Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Awake! {Decide today which master you will serve.}

There is a theme I can't escape.  It consumes my thoughts by day....my prayers moment by moment.

There will be a separation.

The remnant will go one way and the false look-alikes another.  When I look around, I see sleepwalkers.  We have no idea what is going on in the spiritual realm.  Just yesterday, the constitution continued in its death spiral as freedom of religion was stripped away in Georgia.  But, most didn't even notice.

Awake, awake!  Clothe yourself with strength!

It's only at harvest time that the wheat and tares are separated.  They grow in the same environment and even look the same.  The difference is that one offers life, seed, and food.  The other, death.  "There will be an end of this mixture in due time; the hypocrite shall not always stand in the congregation of the righteous; the wheat and the tares shall be separated 'in the time of the harvest.'"  Spurgeon

Awake, awake!  Clothe yourself with strength!

Nail down the stakes of your tent called faith. Strengthen what God has planted.  Seize the Word and ingest it daily.  "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ."  (Romans 10:17)  Fear not and hold fast to the promises. Hold fast to the truth; it is our lifeline.

Determine today whom you will serve.  Modern American Christianity hasn't required much as a collective whole.  Christ won the mental battle of going to the cross while in the garden---before he was put on trial---before the bone laden whip cut off muscle and skin---before the humiliation of being stripped down---before the asphyxiation---before the weight of carrying such heinous sin.  The road to the cross was won in the garden in a moment of complete surrender.

Not my will, but Yours.

{Lord, give me grace to fall on my knees and cry out in complete surrender--Not my will, but Yours.  Give me grace to choose You above all, no matter how daunting the road ahead.}

Awake, awake!  Clothe yourself with strength!

It pleased our Good-Good Father to bruise His only Son by sending Him to the cross.  In Hebrew, Isaiah 53:10 reads something like this:  "It delighted the Father to crush, destroy, break to pieces, cast down, humble, beat to pieces His Son."

It brought the Father delight to humble His perfect Son so that you and I could be restored to His heart. 

Hard words.

What if it pleased the Father to break me to pieces?  What if my crushing is what brought Him the most glory?  Would I have faith to continue to call Him my Good-Good Father no matter what my circumstances shouted?

In the Sermon on the Mount, we see our Savior lay out the Beatitudes.  "Beatus" is Latin and means to be blessed and happy.  Jesus is telling us how to live a fulfilling, content, and joyful Kingdom-Life as we walk this earth that really isn't our home.

The beatitudes are a harsh juxtaposition against the world's standards of joy and success.

Poor in spirit?
Craving Righteousness?
Pure in heart?
Creating spaces of peace?

Then in God's Kingdom realm you are blessed.  You are even happy.

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account."  Matthew 5:11

Why do we in comfortable America shy away from verses like this?  Why do we snub our noses and say that surely God wouldn't mean such things for us...after all, we are His children!

We have watered down the gospel and forgotten that we are trying to be like Christ: the Suffering Servant who laid down His all.

When the separation comes, persecution may very well be right behind it.  Are we ready?

Awake, awake!  Clothe yourself with strength!

Persecution is simply this:  being wrongly treated because of our faith.  Yesterday, a bill should have passed in Georgia.  It would have simply allowed those in the religious workplace to exercise their faith in God by holding to the teachings of God found in the Bible.  Instead, now the religious leaders will be faced with either choosing man's law or God's. 

To think we are immune to this kind of treatment is either arrogance or apathy. When we are being faced with wrong treatment due to our faith, what will we choose?

Jesus paid it all.  All to Him I owe.

Today is the day of decision.  Decide today, while in the comfort of the garden, which master you will serve.

Awake, awake!  Put on thy strength!

"Then Joshua said to the people, 'You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve Him.'  And they said, 'We are witnesses.'  He said, 'Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel.'  And the people said to Joshua, 'The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey."  Joshua 24: 22-24

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday {The Falling Away}

Easter came fast this year.  I wanted to soak in more time in the Word and have a chance to figure out what on earth the boys will wear Sunday, but here it is.  In many ways, I don't feel ready, but God did honor my request of showing me something fresh amidst the holy pages where Jesus's death was penned. 

I've thought a lot the past few months about the end times apostasy (falling away) that occurs.  What on earth would drive those that say they believe in Christ to all the sudden say they don't?  Persecution?  Suffering?  Fear? 

And then I see it in the Upper Room and the Garden and the Courts.  I see those twelve, beloved by Christ, who spent countless, precious hours with their Messiah, and they fall away

Part of that makes me shudder.  I seem to say, "Lord, I will never leave you or forsake you or shy away from your Name."  And yet, I wonder if I set myself up for failure with such haughty words.  Perhaps it is only God that holds us and keeps us??

Jesus says to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Simon, you went to sleep on me?  Can't you stick it out with me a single hour?  Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don't enter the danger zone without even knowing it.  Don't be naïve.  Part of you is eager, ready for anything in God; but another part is as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire."  Mark 14:37-38 MSG

{What if prayer in the garden would have armed the disciples with the much needed power to stay faithful?  Instead, they chose sleep.  How often have I chosen sleep?  Or apathy?  Or ignorance to what the situation really was?}

Judas arrives with a gang armed with clubs.  He betrays his Savior with a kiss.  Jesus looks at him and says, "Every day I was with you..."  This disciple handed him over for mere pieces of silver while all the other disciples cut and ran.  Every single one of the chosen twelve deserted him.

Peter had just hours ago blustered out arrogantly, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you."  All the other disciples repeated what he said.

This falling away of Christ's most beloved friends has sobered me right up.

If those that knew him best were quick to flee, then perhaps we aren't immune, either.

"These are all warning markers--Danger!--in our history books, written down so that we don't repeat their mistakes.  Our positions in the story are parallel--they at the beginning--we at the end--and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were.  Don't be so naïve and self-confident.  You're not exempt.  You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else.  Forget about self-confidence; it's useless.  Cultivate God-confidence." 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 MSG

I believe that those Christ redeems, He keeps.  I believe the Children of God will always be His children and will never lose their inheritance.  But, I also believe things could get tough enough that we could easily betray Him or choose not to associate with Him.  My newest prayer is that God would keep me faithful to Him above all else.  Above my comforts.  Above my expectations.  Above my safety.  I pray that He graces me with power to choose Him daily above everything and everyone.

Our illusion of a Christian nation has come to an end.  We are now the minority.  The hated.  The persecuted.  Lord, steel our faith before Satan comes to steal it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Lost Art of Meekness

To be meek is not to be weak

It is strength under pressure

It is not denying anger

It is controlling anger

Relinquishing to the One who can offer change



To be meek is to lower oneself




We always must come back to this word, humble

Pliable in God's hand



Lambs but not stupid beasts

Mild but not ignorant

Submissive to Christ but not blind

{Meekness is going to sit under your shade tree instead of lashing out at your wife.  It's giving your anger over to the Only One who can change her heart and then going back inside, filled with the love of a relentless and patient God.}

The meek are the strongest people on earth

The meek are satisfied with God being God

The meek are content

The meek surrender their own roar to the Roar of the Lion

The meek possess

The meek wait

and wait

and wait

The meek cast their votes and wait in anticipation of what a Holy, Just, and Merciful God will do with the collection

The meek refuse to be impatient

refuse to fret

refuse to worry

The meek forgive

The meek seek peace

The meek are promised an increase of joy

"The meek in spirit are like a photographer's sensitive plates, and as the Word of God passes before them, they desire to have its image imprinted upon their hearts.  Their hearts are like the fleshy tablets on which the mind of God is recorded; God is the Writer, and they become living epistles, written, not with ink, but with the finger of the Living God."  Spurgeon

Blessed are the Meek