in the presence of the angels of God

Returning from time away, time with the wondrous one and the sweet things. Will post some thoughts in the morn.

"Captivated by the Presence of Jesus Christ" {John14:15-25, Phil3:3,21}
* Diff types of friends: wife, best, regular. Christ.
* In Him, "Trinity dwells in us" in exact same way He dwelt in Holy of Holies
* When last time, you knew He was right there w/ you?
* "Spirit of God opens up for us the presence of God in Jesus Christ"
* Phil3:21
- Transform: change inner wirings
- Conform: change outer appearance to something else
- Power: More than some notion of electricity; it is what/who He is
- Natural earth powerful & awe-inspiring -- He merely spoke that into being
- Stars hang in space -- like child's play to Him
* Lord's pwer surpasses all
* Lord's power sets us free to be conformed to His death


whatever you have said

Harmless mistake or symptom of larger problems? It would be easy to chalk this up to simple laziness or understandable error. After all, many know Him as Jesus of Nazareth. Wasn't there a film titled such? But make no mistake, my friend, it is more than simple human error.

MSM gets other birthplaces right. They won't claim Abe Lincoln was born in London. They'll do some fact-checking on that one. I could bring out that liar is behind this -- an attempt to cloud all aspects of the truth; an attempt to bring wrong where there is only right. Even I see that as an overreach.

It's simply reflective of modern media feelings toward the Messiah. They don't care. They don't care if they get it right. They don't care if there's a backlash. They don't care whether or not it impacts the message of the story. They simply don't care. And from my point of view, that is far more dangerous and far sadder than because they did it on purpose. Far sadder.


have been forgiven them

Today a Rolling Stone will grace these pages. Thing is, Keith, you are no different than the rest of us. Not in what you do, or what you have, but in what you have done. And in the mindset that perhaps one day, that pardon will come. All charges dropped. That may happen in podunk towns in Southern states. It may happen in Hollywood hills that know your name.

It won't happen before the throne of God.

Unless you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ.

Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Bible says the wages of sin is death. And the Lord Himself says that no one comes to the Father but through Him. Speeding, drugs, lying, pride -- all sins count the same in His book of justice. And none of them will be dropped without bowed knees before the Messiah.

Looking to be cleared? Looking for complete innocence? Looking to be forgiven? Only requires a willing heart, one that says "Jesus, give me what I cannot earn or buy." Already on its way to you, friend, if you reach out to His hand reaching out.

Will you make that choice today?


at a loss to know of which one

Everyone thinks choices are good to have, options some positive thing. Many ask for the Lord to close doors and make the path clear. I for one am one of those that prefer the Lord to make the choice for me. Walk of faith can encompass choice. I believe sometimes the path widens, and the Lord wants you to pick your direction so long as the mindset is still looking to see which direction He is in. Discussed this issue somewhat the last time I was faced with choices. The whole process is the test of faith.

What if sometimes it is not a test but a reward? Ever think He gives out options as one gives out gifts? Perhaps to the faithful, sometimes He offers choices -- all of which He'll bless -- like a parent with a candy jar. Go ahead. Pick one.


although it was extremely large

If there ever was a phrase meant for a sermon, the one repeated by the Lord in Luke11 is it. Lord says "something greater than" twice in Luke. Same scene repeated in Matt, although Matt adds another. Jonah, Solomon, and the temple. Greater than all of them.

One could view this expression as some sort of arrogance, whether or not fact-based. But I see it as a different use of the word "great". Not great as in importance, but great as in size and scope. Basically, Lord says to us, "You're thinking too small. Think bigger."

Too easy for us to narrowly view things in context with how it relates to our perspective or worldview. Everything about the Lord -- His love, His calling, His power, et al -- everything is occurring at a dimension and size and scope that is far too large for us to comprehend. It's like being at the base of a large sculpture of a man, and focusing on the largeness of the crafted toenail. Lord says, I am bigger than just this little thing.

Step back, crane your head, and look up.


and concerning righteousness

"The Quest for Integrity" {Matt5:33-37}
* Intro: all struggle w/ it
* "Uprightness of character"
* OT Background
- Forbidden to make false vows {Lev19:12, Num30:2}
- Lord instructs folks to make oaths (thus not sinful)
* Practice of Lord's day
- Hierarchy of oaths
- Full of loopholes
- "Evasion elevated to art form"
* Lord's standard of integrity
- Make no oaths
- Creates separation twixt God and everyday aspects of life
- Creates distinctions in truth
- Followers should have rep for truthfulness
* Application
- Show integrity in words {Prov12:22 -- HATES liars}
- Lord did not prohibit taking legal oaths {Matt26, Pauline letters}
- Show integrity in actions (promises and priorities)
- Others will judge God by our integrity (light & salt)
- Integrity a heart attitude and takes commitment
- When stumble, ask for forgiveness

Missed def for integrity: what you do when no one is watching....


as when a lion roars

Wondrous one brought to my attention a v that had escaped my unfortunately shallow poring over of the Word, and that is Luke10:18. Lord says "I was watching Satan fall from Heaven." There may not be a more indescribable v in all the Word. It is a revelation of the Lord's eternal character, there at the beginning of all things. Present at one of the most foundational moments in all of human history. The precursor to the other fall, the one in the garden. Witnessed that event in person. How does one respond to that revelation?

Interesting scene it occurs in, too. The seventy return and gloatingly declare the power they have in the Lord. Lord doesn't rebuke them, really. Points them heavenward; praises the Father Himself as an example.

Done pondering now. Mind cannot wrap itself around the image of the Lord recalling to Himself light and dark and light becoming dark and the beginning of all things leading to the end of all things.


already put into the heart

Mentioned the other day that lately, filled with inspiration for a few future topics for the flock. One particularly that was fleshing itself out was on true love -- not was what it is, but rather what it is not. And not the hallmark v's found in 1Cor13.

Not going to work out the full outline here. But a few thoughts, love is not temporal. Only Lord loves you forever and ever no matter what the mate tells you. Love is not conditional. Lord loves you despite who you are and what you do. Love is not a mere feeling; it is action -- and His led to trudging up a hill bearing a cross.

Final app will of course be the only one that indicates what love is -- Rom5:8: while yet sinners, Christ died for us.


who can listen to it

Spoke yesterday about the concept of willing ears. A heart who seeks to please Lord and seeks to listen will not fail to hear. World always crying out for sign from above, but aren't willing to spend the time cultivating a heart and ear that can hear that sweet whispering.

Lord doesn't always keep a steady tap either. Almost overwhelming recently to feel the torrential downpour that He is imparting. Luke8:16 is the very clear statement of fact on this issue:

"So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given"

Lord is promising a flood if your ears are willing. But before you get too excited, that drenching doesn't come with no strings attached. A willing heart must be tied to those ears, else all for naught. Lord expects some action based on that loosing of His vision. He expects it to bring others closer to the throne, their ears trained to be willing.


he will speak for himself

Frightening to appear before the flock with a message from above. Thought of repeating such a performance too overwhelming to consider. Flesh cries out for mercy, and throws up random excuses of little depth. First to come to mind was lack of available topics for future delivery.

In a flash (and documenting so the flesh shuts up): golden calf, true love, faithsteps, Ps23, Moses & the cleft, Roman commander & slave

Fleshing these out might seem the task, but can't even meditate on one for a second, and the sound from above completely fills the ears. Never need doubt inspiration. Point is, one doesn't need inspiration; one needs willing ears.


reaching forward to what lies ahead

More on the issue of stretching raised yesterday. The walk of faith is more than just strolling through a forest, looking for the Lord's back. It is, rather, a winding climb up an ever-scaling mount. If you are not struggling for breath at the tree line, it is because you are resting on some stump yards below.

Lord wants to stretch you not only so He can carry you; Lord stretches you because it is the only way you will grow. Those new to the faith are no different from those who have aged in the faith. Old ones should be asking themselves the same question as the new ones: what now, Lord? Churches fail when their flocks aren't continually seeking the growth, the stretching. Faiths fail when we believe that being able to catch our breath is somehow a good thing.


then he said to another, and how much

What all can a man do?

How far can a man stretch -- his time, his resources, his skills? What priorities does a man set in juggling marriage, family, and ministry? Is there room for time for self? A man can only do so much, so what all can a man do?

Lord is always calling you to stretch. Going to come to a point where not possible for you to do the juggling. To a point where it is impossible for you to meet all the needs. To the point where it is impossible for you.

It is there the Lord meets you and says, "I know. It is impossible. For you." Word says nothing is impossible for Him. Lord defines miracles by their ability to do the impossible. Lord says it is, in fact, all Him when you hit that wall. It is why He keeps calling you to stretch. Because when you come to the point where you can no longer reach, it is then that He reaches out to you, takes you by the hand, and says "I am enough."


and his whole household

"Jesus on Divorce" {Matt5:31-32}
* Intro
- Divorced? Married a divorcee? Divorce in family or close friends?
- Almost all people will answer yes to one of these questions; divorce touches almost all people, not few
- What does Lord think of divorce?
- "Kingdom code of Christ"
* Why does Jesus discourage divorce?
- Marriage to be a picture of Christ's love for world
- Divorce causes brokeness
- Culturally, divorce too easy to attain
- Lord had passion for faithful marriage
* Divorce inevitable in a sinful world
* Marriage an act of God, not a societal construct
* Moses on divorce {Deut24:1-5}
- Divorce only for serious offenses
- Man must give wife written certificate
- Man cannot remarry former wife
* When is divorce permitted
- Sexual immorality
- Unsaved spouse leaves (abandonment) {1Cor7:15}
- Divorce not to be first option; reconciliation and forgiveness is
* Practical advice
- Accept forgiveness from god
- If remarried, stay that way
- If single, stay that way
- Work on healing relationships
- Ask for and offer forgiveness


and He directed the people

Feel like I'm in a weird encouragement zone where steps of faith taken in love and in faith are being reaffirmed by rays of light. Wondrous to have confirmation of being on the path and being pulled along. Still unclear to where the pulling is leading, and to where the faithsteps are headed. The lesson as always is not to question. Enough to know that the tugging is not in vain; that the steps are not headed to waters too deep. Enough to know the path is the path. Eyes up, feet down.


so that you might be exalted

Got this note from a brother this morning discussing being before the throne:

". . . I was overwhelmed by the thought of spiritual battle that takes place when we come into worship as the body of Christ. I think if Satan could choose one place in our lives to distract us it would be in our times of worship. It's in worship that we gain a proper perspective of who God is, who He came to be in our lives, and what He wants to accomplish. It's in true worship that our lives are transformed, renewal is recognized, brokenness is manifested and commitments are cemented. Worship changes us, it tells us that God is near and we're not Him. Sin shows us it's [sic] ugly side in true worship and bondage is broken. In worship, we realize that to live surrendered to Jesus is the key to a life of spiritual freedom . . . I plead with you, brother and sister, to join me and spend some time these next few days, prostrate before the Lord, bathing our worship services in prayer. The destination of those that come through our doors depend on it."

Love the refocus emphasized by these words. Worship not for God. Worship for us and for others. Ridiculous how easy it is for liar to make us think differently. No need to plea, brother. Already on the knees.


are considered worthy to attain

Learned a lesson today about the heart of service that believers can take notes on. And from a car dealership no less. I'll go ahead and identify them, because with this kind of attitude, they should be getting the press. Honda aims for an "excellent" rating on customer satisfaction surveys. Their little form has the following chart:

Excellent = We Pass
Very Good = We Fail
Good = We Fail
Poor = We Fail

That is an attitude that expects and desires only complete and total service. You can see where I'm going from here. Not uncommon for me to rail about the lukes of the world. Their attitude is that Sundays are enough for God. The rest of the time is for the things of the world. A heart that defines passing as containing only excellence is the exact opposite of that.

You want that epitaph? It won't be written based on lowering the passing bar to something obtainable. That goal is far above your head, far above it, and only by His helping you reach the impossible will that get written about you, friend.


why can I not follow you right

Conversation this am about following and leading, flocks and shepherds, seemed to flow from beyond me. Applicable to the body here, sure, but methinks it is a lesson to other flocks, and the larger bride as well. Three points here:

Point one is that the flock needs to follow, end of story. There is no conditional clause that follows. It is not "Follow, only if they lead." Lord never calls for conditional obedience. Lord calls for obedience, period. Worrying about the leading is not a mistrust of man, but a mistrust of God. Why would He bother giving you a complete leader when you haven't demonstrated the ability to follow a less-than-complete one?

Point two is that the shepherds need to better lead. Obstinate sheep are brought about by hook and crook. Not by ignoring them. Not by half-hearted hands held out, blaming the flock for their inability to discern random barking. Assumption all along is that obedience not a strength. If that assumption known, why blame them for a natural characteristic?

Point three is that points one and two must improve independent of each other. This is a coordinated effort from above. Points cannot be waiting for the other to act; points need to trust -- Him, not each other -- that the coming together will occur. Because when it comes together, oh boy, but liar is going to run. Something blessed this way comes.


that I may be pleased with it

"Good and faithful servant" is such a common phrase among believers. They want it spoken of them just as of the Lord. They want it as epitaphs. They want it as a permanent character quality. I never quite understood the line of thought. Always thought it a rather overused phrase.

Until yesterday.

There is a satisfaction from knowing you've done the right thing. There's a satisfaction to knowing you were obedient. There's a satisfaction to knowing you were faithful.

But the biggest satisfaction is something else. And that's knowing you were a perfect vessel, used by Him for His glory. It is a satisfaction of having served the Lord. All the others are self-satisfactions. But there is a satisfaction that comes from pleasing God. Entirely a different thing, and entirely the intent behind the label. You are nothing, and you are not involved.


you may have life in His name

Lord says that apart from Him, we can do nothing. Fine by me, since I am nothing. All that means is that He will do the heavy-lifting. I'm fine with this arrangement. Especially because that means it guarantees success.

From today, but meant for every day:

God says in Isaiah 25:8 that “He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.” That was Jesus’s mission on earth: to save us from death and to wipe away our tears. Two days from now, this country celebrates independence. This country reserves a day to honor freedom, freedom won by the sacrifices made by others. My friend, the greatest freedom ever won for you was won by sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary two thousand years ago – freedom from sin and death for all eternity.

Every soul has a longing; every soul has a God-shaped hole that only Christ can fill. Today you can meet your salvation by asking Christ into your life. You can guarantee your place in Heaven. And in Heaven, my friend, God says in Revelation 21:4, “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain." That is what awaits you if you turn over your life to Christ right now. And if you do that, the Bible says that all of Heaven, all of Heaven will celebrate, and the only tears shed at that grand party will be tears of great joy at your salvation. Take His outstretched, nail-pierced hand, my friend, and see it where it leads you.


just as I have loved you

From tomorrow:

The angel and Jesus ask Mary why she’s weeping because after Jesus’s death on the cross, death could be triumphed over. Jesus cried “It is finished” on the cross and when He sees Mary, Jesus says to her “Woman, why are you weeping?” As if to say, “Don’t you understand? Don’t you understand what I just did? Don’t you understand what happened on the cross? Death is not the end of the road anymore. Eternal life has been provided. Death is no longer so final. Don’t you understand? Why are you weeping?”

But in John 11:35, when Jesus is facing Lazarus’s tomb, He’s not thinking about the eternity that awaits those whose faith is in the Messiah. Instead, he’s thinking about the still terrible nature of physical death, and He thinks of Lazarus in that cold, cold tomb, He can see the terribleness and finality of death for Lazarus, and for everyone around Him. Jesus sees the emptiness of that tomb and thinks of the emptiness that awaits all mankind apart from God, He sees that and it breaks His heart, it breaks it, and He weeps.

But thankfully, the story doesn’t end at a weeping Savior before a tomb.