we should present them with the gospel. Transformed hearts will result in transformed lives. God is more angry at the immorality and injustice than we are (Isaiah 1:17). Jesus saw how sin hardened the heart of these legalistic leaders.

Following Jesus makes us mad, but what type of mad depends on you. Our anger should be a grieving anger too.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Picking a fight

Matthew 12:1-8 / Mark 2:23-28 / Luke 6:1-5…

Being a true follower of the true Jesus will get you into true trouble with the religious crowd. You will wind up going against their rigid, self-made standards too often, and they will claim that they are on the right side of God’s Word, and call you into question. It is always so with those who want to bottle the move of God. It is not that we are supposed to violate the ways of God by sinning against ordinances, but that we often violate the ways of man by staying with God’s essence in giving us freedom to follow Him.

Jesus pointed out through the life of the beloved King David (1 Samuel 21:1-6) that we should not get hung up on the literal letter but look to the spiritual substance (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). Jesus noted that there are occasions where the priests had to “break” their own laws (John 7:22-23). Ceremony is superseded by substance (Hosea 6:6). Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and is greater than mere types and shadows, He is the substance (Colossians 2:16-17).

Don’t concern yourself with people who want to fight over the frivolous yet fail to follow along in faith. God desires, not sacrifice to a set of rules, but mercy to men in essence. Following Him in faith means we must examine ourselves to make sure we don’t make our liberty an idol (Romans 14:22-23 / 1 Peter 2:16), but we are also clean as to conscience and through with dead works (Hebrews 9:14, 10:22).

Jesus is Lord of our rest, and we should follow Him and leave the fighting to the self-righteous.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Corroborating evidence

John 5:31-47 …

In His ongoing testimony about His relationship with God as His Father, Jesus appealed to the evidence of witness, the evidence of walk, and the evidence of essence.

John the Baptist, whom the religious leaders liked for a little while, till the heat came on, was a witness to Jesus. Do the people in your circle of life testify to the movement of God in you? Can other people believe what is said about you?

The greater evidence that Jesus was who He said revolved around the fact that His walk was absolutely worthy of God. His walk was a working walk. Our walk will waver and our works are not the equal of our Lord’s, but do we work to walk in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21 / Ephesians 4:1)? Does the truth about deliverance and salvation radiate from you (Matthew 5:16)?

People that don’t have the love of God in them are people who don’t know God, and don’t seek to consciously glorify Him. The religious types will look to their own ways to justify themselves, but without Jesus, without God’s grace, this is all just man made religion.

The Old Testament and New, all down the line we see Jesus. The whole of the bible is about Him. The Old Testament didn’t mention Jesus by name but in essence. Our works don’t save us, but they are evidence of our walk with Jesus, evidence that our essence has changed, and is one with the One we say we worship.

Even if we have the evidence of witness, the evidence of walk, and the evidence of essence, this doesn’t mean others will believe. However, that doesn’t lessen our responsibility one bit, and if we love the Lord we will walk His way. Salvation comes from God, but situations come to us, and we are to demonstrate as well as declare that Jesus is Lord and Christ.

Does your current life story reflect the truth of the bible?

Do the people who abide in the truth know that you are of the truth?

Does the evidence of your life support your claim to be a Christian?

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Dead or alive

John 5:16-30 …

Healing on the Sabbath, and claiming to be God’s Son; making himself equal with God. The Jewish religious leaders knew that when Jesus said that God was His Father that this meant He was claiming to be God. That is why they were trying to kill Him. Don’t let anyone tell you that Jesus didn’t claim to be God (John 10:24-33).

Jesus didn’t shy away from their accusations. Instead He further revealed the nature of His relationship with His Father. Their relationship is united (vs.19), personal (vs.20), powerful (vs.21), and fully invested (vs.22). Jesus is subordinate in role (1 Corinthians 15:25-28), but the same in essence (Philippians 2:6 / Colossians 1:15-18, 2:9 / Hebrews 1:3, 8). Just as they honor the Father – If you do not honor the Son as God, and if you don’t honor Him just as much as the Father, then you are not honoring the Father.

So Jesus has this incredible power, but it goes much further than that, because believing in Jesus results in eternal life (Ephesians 2:1-7)! He is the one who we must measure up to or face eternal death; He is the standard by which all people are judged (Acts 17:31 / Romans 2:16).

These facts toppled the applecart of the apostate Jews. They also topple our temporal attitudes if we will dive into their depths.

Christians are not God, but God is in us, and we are in Him. The question is do we want to be as close as this, and when we don’t, why? When you are challenged as to your faith, do you shy away, or do you tell the truth about Jesus and your relationship with Him? Even if it means people will persecute and maybe even kill you?

If that is really true, then you need to do as Jesus says now (Luke 9:23). If in position, your spirit has passed from death to life, then in practice, your sin needs to pass from life to death (1 Peter 4:1-2 / Romans 6:11). Are you dead to God, and alive to sin, or dead to sin, and alive to God?

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The pool of pain

John 5:1-15 …

The problem addressed: Do you want to be healed? There seem to be winners and losers in every stratum of life, even in the congregation of the convalescent. People are motivated by movement, and among those whose life has stalled, any sign of hope can be a cause for chaos. Physically, mentally, relationally, financially, emotionally, socially, and spiritually, we all have had areas where we were or are more invalid than strong. Instead of looking to the source of life, people treat life like a zero sum game, and when others may beat us to the punch, life seems to knock us out. Are you willing to answer Jesus, not knowing what He will say next?

The prescription administered: Get up, take up your bed, and walk. The man had not sought Jesus, and though lots of other hurting people were around, Jesus only came to the one man. Sometimes, what we need seems so close, and we think we know the right place, right time, and the right way to get it, yet it always seems to be just out of our grasp. That is when Jesus shows us that if we will do as He says, we find that He is a greater source and the solution to all our real problems. Are you willing to do what He says, even if you haven’t done it before?

The preventive aftercare: Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you. Not all sickness is due to personal sin, but apparently this man’s infirmity had been brought about by the sinful choices in his life. If we are often sliding back into familiar sin we should expect to suffer the consequences of carelessness. What good is it for Jesus to heal us if we are going right back to dancing with the devil and playing with the fire that burned us before (2 Peter 2:19-22)? Are you willing to go forward with Jesus, if freedom means you can’t go back?

Follow the Divine Doctor’s orders. Why go back to the pool of pain?

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Spill the wine

Matthew 9:14-17 / Mark 2:18-22 / Luke 5:33-39 …

When people from “outside the house” take extraordinary measures to get to Jesus (Luke 5:17-26), or when Jesus goes to the house of people with “extraordinary sin” (Luke 5:27-32), the religious crowd doesn’t like it. The people getting closest to Jesus, those who follow Him from house to house, they are questioned as to their actions and their attitudes. Pharisees old and new bow down, not at the appearance of Christ, but at the altar of cynicism.

Jesus is the vine (John 15:5), and God was branching out among the people in a new way. The fermenting of new wine builds up pressure which can burst old skins, like the effect of opening a corked wine bottle. Christianity was beginning to explode out of the boundaries of the Pharisees and beyond Israel. It cannot be contained, nor its practice limited to a set of commandments.

The spectre of legalism is the reality of the satanic ghost among us. Of course Jesus doesn’t want us to do sinful things, but He doesn’t want our personal convictions to stop His manifestation to people’s hearts, either (John 14:21). It is vital to our Christian calling to live as much as we can in the tension between the pulls of legalism and licentiousness (Romans 14:17 / Colossians 2:16-23 / 1 Peter 2:16). We can enjoy God’s good graces if we are good stewards, and that doesn’t require legalism, it requires a circumcision of the heart, and the destruction of idols.

Jesus isn’t giving us an excuse to justify any and every “new thing” with this passage. Jesus was speaking of trying to combine the works righteousness of the Jews with the salvation by grace alone that He offered. You can’t try and fit any man made definition you want into the metaphor of “new wine and new wineskins” and be biblically sound. What Jesus meant is that He did not come to perpetuate the old covenant of law but to bring people into a “new covenant” of grace (Hebrews 8:7-13). That is the old wine He was warning of.

But people don’t want to change from law to grace, they still want to justify themselves. The prejudiced person thinks the old wine of doing it yourself is better than the new wine of grace (Romans 10:3-4). He won’t even try the new; he is satisfied in his sanctimony.

But grace is God’s new wine, and Jesus would fill up and ferment the old wineskin (Matthew 5:17), and be poured out, so that He would pour us into the new wineskin of grace, that we may be filled with a new, Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Scumbags and sickos

Matthew 9:9-13 / Mark 2:13-17 / Luke 5:27-32…

Jesus calls people who others think He has no right to. But the Great Physician knows those who know they are sick. Those who think they are well, without any need of a remedy, or without any ongoing, managed care, these are those who scoff at the services of the Divine Doctor. They don’t think they need Him, and they don’t like who He helps and heals, and who He hangs out with (1 Corinthians 4:11-13). These types need to learn a lesson (Hosea 6:6). Jesus answered their question of “why would you?” with “why wouldn’t you?”

The tax collectors were treated like traitors, but all who are not with Christ are traitors to God. A doctor doesn’t come to call on your home and berate you for being sick; he prescribes a course of action to get well. There are sick people everywhere, and they are more than sick, they are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). Anywhere and everywhere is where the devil has his children, and anywhere and everywhere is where the battle rages, and so anywhere and everywhere is where we need ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). The gospel is for all nations, tribes, and tongues (Matthew 28:19-20 / Acts 1:8 / Revelation 7:9), for all people groups, social groups, genders, and ages (Acts 2:17-18 / 1 Timothy 2:1-4), but most of the time it comes to those who aren’t regarded well by the world (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

The modern cliché is that a church is not a showcase for saints, but a hospital for sinners. That is good as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. The truth is that yes, the church is a hospital for sinners, but it is for those who know they are sinners. Those who come to a hospital are not there to stay sick, but to get well. Those that seem to want to stay sick are perhaps those who think that they are already well, just by virtue of being at the hospital. The church is a hospital, but it is also to be a holy habitation, a place for those who have gotten well, and these also know they need to provide hospice care for one another while we are on the way to heaven.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Down and determined

Matthew 9:1-8 / Mark 2:1-12 / Luke 5:17-26…

Sometimes what Jesus is doing is not supposed to be a secret, and indeed, it can become quite a spectacle. This is when we have to give our prayers legs, and put our faith in action. Sometimes we have to be someone else’s legs in order to get them to Jesus. Even then, it may take more than one of us, and it may take extraordinary measures to bring someone close to Jesus.

Oh, be sure that there will be people who think you are just making a mockery of God and a fool of yourself. It is always that way when the “regular folks” are going hard after God. It may cause a ruckus, and it may be “out of order”, but these are the very situations where Jesus proves His authority over both sickness and sin. The religious crowd always takes umbrage, but Jesus is looking for faith, not finger pointing. In this scenario, Jesus perceives their thoughts, and He further challenges the sanctimonious scoffers by linking His healing power to His ultimate authority. He is no mere miracle worker, He is the Son of God, and not a blasphemer at all.

The crowds felt the fear of the Lord, and marveled that a man could have such power invested in them. It is always worth it to go the extra mile, and climb wherever we need to go, and take the steps someone else can’t take to get them to Jesus. That is the place where others can stand amazed and say, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Show and tell

Matthew 8:1-4 / Mark 1:40-45 / Luke 5:12-16…

People want to be healed and helped, and Jesus is indeed willing, but there is a greater purpose than the mere ministry of the body. The crowds were filled with enthusiasm but not filled with comprehension. They understand in the temporal sense, but the greater healing, the deeper meaning, the eternal reality, that God in the flesh was among them, was apparently escaping some of them. Healing of infirmity is wonderful but healing for eternity is greater, and Jesus was much more than a healer of the body, He was and is the only true healer of souls.

Sometimes, when Jesus helps and heals us, it is not yet time to tell the whole world about it. Rather, it is time to be obedient, and get back into those things that are expected of whole people. Just because Jesus breaks the patterns of sin doesn’t mean we are free to break the patterns of life. You need to let your life show that you have been healed, and its purpose, being obedient, rather than just trying to go and tell everyone about it, without the obedience. If we want to be mature, we won’t let our zeal make our announcements premature. When we are healed the first place to go is not the public square, but into the secret place, for the sacred giving of thanks.

Jesus could no longer openly enter a town. The man went out to tell everyone, in spite of Jesus’ command, and the movement of God was redirected, in spite of the man’s zeal. Can Jesus openly be on the move through your life, or do you limit the move of God by your disobedience? When they would press, He would pray. Jesus intercedes for you (Romans 8:34 / Hebrews 7:25), but do you go along and show the deeper meaning of healing by your obedience?

Because of our disobedient enthusiasm, people may come to Jesus for the wrong reasons, not that it is wrong to come to Him to be helped and healed, but that then all people are looking for is their Jesus fix, instead of being Jesus’ followers. They want to come and then go on their way instead of following His way. People want to get healed and helped without having to then be obedient, and oh how it is like this in our churches today, more especially for those who won’t even go to church! We approach Jesus when we want our fix, but our hearts are not fixed on Him. Jesus wants us to be devoted, not just when we think we need Him, but realizing that we are always in need, and therefore we obediently follow Him all along the way.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Leaving it all behind

Luke 5:1-11…

The crowd was pressing in to hear the word of God, but the vision of just how glorious was the Teacher came to Peter. The word of Christ goes out, it teaches, but then Jesus calls someone to see what they were hearing.

Jesus announced good news to Peter. He wasn’t saying, “You’ve tried that, now try this”. He was saying, “Do this because I have already ordained its success”. Jesus knows where the fish are, He is the one who sets up the catch. Jesus is God, and God is the one who brings the fish into the net. Peter is learning the lesson of listening, and he obeys the word. Upon seeing with obedient eyes, the word of the Word reaches him, and then he reaches out, for help. In the light of Jesus, Peter goes from confidence to contrition (Isaiah 6:5).

Too often we cannot get a holy handle on temporal wealth, because we are spoiled with our own ideas of success. It is not wrong to do well, and it is right to be excellent about your work. But we must remember the real work. If I’m looking for the wrong sort of success, and I find Jesus, I find out I’m sinful. Jesus can bust the nets and sink the boats, but if you think that is what He is about, well, you haven’t actually heard Him. What He is about is getting you to listen to Him, not for your success, as you would define it, but for your obedience, which is success as He defines it. Jesus was telling Peter, “I could make you the most successful person ever at your current profession, but now you are to be my possession, and so on to new work you go.” He will show us what He wants, and He will give us what we need, if we will do it (Matthew 6:33).

It is not for fear; the other things you think you want are what bring the fear when you can’t, don’t, or won’t have them. Instead, the perfect love of Jesus drives out fear (1 John 4:18). He is transforming your whole essence, how you think, how you hear, how you see, what you say, how you behave, what you believe, what you do. If you follow His way, you will see His fish, they are right there for the catching.

He is the catch: be willing to leave everything else behind.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Faces in the crowd

Matthew 4:23-25 / Mark 1:39 / Luke 4:44…

Today, very few have never heard the name of Jesus. He’s not physically with us, but mentioning His name still draws attention, and most of the time, if spoken of in truth, it will not be a positive reaction. Oh, there may be smiles, but let Him press His claims, and those smiles will turn to scorn. It has always been so (John 6:53-67). People are comfortable with a distant Jesus; they will even follow Him in somewhat veiled admiration. But bring Him near, on His terms, rather than rushing to Him on their terms, and then the truth of their hearts will arise.

People may rush upon the Master, and may follow along for a while, but when truly tested, we see that some only tasted (Hebrews 6:4-6), they didn’t really swallow. People want His deliverance, but they do not want His divinity, for that would mean their subjection. People want to touch His hand, but they do not want to bow the knee. People will freely follow along as long as they can freely turn around. Those captured by Christ, however, are part of the triumphal procession of God’s slaves (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

People are helped, healed, delivered, and crowds follow. We may want great open displays of deliverance, but what we fail to realize is that every single person who is not a part of the kingdom of God is under the power of the devil (1 John 5:19), and everyone who has been saved has had to be delivered from demonic powers. That is what salvation is, being delivered, and we cannot do it ourselves, but when we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ it delivers us.

Are you being delivered, or are you just one of the crowds following along?

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Jesus needed three things

Mark 1:35-38 / Luke 4:42-43…

So many lessons to learn from these few choice verses! To fulfill His purpose, Jesus needed constant contact with heaven. He was the busiest of men, but He made time. While everyone is looking for Him, He is looking to His Father.

Jesus carried out His ministry in the context of preaching. The miracles, signs and wonders were done in the midst of preaching the truth about Himself and the kingdom of God. Matthew 7:24 – “everyone who hears these words of mine”; this is Jesus talking about His preaching from the Sermon on the Mount. When we are born again it is now our purpose to be prayerful and for our lives to preach (1 John 3:18 / 1 Corinthians 10:31 / Matthew 5:16 / Philippians 2:15).

They “would have kept Him from leaving”. Jesus is meant to move, to be spread out, and not just to be kept inside our own little world. Is your circle expanding, moving? Would you keep Jesus from His purpose just for your pleasure? If you are looking for the move of God it is to be found as you are praying and preaching, but this is also as you are proceeding to fulfill your mission in the movement of God.

Pray, preach, and proceed, that was the plan leading to propitiation.

If Jesus needed these things…

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Drawing near to deliverance

Matthew 8:14-17 / Mark 1:29-34 / Luke 4:38-41…

The ministry of Jesus was the manifestation of the Son of God. It involved temporal signs of power pointing to the everlasting comfort of God (Isaiah 53:4 / 1 Peter 2:24).

Peter’s mother in law was weakened, but when Jesus took her by the hand, and she recovered, the first thing she does is serve Him. People who are sick are grateful when they get well. When Jesus has healed someone who is spiritually sick, that person becomes a servant of the Master.

The fame of Jesus was spreading. The movement of God will draw people near to deliverance. Jesus reaches the physical, mental, and spiritual places. There is no sin that Jesus cannot deliver you from. Christ delivers from disease, delivers from demons, and most importantly, delivers from damnation. That’s the one thing you need deliverance from most of all.

The demons know, believe, and fear Jesus (James 2:19), but the demons are not delivered. They do not serve Jesus willingly, but only as far as His sovereign power orchestrates their movements. Have you been delivered? If you have been delivered from darkness you will follow His light (Ephesians 2:8-10 / 1 John 2:15-17, 5:19).

Do you serve Jesus, or yourself? You are not delivered to become your own king; you have been transferred from one kingdom to another (Colossians 1:13 / 1 Peter 2:9). Those God saves become God’s slaves (Romans 6:11, 18, 22 / 2 Timothy 2:19 / 1 Peter 2:16).

Will you be delivered (James 4:6-8), or do you want to be damned?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The curtain draws back

Mark 1:21-28 / Luke 4:31-37…

Before we get excited by the thought of demonic deliverance, we need to look deeper into this drama (Acts 19:13-16). Consider that the devil was at the worship service. The teaching of Jesus had brought him out, but the man had brought him in. Jesus had called the fishermen to come out from the world. Now He calls the demon to come out of the man. Jesus is calling but the enemy inside doesn’t really want to answer, yet it must.

Demonic activity has always been present, from the beginning (Genesis 3). Satan and his minions didn’t just show up when Christ showed up, but these powerful, public displays of deliverance served as a witness that the kingdom of God had come on the scene and that the power of Jesus was able to overthrow the power of darkness (Matthew 8:28-29 / Mark 5:7 / Luke 8:28). Notice the sovereignty of God over demonic activity (cf. Revelation 9:1-5).

Jesus was drawing back the curtain, but the drama is still playing out. Satan and demons are still active even if we do not see their activity; they are very much at work and at war. During the time of Jesus and the Apostles it was just brought out into the public eye as a sign. If we are truly using Jesus as the call, the forces of evil will answer, not necessarily in some overt audible way to an invisible Jesus, but person to person, as both of us are proxies. There will be times where resistance is more evident, but if there is never any resistance to your ministry, you are bringing the wrong message about the wrong Master.

We need to know who the enemy is, but also who it isn’t. Unbelievers are not our enemies; they are victims of the enemy (2 Timothy 2:26). Satan uses our sinful human flesh and the world systems to keep captives for his kingdom. When we just scoff at unbelievers because they don’t believe we are seriously misunderstanding the nature of what is really going on in the universe. Unbelievers may feel free but they are bound, and it isn’t simply a matter of just having a different set of values than we do. They are held captive by the enemy and are blind to the liberating truth (2 Corinthians 4:4 / Ephesians 2:1-3). Keep preaching the truth and Jesus will expose and extract the enemy from people’s lives, not by exorcism but in experience (2 Corinthians 4:5-6). We have to strike against the serpent not his prey.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Still fishing

Matthew 4:18-22 / Mark 1:16-20 …

When Jesus calls us into His service, this may mean that we are still doing some of the same things, but in new ways and in new places. In a sense, the early disciples weren’t going to change their occupation; they were going to transform their occupation. They left their nets but picked up new ones. They were still going to be casting nets, and mending nets, but now it would be casting new nets for mended souls.

For us, we may not be changing our physical occupation, but we transform it into a spiritual occupation. We are still doing what we were doing but now doing it for God. Ministry doesn’t necessarily mean we have to leave town or leave our job or family setting.

Sometimes, however, Jesus invades our workspace, our means of means, and calls us out into territory where He alone must provide as we follow. Other people, including our family, may be left to the former work, but you must go on. We seek different streams, and for different fish.

The point is about following in our hearts. Jesus transforms our occupation, our orientation. If we give our hearts we’ll give our minds, hands, legs, wallet (job). It is not about glamour but about going (Matthew 28:19-20). Has your following Jesus transformed the way you go about your work (Colossians 3:23-24 / Ephesians 4:28 / 1 Corinthians 15:58 / 1 Peter 2:18-21)?

If not, Jesus is still fishing for your heart.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

The circle is a wheel

Luke 4:16-30…

When your life is lived in fulfillment of Scripture, it becomes a lightning rod for those who only play with the power of our Master’s word. The “spiritual” crowd will be looking to see what you might say about what is going on with what you have been doing.

At first, they may marvel at the grace apparent in your life, but they care more about themselves than about you. Suddenly rebuffed, from them you will hear the cries, “why don’t you help us in the way we want to be helped”? But the kingdom of God comes on its own terms, and you are not the miracle worker, you simply follow the One who is. If they were to follow, they would see, but they want to remain, so they suffer, and against you they will rage.

It would seem that just when you get really going on with Jesus, that when you really try and share Him and His word amongst your home crew, this is when the real opposition starts to mount. It comes as a surprise to many to find such staunch resistance in and among our immediate family, but here we are, realizing that our destiny is to move with Jesus no matter who comes with us or not. You might come back time and again with the message, but it must not remain stagnant, you must move on. Resistance, rejection, and even retaliation are but points along the pure path.

You were also against the way before God put you in it. You now pray that God would help others close to us to see, but your light must shine elsewhere at times. To define those who are closest to you depends on whether they remain in your spiritual circle or not. You love them, but you are not of them in the same way anymore, and your love for your Lord means the circle of your life moves as He does.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Back to the future

John 4:46-54…

Jesus often returns us to scenes where He made Himself more fully known. At the first instance, He examined our motives for asking. He attuned us to His spiritual timing. He did indeed act, and taught us to know that His overall purposes must be kept in focus by the faithful.

Upon the next pass of power along the path, we must learn His ways as He stretches us out, for others’ sake. Obedience was a key at the last turning point, but now it must run deeper. Now it is not just for the manifesting of His glory in the immediate, but for the ministry of His glory out of the range of our sight. We have to go forward in faith, without seeing the water turn to wine (2 Corinthians 5:7).

It is not a blind leap, it is a blessed leading, and we trust the eyes of Jesus rather than our own. We cannot as yet see the miracle, but we do see the Master, and He bids us go on. We cannot see into the future, but He can. He is already there, and He tells us to go ahead and meet Him there, where He has acted for His glory and in our behalf by acting on the behalf of a loved one. More proof that we are His loved one, and that our loved ones can come to join Jesus.

The man came forward to Jesus because of what He had done before. He went back to action after he believed in the word Jesus said now. He fully believed and became an evangelist when he walked with faith into the future. Time and time again, Jesus will again call us to remember that it is about who He is, not just for us, and not just through us, but to us.

What say you of Jesus? He only does what He does because He is who He is. Why do you believe? Is it because you’ve seen His signs? Is it because you’ve heard His words? Or is it because you’ve met Him as God?

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Friday, February 10, 2017

The movement of the message

Matthew 4:12-17 / Mark 1:14-15 / Luke 4:14-15 / John 4:43-45…

The news spreads, and when great things are happening, great crowds will come admiring. Yet the gospel that comes from God is a message that must be turned to, not just with ears and excitement, but with heart and soul. It is not something that can be simply admired, like so much of the sentimental, humanistic, “oh isn’t that lovely” type of thing we see so prevalently today.

Outside your regular church world and into areas of great darkness Jesus will sometimes take you (Isaiah 9:1-2). When you enter into that darkness, the dream in you (Colossians 1:27) is the hope of the light that dawns. The kingdom of God had arrived with the presence of the King. Jesus was the long awaited Messiah; He is the Christ, Jesus IS the good news of the gospel. It is He who saves sinners. You are the movement of His message (Romans 10:9-17).

What does your arrival bring? What does your life announce? Is it simply, “follow your heart”, “be a good person”, “just reform a little and it will be okay”, or, “as long as you are sincere you will have eternal peace”? If so your life does not shine the truth! If yours is the Christian life then your life is the message of “repent and believe”, not in yourself or your own faithfulness, not in the goodness of man, not in some other way to be reconciled to God, but only this: repent and believe the gospel.

What message moves you? You are a royal priest and an ambassador for the kingdom of God. The king will at once come again. When people encounter you, do they know the kingdom is at hand? Or are you the herald for humanism?

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Share and share alike

Luke 3:19-20…

Herod did a lot of despicable things, but imprisoning John the Baptist was the sin icing on the devil’s food cake, as it were. People who don’t know God might not mind that you are talking rough about sin, unless and until it is their sin. You can hear all sorts of complaints about the cooking, until it gets right into your own kitchen. Then it gets a little too personal for them, and it might get a little too painful for you.

People who have authority over you, who are not of the kingdom of God, can and sometimes will use their position to try and put you out of commission, as it were. They might at times hear you gladly (Mark 6:20), but know that those who are reproved by your righteous lifestyle (Ephesians 5:11) will turn on you if they listen to the devil in their ear (2 Timothy 3:12). Even your former peers might join in (1 Peter 4:4).

This is your call, not just to share Jesus, but to share along with Jesus. You must share the truth of the Savior (Matthew 5:11-12). You must also share the test of the suffering (Philippians 1:29, 3:10 / 1 Peter 4:12-13). But you will also share the touch of the Spirit (1 Peter 4:14).

In our relationship with Jesus, be ready to share and share alike. He feels your pain (Hebrews 4:15). Are you ready to feel His (1 Peter 4:1-2)?

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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The real reason

John 4:39-42…

People can get excited about our experiences, especially when they seem so real to us that we lose all inhibition in sharing it with anyone and everyone. It is a powerful witness when someone actually radiates conviction about what they are saying to you. Jesus exposes us, and we go and expose Him. We are lit up and on fire, and we use all the heat we can to bring people to the Light that has found us.

Now some people won’t care about that and they might dismiss you as a raving lunatic. Others, out of curiosity, will go and see for themselves what all the fuss is about, even if just for a laugh. However, there are people who know you and they will pay closer attention, especially people who know that you are the sort that usually hides their faults (and that’s all of us, by the way). They will be eager to see just what all the commotion is about. They will see a real change, and want to see for themselves if this is the real deal or not. When they meet Jesus for themselves, the word they began to believe because they believe in you will become most real to them.

They believed because of his word. It is not your words or your experience that makes them trust Jesus. This can get them to the table but only the real Word will get them to eat. Hearing about change in your life is one thing, experiencing it firsthand is the best thing. The real reason people believe Jesus is that they have fallen into the well, too. Bring them to the well of His Word, and pray that they will hear His call in the bottom of their souls.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The real work

John 4:27-38…

Oftentimes within the routine realities of daily life, our Lord is busy on His own schedule. He sends us to go about our normal patterns while on His path, but we may find that when we consciously come back to see Him that He has been doing strange new things. We see that Jesus has been moving, but we don’t speak about it yet because it is hard to tell just what is happening.

Soon enough, we see that Christ has commissioned a scandalous one to be His instrument of redemption. Many of whom fit the same context will listen to the words of someone who has been where they were, and want to follow to where they are now. We should not go against this. He did the same with you, didn’t He? Or do you think that you were somehow more worth saving? If so, you may not have actually met the Master on His terms yet. Be glad when Jesus streams Light into the hallways of hell and bids people to come out. Someone follows, and others reason: If He can know her, if He won’t trash her, if He can help her, then He can help me!

Many of those who have been on the way for a while might then look to corral their own in the routine matters of comfort. Jesus will just then demand that we see beyond the normal and into the eternal. It wasn’t wrong to go out, it isn’t wrong to work. We are not called to be monks; we are called to be missionaries. For most, this doesn’t mean going to some far away country; it means living as an ambassador in the context of your own circumstances. The point is that we must always realize what the real work is, and be about it in the midst of everyday life (1 Corinthians 10:31, 15:58 / Galatians 2:20 / Ephesians 5:15-16 / Philippians 2:15 / Colossians 3:23-24 / Philemon 1:6 / 1 Peter 3:15).

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Monday, February 06, 2017

The depth of the well

John 4:4-26…

Sometimes, along the journey from one place to another, the move of God will transform the mundane into opportunities for ministry. We think that we are just passing through, but Jesus is waiting to see if we are ready for work. We should expect this; the moments are ours, but the movement is His.

Now once we have a real relationship with the Risen Lord, we are usually quick to do what He asks, when we know it is Him who is asking. Or so we think. If Jesus asks you to draw water for Him, it might seem like no big deal. Those whom you travel with may be around or may be coming back around in a while, and we refresh each other, and sometimes we are the chosen vessel. We begin to get used to that.

However, somewhere along the way, Jesus will put you to the deeper test. You may trust that He has enough water for you and yours, but do you see His true depth, that you may be thirsty and looking for water, but He has enough water to draw through you to serve someone else’s thirst?

The source for your soul is what He is proving to you. We need the in-reach of the gospel, and we often get it by becoming part of the outreach of the gospel. No matter that you are tired and dry at the moment; remember the moments are yours, the movement is His.

Jesus began to deal with you on the basis of your sin, not your strength, and your ministry is to become part of the redemptive process, even when it is a little bit of you that needs redeeming at the moment. You see Him, He sees you, He reaches in, and you reach out. The broken vessel carries the treasure of God (2 Corinthians 4:7). The eternal reaches into us and the redemption reaches out from us.

The well is enough for any thirst (John 7:37-39). Are you deep enough?

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Sunday, February 05, 2017

God’s clock

John 4:1-3...

Our Heavenly Father Has grand designs, but He also incorporates a grand sweep in the divine drama of your life. We want to be immediately swept into the finale with a great crescendo of conformity to Christ, but the Potter is still forming the clay.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you know the end of the play that you can act out the drama perfectly well. Part of the result of our fashioning is obedience, for sure, but obedience can be had at times without trust.

We trust our own intentions to piety too much. We vow to be victors, and throw away all our bad things and come right out and say we are never going to do it again, as if that is the path to Jesus’ plan. It isn’t.

Yes, Jesus doesn’t want us doing those things, but His plan involves us being with Him in battle so as to foster trust along the way of the war. We don’t “do it all for Him”, He does it all through us. Too many try and be a hero and wind up being a zero.

Jesus doesn’t want a statement of loyal willpower; He wants to change our hearts so that we trust Him when we don’t feel so heroic. Change is more process oriented (Mark 4:26-28) than crisis oriented (Mark 4:16-17). Change often involves a breakthrough, but lasting, concrete change includes the follow through.

Sin is like water, it has a way of finding the hole and filling up any space left. Jesus doesn’t want the sin to just morph its way around the holes of our heart, He wants the Spirit to fill us so that there is no room for the wicked water to wash around.

When the children of Israel were to take the Promised Land, God told them that it would take time to defeat the Canaanites because otherwise new obstacles would be in the way (Exodus 23:29-30). In our zeal to “get it done” we think we drive out the deadly desire, but we are not as mature as we suppose, and our troubles are multiplied (Matthew 12:43-45).

We rush to grace and think it is faith, but it is presumption of our own faithfulness, which must be proved in battle. Then we will know in experience and of a surety that Christ will be with us through whatever comes (Hebrews 13:5-6).

The times of change come, but it is God who is the timekeeper.

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Saturday, February 04, 2017

The time will come

John 3:23-36…

Whether it is in your own life, in your family, or in your community, if you prepare the way for Jesus, people will question what you are doing. They may not realize it, but it may be a test of your jealousy for God versus your jealousy of others. The movement of God may move right past you, and this doesn’t mean you are in the wrong place, it may mean that your place is to praise the name of Jesus as He stirs up new saints for new seasons in new situations.

The test of increase and decrease will come at you just as it did John. How we handle our seasons of transition, as we move from one assignment to the next, this will prove to us our current level of satisfaction in God, as opposed to the work we do for God.

Moses knew God and did many mighty deeds, but he didn’t get to enter the Promised Land. Still, he was happy for Joshua and admonished and encouraged him. John the Baptist was blessed to see the ministry of Jesus beginning to blossom. We must cheer on the move of God; the dream within us is connected to the dream in all of us. The runners in a relay race are happy to pass the baton on to the next person, for all are parts of the same purpose. When the next man gains, we gain, when the last man wins we all win.

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and the main thing all the way through. Jesus has won the victory for all of us no matter what, where, or when our role in the drama of the dream is. Jesus gives us our roles, and to see Him move through others is part of completing our joy.

Would we be willing to be less if it meant that God would do more? What if less for me meant more for someone else, or through someone else?

The time to prove your answers is coming.

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Friday, February 03, 2017

Working, waiting, willing

John 3:22…

Jesus works through His disciples. When our text says that Jesus was baptizing it is in the sense that His disciples were doing the baptizing (John 4:1-2). These men were learning to be instruments in the hand of God. In the gospel accounts, sometimes the disciples are mentioned as a group, sometimes individually, but it was all centered on Christ. Whatever we do, our lives are to serve as a testimony to Him (Matthew 5:16 / 1 Corinthians 10:31 / Philippians 2:15).

Just when you are starting to get the hang of this “ministry” or “witnessing” thing, Jesus starts to get the real message across. He is going to get the work done anyway, through anyone, but He wants to do something particular in you while you’re at it.

If we are to fulfill our purpose, and learn from our Lord, we must be willing to do things for God where He receives all the credit. It is an easy thing to say “yes, of course” to that idea, but quite another to work it out in practice. This is especially so when “He receives all the credit” means that you receive no recognition for your work while someone else does, often for less work. Jesus is working something in you, driving pride from your heart, working humility into your soul, drilling peace into your character. He has a way of not bringing your recognition around until you recognize that yourself (Colossians 3:23-24).

We must see our work in the light of the Light. The Light is not shining through us if it is not shining to us.

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Thursday, February 02, 2017

Eternal eyes

John 3:1-21…

Unless you have a spiritual birth from above, you cannot comprehend spiritual things as they truly are (1 Corinthians 2:14). Unless you have a spiritual birth from above, you cannot enter into the birthplace of spiritual things. It is miraculous, and marvelous, but it is no real wonder, in that if something is spiritual it must come from a spiritual fountain, and if something physical is to become spiritual it must receive spiritual power.

Jesus will relate the physical world to us in spiritual terms (2 Corinthians 5:16-17). Only He can give us the power to see the temporal through the eyes of the eternal. Christ helps us to understand that all the types and shadows of the former ways are contact points to see Him (Luke 24:27). The spiritual eye of the spiritual man serves as both telescope and microscope, so that a child of God can begin to see Christ more fully (2 Corinthians 3:18 / Colossians 1:16-17 / Hebrews 1:1-3). It is then that the redemption will resonate with force in our faith.

Jesus was born that we may be born again. Jesus died that we may not die again. Without Him we have no eternal hope, and many cannot come to Him because they cannot spiritually see Him. They will not come into the Light because they love the darkness. They might not think they walk in darkness, but it is because they cannot truly see the Light. The Light to them feels like fire, it is painful, and they shrink back at any sign of it (2 Corinthians 4:4). Those whom have eternal eyes have had this spiritual birth (2 Corinthians 4:6), they have become light (Ephesians 5:8 / 1 Thessalonians 5:5) and now willingly walk into it (Acts 26:18 / 1 Peter 2:9).

How you see things depends on what eyes you are seeing through. Keep your eyes open by keeping the light on (Romans 13:12 / 1 John 1:7). If Jesus has given you eternal eyes, use them (Ephesians 5:11-21).

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Sight beyond sight

John 2:23-25…

We like Jesus when He is on the move in our lives, going, doing, manifesting in obvious ways. It’s easy to believe when the crowds come along for the ride. In the frenzy of fantastic events and exciting episodes, we may feel like everything and everyone is starting to go God’s way. Revival is here, we think. However, we must remember that if people can become easily enamored they can also become easily disillusioned. You may not realize this, but Jesus does.

Our motivations are not always as pure as we think them to be, and even if we are sincere, this doesn’t mean we are right. People try and justify themselves and their faithless and/or godless actions by saying, “Well, God knows my heart”. Well, yes, God knows your heart, but He uses His Word to reveal to you the condition of it (Hebrews 4:12-13). The question isn’t whether or not God knows your heart; it is whether or not He has your heart. God sees your heart, but do you see it (Psalm 19:12-14, 139:23-24)?

The gospel is not about giving people what they want; it is about changing what people want. It changes people into lovers of God, based upon who Jesus is, what He is like, and what He has done. What He may seem to be doing, or not doing right now, shouldn’t change this. We think we have “decided on Christ”, but the question is, has Christ decided on us? It is a question of relationship. Are you just infatuated with Jesus, or does He trust you with His love?

Jesus knows each and every person’s heart. He knows what any and all hearts are capable of. People can believe in what you do and still not believe in you. Jesus didn’t have faith in them because He knew they didn’t really have faith in Him. He knows those who are only fooling themselves. Trust Him, and don’t simply look for the miracles. If you keep your eye on Him, you will see He has His eye on you.

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