Develope a Palate

Develope a Palate
Daily intake of the Word nourishes the Spirit. Jeremiah's Menu is an exercise in recognizing God's Word made flesh in and around me. Eating the Word in a way that supplies the spiritual nutrients needed to grow. The Menu is offered with the hope of inspiring you to taste and see that the Lord is good. Bon Appetite!

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Quote Du Jour

Quote du Jour
Christians may differ on a variety of points, but they have all one spiritual appetite; and if we cannot all feel alike, we can all feed alike on the bread of life sent down from heaven. At the table of fellowship with Jesus we are one bread and one cup. As the loving cup goes round we pledge one another heartily therein. Get nearer to Jesus, and you will find yourself linked more and more in spirit to all who are like yourself, supported by the same heavenly manna. ---Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

freedom... to be undignified...

Now the Lord is Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV

Freedom... it's my word for 2016... and I've seen evidence... of increasing freedom in my life...

For one... freedom from fear of judgment from others...

Just this week...
an undignified moment in worship...
an undignified question to guys...
both resulting in comments from others...

Comments I could've taken and turned into doubt...
doubting my actions... 
doubting my intentions...
doubting my freedom...

Comments that would've previously shamed me...
to one degree or another... for having offended...

The surprise... for me...?
I had none of that...

Neither undignified moment has caused me a moment of grief...
neither came from a heart bent on offending...
each came from a sense of freedom... to connect with others...

But I now see... how newly found freedoms... can offend others... who aren't free... don't yet know the freedom found in His Spirit...

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom
does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
1 Corinthians 8:9

And I will be careful...
but I will also... not be bound up again in fear...
when I have freedom to act... ask...
in order... to connect with others...
in a way unique to the situation... and relationship...

Freedom...
where the Spirit is...
there is...
freedom...

For now... basking in the confirmation... of living Spirit-led...!
Amen...!


Monday, May 30, 2016

faith... certain of what we do not see...

Reminded afresh...
faith is being certain... of what we do not see...
Faith has to do with marrying Invisible and Visible. When we engage in an act of faith we give up control, we give up sensory (sight, hearing, etc.) confirmation of reality; we give up insisting on head-knowledge as our primary means of orientation in life.
---Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way
These words... bring to mind my daughter's art... depicting Scripture...



And I will lead the blind in a way they do not know,
in paths that they have not known I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.
Isaiah 42:16 ESV

Hanging in the corner where I write... I look at it often...
a picture of those who are faithful...
those who know they can't see what's important...
those willing to follow... like Abraham...
going... they know not where...
just because... He said so...

Have you accepted that you are blind...?
Have you chosen faith...? in Him...?

Father God... I confess... I am blind...
lead me in Your Way... turn my darkness to light...
the rough places into level ground...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Journey Readings: Week 126... and building a sanctuary...

David commanded his son Solomon with these words... when he commissioned him... at the Lord's instruction... to build the house of God...

Now set your mind and heart to seek (inquire of
and require as your vital necessity) the Lord your God.
Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God...
1 Chronicles 22:19 Amp

As Believers... 
we need to take this charge personally...
seeking Him... requiring Him...
in order to build His sanctuary...

Do you not know that you are God's temple
and that God's Spirit dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV

Jesus made the way for the Holy Spirit to live... abide... reside... in the hearts of Believers... 

We are the church... His sanctuary... His Body...

From the moment of conversion...
we are to set our minds... hearts... in seeking the Lord...
requiring Him as our vital necessity...

This is the process of building His sanctuary...
preparing our lives as a holy place... set apart for Him...

Each day we need to arise... and approach our lives as a building project... for His glory... living every moment... for His renown... 

Yes... it's a slow process...
requiring time in His Word... in prayer...
obedience to His direction...
willing to sweep clean whatever dark corner He reveals in our hearts...

We will not be finished... till He returns...
there will always be work to do...
in the sanctification process...

But we will know His presence... receive confirmation of the work He is doing... when He accepts our humble offerings... as living sacrifices... with fire...

And David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings
and peace offerings and called upon the Lord; and He answered him
by fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering.
1 Chronicles 21:26 Amp

The fire... passion... power... of the Holy Spirit... will become more active... visible... in our lives... with each act of obedience... each sacrifice... each offering... of worship...

You are His temple...
We are His temple...
All of us together... His dwelling place...
Let's build each of our individual hearts...
into an acceptable place for His presence...
that we might glorify Him... in all we do...

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men
but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
you yourselves like living stones are being built up
as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood,
to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV

Build yourself up through His Word... join The Journey...

This week's readings...
Monday               1 Chronicles 27
Tuesday               1 Chronicles 28-29
Wednesday          2 Chronicles 1-2
Thursday             2 Chronicles 3-5
Friday                  2 Chronicles 6

Friday, May 27, 2016

thoughts on service...

At the shop... we try to make service... and excellence... our goal...
keeping margin in our work... so we can serve those... who need it same day...
and we try... to do things well... really excellent...

But service... is something I don't always do well at home...
those I care for most... are at times... hardest to serve...

So I think on what the Word says about serving...

... through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13 ESV

Through love... His love... we serve...

This one's tough... when we look at His definition of love...
it's patient... kind...
not envious... boastful... arrogant... rude...
it does not insist on its own way...
not irritable... resentful...
doesn't rejoice in wrong...
rejoices in truth...
it bears all things... believes all things...
hopes... and endures...

Love... it's hard to give...
when it's something I want... feel lacking in...

Of course I only feel lacking... because I'm seeking love from the wrong ones...

The ones I'm called to serve in love... my family...
are the ones I want to love me... serve me...

Yes... it's ugly... I know... but it's true...

I can't serve at home as well... because I want to be served...

As I serve at the shop... I'm learning to serve better at home...
He reveals how I fail... to lay down my life for those I love...
lay down my wants and desires... for theirs...
and how I fail so often... to be satisfied... by His love...

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14 ESV

and so I can serve... freely...

For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13 ESV

Amen...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

anticipating... His return...

Anticipating the return of a loved one currently traveling abroad...
following him and his friends on Instagram...
as they post snaps of their adventures...
each brings joy... and questions...
(where exactly...? who...? what in the world...?!)

I dreamed of him last night...
his return...
the tales he would tell...
the hugs given...
his smell...
his laugh...

And I wake wondering...
Do I anticipate His return...? Jesus's...? do you...?
Am I following Him...? while I wait...?

Following His Way... increases anticipation...
deepens connection... desire...

I see how following brings joy...
reveals bits of who He is... what He's doing...

But following also raises questions...
what is He up to...? when...? why...?

I know the better I follow...
the more I know... and see...
the greater urgency I feel...
that His return could be...
any moment...

I used to fret over His coming back...
knowing all will be fixed...

When you have loved ones far from Him...
lost...
their eternal destiny being fixed...
at this moment...
causes angst...

Yet... I've grown to trust Him more...
I know His desire for all to be saved...
He will not return... till all He knows are coming...
have returned to Him...

His judgment... His timing... perfect...

I trust... and anticipate... (to some degree...) His return...
not as much as I should...

So... I will continue to follow...
hopefully closer... better...
and maybe one day...
I'll dream of His return...

...so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save
those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:28 ESV

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

He is the way... is He yours...?

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me. ..."
John 14:6 ESV

by Eugene Peterson
Way: a simple noun designating a road that leads to a destination, but then opening up as a metaphor that ramifies into many and various "ways"--- not only the way we go, as in the route we take, but the way we go on the way whether by foot or bike or automobile. The way we talk, the way we use our influence, the way we treat one another, the way we raise our children, the way we read, the way we worship, the way we vote, the way we garden, the way we ski, the way we feel, the way we eat.... And on and on, endlessly, the various and accumulated "ways and means" that characterize our way of life.
---Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way
Jesus is the Way...
The destination... the Father...
There is no other way...

Peterson says... if Jesus is our way... then no part of our life will go unaffected... unchanged...

What is your way...? is it Jesus...?

How do we know what His Way is...?

We find out His Way... in His Word...
He is the Word made flesh...
He shows us the way to live it out...

But if we don't know His Word...
how will we know His Way...?

I started The Jesus Way a couple of days ago...
it's been sitting on my shelf for years...
but it caught my attention...
it must be time to read it...

The church... for the most part... doesn't seem to be following Him... or give much credence to His Word of late... it's made me wonder... What way are they going...?

He alone is the way to truth... to life... to the Father...

Me...? I want His Way...
What about you...?

Father God... use this read... and Your Word...
to help me learn... and follow...
the Jesus Way...
Amen...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

full... hungry...

This evening... after a day of intentional intercession... I find myself full and hungry... at the same time...

Full of the sense of His presence...
Hungry for more...

Glimpses of truth...
bring desire for more...
more to see it...
more to know it...
more to live it...

An odd feeling... full... hungry...

Satisfied... yet... insatiable...
feeling like I'm going to burst...
but panting for more...

For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Psalm 107:9 ESV

Monday, May 23, 2016

seeking to glorify...

Glorify... a word I've been considering since I read a devotional last week...
...wherever Jesus is glorified, the Holy Spirit comes!
---AW Tozer, Evenings With Tozer
Who doesn't want the Holy Spirit present...? in their life...? their church...? their family... their community...?

I do...

So this idea... has sent me on a search... of what it means... to glorify... Him...

You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
Psalm 22:23 ESV

The Hebrew in this verse... translated glorify... is kabad... its root meaning... to be heavy... weighty... be honorable... (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon)... be glorious... make heavy... feel heavy... (Dictionary of Biblical Languages)...

I'm reminded of the title of a book by CS Lewis... The Weight of Glory...

A weighty matter is important... 
Jesus is the weightiest of matters...
emphasis is put on what matters most...
Jesus... matters... most...

To glorify Jesus... is to consider Him... a matter most important in your life...
fear Him... 
praise Him... 
stand in awe of Him...

Is He weighty in your life...? in mine...?

"Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed."
Revelation 15:3-4 ESV

In the New Testament we have Greek... doxazo... translated glorify... its meaning... to think... suppose... be of opinion... to praise... extol... magnify... celebrate...to honour... make glorious... to make renowned... to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged... (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon)...

To magnify... means to make something large...
it becomes great... something to be celebrated...
thought about... let others know about...

Jesus is glorified when we make Him large in our life... cause His dignity... worth... to be made apparent... acknowledged... around us...
Great an amazing are Your deeds...
Just and true are Your Ways...
You alone are holy...
God Almighty...
O King...

Weighty...
Magnified...
Manifest...
these are ways to glorify Jesus...

But what does that look like practically...?

I think about the verse defining this blog...

When Your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart's delight,
for I bear Your name, O Lord God Almighty.
Jeremiah 15:16

bear... a word meaning to be under... carry... a weighty word...

Bearing His name... His character... causes us to treasure His words...

Those who glorify Jesus... bear His name...
love His Word... eat it up...
make it part of their life...
with joy... delight...

Glorify Him... by obeying... His Word...
finding great delight in it...
this is one way... 
to make your heart a welcome place...
for the Holy Spirit...

Do you glorify Him...? bear His name...? find your heart's delight in His Word...?

Lord... increase my love for Your Word...
increase my faith to obey...
I long for Your Holy Spirit... Your presence...
to have full reign in my life...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Journey Readings: Week 125... and rattled by His ways...

I find myself a little rattled by His ways... after reading the account of the failed attempt to return the ark of the covenant to the center of the nation of Israel...
So David assembled all Israel... to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord who sits enthroned above the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio were driving the cart. And David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.
And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.
1 Chronicles 13:5-10 ESV
God's people were rejoicing... thinking they were in the right... doing something great for God... when suddenly... He strikes down one in charge of His ark... one trying to protect it...

God didn't think what they were doing was great... they left Him out of the planning...

...for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
1 Chronicles 13:4 ESV

They neglected to search His law for instruction... apparently they had somehow misplaced the law... no one objected to the cart plan... when the law clearly stated...

They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length,
a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay
it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on
it a molding of gold around it. You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them
on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it.
You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall
put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them.
The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.
Exodus 25:9 ESV

Poles were to be used to carry the ark... and only the tribe of Levi was to transport the ark... they weren't doing things right...

So... why does this rattle...?

Because I know God looks at the heart... and I believe His people were acting with a heart for God... they thought they were doing right...

When I've thought motive was all... it's not...

They broke the law they had been given...
yes... it might have been lost... or neglected...
but still they were responsible for it...

Jesus came not to abolish the law... but to fulfill it...

"Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you,
until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot will pass from the Law..."
Matthew 5:17-18 ESV

The heart of the law still stands...
it's the heart of the law that matters...
not the heart of the people...

There are consequences for breaking the law...
even if our intentions are good...
even when we think we're doing right...
if we haven't done things His way...
we're wrong...

So motive isn't everything...
there is grace when we obey... but don't get it quite right...
but when we do what we think is right... without consulting Him...
well... it's just wrong...
and praise Him... there's grace for that too...

Get to know His Way... don't neglect His Word... get into it...

This week's readings...
Monday                   1 Chronicles 19:1 - 21:17
Tuesday                  1 Chronicles 21:18 - 22:19
Wednesday              1 Chronicles 23
Thursday                 1 Chronicles 24-25
Friday                      1 Chronicles 26

Friday, May 20, 2016

what does He do... with... heartbreak...?

This morning... a friend in tears... cried out the question...
What does Jesus say to heartbreak...? to those brokenhearted...?
the question sent me on a search...

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 ESV

He knows what it is to be brokenhearted...

The two He created... the two He loved...
the two He planted a garden for...
rebelled... and broke His heart...

The people He chose... the nation formed through freedom from slavery...
the ones He prepared a promised land for... rejected Him...

The twelve He drew near... invited to follow Him... taught them all He knows...
one betrayed Him... all abandoned Him...

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief...
Isaiah 53:3 ESV

He identifies... with the brokenhearted...
draws near... to save...

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3 ESV

In His compassion... mercy... power...
He alone... heals a broken heart...
by His own wounds... He heals...

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 ESV

Our own sin... the sins of others...
the root cause of heartbreak...
His and ours...

He alone has the cure...
by His grace... He chose to be wounded...
that we might know healing...

With forgiveness of sins...
comes wholeness of heart...
and the gift of grace...
to offer forgiveness to others...

What doe He do... with... heartbreak...?
Forgives...

First... mourn with those who mourn...
then bring the Healer near...

The healing might not be a quick fix...
it might require a journey...
but His healing lasts... for eternity...

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.
Jeremiah 17:14

Thursday, May 19, 2016

do not withhold...

Do not withhold...
words from a devotional read Tuesday...
continue echoing in my heart...

Spurgeon used the King James Version...
Keep not back...
but I went to the English Standard Version...
where I found the way He calls us to respond to the gift of faith...
woven into Isaiah 43...
Although this message was sent to the south, and referred to the seed of Israel, it may profitably be a summons to ourselves. Backward we are naturally to all good things, and it is a lesson of grace to learn to go forward in the ways of God...
... If you have talents keep not back from using them. Hoard not your wealth, waste not your time; let not your abilities rust or your influence be unused. Jesus kept not back, imitate Him by being foremost in self-denials and self-sacrifices.
---Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening
And my question has been... my prayer...
What does it look like...? for me to not withhold...?

The opposite of withholding... pouring out...
I feel like I pour myself out here...
everyday... words written... vulnerability faced...

But I sense Him pressing me... to do more...
to reach out more broadly...

Be bolder in loving others...
connecting... sharing...
what I know of Him...

What does it look like...? for me to not withhold...? 

What about you...?
How are you pouring out...?
Or are you withholding a gift too...?

Feeling convicted... pressed... yet excited...
wondering what freedoms... will surely come...
with busting loose... pouring out...
no longer withholding...

Freely you have received, freely give.
Matthew 10:8

What depicts...? this pouring out...? bursting forth...?


Water... freely flowing... no restraint...


Hands... open wide... 


Seeds... bursting life... 

But still...
What does it look like for me...? to not withhold...?

Lord... I know longer want to withhold...
what You're doing in me...
I know longer want to withhold...
Your love from those in need...
I no longer want to withhold...
my love for You...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

joy... greater than happiness...

At the end of a long day... 
broken needles... messed up orders...
the end of the year of after-school ministry...
unruly fourth graders... and a stern temper...
feeling as if I've cast seed on hard ground...
wondering if I failed Him...
fighting the urge to binge on snacks...
yet... there resides in my heart... a strange joy...

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

I feel like I should be grieved... but really... I just can't be...

His joy... my strength...
the result of a long obedience in the same direction...
fighting the good fight...
not quitting...
remaining faith-full...

Joy... it's so much greater than happiness...


My red cup... and a fresh pot of decaf brewing on a dreary Wednesday afternoon... makes me happy...

Happiness is fragile... just like my red cup...

Joy... it's different...
it comes only from Him...
eternal... unreasonable... and sometimes a mystery...

Where have you experienced joy recently...?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

responding to the gift of faith...

For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God...
Ephesians 2:8 ESV

The gift of faith... it is a gift of grace...

Continuing thoughts on faith...
led me to discover... 
how He calls us to respond to faith...

I found it woven through Isaiah 43...

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.
I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you, I will say to the north,
Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."
Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears! All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble. Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things? Let them bring their witnesses
to prove them right, and let them hear and say, It is true.
"You are my witnesses," declares the Lord,
"and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know
and believe me and understand that I am he. ...
Isaiah 43:1-10 ESV

Let me pare it down for you... to where I see... what He says...

Fear not, for I have redeemed you... you are Mine...
...you are precious in My eyes... and honored... and I love you...
... Do not withhold...
...everyone who is called by My name... I created for My glory...
You are My witnesses... and My servant whom I have chosen...
that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He...


Need it clearer...?
In response to His gracious gift of faith...
fear not... you belong to Him...
remember you are precious to Him... honored by Him... loved by Him...
do not withhold anything from Him...
everyone who is His... is created to live for His glory... 
you are witnesses for who He is... 
therefore... serve Him...
He has chosen you... to know Him... trust Him... understand that He is...

Do you get it...?
Are you grateful for His grace...?
Respond with faith... as He calls you to...

Amen...

Monday, May 16, 2016

restraining lawlessness... for now...

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.
Only he who now restrains it will do so until
he is out of the way.
2 Thessalonians 2:7 ESV

It's no mystery that lawlessness is already at work...
we see it all around us... just spend a few minutes watching the news...

Not only is the man of lawlessness attacking people in general... those made in the image of God... lawlessness is attacking His Church... with increasing degrees of persecution... all around the world...

Contemplating this passage for another blog... I was caught by how he who restrains... the restrainer... will be taken out of the way...

It's unclear exactly who the restrainer is...
Paul told the Thessalonians while he was with them...
but he didn't repeat the information here...

Do you not remember that when I was still with you
I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now 
so that he may be revealed in his time.
2 Thessalonians 2:5-6 ESV

Theologians over the years have asserted various ideas on what is restraining... and who the restrainer might be... but in my writing earlier today... I had a glimpse... of what might be... a revelation...

I recently studied the letters to the Thessalonians with a group of ladies... using Beth Moore's study Children of the Day... and one of the explanations she gave... the one I felt most to be true... cited the restraining "what" as the church... and named the restrainer "who" as the Holy Spirit...

With this in the back of my mind... I saw two errors Believers can fall prey to... with the increasing work of the lawless one... 

The first is the error of falling for his deception...

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan
with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all
wicked deception for those who are perishing, because
they refused to love the truth...
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 ESV

The lawless one comes with the enemy's power...
false signs... wonders... deception... lies...

This is the one Adam and Eve fell prey to...
and they were two who walked closest to God...
How can we expect to not be swayed...? escape temptation...?

The second error... giving into fear... dismay... despair...

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble
at its swelling. Selah
Psalm 46:1-3 ESV

Keeping our eyes on the world... and not on Him...
can lead us to be paralyzed with fear...
a la Peter walking on water... until he took his eyes off Jesus...
and focused on the wind... the waves... the storm...

Lawlessness is darkness...
it's restrained by Light...

The light of the church... its people... its spirit...
will become dimmer and dimmer...
less able to restrain lawlessness...
by falling to deception...
or giving into inaction... smothered by fear and despair...

The Holy Spirit speaks loudest in our hearts when we listen and obey... sometimes I think He keeps quiet... when He knows we won't do what He says... 

With the disobedience of the church... through deception and fear... 
with few to none... to work through...
perhaps... the Holy Spirit will be moved out of the way... 

"... when the Son of  Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" ---Jesus
Luke 18:8 ESV

Both errors can be overcome... 
by rooting ourselves in His Word... His Truth... His Way...
by faith... believing and upholding what He says is true...
by steeping in the Word... in prayer... in trusting obedience...

While we are here... let us be restrainers of darkness...
trust the One who is Truth... love... grace... mercy...
trust the One who knows... when we don't...

Pray for Him to protect you from both errors...
deception... and... fear...

Push back the darkness... be the light He calls us to be... for now... there is no other...

You are the light of the world.
Matthew 5:14 ESV

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Journey Readings: Week 124... and... remembering history...

Chronicles... the history of God's people revisited... written again... after their return from exile...

Remembering history... it's important... there's much to learn...

Remembering past generations... encourages... emboldens us...
to take stands...
fight well...
persevere...
endure...

For those who've gone before... made the way... suffered... fought... so we might have a home... freedom... peace... and a future...

We need inspiration to do the same... to make the way better for those coming behind...
The sons of Ephraim: Shuthelah, and Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eleadah his son, Tahath his son, Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead, whom the men of Gath who were born in the land killed, because they came down to raid their livestock. And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brothers came to comfort him. And Ephraim went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son. And he called his name Beriah, because disaster had befallen his house. His daughter was Sheerah, who built both Lower and Upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah. 
---1 Chronicles 7:20-24 ESV
Just here... in this brief account of Ephraim... heartache... loss... generations building...

And further down this family tree... Joshua son of Nun... who led the Israelites into the Promised Land...

Some things we need to remember... to avoid the same error in the future...

And Judah was taken into exile in Babylon
because of their breach of faith.
1 Chronicles 9:1 ESV

Breaching... broken... faith in God... leads not only individuals... but communities... whole nations... into exile...

An error we do not want to make... taking His Word lightly... playing both sides of the fence... when it comes to His Way and the world's way...

We need to look back... remember... the history of God's people... to see His faithfulness... despite our repeated failures... to live faith-full...

Now the first [of the returned exiles] to dwell again
in their possessions in the cities of Israel were the priests,
Levites, and the Nethinim [the temple servants].
1 Chronicles 9:2 Amp

God's faithfulness to His people... and His promise... freeing them from exile... returning them to their land...

The first to return were priests... Levites... caretakers of the temple...
the first order of business... rebuild the temple...
not the city wall... not a government... nor a militia...

Here we also learn... first things first... God...
put God in the middle... build a place for His presence...
it's most important... to a history... that prospers...

We not only learn important lessons from the people in Scripture...
but if we look back into our own family histories...
with regard to faith... perseverance... struggle... heartache... failures...
we will see God... in His faithfulness... 
pursuing... 
wooing... 
disciplining... 
judging... 
delivering... 
ones He loves...

Remembering history... it's not just an exercise in nostalgia...
but a spiritual discipline... for spiritual lessons...

Learn more about the history of His people...
join The Journey...

This week's readings...
Monday                1 Chronicles 12
Tuesday               1 Chronicles 13-14
Wednesday           1 Chronicles 15:1 - 16:7
Thursday             1 Chronicles 16:8-43
Friday                 1 Chronicles 17-18

Friday, May 13, 2016

a timely reminder...

As I listen to a friend struggle with relationships...
see the chaos... confusion... in the church...
listen to the insanity... being stirred... by the government...
a timely reminder... comes to my thoughts...

For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful.
2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 ESV

The reason for the craziness in the world...
not all have faith...

The reason for not getting drawn into the craziness in the world...
the Lord is faithful...

Because of His faithfulness we shall not fear...
His purpose will come to pass...
He is not surprised by any of it...
He has all things under control...

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Psalm 57:7-10 ESV

Thursday, May 12, 2016

a believer's prayer...

Thoughts from yesterday... continue today... especially regarding those who want to change Him... and not be changed...

A conversation with a friend... speaking about one who says he believes... she calls him... a deceived Believer...

I think about those who say they know... or maybe just know in part... and my heart breaks for they will stumble and fall over Him...be broken... or just flat out led astray...

And His Word comes to mind...
a verse for Believers to pray...
ones who want to be changed...
and not trip over Him...

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
Psalm 119:18

A Believer's prayer... for all Believers...
that we might not trip and fall...
in the darkness of deception...

Amen...

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

believers... are... changed...

Three things converged...
three things seemingly unconnected... but now all tied up...
three things bringing clarity... stirring holy discontent... and a reason to preach...

First... today's word for the after school Bible lesson...changed...
a word inextricably tied to believing...

To be changed... is to be different than before...
the word for the Bible lesson led me to review my journey of change...

From the moment He captured my heart in an ICU waiting room... something happened in my spirit that distinctly changed... me...

It wasn't like God and the gospel were new to me...
they were things I would have told you I believed...
but really... there had been no change in my life...
therefore I really didn't believe...

Changes began with a commitment... desire... to seek Him out...
in His Word...
in prayer...

Changes began with the understanding that He is right...
I am wrong...
His Word true...
my way skewed...

Changes began to be revealed...
ones I hadn't tried to change... they... just... changed...
my taste in movies... books...
these changes caught me by surprise...

Yes... Believers... are... changed...

In addition to the Bible lesson...
I've pulled out a Bible study I began writing years ago...
one unfinished...
one on faith... and how to exercise it...

Reviewing... rewriting...
preparing to actually teach it...
the first lesson is... believe...

So in addition to the focus on being changed...
I've begun mulling over anew what it means to believe...

To be a Believer... we must... believe...
(1) there is a God... a single Creator... Three Persons in One...
(2) He is who He says He is... Sovereign... Almighty... All Knowing...
(3) we are sinners... broken... corrupt... perverted... in our reasoning and understanding...
(4) we must believe Jesus came to save us... the Son of God... God Himself... full of grace... mercy.... truth...
(5) we must believe Scripture... receive it literally as God's Word... breathed out by Him...

The gift of faith... leads to true believing...
an act of grace... on which we act...
in order to be changed... and... continue changing...

The third piece of these entangled thoughts...
center on the General Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC)...

I currently attend... worship... with a United Methodist congregation...
this week the UMC is conducting their once every four year conference...
to consider change to the church discipline... doctrine... what they say they believe...

As with many other mainstream denominations...
they are seeking to change His Word... His Way...
make Him more in line with the world...
make Him more palatable to the twenty-first century...

And here is where I get stirred... especially with thoughts of changed... and believe... floating around in my heart...

Believers DON'T change His Word... His Way...
Believers understand we are broken...
Believers subject... surrender... themselves... to the process of change...

He is the Rock...
Unchangeable... Immutable... Eternal... Trustworthy...

For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
1 Peter 2:8

When we try to change Him...
it's only to our detriment...

"The stone the the builders rejected has become the capstone," and,
"A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall."
1 Peter 2:7-8

So I have to wonder at Believers who say they believe...
yet don't allow Him to change them...
but fight... strive... connive... to change Him... His Word... His Way...

The challenge I gave to fourth graders today... I give to you...
Look at your life... since you've said you believe... if you call yourself a Believer...
Have you changed...? can you identify changes in your life...? your thoughts...? your desires...?
If not... ask Him for faith to believe... ask Him to change you...

It is a prayer with an automatic... Yes...

"Ask and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you. ..."
Matthew 7:7 ESV

Because it's just true... Believers... are... changed...

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men
but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
you yourselves like living stones are being built up
as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood,
to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:2 ESV

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

a full day... filled with His joy...

A full day...
to dos... some gone undone...
mishaps...
adventures begun...
unknowns revealed... some still remain...
obedience to His call... where I didn't see a way...
but in it all... evidence of His faithfulness...
and a heart filled with His joy...

Previously... in a day... where stress and anxiety would have prevailed... I only find joy...

Weird... at least for me...

Where... when... have you experienced His joy... in a weird way...?

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 ESV

Monday, May 9, 2016

awed by His grace... amazed by His mercy...

A story I've heard multiple times... struck me very differently during praise and prayer... as I focused on the one receiving justice... instead of the one with wisdom...

Read 1 Kings 3:16-28

Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him.
1 Kings 3:16 ESV

Two prostitutes... these are the women who came to seek justice before the king...

I knew it... 
but it just never impacted me before...
it came as a new revelation of the depth of His grace...

Prostitutes... 
not women of great character or means... sinners...
the king heard their complaint...

Then the king said, "The one says, 'This is my son that is alive,
and your son is dead'; and the other says, 'No; but your son is dead,
and my son is the living one."
1 Kings 3:23 ESV

Prostitutes... they have bastard children...
no identifiable father...
no surname...
no worth...
except to their moms...

And the king said, "Divide the living child in two,
and give half to the one and half to the other."
Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king,
because her heart yearned for her son,
"Oh, my lord, give her the living child,
and by no means put him to death." But the other said,
"He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him."
Then the king answered and said,
"Give the living child to the first woman and
by no means put him to death; she is the mother."
And all Israel heard the judgment that the king
had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king,
because they perceived that the wisdom of God
was in him to do justice.
1 Kings 3:25-28 ESV


The wisdom of God...
poured out to bring justice...
to a prostitute and her illegitimate son...

The community stood in awe of the king...
they perceived the wisdom of God to do justice...

Me... I sat in awe of the King...
as I perceived the depth of His grace...

He hears the cry of the streetwalker...
He listens patiently to her complaint...
by His wisdom...
He brings justice...
to a brokenhearted prostitute....

The truth is... each one of us comes as a prostitute before Him...
idolaters... adulterers... sinners...
but by His wisdom...
He brings us justice...
through His Son... Jesus...

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus,
who became to us wisdom from God,
righteousness and sanctification and redemption...
1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV

Awed by His grace... amazed by His mercy...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Journey Readings: Week 123... and... a prayer He answers...

Hidden in the fourth chapter of 1 Chronicles... in the midst of a lengthy genealogy... we find a brief history... of a man and his prayer...

Jabez was honorable above his brothers;
but his mother named him Jabez [sorrow maker]
saying, Because I bore him in pain.
Jabez cried to the God of Israel, saying,
Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border,
and that Your hand might be with me,
and You would keep me from evil so it might not hurt me!
And God granted his request.
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 Amp

Growing up with a name like Sorrow Maker...
makes you not want to live up to your name...

Jabez prayed a prayer that honored God...
bless me...
enlarge my borders...
Your hand be with me...
keep me from evil...

The prayer of Jabez... asks God for blessings... as a confirmation... of His work and presence in his life... and God granted his request...

James says we have not because we ask not... or because we ask with wrong motives...

You do not have, because you do not ask.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly,
to spend it on your passions.
James 4:2-3 ESV

Here we see Jabez... Sorrow Maker... asking God for blessings so he will know God is near... and He is for him...

Really... we could all be named Sorrow Maker...
our lives self-centered and sinful from birth...

Jabez grieved the sorrow he caused...
longed for confirmation of God's hand in his life...
through the seeking of tangible blessings...

We too need to do the same...
ask not because we think we need...
but because we want to know...
He is near... present and at work in our life...

Why do you ask for blessings...? for your self...? or do you ask for blessings as a confirmation of God's presence in your life...?

Check the motive behind your prayers...
seek Him with a heart to honor Him...
not your self...

This week's readings...
Monday              1 Chronicles 6:35-81
Tuesday              1 Chronicles 7
Wednesday         1 Chronicles 8
Thursday             1 Chronicles 9-10
Friday                 1 Chronicles 11

Friday, May 6, 2016

convicted...

I found myself convicted today... for complaining...
a mild complaint... but a complaint nonetheless....

The complaint centered on something that should only bring joy...

Self-centeredness... the root of complaint...

As I write... I'm reminded for what I have been set free...

For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13 ESV

I suppose all complaints... or most to be sure... are rooted in selfishness...
His love... frees us to serve others... in love...
therefore should free us from complaining...

Do everything without complaining or arguing.
Philippians 2:14

Grateful to be set straight...
Grateful for the Holy Spirit who convicts...
Grateful for the freedom to serve... in love...

Have you complained today...? 
Perhaps it's time to examine its root...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

overwhelmed...

Can I just say... He overwhelms...

These last two days... I've experienced two intense... spiritual encounters... which have just left me... overwhelmed...

One a spiritual battle...
a quick prayer in the midst...
wondering what to say in the moment...

The words spoken in the course of the conversation... left me shaking...
words from my mouth... hopefully... inspired by Him...
words of correction... and truth...

As the conversation closed... I asked...
Can I pray for you...?
Their answer an abrupt... No ma'am...
and a quick departure...

The second encounter... a spiritual revelation...
steps of obedience taken...
to offer comfort to a friend...

Hearts shared...
encouragement given...
truth spoken in love...

The conversation leaving me humbled...
wondering who I am...
as I recognize His ability to use me for good...
amazed... He includes me in His work...

I confess to the friend... I'm empty... I have nothing to share... the only good that comes from me... is Him... She replies... You are a good vessel...

The picture leaves me broken...
feeling like that fragile clay jar...
which can hardly hold together...
much less contain Him...

Overwhelmed...
wondering at the weariness...
of allowing Him to work through...

A good weariness...
but weary... none the less...

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"
has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV

How has He overwhelmed you lately...?
Take a moment to think about it as you listen to the song below...



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

when things go wrong...

When things go wrong...
You... Lord... reveal my lack of faith...

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea,
so that the boat was being swamped by the waves;
but he was asleep. And they went and woke him saying,
"Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them,
"Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?"
Matthew 8:24-26 ESV

Trials... both small and large... reveal the need for refining... purification... of faith...

The purification comes through repentance...
the recognition of lack of faith... trust...unbelief... as sin...
the confession... of each specific moment... each revelation where your faith failed...
the choosing to turn away from unbelief... and live by faith...

After yesterday... a hard day of minor trials...
it all comes together... while praising Him for His faithfulness...

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15

The trials He allows...
the hindrances of Satan...
the brokenness of the world...
all expose... unbelief in a Believer's heart...

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of  various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect,that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4 ESV

The trials He allows... evidence of His love... and faithfulness...
to complete what He's begun in our hearts... perfect us...
to expose what needs to go... that we might draw nearer to Him...

What's been exposed in your heart lately...? what unbelief...?
Do you question His sovereignty and purpose...?
Do you doubt His love for you...?
Do you wonder if He can really heal...?

We are called to be faith-full...
He alone... the only one... true to His Word...
His Word of love... healing... and faithfulness...

Father God... thank You for trials that reveal unbelief...
Thank You... for the understanding of their purpose...
a refining fire... a means of revelation... and purification...
bless me with the faith and boldness to receive each difficulty
for what it truly is... a testing... of my faith... my trust... in You...

For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.
You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
Psalm  66:11

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

a sacrifice of thanks...

Thank You... Lord... for...
vertigo...
lost diamonds...
fender benders...
weariness...

Thank You... for...
increased taxes...
things forgotten...
things undone...
endings...
letting go...

Thank You...
for the good You will bring out of each one of these things...
as only You can do...

O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.
Psalm 116:15 ESV

Monday, May 2, 2016

joy in His purpose...

I heard it today... a new perspective on Romans 8:28... at least for me...

And we know that for those who love God
all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 ESV

In an interview... the founder of Revival Outside the Walls... attributed joy... to pursuing God's purpose... with your life...

This man found joy... only after he realized he was to live for God's purpose... not his... even though he spent years working in the church...

God's purpose... disciple-making... 

And Jesus came and said to them,
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."
Matthew 28:18-19 ESV

The one purpose we are called to fulfill with our life... is making disciples... by sharing our faith... blessing others with the good news... that is also for them...

Living life for God's one purpose...
makes ALL things that He allows in your life...
an opportunity to share faith...
reveal His power... glorify Him...
and bring others to Christ...
hence... it's... ALL... good...

This man on the radio... filled with enthusiasm and joy...
was not a man with a trouble-free story...

With joy he spoke about God's call on his life...
the call he heard in an ICU bed...
a bed in which the doctors said he would die...

This man challenges Believers in severe straits...
walking in the shadow of death...
to rejoice at the adventure...
to not waste a moment of the trial...
but use it for God's purpose...
drawing others to Him... through a witness of...
trust...
faith...
joy...

Then... on another program...
I heard stories of present day martyrs...

One... a Chinese preacher... with a ministry on the border of North Korea...
feeding those who fled... crossed the river into China...
not only food... but good news...

This man would not help them stay in China...
he encouraged these new Believers... charged them...
to go back to the darkness... with the Light they now carried...
and share it with their family... friends... neighbors...

Just this last weekend...
the Chinese preacher making disciples...
sending them out into darkness...
was brutally murdered...

The remarks of the representative from The Voice of the Martyrs...
celebrated the welcome... this faithful preacher of Light...
surely received in heaven... Well done... good and faithful servant...

Joy... in being used for His purpose... do you have it...?
Can you filter all life's ups and downs through this charge...?
Have you embraced the purpose of your life...? the one to share faith...? make disciples...? wherever and in whatever circumstances He brings into your life...?

Joy in His purpose...
I just really never made the connection...

But if all things work for good...
in fulfilling His purpose...
shouldn't it bring... unimaginable... joy...?