Word of the Day

Schizophrenia

John 8: 15

You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.

I didn’t expect my supper last night, to stimulate theological query. However, my table was next to some men who had apparently gathered for a men’s Bible study group. “How wonderful,” I thought as I began my meal. I was excited to see people gather in the name of the Lord and even more so to see it happen in a public place. So, good for them!

Unfortunately, that was the end of the good feelings. We could not avoid hearing a good amount of their conversation and they were serving up a volatile theological cocktail for the appetizer. They began by talking about one group of people who they can’t and won’t accept because they have classified them as sinners. Within just a few minutes, though, they were talking about another group of people whom they also classify as sinners but for whom they recognized the grace of God. One guy even said something like, “The same grace that saved us is given for them.” What??? How is it that God’s grace is good enough for you and your pet sinners but not for everyone? Are you kidding me with this?
The problem they were having was that they really don’t know how to judge people. Guess what! Neither do I. That is exactly why God didn’t give me the job of judge. I really didn’t see the badge of God on them either and I couldn’t help but think, “You who are without sin, cast the first stone.” Would that have reframed their thoughts? How about the one about the log that is in our eyes. Jesus tried to teach us to judge ourselves instead of others when he told us to take the log out of our eyes so that we could see to help others. He knew that when we looked at our righteousness we would find it impossible to pass a negative judgment on anyone.

I don’t judge these men either. We are all going along on this journey and we struggle with difficult questions. That is a good thing. However, if they could hear how sanctimonious and self-righteous their comments were, I think they would have been embarrassed. At least they are trying to learn Jesus’ ways but who is their leader? Who is teaching them about judgment, self-righteousness and condemnation? There is no more condemnation. Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. We’ve heard the words now we must grasp the truth.

I remember thinking, “Who has made you lily white?” Better still, see my crimson robe and the blood that was shed because I was a wretched beast. If we don’t learn to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice at a very personal level it becomes easy to believe that we had something to do with our salvation. The more we understand what Jesus did for us, the less inclined we are to extend judgment towards another. Love is the only branch Jesus gave us to extend to the lost or even to the saved whom we believe are in sin. He did not give us a gavel. How are we going to bring all people to He whom we call a loving God if we continually condemn and criticize?

I think the church, that is you and I, need to have a hard look at ourselves and ask if we are following the course Jesus laid out for us. Are we lifting him up or are we just trying to bring others down? Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,” (John 12: 32). There is the protocol for evangelism. It’s called love. Lifting up Jesus is the way to salvation. It reminds me of the song, “Love Lifted Me.” What grace and beauty are conveyed in those words. Let us not only remind ourselves that this is the model Jesus gave us but let us also begin to lead others. This is the way and it is the only way. Let us not be a Schizophrenic body but one devoted to one ideal. The truth in Christ and the God of love. We must believe God’s love is good enough and big enough for all people.

Reflection

Hebrews 1: 3

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Do you find this verse big and full? I do. We could meditate all day solely on Jesus being the radiance of God’s glory. That statement fills the mind with wonder. We are also, perhaps, intrigued by the statement about Jesus being seated at the right hand of God in that we know David prophesied this very thing a thousand years before it happened. Then there is this amazing statement that Jesus upholds all things by the word of God’s power. Ruminate on that for awhile. As if all of that is not enough to occupy our thoughts, here is a most intriguing thought. Jesus the exact reflection of who God is at the most basic level. I want to talk about that piece of this verse because I think it is a very important concept.

I mentioned, last week, that it is not uncommon for Christians to have a good relationship with Jesus but almost no relationship with Yahweh, our Father. That seems odd, doesn’t it? We read a Bible which is about God but our personal touch with the trinity sometimes does not reach beyond Jesus. I think the reason this is the case is because we have a better sense of who Jesus is. We feel we know him better because the gospels give us insight into his ways.

Take heart, you actually know God better than you think you do because Jesus is the exact reflection of God. All of the traits we appreciate about Jesus he got from his Father. Jesus’ compassion is a God thing. God is gentle and kind. So, if we want to see God, all we have to do is look at Jesus. Jesus said it this way, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father, how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14: 9). If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father. If you love Jesus, you ought to also love his Father.

I hope this brings you comfort today and encourages you to seek the Father more urgently. If you seek Him, you will find Him and, you will like what you find.

Spirit of Revelation

Psalm 110: 1

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

I love these Old Testament revelations of Jesus. It is common for us to talk about Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father but think about David writing this 1000 years before Jesus arrived. Just to make it clear, the first use of the word “Lord” refers to God. “My Lord” is Jesus, the Messiah. Do you not find it amazing that David had such a clear revelation of Jesus so far in advance of his arrival?

This is the work of the Holy Spirit and believe it or not, that same Holy Spirit is alive and moving in the earth today. Very few Old Testament writers had this kind of revelation, especially about Jesus. Even fewer knew, explicitly, about the Spirit. One of the things I like most about David is the way he worked with the Holy Spirit. He is unique in his understanding of and flowing with the Spirit of God. Do you find that surprising? Well, the Holy Spirit was not yet fully revealed. The Old Testament saints were looking for Messiah. Jesus revealed the coming age of the Holy Spirit.

The power of the Holy Spirit has not diminished one jot throughout the centuries. He is still revealing powerful truths. One of the other similarities, though, is that there still is not widespread collaboration with the Spirit. He remains a bit of a mystery to many New Testament believers. Did you know you can even pray to him? Well, that may not be a huge revelation, but it may be something you haven’t thought of. He is God. He is the third person of the trinity. Therefore, if you want to walk with him and have him give you the kinds of revelations he gave David, you can. You can talk with him and ask him to partner with you. He responds well to invitations.

The Holy Spirit is moving in this age for those who have the requisite awareness. He wants to integrate into your life and activate all his spiritual gifts with you and for you. Seek him, invite him, talk with him daily. He is there with you right now and will gladly walk as closely with you as he did with David, even as closely as he partnered with Jesus.

The Way

Ephesians 3: 11 – 12

This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

It is almost unfortunate that we call ourselves Christians and our faith Christianity. While we owe everything to our beloved Christ, sometimes we miss the prize of his faith. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14: 6). What did he mean by “the way” and why would he mention it before revealing himself as the truth and the life. Those are two rather large concepts to follow behind, “the way.” This is what I believe we sometimes lose in our Christianity, the truth behind this statement.

Yahweh God did a mighty restoration through Jesus. He restored us to Himself. This is the main work of the Christ. We were lost. We had no connection with the Father until Jesus came and made a bridge, actually, he became the bridge. We were separated from God. Now, through faith in Jesus and his work, we are made children of the King.

I have heard many Christians confess that they love Jesus, but do not know the Father. I was there myself. I had no relationship with the Father. I called myself a Christian which seems fair because I loved Christ, but it was God who sent Jesus into the world. He did that so that His family would be restored to Him. Jesus said that no one goes to the Father but through Him. That is what he meant by saying he is the way. He is the way back to the Father. Fellowship with the Father was the goal and Jesus became our way. Now, through our faith in Jesus’ completed work, we can have bold and confident access to the Father any time. This is the purpose of our faith and Jesus’ sojourn in the earth. It was about this reconciliation. Because of what God and Jesus did, we have access to God’s presence anytime.

At the end of the day, Christianity really isn’t about Christ. It is about the family of God being reunited. Of course Jesus’ role is vitally important but we need to keep our eyes on why God sent him in the first place. We were estranged from our Father and Dad wanted us back in the family.

It is imperative that now we seek audience with God. We seek His face and His presence. We seek Him and fellowship with Him until we know Him as Father, Dad, Papa. He should be as real to you as your earthly parents, if not more so. I encourage you to get to know your Father. Walk hand in hand with Jesus along the beach to where you see Father seated on the sand. Pull up a towel and bask in His radiance. He is real. He is love and he loves you. He wants to be a Father to you. Be His child.

End the Suffering

1 Peter 5: 10         GW

God, who shows you his kindness and who has called you through Christ Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, strengthen you, make you strong, and support you as you suffer for a little while.

This verse is so easy to get wrong. Some translations leave you thinking that God is going to let you suffer for a while and then He is going to come to your aid. Not so. Let’s put this verse on its proper footing today.

Sometimes, though we don’t like it, sometimes you just have to go through. Not all unpleasantness is avoidable. It makes me think of daily workouts. Frankly, they are not all comfortable. Some are downright painful, but we go “through” the workouts in order to achieve the results we want. Some days I am tired before I go and I don’t want to go but I do and afterwards, I feel great and I am proud of myself but there is no way to get to that good feeling without going through. Life is like that. The key, in those times, is to start praying for Dad’s help immediately. Don’t even try to do whatever it is in your own strength. Call on the Father and lean on His great strength.

The key words to today’s verse are “who shows you his kindness.” If we first grasp that God is good, loving and kind, then the entire Bible takes on new meaning. You will find much greater understanding of God’s actions when you begin from the premises that God is love and that His loving kindness is renewed every day. He is always available to make your journey easier. Even when there is something you must go through, He is with you to support, restore, and strengthen you. He will also make the suffering last a short time. You may have to suffer a little while but there should be the sound of good news in there that it is only a short while. Some people live years in perpetual suffering because they don’t know how to invite the Father into all their life’s circumstances.

Face it, somethings are a challenge but when you go through you feel good about yourself. God is with you, showering you with His strength and lovingkindness so that the duration of the challenge is short. He will be your strong right arm throughout if you will allow Him. Learn how to lean on Him and become proficient at reaching out to Him at the inception. Pray about your projects before you begin them. Get God on board in the beginning. He will make your path straight and smooth. He is with you always willing to assist. Don’t strike out alone. Don’t bear any burden on your own. Call on the name of the Lord and end the suffering.

Guarded Treasure

John 14: 27

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.

Jesus was leaving planet earth. He told his disciples what was to come. Can you even imagine how distraught they must have been? I place myself in their shoes and it seems devastating. Not only were they about to lose their leader, but also their best friend and even beyond that, their Lord. He was everything to them, truly. Then he announced he was leaving. Oh, heart of woe!

Jesus knew the anguish of their souls. I am sure he was feeling sorrow as well and probably concern for them. He gave them something to soothe their souls, a promise for their well-being. He told them that he was going to leave his peace here for them. That would have been a profound statement to them because they had witnessed him remain cool under tremendous pressure. They knew his peace was special.

This same peace is available to us today. He left his peace here on the earth for whoever wishes it or needs it. In his peace is such tranquility. It literally has calming, restorative breath in it. It enables us to face trying situations without raising our blood pressure. In his peace we have the ability to face all manner of challenging circumstances while remaining in calm confidence instead of dread and panic.

You can see that it is very precious. One of the things our heavenly Father told me in my journaling is that the devil wants to steal this peace from me. Father encouraged me to resist the devil’s attempts to steal my peace, that is the peace which Jesus gave me. I see how valuable it is and that is was a key component in Jesus’ last days. He knew each one of us would need his help on a daily basis and his peace was the treasure he gave. The Father showed me that this gift should be guarded.

Don’t let anyone have what Jesus has given you, whether that be his peace, freedom, salvation, acceptance, redemption, etc. Why should I give some idiot on the freeway the power to steal the peace Jesus gave me? What stressor is important enough to you to allow it to steal your peace? There is nothing that is worth it. Hang on to this valuable treasure from Jesus. Peace is health, it is feeling good. Don’t let it go!

Arise

John 11: 44

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

This puts me in remembrance of the Israelites in captivity in Egypt. God repeatedly said to Pharaoh, “Let My people go!” Jesus came to earth proclaiming liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners. We saw that Galatians 5: 1 reads, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” Most people who read this daily devotional are blessed to live in countries where they enjoy political and social freedom. The troubling truth, though, is that far too many of us are weighted down with grave clothes and are not living the life of freedom mentally, emotionally or spiritually that Jesus’ victory provides us.

The greater part of us are well acquainted with spiritual death. We were lost, just floundering our way through life when Jesus reached out and brought us into fellowship with him. That fellowship gave us new life, a redeemed life. It is a miracle and a daily joy but sometimes we forget how it felt to be dead. Do you remember what it was like before you had hope? Do you remember the daily frustrations and continuous trials?

Life in Jesus offers hope, but it also yields freedom. The more intertwined our lives become with his, the more free we live. It is amazing, truly. I have been a Christian as long as I can remember. Though, I can’t remember a time when Jesus wasn’t precious to me I have found a different way of living, a different flavor to my Christianity if you will. We have an ability to life our lives with and through him. Recall the words of Paul, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,” (Galatians 2: 20). Beyond mere Christianity is life in Christ and that is our real objective. It is living with him and for him in every moment of our existence. The concept is so far beyond what I originally learned that I still find it a mind stretching experience. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that if she would drink of the water he offers, she would never thirst again yet how many of us are spiritually parched. There is life and freedom in Christ. Those are not mere words. That kind of truth, however, only comes through laying down our own lives. How does one do that?

Here is my advice. Seek God with all your heart and might. Our Christian walk is often characterized by phases of growth often resulting in a different relationship with the Trinity. I began one of those deeper walks thirteen years ago which completely transformed my life. It began, though, with seeking him. Through that my life and his life have become one amalgamated existence. There no longer is any me without him. And, truthfully, I have become part of him too. This intertwining has changed every aspect of my life: my health, nutrition, relationships, patience, level of spiritual revelation, peace, even every day tasks are easier and I am more successful in the things I do because he is in the midst of them. He really is in everything, even your breath and this shakes the grave clothes from your body so that the life you live is one of vitality, joy, peace and, when we are doing it right, even ease. He gives us the grace to live above our ability, wisdom or knowledge. He gives us a lighter step and clearer eyes.

Shake the grave clothes from your frame. Arise and live. There is fullness of life in Christ Jesus and I honestly want every drop of it in you. My desire is that you live in overflowing abundance of his grace and goodness. Let my people go! Be free! Enjoy a life intertwined with Jesus.

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