Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to be offended by Christ

Romans 9,10

Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. (Rom 9:33)
We will never know just how far are hearts are from God’s grace in this life, I think. So vast and limitless and boundless is His favor, His mercy and His love that it will always escape us… leaving us an eternity to discover its riches!

That’s why Paul’s writings in Romans are so crucial. Because they speak about the utmost sanctity of this grace. And how anything apart from it completely, not partially, but completely misses the heart of God by light years.

The message of grace can be offending to us and to others when we are embedded in a system of law. It’s good to understand that our actions have consequences, to esteem justice, especially social justice and to value the principle of nature; you reap what you sow.

But God’s dealing with us are on a completely different level. None may approach Him to any degree unless it is totally based on His unconditional love, mercy and grace. There is not a single soul who has a right to enter the presence of the Holy One in and of themselves. The whole lot of humanity is cut off from this privilege.

So then, this day and this week and this month you may have fallen and fallen and fallen. And the more we fall, the more we distance our selves from God. Have you ever noticed that? We’ve been taught in churchianity that sin makes a distance between us and Daddy in Heaven. And yet, when Adam first ate from that tree, who was it that really did the distancing? It was Adam, not God! It was the Lord who diligently sought Him out like a father searches for a lost daughter or like our Shepherd for a lost sheep.

When we sin, we separate our selves from His love, mercy and grace. We do this because we still have Law and its remnants camping out in our hearts and souls somewhere. It is your solemn duty as child of God to root these enemies like you pluck weeds from a garden. Seek them and burn them in the trash heap.

Christ’s grace is only offensive to those who love self-righteousness. The sad thing about that is self-righteousness doesn’t exist; it is merely an illusion. But you have come to the real thing.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Heb 12:22

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Embracing Enemies - a message written to us 2700 years ago

Today's reading: Isaiah 15-19
Sometimes when we read the Bible, the names and the whole style of speech just throw us off. We’re unable to really connect with what is being said nor are we able to really see God’s heart in these passages.
So when I read about the destruction of Moab (a neighboring country that sat to the east of ancient Israel and whose people were descendants of Abraham’s nephew, Lot) and the destruction of Assyria and Egypt (two of ancient Israel’s worst enemies), I went was quite frankly put off. Didn’t Jesus we had to love our enemies?
But as I pondered this I realized a few things that were amazing. Firstly, Isaiah was an Israelite prophet who would have been glad at these judgments but, instead he was weeping with these visions. Secondly, I saw that he was excited to have seen a great transformation of these enemies of God’s people in becoming one with them, that essentially saw them worshipping Yahowa.
This might have cost Isaiah a lot just to write down. Imagine that today, someone from the Middle East talks about the reconciliation of the Jew, Christian, and Muslim, altogether? Or if you were alive during the cold war, imagine someone who dared suggest that the Russians and Americans should be best buddies and be united by something so profound as faith in Christ.
Isaiah was so ahead of his time in seeing God’s love for every nation and His justice for every nation. There was no such thing as double standards with God. And yet God’s heart was never in the destruction and condemnation but in the reconciliation and blessing of every people as they came to Him.
Today, think on God’s mercy for a second. Yes, this is a message for a time where people are being divided by race, ethnicity, nationality, language and religion more than ever. But look closer to home too. Perhaps there are some who have harmed you. It’s cliché to say you should forgive them. But what if God’s plan for you in His grace was to even go further and bless them?
[I still can’t resist writing the cliché because it is so important: don’t hurt yourself by being unforgiving. Letting go and forgiving always sets the one with mercy free.]

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Is this what made David a man after God's heart?

There is something so raw, wild and untamed about David. He is true to his himself, above all else. He does not try to hide his emotions in any way and he approaches God with such familiarity and comfort that was unique among his peers of the time. [today's reading; Psalms 5 - 9]

Ryan Moreno/unsplash, modified by DR
How do you approach God? Do you feel you need get ready before you see Him? A little making up here, some tidying up of your heart there? Or do you just jump naked and dirty into His presence?

Well, David did just the latter - always. He did not wait to repent or get his act together. When his enemies hunted him like a scared fox, he went to the Lord and whimpered just like a scared fox. Another time he would come to God for help from his enemies, but this time he is confident and taunts his enemies knowing full well that God is His avenger and protector. Sometimes he would break into praise and utter mysteries of ancient times and the coming of the Anointed One. And yet in other moments, he comes to the Lord in shame and guilt, seeking His mercy. 

In all those occasions, David never left disappointed. And though his circumstances did not change at the end of his prayers, everytime he approached God like this, he'd come away singing and hopeful and healed and stronger than before.

Friends, this is how you need to approach God today. Just jump into His arms and be as raw and real as you can be. This attitude positions you in a great place to be changed by God from the inside out and to receive His abundant mercies, grace and love unfailingly.

I'd ask if you're ready to jump into His presence, but there's absolutely no need to feel ready. Just jump in already!

Friend, don't miss out on these devotionals. These are life-changing truths from your Father in Heaven to you. Join us to receive these daily Scripture readings and devotionals and grow in your walk with God... and you know what, it doesn't cost a cent! Enter your email below!

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Fight for your inheritance like an animal (This is My story: Caleb)

My name is Caleb, the son of Jephunneh. I am a Judah-ite (or what you call today a Jew); and this is my story.

Today's Reading: Joshua 12 - 16
I had known the cruel whip and harsh shouts of the slave masters of Egypt and for years labored as a slave. My lot at that time, was nothing but survival and no rest. Then Moses came and delivered us, rather finally the God of our fathers rescued us.

But the desert lands of Arabia and the southern Levant left us little respite, cold at night, scorching heat in the day and even the ground was pale and hard; yet we had water that glistened like a million crystals gushing forth cold and fresh from the Rock; and the food, the manna that tasted of the finest honey. So well supplied where we in the desert, we did not even feel the need to make new clothes. Even our now increased possessions, our flocks and cattle, thrived. All we did was walk occasionally and move our camp; but our real joy was simply worshiping Yahowa, singing His praises and delighting in the sacrifices - somehow I always thought those offerings spoke of something deeper than just tasty barbecues.

So though the desert life was good and such a rest as we had never experienced compared to our lives in Egypt, we longed for The Land, Ha Eretz in my tongue, even before we had ever laid eyes on it. For a reason we were not so attuned to, we desired this country, the land promised to Abraham so long ago. And so long as we did not dwell in it, our hearts felt broken and sad. 

O to belong there and enjoy its pastures, the olive and the fig, the pine and cypress, it's rolling hills and gentle shores and soft fields! Of course, this is what the fathers told us of our inheritance and we could only dream and imagine how it would be.

When Moses called us to go into the land to spy it out from our desert tents, I was thrilled. I found Joshua my good friend and together we trekked over the Jordan. I remember the feel of the boulders, soft and slippery with algae. And as we crossed it I felt like a man anew. The barley and wheat and even the weeds, the rocks and the deep brown soils, it all felt as home.

We passed through olive groves the sun glistening through silver leaves, grape vineyards with clusters as big as our heads and fruit gardens whose aromas evoked long forgotten legends in our hearts. It was not long before we saw that beautiful hill of Hebron, Karyat Arba as the giants called it. Yes, the Anakim were there and the smallest ones, twice our height. The descendants of the Nephilim, the unholy offpsring of the fallen angels and daughters of men. 

But I did not care. I laid my hand on Joshua's shoulder and said, "Look, Joshua, these are the ones who have polluted our land with every kind of evil under the sun and inexplicable bloodshed. Remember, the words of the ancient prophet Enoch? This is our land, it is God's land and His good pleasure to give it to us."

I was desperate for my home, my land, my earth. For this rest. I cared not for the pests that were there and I told the Lord I wanted that hill. 

When we came back, it was only Joshua and I who spoke well of the land. The rest cowered in fear and because of that unbelief I had to wait another agonizing four decades till finally I returned. During the wait, I also dreamed of that land, playing the lute wistfully and singing to God, my heart broken yet hopeful. They told me to forget it, that it was a land so polluted by the Anakim so as to be beyond redemption, but I could not no matter how much I tried. It was the mountain God had promised me, the one He took His time to create for me. How could I forget even the tiniest grain of sand if it was His gift for me? 

The rest of my sad people were content and many of our friends died in the desert. They died easily and restfully and died sad because they had been too fearful to dream of greater things for themselves. 

And then we entered the land. We crossed the Jordan and took up the 12 boulders from the Jordan Rivers and placed them in Gilgal, perhaps they were the same ones Joshua and I swam over and stood on while crossing that river many years on our mission. 

When Joshua finished leading Israel and settling them in their lands, I reminded him of God's promise to me. And there I was 85 years old and for the first time I entered my home. I still had work to do, for the Anakim were there. But for 45 years my heart burned to be there that it gave me great strength to defeat them all and purge my land from the monsters. 

Many of our people could not do the same. I always felt they did not value the land enough. Did they not understand how precious a gift it was? Forget the rocks and trees, this was a gift of Yahowa to us and they could not hold it in high enough esteem to fight?

I fought for my land like a dog. Afterall, that is what Caleb means, dog. And like a dog I cared not if it was only crumbs from the Lord's table, if it was God's gift to me I was well with it. 

Fight for your inheritance brothers. Your inheritance was purchased with the blood of the Slain Lamb. You can not afford to be like my fallen friends. It's time you conquered your inheritance, it's time you rose to greater things. That is your calling.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Is Christianity becoming a religion for lame ducks?

Every person in this world was created in the image of God - to reflect and emanate the Glory of the Most High, the unspeakable, unimaginable and incomprehensibly bright and beautiful glory of God.

And yet, I feel there is such a spirit of mediocrity that sets in among the church, dulling them to their destiny in Christ.

That is what your Bible says... John 14:12. I'm ready for this, are you?
Believers in the throngs are asleep to their righteousness - they are like Job, always afraid for having sinned, obsessively confessing the tiniest hint of sin out of fear. They don't understand they are forgiven and are under no such thing as assurance of His grace.

[Related post: 5 signs you are under law, the ministry of death]

And then there are those who are dead to the Spirit and His power. What is Christianity, friends, without power? Without miracles of healing and deliverance and mighty prayers than shake kingdoms and nations? NOTHING.Nothing but another world view that makes believers obedient sheep, hard workers, satisfied with near minimum wages and zero prospects of ever owning a house, or making a real difference. Keep your head, be content and pretend all is well.

[Related post: The gospel of Heaven to Earth]

You know that the Protestant work ethic is one of the things that has made the modern Western nations so great as civilizations? And do you know that Chinese thinkers understand this and tolerate Protestantism for precisely that end? And make no mistake of it, it's so they can raise an army of workers who will be satisfied working in toxic factories for the rest of their lives because they earn more money in the polluted cities than as meager rice farmers in the fields.

I was so moved when I saw a video of Donald Trump during the campaign reach out awkwardly for a baby. I have nothing against the Donald, but this was not one of his shining moments. He takes the baby and than hands it back to the parents saying the baby's going to be a factory worker. I was stunned. Here is one of America's most successful men blessing this baby to be a factory worker... a good worker, keeping his head down, tolerating the fumes and chemicals out of ignorance, maybe he'll be lucky if he owns one of those big pick up trucks, because his lot will statistically be debt, divorce and tonnes of dullness.

Am I the only one asking how in the world was everyone applauding to that??? "Amen! Factory worker, woooh!"

There is NOTHING wrong with being a factory worker. But I think there is a better heritage for every son and daughter of Christ. None of us are what we do. We are who we by His grace, we are above all His children and that is our identity.

[Related post: Rise high above for that is your destiny in Christ!]

I feel the church has embraced this thinking. We are huddled in our churches debating Scripture passages when the world is dying and broken and decaying. Instead of raising a generation of leaders who will live out their lives in wisdom, grace and love, we are raising a people who will totally undifferentiated from the masses.

[Related post: What real Christians should think about Trump, Israel and Islam in a nutshell]

Like the rest of the world, they will work. Like the rest of the world, they will watch TV during most of their free time. Like the rest of the world, they will think the greater things of life are to be done only by the few. Just smile and applaud and don't dare dream.

I am praying that the church will awaken to our glorious inheritance in Christ, to our awesome power in Him, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and that we would no longer be foolish but that our wisdom would shine a thousand times brighter than a million suns.

I pray what Paul prayed and I do so because I know that is what we are called to.

I pray that for everyone reading this post.

God bless you all.

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