A Personal Devotional Journal

I invite you to journey with me. Sometimes we will look at short passages of Scripture and I will give my first thoughts and impressions. Other times, I will just share my thinking about spiritual issues. Always, you are welcome to comment and add your thoughts. Together, we could learn something.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Matthew 9:12 "Jesus Is For Losers"

Matthew 9:12   "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."

          I was raised in a wonderful Christian home –but I didn’t truly allow God into my life until I was 16.  That was during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school.  During my senior year of high school, I became quite bold in sharing my faith.  One of my classes was being taught by a student teacher from Michigan State University, doing his internship.  This guy had enough of me one day, and called me out into the hall and began yelling at me.  After several minutes of blaspheming Jesus and cursing me, he ended up giving me the lame old excuse of the intellectually challenged, “religion is just a crutch for weak people.”  I guess he thought that was an insult –but you know what?  I simply admitted that he was right.  Because he was right.  It’s true Jesus is for weak people.  Jesus is for losers.  Jesus is for sinners.  Jesus is for people who have all kinds of issues that we can’t resolve on our own.  Jesus is for people who are separated from God.  Jesus is for people like us.  The point is that we are all weak people –we all need God.  If trusting Jesus is a crutch, it’s a crutch we need in order to walk.  The alternative is to remain crawling in our own dirt.  Don’t be too proud to let Jesus in.

         So, if you have never actually asked Jesus to forgive your sins and begin the life changing process, I want to ask you again today to do it.  In fact, let’s pause right here and go through the simple process.  First, we simply have to admit our guilt and our need for God.  I have thought and said and done wrong things –and the choice to do those things has caused a barrier between me and God –a separation –a separation so complete that I often wonder if there even is a God.   

          Any problem so far?  Can we admit that we have done wrong and our wrong has had spiritual consequences in our lives?  Good.  Now, we must acknowledge that Jesus is God’s provision for sin, for those choices that have separated us from God. We simply agree with God that Jesus’ birth and life and death and resurrection are God’s reality and provision for us.   

          And then, we acknowledge that because Jesus already paid the penalty for our sin, we are forgiven.  If you have never done this, I’m going to do something I rarely do; I’m going to lead you in a prayer.  If you want to be forgiven and made right with God, I invite you to pray this prayer with me –the words I’m writing mean nothing by themselves, but if this is what down in your heart you truly want, these words are powerful and life-changing.  If possible, please read this prayer out loud:

God, I know that I have sinned and that my sin has been a barrier between us –I know that my sin has separated me from You.  I want to be forgiven.  I am placing my trust in Jesus, and in His death on a cross and in His resurrection from the dead as Your provision for my sin.   Please forgive me and restore me to a right relationship with You.  Please allow me to be a part of your family –through Jesus.  Amen.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Luke 2:8-20 "Why Shepherds?"

--> -->Luke 2:8-20
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

          I think that’s a great story –but it’s greatness doesn’t lie only in the unfolding of the miraculous events –I think it’s greatness lies in the simple fact that God chose to reveal the birth of His Son to shepherds.

              One would think that an event like this would be announced to the important people of society.  This is an event that changes everything.  This is the birth of the Savior of the world.  Doesn’t it seem like this should have been announced to the religious leaders and the political leaders?  I mean if I were God –and it’s a good thing for all of us that I’m not –but I probably would have had angels appear to Caesar himself and put on a display that couldn’t be ignored.  I would have had angels appear to every ruler and authority on earth and announce, “This is the Son of the Most High God –bow and worship.” 
            But that’s not the way God did it.  Not only did God announce the birth of His Son to shepherds, but they are the only ones to whom this was announced.  Isn’t that a little puzzling?  Why?  Why was this incredible news announced only to a rag-tag band of social outcasts in the middle of nowhere?  What does that mean?
            Well, if you’ve ever felt like you were on the outside looking in, I think it means you should be encouraged.  If you’ve ever watched other people laughing and smiling and talking happily and wished it could be you, I think this means you should be encouraged.  If you’ve never actually been one of “beautiful people” that everybody crowds around and wants to be friends with, I think this means you should be encouraged.  If you have never seen your name in the paper for some great accomplishment, this means you should be encouraged.  If your life isn’t what you’d hoped and dreamed when you were younger, this means you should be encouraged.  If you are not among those who have this intimate relationship with God all figured out, you should be encouraged. 
            You should be encouraged because whatever else the announcement to the shepherds meant, it definitely meant that Jesus was not and is not just a Savior for the important people, and wealthy people, and the popular people and the religious elite.  Jesus was not and is not just a Savior for kings and governors or priests and rabbis.  Jesus was not and is not just a Savior for military leaders and heads of state and well to do merchants and people of distinction.  None of these people received the invitation to Christ’s birth.
            I think that by announcing Christ’s birth to shepherds, God was making a statement.  Jesus is the Savior for everyone.  He doesn’t discriminate based on social status or education or wealth or intelligence or political power or social standing –or any of the things that we tend to judge people by.   He gives His love generously to all who will accept it.
          There is a line from the carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem that I think answers the question of why shepherds?  It says, “Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”  That’s it.  God reveals Himself to those who are humble enough to receive Him.  God shows Himself to those who aren’t too proud to notice Him.
          There is no longer any reason to go through life with a truck load of guilt and shame.  There is no need to live with fear and lonliness.  There is no need to live with the emptiness and anxiety that comes from being separated from God.  If you have been living like that, I want to tell you the simple truth.  Jesus came so that you can be freed from that.  And it’s not a complicated thing.  You simply open your heart and let Jesus in.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Romans 12:2 "Transformed Minds"

--> Romans 12:2
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

I probably don’t have to explain why we need our minds to be transformed, but I’m going to anyway. It’s because we believe lies. We believe lies and just coming to Jesus and being saved doesn’t dispel the lies –or not all of them. And just knowing what the Bible says doesn’t dispel the lies. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. I wish that all we had to do is memorize some Scripture and all of the lies and all of the hurtful effects of those lies would vanish, but that’s not the way it works. We continue to live here in this fallen, broken, sinful world, and we continue to believe the lies of the one who caused it to be fallen and broken and sinful in the first place. Can we all agree with Jesus on something?

If you are alone, go ahead and read this out loud. “The devil is a liar and the Father of lies. When he lies, he is speaking his native language.” That’s what Jesus said. Read it again in agreement with Jesus. “The devil is a liar and the Father of lies. When he lies, he is speaking his native language.”

Not only is the devil a liar, but he is a very good liar. He has been around since the beginning of this world. He has been practicing and perfecting his craft for eons. He is smart. He is a schemer. He is deceptive. And we are deceived.

The worst part is that because of the nature of deception, we don’t even know where we are deceived. If we knew that what we were believing was a lie, we would quit believing it, but we can’t just quit believing what we believe –so there you go –we are deceived. We need for our minds to be renewed and transformed by the healing, freeing truth of Jesus.

Let me tell you some incredible news that the world can’t understand but that is, nevertheless, life transforming, hope giving, spirit filling, mind renewing reality if we are willing to open our hearts and let it penetrate. Are you ready? Listen –this is Good News, indeed!

You are of infinite worth in God’s eyes. Your value isn’t based upon what you do or don’t do –or what you know or don’t know. Your value isn’t even based upon how good you are or how bad you’ve been. God loves you with an everlasting love that is not dependent upon what you bring to the table. I wish there was a way that I could help you understand this with your spirit and not just your mind –this is critical.

This is truth that sets us free. If we even start to get this we can quit playing by the world’s lie-based rules that keep us competing with one-another in order to achieve value, and we can step up into lives of significance, lives of grace, lives of meaning –the lives that Jesus promised.

Friday, November 1, 2013

2 Corinthians 5:21 "Me and Sin and a Right Relationship with God"

--> 2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

           This tells us that Jesus, who never sinned actually became sin on the cross –he became our sin. Stop for a minute and think of the worst thing you’ve ever done. Don’t actually blurt it out loud because you're probably worse than anyone that might overhear thinks you are. We likely all are worse than everybody else thinks we are. As a group, wonderful, kind, good-hearted people like those of us reading have cumulatively done a bunch of really bad stuff. 

           Chances are at some point in time every one of us has spent at least one night in our lives tossing and turning because we felt guilty about something. I’m guessing that we’ve all done a few things in our lives that we wish we hadn’t –things we are ashamed of –things we wish we could do over –things we don’t really want to talk about. If you take all of the guilt and all of the shame –every wrong choice and every disobedient action, every evil thought, every mean thing that has been said by any of us -every kind of lust and greed, every nasty thing that all of us have ever done combined –and you add into it all of that same stuff from all of humanity, that’s what Jesus took into himself on the cross. He became sin. 

           He became the murderer, the rapist, the child molester, the thief, the liar, the drug addict and the drug pusher. He became the pimp and the pornographer. He became the con artist and the greedy land developer. He who had no sin, became sin. That’s what Jesus did on the cross. The one person who never did anything of which to be ashamed –the one person who never had any cause to feel guilt –experienced all of the guilt and all of the shame of every sin we have ever committed so that we could be forgiven. 

           The physical suffering Jesus went through –the actual physical pain of being whipped until His bones were exposed through the flesh –the pain of having a crown of thorns pushed down unto his head, the pain of being beaten with rods and hit with fists, the pain of having his beard plucked from his face, the pain of having nails driven through his hands and ankles –as awful as all of that was –that pain was nothing compared to the spiritual torture Jesus endured as He assumed into himself all of our guilt and all of our shame. It is unimaginable what Jesus endured for us. But He did endure it. 

           Obviously, there is a reason Jesus endured the unfathomable physical and spiritual and emotional pain of the cross. I think we really need to get this right. This is something we need to understand because what He endured for our sake demands that we not take it lightly or misunderstand. 

           Jesus did not assume our guilt and shame and endure the physical torture and death just so that our sins could be forgiven. Don’t get me wrong here –it is because of Jesus death and resurrection that our sins are forgiven –but forgiveness was the means to an end –it was the result, not the reason. Jesus went through what He went through –He endured all of that so that we could be made right with the Father –the reason Jesus died was to restore the relationship. Our sins had broken the relationship, so they had to be dealt with –but forgiveness was not the reason Jesus died –relationship was.

           Can you see why this is important to understand? If we don’t get this –if we think everything is only about being forgiven, then sinning is not really that big of a deal –now that Jesus has died and rose again, our sins can be forgiven. So what if I make the choice to indulge the flesh and deny the Spirit once in a while? No big deal, I’m forgiven anyway. 

           But, if forgiveness is the byproduct of what Jesus did, not the reason, if relationship is the reason, sin is still a huge deal because sin still breaks the relationship. Every time I choose to sin, my intimacy with the Father is cut off. Every time I indulge the sinful nature, the relationship that Jesus paid so dearly to establish is broken.

Dear Jesus, Thank You for going through all that You went through so that I could have a right relationship with the Father. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank You for the Holy Spirit and the choice I now have. I choose You, Jesus. I choose to walk with You. I choose to let go of my sin and be free. I am now making the conscious choice to walk in the Spirit instead of the Flesh. Help me, Jesus, to make this choice moment by moment and day by day. Amen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Matthew 6:14-15 "Why Forgive?"

-->       My role as one of the pastors at Bow Down, an inner-city ministry, is doing one-on-one pastoral counseling, inner-healing, and deliverance in a community where most of the households survive on less than $10,000 a year, 90% of the homes have no fathers, One out of two girls is sexually molested and one out five boys is sexually molested, most families have someone (father, brother, sibling, etc.) in prison, drug and alcohol abuse is rampant, and violence is normal.  Clearly, addressing the internal hurts and damage of sin is an important part of our ministry.  As I minister to hurting people, I have come to realize that the seeds of true inner healing are often found in learning to forgive.  So, I spend a good deal of my time teaching people how to forgive.
-->     Why should we forgive?  After all, revenge is natural.  Bitterness is normal.  Hatred is expected when someone wounds us.  But forgiveness is neither normal nor natural.  So, why do it?
      Forgiveness is neither normal nor natural; it is, however, the foundation of our relationship with the Father, and it also sustains right relationships with other people.  This is why when Jesus gave us a model for prayer, He said we should pray, “Forgive us our debts (sins) as we forgive our debtors (those who sin against us).”

      This concept of forgiveness is so fundamental to the Kingdom of God that Jesus went on to say, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive your sins.  But if you do no forgive men their sins, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15)

      Jesus reaffirmed this assertion in Matthew 18 when He told the parable of the unforgiving servant –you might remember that the king had forgiven the entire debt of a servant who owed more than he could ever repay.  When that servant then refused to forgive a minor debt to a neighbor, however, the king reinstated the servant’s entire debt –and then Jesus said these chilling word, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

      I have had people tell me that since Jesus said this before His death and resurrection, this teaching on forgiveness is part of the Old Covenant –that the New Covenant of grace supersedes this command to forgive others if we want God to forgive us.  But I don’t think we can blow it off that lightly.  The Old Covenant taught an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth rather than to forgive those who have wronged us.  I believe that this teaching is not at all a part of the Old Covenant –and in fact, not part of the New Covenant.  This has nothing to do with covenantal laws; this is simply a reflection of the Father’s heart.  Since His desire is that we have deep, abiding, intimate relationship with Him –and He knows that bitterness and anger and hatred prohibit intimacy –He commands that we forgive.

       While I don’t want to get into a theological debate over either salvation by works or eternal security, we still have to understand that Jesus used very strong language here and we must take Him seriously.  We can’t afford to let our theology get in the way of God’s desires for us.  Clearly, this is important and there is an awful lot riding on our ability and our willingness to put aside what is natural and do what is right.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

1 John 4:8, 16 "God Is Love"

         Everything we know about God is revealed by God.  Whatever God desires us to know about Himself, He reveals.   Any opinion of God not based in His own revelation is conjecture and speculation.

         Of course, God has revealed a great deal about Himself through Scriptures –both in what He speaks and in how he relates to people and circumstances.  So, there is a good deal we can know about God.  We know that He is patient, and kind, and gentle, and merciful.  We also know that He is just, and holy, and altogether righteous.  We even know that He is sometimes jealous, and sometimes wrathful, and sometimes vengeful.  We know these things because He tells us directly in Scripture that these are His character qualities.  We can also conclude from Scripture –particularly from the real-life stories found all throughout the Bible -that God is sovereign, and omniscient, and omnipresent and all-powerful.  We see these qualities on display as He interacts with people.  There is a lot we know because there is a lot He has revealed.

I have heard sincere Christians argue over which of these various qualities best defines God.  In general, this is a pointless argument.  We know what God has revealed -nothing more, nothing less.  If we want to pinpoint one characteristic, however, that best defines God, we don’t actually have to argue or speculate because Scripture tells us.  In the book of 1 John, chapter 4, it tells us twice that, “God is love.”

This is an important description because it is different than any other description of God in Scripture.  Other places describe God as being merciful, for instance, but they don’t say that God is mercy.  God is in several places described as being patient, but never does it is say that God is patience.  Many times God is described as being kind and gentle and good, but never as kindness, gentleness or goodness.  Here in 1 John 4:8&16, God is not simply described as loving; rather, He is defined as love.  This is not a minor distinction.

God is merciful and patient, but one day His patience will come to an end, and one day His mercy will also end –there will be a day of judgment.  God is kind and gentle and good –but he is also just, and sometimes His gentleness rightly gives way to judgment and justice. 

Think about this:  if God is loving, as opposed to being love, He might love sometimes and sometimes not.  But if God is love -if this is His essence and not just a description of a particular quality He possesses, His love is unencumbered, unconditional, and unending.  God loves us, not just when we are deserving or when we meet the criteria or even on specific occasions when He chooses.  His love endures forever because He is not only loving, He is love.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mark 5:1-20 "Compassion For The Demonized"

They arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes.  When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him. This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him.  Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones....
 Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”
And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.”  Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place.
 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby.  “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.”
 So Jesus gave them permission....

 As Jesus was getting back into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him.  But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.”  So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.
          Jesus and his disciples arrived in this community and they found an apparently insane man living in a cemetery.  The local townspeople tried to keep him chained up in the cemetery because whenever he broke loose, he terrorized the local community.  They didn’t know what to do with him. 

In the ministry that I do, I sometimes deal with the demonic.  It’s just not that unusual as we deal with people’s deepest hurts and darkest secrets that strongholds get exposed and whatever demonic attachments are present begin to manifest.  I only bring this up to say that there is something I know for certain -something that Jesus also knew when He encountered this demonized man.  That is, no matter how demonized a person is, he is still a person.  He is still a person created in the image of God, deeply loved by God. 

Although people become demonized by their own life choices and activities –in a sense, demonized people are not exactly victims, they are participants. Nevertheless, they are deceived and manipulated by a lying, destroying murderer.  That is how Jesus described the devil.  He is a liar that comes to kill and destroy.  And even though people’s choices to participate in sin and in addiction and in lifestyles that are blatantly opposed to God have opened doorways to being demonized, I don’t think anyone makes those choices fully informed of the bondage and pain they are entering into.  As normal people, created in the image of God, loved by God, choose to sin –choose to participate with and enter into agreement with the enemy, they become degraded and demeaned and debased and put into all sorts of spiritual and emotional and even physical bondage.  This is true.  Sin always takes us places we never intended to go and always takes us farther than we ever intended to go, and leaves in bondage we never intended to be in.

Jesus recognized that this man was demonized.  You might remember that as Jesus addressed the demons they said, “We are legion.”  A legion is a thousand strong.  That’s a lot of demons.  But Jesus saw something more than just a demonized, crazy man chained up in a cemetery.  Jesus saw the suffering human afflicted by demons.  The short story is that Jesus delivered him of the demons –set him free.  And the man was incredibly grateful, and, in fact, wanted to join Jesus’ band of disciples.  He begged Jesus, “Let me go with you.”  But Jesus told him “no.”  Instead, Jesus told the man to go back to his family and friends and explain how The Lord had had mercy on him.  The word for mercy that Jesus used is a Greek word that often denoted compassion.  In other words, In this real life story, compassion looked like setting someone in bondage free.  There is a very real sense in which this is what the Kingdom of God is all about.  We (Christians) are called to bring spiritual deliverance to those in bondage.

As we enter into the satanic strongholds of hurting and deceived people's real lives, let’s clothe ourselves with compassion.  Let’s choose to see the people, not just the sins they have committed. Let’s choose to love them in Jesus’ name.  Let’s choose to set the captives free.  Let’s choose compassion.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mark 9:20-24 "I Believe -Help My Unbelief"

          When it comes to true faith, we have a dilemma.  Our dilemma is that we might truly want to believe, but our experiences in life kind of put a damper on our faith –our ability to believe.  Let’s be honest.  We are skeptical by nature.  We really do want to grab a hold of all of the Bible's promises and believe them with all of our hearts, but when our experiences collide with the promises, when the physical world collides with the supernatural, we tend to think the physical is dominant.  But this is the very crux of what it means to be people of faith.  It’s not a matter of wishing harder –it’s not a matter of trying harder –it’s not a matter of setting aside our logic and our reason –it’s not a matter of hoping for the impossible –it’s simply a matter of believing that when the two worlds collide, the divine supercedes the mundane –the spiritual is stronger than the physical.  When we begin to grasp that, all things are possible.

         But even the ability to see these things with our spiritual eyes and receive them with our hearts is a gift from God.  There’s a story in the Bible that illustrates.

Mark 9:20-24
So they brought him to Him. When the spirit saw Him, it immediately convulsed the boy. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. “How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asked his father.
“From childhood,” he said. “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Then Jesus said to him, “‘If You can’? Everything is possible to the one who believes.”
Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”
          What I want to really call attention to is this desperate father’s simple prayer – a prayer Jesus answered –“I believe, help my unbelief.”  Sometimes that’s the best we can do –we come to God in obedience, ask Him to act, to provide, to heal, to restore, to fill and empower us to do the things He wants us to do –all the while knowing that it’s beyond our ability –yet asking God for the faith, the belief that is necessary to trust Him.  I have no ability to do the supernatural –but the Holy Spirit in me is, in fact, supernatural.  God, help me believe that when the two worlds collide, the supernatural overwhelms the natural.  I do believe –help my unbelief.

         If this is starting to make some sense to you, why don’t you pray that simple prayer out loud to God, right now.  “God, I do believe –help my unbelief.”

Sunday, September 8, 2013

John 14:12 "Greater Works Than These"

I fully accept Jesus as my Savior, my Healer, my Sanctifier, and my King. So, I believe Him when He made the radical statement in John 14:12:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

At first that seems like an impossible, almost insane statement. Think about it. Jesus, according to the Bible healed the sick and made the blind to see and the lame to walk. He cast our demons. He calmed storms. He knew what men were thinking in their hearts. He fed thousands of people with a little sack lunch of a couple of fish and a loaf of bread. Jesus did a lot of things that we would call miracles –things that normal everyday people like us can’t do. But Jesus did them.

And the normal explanation that most Christians seem to grab onto is that Jesus could do these things because He was God. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God –Jesus affirmed that He and the Father are one and the same –Jesus said that no-one can come to God accept through Him. So, we have grabbed onto the fact of Christ’s deity as an explanation of how He could do the miraculous.

But to attribute the miracles to His deity means we have to ignore what Scripture teaches about Jesus and what He said about Himself. For instance, In Philippians 2:5-7 we are told that even though Jesus was God, He did not consider equality with God something to be held onto and emptied Himself and became fully human. And in Galatians 4:3-5 we are told that Jesus was born as a human, fully under the law. In both John 8:28 and John 14:10, Jesus said that He did not act in His own authority, but the authority of the Father who dwelled in Him -He only did what the Father told Him to do.

So what the Scriptures tell us about Jesus and what Jesus told us about Himself is that although He existed as God before taking the form of a human, as a human, Jesus laid His deity aside and lived among us fully human. He didn’t do all those miracles as God, He did them as a human living in absolute right relationship to God. He not only did miracles, but lived a sinless life as a human empowered by the Holy Spirit, intimately connected to the Father.

We, of course, are not exactly like Jesus. We didn’t have the option to enter life sinless and without a predisposition to sin like Jesus did –that’s what the virgin birth was all about. That isn't part of our story –but, since through the shed blood of Jesus, His death and resurrection, we are forgiven and made right with God, and since we also now have the Holy Spirit to endwell and fill and empower us, we now have the Spirit-empowered abilities that Jesus had. Sinless Jesus walked and talked and taught and did the Father’s will through the intimacy made possible through the Holy Spirit. Although not sinless, we are forgiven of our sins and have the exact same Holy Spirit with us that Jesus had with Him. If we choose, as Jesus did, to walk in the Spirit, we can do the things that He did. That’s His promise. He said it clearly. We can choose to not believe it –but not believing doesn’t change the fact that the promise was made, and therefore possible.

Can you see the implications that this has for us as Believers? Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus promised, will do the same Spirit empowered things that Jesus himself did. The sick will often be healed. God will speak to our hearts. Motives of the heart will be discerned. Miracles will happen. Those in spiritual bondage will be freed. The broken-hearted will be restored. The demonic will be confronted. The works of the devil will be destroyed. We will literally be the Body of Christ -His continuing presence -His ambassadors.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kingdom Rights

Kingdom people have no earthly rights -we give up our rights for the sake of our King.

You think I'm wrong?  Ask Hosea why he is still married to an unfaithful prostitute?  Ask Ezekiel why he is lying on his right side (for 390 days)?  Ask Jeremiah what he is doing down in that cistern?  Ask dignified Isaiah why he is walking around naked?  Ask Joseph why he is in prison?  Ask Job what happened to his children?  Ask Paul what all those bruises and scars are about?  Ask Peter why he is upside down on a cross?  Ask our Lord and Savior, Jesus, why He -the Lord of all Creation, King of Kings, God of gods, is dying a criminal's death?  These are Kingdom leaders.  These are people living in God's favor.  These are people of influence.  These are people who manifested and walked in true spiritual power.

The incredible thing is that these people would do it again -they counted it a privilege to serve God, even under persecution, even when they didn't understand, even when death was the inevitable result.

Two things seem obvious to me.  First, most people don't really understand the Kingdom -they never did and they never will.  Second, those who begin to understand the Kingdom -those who even just scratch the surface of understanding -realize that the Kingdom, intimacy with God, the love of Father is worth more than life itself.