Tuesday, December 8, 2015

CHRISTIAN

"The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." (Acts 11:26) A descriptive word that shorten the title of disciple/follower of Christ to Christian - person who is Christ-like.

What does it mean to strive to be Christ-like? The majority of Christ's life was filled with acts of compassion. God is love (1 John 4:8). If believers will find more ways to display God's Christ-like love, then a plethora of wrongs will be smoothed over. 1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 

How do we accomplish this Christ-like love on a daily basis? As a daily barometer, we replace the word "love/it" with our name in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

  • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
So mine would read....
  • Chad is patient, Chad is kind. Chad/he does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. Chad does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I can tell you right now, I have several to work on. But that is o.k., I am a work-n-progress. My glorified self is not manifested yet. "I'm not want I'm gonna be, I'm not what I wanna be, but thank God I'm not what I was." (Higher Ground lyric) This is what it means to be a piece of "clay" on the "Potter's Wheel" - for God to mold us more into a Christ-like image so much that Jesus is seen more than ourselves. When we submit to His molding, I believe God will bless our creativity and it will erupt allowing us to find and develop more ways to love. That is what it means to become Christ-like. That is what it means to become love. That is what it means to be Christian.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

THE GHOST IN THE STORM


Obedience to God is right and favored/blessed, but obedience is also resisted by the enemy of our souls, the world, and sometimes ourselves. In Mark 6:45-56 and John 6:16-24 there is an account recorded of the disciples obeying Christ but meeting resistance. The resistance came from "the ruler of the kingdom of the air" (Eph. 2:2) and communal fear. In Other Words...a wicked storm and fear of a Ghost In The Storm.

Pulling from both accounts but leaning on the Mark 6 version, we observe first that "Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida,..." I believe we can safely deduce that it was at this point, right after the Feeding of the Five Thousand, a command was given in which obedience followed.

  • Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. (Mark 6:45)
After dismissing the crowd Jesus found one of His favorite solitary places - a mountainside - to do one of His favorite solitary things - pray. From following the rest of the story to the end and observing John's account, I believe Christ prayed for the disciples, for the sick that He would heal on the other side of the lake and for direction from Father God.
  • After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. (v.46)
John 6:16-17 has all this beginning as the evening hours were upon them.

  • When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum.
Capernaum and Bethsaida were two towns north of the Sea of Galilee that were close to each other.

Mark 6:47 records our first passage of time and where the disciples were located and where Jesus was located. 
  • Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.  (Mark 6:47)
The passage of time is indicated by the phrase - "Later that night,". The location of the disciples is indicated by "the boat was in the middle of the lake,". And Jesus was located on that solitary mountainside with the phrase indicating - "and He was alone on land." John 6:19 actually pens an approximate mileage into the lake - When they had rowed about three or four miles,

Because it is nighttime and Jesus is about 3.5 miles away on a mountainside from His disciples, I've got to believe Jesus used some supernatural eyesight to view the disciples struggle with the storm. The next verse in Mark describes Jesus witnessing the disciples struggle.
  • He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. (Mark 6:48) 
Next, notice there is another passage of time while the disciples continued to battle the elements. The second part of Mark 6:48 says, 
  • Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. 
So, between the time Jesus saw His disciples and when He decided to head out toward them before dawn - there is time that elapses, there is time to struggle, there is time to mature, there is time to experience The Ghost in the Storm.

The last part of Mark 6:48 I do not hear mentioned often - He was about to pass by them,. If Christ had traveled on to their destination, I feel positive the disciples would have survived and been amazed that Jesus made it to their destination before they did. As it turned out they were amazed at Him within the storm.

People don't walk on water. It is no wonder then that the disciples were gripped with terror as they saw what looked like a ghost walking on the wind-battered waves of the storm. How would you react? Now the disciples have to battle the waves, wind and a weird apparition.

  • but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. (Mark 6:49-50)
It is no surprise Jesus encouraged them, identified Himself, then comforted them once more.
  • Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
John's account then says - Then they were willing to take him into the boat, (John 6:21). They were certainly not willing to take in a ghost. The disciples were going to do all they could to keep the water and the weirdo out.

Identification of their Savior was the first major hurdle in the middle of the storm for the disciples and sometimes for us. And a discerning mind/spirit is encouraged in Scripture -
  • "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." (1 Corinthians 2:14) 
But when Jesus reveals Himself and says,"Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."discernment becomes crystal clear. Christ's next step (pun intended) after identifying Himself is even better - He gets on-board and the storm disappears.
  • Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. (Mark 6:51)
The next sentence describes the disciples reaction and the reason for their reaction. 
  • They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:51-52)
Therein lies the rub. The disciples had not grasped Jesus as Master of Everything - Creator of All. Jesus had just proven He had mastery of the elements by multiplying five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed five thousand plus people. If they had understood this about Him with the loaves and fishes prior to the walking on water and calming of the storm - amazement may be there, but keyed downed to an expected amazement (if you will).

Let us re-evaluate the experience. The disciples had obeyed and disembarked on an evening boat trip across the Sea of Galilee to an area known as Gennesaret (including the towns of Bethsaida and Capernaum). While Jesus stayed behind praying on a mountainside the disciples encountered turbulent weather and could only manage to "spin their oars" (spin their wheels") in the middle of the lake/sea. Then just about daybreak Jesus shows up, not just mysteriously appearing in the boat somehow, but out in the turbulent storm of the winds and waves He came walking. Already battling the winds and waves, terror gripped the disciples and I feel certain they tried even harder to get to shore quicker. However, Jesus calmed their fears and calmed the situation with His words and His presence as He spoke to the disciples and stepped into the boat.

My encouragement to all believers with this perspective on this story is to realize first - God is always with us. Second, when we step out in obedience to Him, there is a good chance of resistance (from the enemy, the world, or ourselves). But no matter the size or strength of the waves keep rowing. No matter the fierceness of the wind be persistent. And as you possibly encounter the supernatural, be ever discerning for it might be our Savior coming to us as The Ghost In The Storm.  

Friday, October 30, 2015

EMPATHY

There are some situations and circumstances in my life that I would not wish on anybody. However, there are some cases where nothing satisfies like an empathizing friend or brother/sister in Christ. Finding out that one of your friends, Christian or not, has had a similar, if not exact, challenge in their life takes away the loneliness - the why is this happening to me feeling - of the situation.

Empathy gets even better when a friend shares his/her experience and then comes alongside you to help anyway possible. It is one thing for a friend or acquaintance to share they have been in the same spot you are now. It is another thing for empathizers to display their love and care. I realize that some situations are sensitive and may require the asking of permission to get involved, but at least do that - step forward and show that you are willing to put actions behind your good wishes and been-there-done-that speech.

I have got Good News for all of us - "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin." - Hebrews 4:15

But wait there's more!  

God does not leave empathizing just at Jesus, Father God sends us The Holy Spirit, also known as our Advocate, our Consoler and Counselor, our Comforter. In the original Greek, His name is rendered Parakletos (par - ak - lay - tos). John 14:25-26 tells us how the Holy Spirit continues to love on us - 
  • "the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." 
God's Spirit, residing within us, now becomes the teacher and He will always be in agreement with Jesus - The Word of God (reminding us of everything Jesus has said to us). God also promises to never walk away or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5). In those moments when you feel God is far away, rebuke that feeling because it is Not the truth. His hand of favor may come off of your life for an act of disobedience, but His presence is promised throughout your life and mine (Matthew 28:20).

Of all the people to have empathy toward us, I am beyond happy and thankful that God sent His only Son as our High Priest to empathize with our weaknesses and be tempted in every way that we are - yet did not sin. This means I can come to Him for comfort and advice because He has the victory. It also means I can empathize with others and be Christ's words, hands and feet extended.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

THE POWER OF COMMON GROUND

It is from our challenges, encouragements and rough edges that - if we allow the change - improvements are realized. Sure noticing the good points of anybody, anything or any situation will traverse you down the road a spell. However, knowing we can never attain perfection means there is always room for improvement, maturity, or betterment in some fashion.

Pastor Eddie Cortes said, "God uses broken people like you and me to rescue broken people like you and me."  I agree, just take a look at the lives of The Disciples. When Christ called them to follow Him, He was not calling individuals who "had it together" in every way, especially spiritually. No. Far from the notion of perfection were the lives Jesus called unto Himself.

Why is this? Those that feel and think they are complete or complete enough have closed the door on learning and improvement.  Those on-the-other-hand with a humble spirit, open mind and creative thinking tend to leave the door of opportunity open for learning and improvement. We all have our moments when we behave more like the Pharisees than the Disciples, but I would like us all to lean toward the Disciple's camp.

I especially notice God using us to help one another after the Ecclesia (Church) began. Three stories immediately come to mind - God's usage of Philip for the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40), Ananias for Paul (Acts 9:1-19), and Cornelius for Peter (Acts 10). Although Christ could use His angels in any given circumstance and could Himself minister unto the need at hand He chose to have these lives develop like so - using each other and God's Spirit within.

It takes a recognition of a gift/talent from God, a willing heart to serve and capitalizing on opportunities when God presents them - to operate from one "broken" vessel to another. Common ground is powerful when establishing a relationship of help. The cracks, the abrasions, the imperfections in the vessels are that common ground which we then try and develop/improve for a better container of God's love. Let us be ever observant to where we can minister God's love and utilize The Power of Common Ground.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

DAD'S HOME


When I was much younger, my family (the home/house) consisted of Mom, Dad, Josh and Grandma. Usually, when I was home weekdays so was everybody else except Dad. My Father worked two careers and wherever I was in my split-level house when he came home - I knew it was him coming through the door. 

Some telltale signs of his arrival were the rattling of his keys as he unlocked the door and entered. Another sign he was home was Mom's verbal greeting and loving greeting of a kiss. However, what seems to stand out to me the most as the sign Dad was home was the sound of his hard sole shoes on our hard wooden floor.

Knowing Dad was safely home would always elicit a smile and comfortable sigh from me. It was then that I felt and knew our family was complete, a unit again. This is an atmosphere that God has been communicating to me repeatedly lately. An atmosphere of God's Omni-Presence in my life. 

Recently, I went through another situation where I wanted to understand God but didn't. What was left? His Faithfulness and Trust in His Faithfulness. Just like throughout my life I did not understand some ways of my earthly father - the ways that I do know prove his faithfulness to me and my family and so can be trusted. 

With my father's entrance into the house comes his track-record of provision, his offering for the future and his fatherly presence. So it is with God in the believer's life. God promises never to leave us or forsake us. Many do not have the blessing of seeing and loving their earthly father right now. However, Christians have a Father, a Heavenly Father who has made this Temple, we call our body, Dad's Home. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

THE ULTIMATE CAMPFIRE


Each one of us has many needs.  The burdens of life seem to increase as we grow older. Now-a-days that seems to happen quicker and more intensely than I remember when I was growing up. Back in my more youthful days there was something sacred and worthy of a vacation. Even moreso was if there was a Campfire involved in that vacation.

Ah, vacations. This usually meant a change of scenery (i.e. the beach, the mountains, a campground, etc...). To "Get-Out-of-Dodge" was a refreshing start to a time of momentarily forgetting our troubles, setting aside our needs and re-energizing our "batteries". However, at least for me, when we had them, the campfire was the time that really sealed the deal.

The campfire - even as I would approach it on a clear, stary night - would melt all my remaining concerns away. The campfire seemed to unify everybody. We were all around it receiving warmth and light from it and enjoying each others company all at the same time. No burdens, no worries, and no cares. Sometimes stories would be told around the fire. Other times songs would be sung around the fire. Still at other times words were not needed at all around the campfire.

I have this same kind of Campfire experience every time I spend quality time with the Holy Spirit. He is Light, warmth and great company to my soul. The wonderful promise I hold onto and have experienced many times from the Lord is found in John 14:26 - 
  • But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
I encourage you to establish these personal Campfire Meetings with The Lord if you don't already have them activated in your Christian walk. If you do have these campfires in your life, I would submit maybe you and I need to return to these refreshings, these get-aways with The Lord more often.

Something to look forward to is when the whole Christian family is called away to the eternal vacation with Christ in Heaven. There in Heaven gathered around The Throne together we will have The Ultimate Campfire forever. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Battling The Ostrich Fever


Now-a-days I feel like playing the part of an ostrich and keeping my head stuck in the sand. Not that I am coping-out of life, but I find that every time I do retreat for a while and return to life – things and people have not changed. Christ Jesus even says in Luke 18:8 – “when the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?”

I take the pessimistic view in answering that question. Sure, there will be faith when Christ returns, but not like The Lord desires. I believe we are in the Laodicean church age – the luke-warm church age spoken of in Revelation 3:14-22. I have heard it said that Christ is coming back for a spotless bride. Those that call Him Lord and Savior and live accordingly are already made spotlessin regard to their salvation. However, this side of Heaven there is no way Christians can attain a spotless condition – in regard to their works or deeds. We are battling with nature, nurture, Satan and self. The only times The Bride is made spotless are many years ago at Calvary and The Bema Seat or Judgment Seat of Christ after The Rapture. Will Christ find faith when He returns? What would be even better is for Him to find a marriage of the Christian’s faith and his/hers works or deeds (James 2:14-26).

Battling The Ostrich Fever/View, I find myself being encouraged by all the “watch” Scriptures the Bible mentions for Christ’s return. However, the one that immediately comes to mind is The Lord’s words in Luke 21:28 – “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” In the face of awful events in history – “these things” - this is a verse filled with hope – “your redemption is drawing near”. Some events have happened, others are happening and the rest are bound to happen. There is one passage that resembles the headlines of newspapers and news programs everyday – 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”


So, even though our problems are identifiable and I may feel like burying my head in the sand - the fact that they are happening more frequent and more intense, as in labor pains, has me excited and sad about these times as I stand, lift up my head and watch for my soon coming Redeemer.

Friday, September 25, 2015

"LORD, TEACH US TO ____."

Do you want to know Christ's daily routine when He was here on earth? "Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives," (Luke 21:27). It is no wonder Scripture records - "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." (John 21:25)

His teaching astonished the people (Matthew 22:33). His teaching amazed the peopled so much because He taught with authority (Mark 1:22). His teaching was "hard" at times and difficult to "accept"After Christ spoke about Himself as The Bread of Life, "many of His disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'" (John 6:60) 

However, from all the astonishment, from all the amazement, from all the difficulty the Disciples encountered with the teachings of Jesus - there was one thing they asked to be taught. Daniel Kolenda says it like this - 
  • "They never asked, 'Teach us how to do miracles, or to be dynamic communicators, or to be highly effective and successful. The one thing about His life that was so compelling and appealing that they wanted to imitate was His prayer life." (Unlocking the Miraculous Through Faith and Prayer)
Luke 11:1 records that one of the Disciples inquired about this subject of prayer. 
  • "One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.'” (Luke 11:1)
Why is prayer so important? I am sure there are a myriad of answers, but consider my three (35,000-foot-level) observations.
  1. Prayer is so important because it keeps our Focus On God. Questions can go to God alone. Answers can come from God alone. Direction/counsel can come from God alone.
  2. Prayer is so important because it is The Most Healthy Way to Vent. God understands. He knows all things to begin with. However, He became flesh in Christ Jesus and was tempted in every way, but did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
  3. Prayer is so important because it is a powerful way to Continually, Intimately and Respectfully Commune with God. Prayer is not only a set time during a day. Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 encourage believers to be connected to God in prayer - continually. During these times of connection with The Lord, prayer and supplication are naturally a part. However, do not neglect The Lord's track record of faithfulness and worship Him for that.
I have found that from this continual quality time with God will come answers from Him, a changed heart/attitude, and the right things to pray about. Mr. Kolenda emphasizes my third outcome  - "God loves it when we pray the things that are on His heart more than our own. One of the highest purposes of prayer and intercession is to help bring His Kingdom into the earth so that He will be glorified."

Prayer is respectful communication with God. Prayer is motive-driven. Is your motive going into prayer - what can I get from God in this session? Consider Luke 6:38 - "Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap." Wow! What do you think would happen if we gave to God a willing heart to pray what He desires. I believe God would then bless you according to His will, knowing your desires (Psalm 37:4). 

James and John chime in on this point. James says - "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:3) John says - "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15) 

"With God, the supernatural is natural and the impossible is possible. Christianity is intended to be a supernatural existence from beginning to end, and the demonstration of God's power should be the norm." (Kolenda) Likening your effective prayer walk with God to the job of an ax-man/lumberjack, Daniel says,
"the sharpness of your ax is as important as the strength of your swing. My friend, it is possible to live FOR the Lord and work FOR the Lord and yet make very little eternal impact. It is possible to spend your days vigorously spinning your wheels without ever bearing 'fruit that remains'. If you want to live a powerful and effective Christian life, you need to spend time with Jesus. It is in intimacy with the Lord that your 'ax' will be sharpened, your faith will increase, and you will begin to move on the supernatural plane."

So, I speak to myself as well as encourage you - of all things that could have been requested, request of God what the Disciple requested of Jesus - "Lord, teach us to pray."



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

ONE OF A KIND

There is a saying on my computer that greets me every day, it says, "Stop hating yourself for everything you aren't. Start loving yourself for everything that you are." This message was recently confirmed to me through one of my favorite Christian authors - brother Rick Renner - in his monthly newsletter I subscribe to.

In Rick's exhortation, he mentioned 2 Corinthians 10:12. The verse reads - 

  • "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." 

Mr. Renner explained that although this verse addresses believers in Corinth who thought themselves spiritually superior, "there is a principle in this verse that the Holy Spirit used to help set me free from the spirit of inferiority that tried to plague me as I stepped out to obey God's call on my life. And it is exactly the point I want to get across to you today. God intentionally made you different from others. You are actually a result of His divine design. Your mannerisms, insights, and style that are different from others may be the very qualities that make you uniquely positioned to fulfill a specific need." So, on the encouragement of 2 Corinthians 10:12 - stop comparing yourself to others.

Rick accounts for our shortcomings and challenges, but provides hope and direction when he says - "Of course, we all have areas in our lives that need to be changed, and God will show those areas one at a time. But if you will simply quit comparing yourself to others today — if you will stop disparaging the very qualities that cause you to stand out from those around you — you will open the door to freedom from a spirit of inferiority so that your unique gifts can begin to shine brightly as God intended."

His encouragement to me and now mine to you reminds me of another verse that praises God for my design and nobody else. Psalm 139:14 says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." So, as Mr. Renner says, "embrace the uniqueness that made [makes] me [you] shine differently from others." Discover, celebrate and implement the qualities that make you unique. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

YOUR UNIFORM


Whenever and wherever personnel from any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces wears their uniform, civilians know to whom they belong; the military knows to whom the soldier belongs; the soldier knows to whom he/she belongs.

Listening in on a discussion recently, I learned if you are serving in one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces one has to be found wearing an appropriate uniform at all times. For civilians, this is a great way to spot those who serve and thank them or if we needed their help in anything - ask for assistance. For the military branch, this is a great way to visually locate and identify their soldiers for use. For the soldiers themselves, wearing the uniform could be a psychological and heart-felt stamp of identification with the military in public.

Should you decide to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are automatically enlisted in Christ's Armed Forces. The uniform and armor should never come off - just maintained, cleaned-up and renewed by the Holy Spirit in prayer periodically. Our countenance, our attitude, our behavior and our words are our uniform. They should represent The Captain of The Host, His Majesty - King Jesus appropriately. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul had this to say - "Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer." 2 Timothy 2:3-4 Paul continues with this representative-portrait of Christians by calling them "ambassadors" in his second letter to the believers in Corinth - "We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God." - 2 Corinthians 5:20

Are you wearing your Christian uniform appropriately?

Friday, September 11, 2015

IN THE THUNDER


Have you ever watched a movie and found yourself wanting the bad guy to meet his demise in a fierce and long-suffering manner? That desire was usually precipitated by the villain's malicious and/or hateful actions to the good guy(s) of the movie. In the movie of this world that we call Life, the bad guy, Satan has been acting maliciously/hatefully for some time now. I am so ready for Christ Jesus, the ultimate good guy, to deliver what Satan deserves. Scripture descriptively speaks about this in Joel.

Joel 2:11
The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?

Joel 3:16 
The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.

While I highly anticipate this kind of thundering from The Lord, there is another kind of thunder that gets my attention also. There are some cute sayings about the thunder we hear in storm-clouds. I have heard some say, "It is angels moving the furniture around in Heaven." I have also heard, "It is angels bowling." Whatever cute saying you have heard about the sound of thunder, Scripture likens it to the voice of God. 

You will often find me stepping out on my front porch when a storm is approaching, not only to assess the severity, but to listen to the thunder. I stop and imagine it as God's voice speaking to me. You might think I'm crazy, but observe what God said to David in Psalm 81:7 says - 
  • "In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah."
Then in John 12:29, Jesus speaks to God the Father and Father God audibly replies.
  • "The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him."
Other verses that speak to God's voice as thunderous are.......

Job 37:4
After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back.

Job 37:5
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.

Job 40:9
Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?

Psalm 18:13
The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.

Psalm 68:33 
to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens, who thunders with mighty voice.

I am also familiar with "the still small voice" or "gentle whisper" that 1 Kings 19:12 mentions as another pitch to God's voice. However, I will always ponder the words of my God - In The Thunder.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

ROOM FOR HIS MAJESTY


I don't know how they do it, but I know some people and have some friends who keep a tidy house/apartment/condo.......dwelling all year long. Some places resemble a museum quality of cleanliness. To those individuals and efforts I simply say, "Wow!" The tidiness of their homes at all times got me thinking. Besides the owners desiring a clean and well-kept house for themselves - was there anybody of significance/importance they were expecting to visit them soon? Maybe it is to be ready for anybody at anytime, but I have been in places where I felt like somebody else of higher reputation was expected to arrive later on.

The idea of always keeping your House tidy and in order for the company of His Majesty, King Jesus is what I want to communicate to you today. God's Word through Paul says, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;" (1 Cor. 6:19) So, you are not only a house, but a House of God, a Traveling Temple of the Holy Spirit. I believe this calls for extra diligence in keeping our body, inside and outside, clean, tidy and free from corruption.

There are numerous ways to go about cleaning your physical house as well as one's mind, body and spirit. I will submit three ways.

  1. Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.
  2. Know thy triggers to stumbling and stay away from them.
  3. Make a room ready for His Majesty, The King, to reside daily.
I love the idea of having not only a room ready for Christ, but my whole house ready for Jesus to dwell daily. However, if I am proud and ignoring what I know will lead me to sin, The King's Room awaits it's readiness. The King still walks my/His property and hallways of the house, but His Room is not prepared because of #1 & #2 being neglected. Some houses need different degrees of tending. Some tidying, some reviving, some renovation and some restoration. Wherever you are in your walk with Christ Jesus, I encourage you to make Room For His Majesty - The King.

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." - Revelation 3:20

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I MAKE IT MY GOAL

I am at a point, albeit a different angle of approach than Paul, of saying - "I would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:8) There are many factors that contribute to this, like the predictability of my daily life, but I still come to this conclusion.

Before this verse, Paul uses very descriptive language to portray the condition - "For while we are in this tent [body], we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling..." (2 Cor. 5:4) This talk sounds like Paul knew exactly how I felt - "we groan and are burdened". One thing is for certain, God knows. 

After the 2 Corinthians 5:8 declaration, Paul says a lot when he says the word "So". I interpreted that word to mean - since we have not left to be with His Majesty yet. The actual verse reads - 
  • "So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." (v.9) 
If you place my interpretation in the place of "So", it reads - "Since we have not left to be with His Majesty yet, we make it our goal to please Him, whether in the body or away from it."Boy! That got my focus off my problems and paused my desire to leave this world really fast. Did you catch that? First, we are still here, have work to do and it will be good to have the Master find us dispersing "food" in God's house at the proper time when He returns (Matthew 24:45-46). Secondly, our focus, "our goal" is "to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it."

In addition, verse 10 elaborates on this focus. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, says - "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." Meaning that the good works still to be done for The Lord will be judged and rewarded and if I will change my focus, He will take care of my concerns/burdens. How often I forget Christ's invitation - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." He mentions "rest" twice in this one verse.

In order for me to acquire "what is due us [me]" and to fight off a stagnant lifestyle, Paul writes - "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2) Notice that after your mind is renewed (Greek word is anakainosis meaning renovation) you and I are freed to "test" and "approve" God's will. The original Greek word for test is dokimazo meaning examine or prove. And the original Greek word for approve is euarestos meaning fully agreeable or well-pleasing. You combine these and we find, after renovating our mind, we will be able to prove/examine and observe the fully agreeable will of God.

The Lord informed me that this change in focus - from concentration on the problem to more knowledge of it and more focus on Him, the Problem Solver - all starts in the mind (Ro. 12:2) and allows me to know His good, pleasing and perfect will - and do it. I obviously have more pleasing work to continue and it is good to know should I be called home I will have opportunities to please my Lord and Savior there also - "So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." (v.9)

"Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

THE BANK.....THE CURRENCY


"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
-1 Corinthians 15:14

I would dare to venture that many, if not most, of us have yards and houses that need work on at least a weekend basis if not a daily basis. Assuming you are one of these people, like I am, allow me to submit an analogy.

Someone comes to your door, makes some observations about your yard/home and offers to pay for renovations. What is the catch? You just have to accept The Currency. For this situation, it is dollars. Let us say you accept. The great bonus is that the payment not only accounts for the lifetime treatment of the outside of your yard and house, but it also covers the inside of your home and all it's furnishings. The noticeable thing however is that your generous Provider went bankrupt supplying you that service; that gift. Hearing about this you wonder and fear - would He be able to come through on those promises? Fear not! A well established Bank supported Him and after a few days brought His business back.

If that Bank did not support Him and bring His business back after a few days, then all you and I would have is a well-intentioned Provider who went bankrupt in His devotion toward us. 

I hope you see that like the yard/house provider God provided payment for what was wrong with our "house" (life) - sin (rebellion). For our part, He simply asks we accept His Currency - His Blood and His Love. For His part, Father God (The Bank) gave His Son (The Payment/Provider) the authority/power to pick His life up again and He did. Thank God for the Bank that never runs out of The Currency - Love and His Blood.

Again - "...if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." However, He is Risen....He is Risen Indeed!

Monday, August 31, 2015

TRUST AND FOCUS IN PRAYER


I have caught myself, more than a few times, speaking to God as a genie - having a wishlist for instant satisfaction. I get conflicted sometimes, remembering how immediate Christ's response was to most of those that asked of His power - usually healing. Now-a-days it seems I receive more of His "No" or "Wait" replies. I should be grateful that He even answers and comply with my Majesty - Father God through His Son Christ Jesus. However, I am stubborn in some areas and desire to know how God operates as much as possible.

For instance, Jesus says in John 14:13-14 to ask for anything in His name and He will do it to glorify His Father in Heaven. Many have assumed "anything" means anything and asked for things that evidently received a "No" answer. I have found there are frivolous things to request of my King. However, we do have a helper in this area.

  • "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26-27 ESV)
Notice "we do not know what to pray for as we ought". The word "ought" in the original Greek is dei which means know as necessary. So, the idea is communicated that there are things on God's heart and mind that He deems necessary for us to bring to Him in prayer, yet we are clueless. But fear not, "the Spirit helps us in our weakness." How does The Spirit go about this? He "searches hearts" and "intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" with "groanings too deep for words".

In another instance, it is so difficult for me, at times, to accept "No" or "Wait" from God as Father when I am going through the trial/challenge. I understand the function of prayer but just do not grasp God's strategy or process of answering. In Other Words...I comprehend that prayer should be more than a respectful presentation of one's petitions before God. Concepts such as thanksgiving and praise should be incorporated into my prayers also. They are faith-builders. They cite God's track record with me and confirm His Faithfulness. This I know. It is the answers of "No" or "Wait" and the elusive why that trouble me. This is definitely where trust plays a part in a big way.

I guess prayer is my privilege and answering is God's prerogative. Prayer is my privilege in that I now have access behind The Veil through Christ who "is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us [me]." (Romans 8:34) His prerogative, if I should be so blessed to receive an immediate answer, would be well received. However, sometimes God says "No" and sometimes God says, "Wait". During these times I need to learn to trust God without an explanation from Him. Adopt the attitude of Father God knows best. The Holy Spirit depicted that attitude through the prophet Isaiah - 
  • “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9)
His superior knowledge and direction does not mean to stop seeking Him in prayer. No. I believe, seeking His face/presence first in prayer goes a long way in knowing how to tackle every issue. Persistence helps also (see the woman of Luke 18:1-8). However, if you were someone with many answers and that is all anyone came to you for - I imagine that would get old very quickly. I would desire to spend some face-time with the individual and show them there is more to me than just this one facet - answering problems. I believe that is God's heart with prayer. Not to treat it solely as the means for getting, but also the means to bless God and discover many other sides to His Majesty.

In the past, I have asked God, "Don't you desire me to be well instantly?" I continue to return to 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Here it charges me to "fix [my] eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." I am reminded of a great song entitled "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus". The lyrics go - 
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the Light of His Glory and Grace."

I am learning to trust in God's answer(s) and turn my eyes more upon Him in prayer.

Friday, August 28, 2015

HIS STANDARD

This world has quite a number of measurement systems. We have measurements for a t.v. picture, for all kinds of data information traveling over the internet, for sound quality of concerts and sound systems, for food and for people's health. The list seems endless, because for every product or service a measurement tool is not far behind.

Why do we have this measurement tool ingrained in almost everything produced? Because we desire the best outcome and somewhere along the way A Standard was set and possibly reset to compare all future results. For example, there is a safety standard for new vehicles that has to be met before a new car, truck or SUV can be sold and driven.

The spiritual revelation to this is that the Old Testament, especially The Law, was meant to say loudly, "You will Never measure up to God's Standard - Perfection!" While in the New Testament, God says even louder, "BUT, I will provide The Standard to stand and die and live again in your place! He is my Son - Jesus." Our part is to accept Jesus as The Standard of our lives and base our decisions in life out of our new-found relationship with Christ - The Standard.

The spiritual application is found in Proverbs 16:11 - 
  • "Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making."
The "weights in the bag" of God's making are things like truth, honor, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I am sure there are more, however, when Christians are faced with decisions - God's "honest scales and balances" are what I encourage you to use. You can research His verdicts on matters in The Bible. Then you will be able to know and move according to a more higher and perfect way - His Standard.

Monday, August 24, 2015

NO ESCAPING HIM

There is no escaping God's presence only momentary removal of His favor or Grace.

We have no say on where His presence is - His presence is everywhere. God is the one who made the declarations and promises of where He would be/reside and what He would do there. He Said He would be a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). He Said He would go before us as an all consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He Said He would protect us at our right and left as many enemies fall (Psalm 91:7). He Said He would come alongside us and lead us in all truth (John 16:13). He Said He would be our rear-guard (Isaiah 52:12). He Said He would cover us like an eagle's wings (Exodus 19:4). 

"Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord." (Acts 11:19-24)


God's Presence is manifested where His Favor is dispersed and His Favor is dispersed where He observes obedience. Here, in a first century church account we read that because "men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord."  The obedience of these men to Christ's Great Commission resulted in His hand of favor. The local church in Jerusalem heard about God's favor in Antioch and sent Barnabas to investigate. Upon arrival, Barnabas witnessed the results of the favor of the Lord - lifestyle decisions for Christ or converts to Christianity. Barnabas' response was two-fold - (1) he was "glad" and (2) he "encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts." Obedience to God's Word results in Godly blessings, favor or grace in the Believer's life. The challenge then becomes remaining diligent in the Christian walk; in obedience to Christ. 

Notice because of the promises of God's presence in our lives, the men from Cyprus and Cyrene had Christ with them. So, His presence is never an issue, especially with promises like Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20; and 1 Corinthians 6:19What we do have a say on is the flow of His favor in our lives. The thoughts, actions and words of the men from Cyprus and Cyrene in obedience with God's Word is what made the difference for a whole community. Spiritually, mentally and physically we can distance ourselves from the blessings of the Lord with our thoughts, actions and words, but Believers can never be rid of His Presence. Hallelujah! And Amen. As I have stated in an earlier writing - He is Emanuel, God with us and there is No Escaping Him.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

BE HIS/HER FRIEND


Christians not only have God's Word, The Bible, but Father God's examples through Christ to copy as a resource for correct living. In this writing I am interested in communicating - as a parent, it is Biblically based to be a friend to your children.

I have seen the idea put forth that parents can be everything else to their children except friends. I do not know where this came from - the thoughts of men (psychology) or the influence of the devil. Either way, this idea that friendship cannot and should not be attained or held with our children is not from God.

I only need one Scripture to dispell this notion, but I have three - one in the Old Testament and two in the New Testament. Proverbs 18:24 is the Old Testament verse and it says, "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." The original Hebrew word for "friend" here is ahab or aheb, meaning to have affection sexually or otherwise. So, this friend could be a wife, parent or God - but it is definitely someone "that clings/sticks closer than a brother".  The wife as a friend fulfills the sexual affection potential of the definition. The parent fulfills the affection as friend in that they usually know more about us than our siblings. However, many teachers use this verse to describe "the friend" as God who is personal with us, knows everything about us and fills the role of a parent - Father God. I desire my fellow brothers/sisters in Christ to keep this image of God as the "friend who sticks closer than a brother" and use it as basis for being a close friend to your own children.

Moving to the New Testament, John 15:15 states - "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." Because Christ said, "I no longer call you servants", it makes me ponder the time-frame He called us thus. Jesus goes on to say, "I have called you friends" and it makes me wonder when He started calling us that. Whenever the switch was -- God's Word now declares us His friends and His actions, as our example, prove His Word - "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13) I know so many parents who would be willing to lay their life down for their children. How much more your children as your friends.

Once again, I ask my fellow Christians who are parents to consider putting away any such notion of not being a friend to your children and embrace this role that Father God spoke about and exemplified through Christ Jesus our Lord - Be His/Her Friend.





Wednesday, August 12, 2015

GOVERNMENT...NOW, THEN AND NOW

More and more as I observe the legal, judicial and executive systems of America and the nations of the world, I note their human imperfections. These faults in the governing systems of the world are at every level. However, many, if not all, are highly polluted from the top with their leaders. Bad leaders lead badly.

Within each Branch there is instability. In the legal system laws are being passed that both make no common sense and are biased toward a people group. In the judicial system, murderers are getting away with their crime and the innocent are wrongly imprisoned. Then in the executive system, there are the administrators who are political in nature so nothing gets done and the programs that are overseen waste money. It is amazing to ponder how America and countries like her are still operating.

The systems within the government of America which once strove for the protection of a unified trinity (legal, judicial, executive branches) that would provide justice and mercy in it's right proportion have switched masters. Now that trinity serves itself and whomever is President.

I am sure many, if not all, of you are not surprised at this description of America's government and many other governments in the world. However, I want to paint a more hopeful picture in your mind.
  • "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." - Isaiah 9:6-7
  • "She gave birth to a son, a male child, who 'will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.'” - Revelation 12:5
  • Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. - Revelation 19:15
As I look at my nation and the world scene, there is no greater hope than to have The Government in Christ's care or upon His shoulders. His titles tell of His Majesty's character - Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. One day on this earth we shall continue to see "the greatness of His government and peace". His physical presence will be located on David's throne in Jerusalem, ruling the nations from there with His iron scepter.

Christ will bring a trinity I long to see. Justice speaks to who or what is right and wrong and the sentence associated with that case. Grace touches upon the mercy and favor of The King and Judge should He see fit to grant it. Righteousness sums up both Justice and Grace - The King and Judge is right in everything He says and does, especially the decisions concerning His dispersing of Justice and Grace. Again, it is this time when Perfect Justice and Perfect Grace display Perfect Righteousness in/through Christ Jesus that I look forward to.

Until that time, Paul encourages us - "Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you." (Hebrews 13:17) Paul even instructs young Timothy that we should pray for them - "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority,that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Timothy 2:1-2) 

So, as I observe the State of the Union and the world governments, I am infused with hope as I am reminded of a Perfect Government to come, but until then I pray for what and who has been given us.

 

Monday, August 10, 2015

THE CHURCH'S PLACE

Picture in your minds-eye a throne room and the characters therein. To find yourself in front of the king could mean either a blessing or judgment. To be in front and to either side of the throne could mean you were part of court. The council supporting and advising him in the matters of the nation would be standing off to the side and behind the king's throne. The queen would be directly to the king's right sitting on another throne.

Now imagine God's glorious throne. For someone to be standing directly in front of The King one may still be either receiving a blessing or judgment. The ones located to the side and still in front may still be associated with The King's court. However, there are two caveats to this Throne Room - (1) there are no advisers or council because God needs none and (2) there is a place for The Bride of Christ - Believers.

Because of Christ's sacrificial and substituting death and resurrection for everyone, those who believe in His gift of salvation and redemption are elevated, blessed and seen through Christ's Righteousness. A number of Scriptural passages testify to the Believer's lofty position In and Through Christ.

Ephesians 2:6
"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,"

2 Timothy 2:12
'...if we endure, we will also reign with him."

Revelation 3:21-22
"To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Revelation 5:10
"You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Revelation 20:4
"And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

Revelation 20:6
"Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."

Revelation 22:5
"There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever."

There is no doubt of the Bride and Groom motif in Scripture. Passages such as Matthew 9:15; 25:1, 5-6, 10 speak about the Bridegroom - Christ. Verses such as John 3:29 and Revelation 19:7; 22:17 declare the Bride - The Church - Believers. This idea is a great and marvelous thing to ponder. The power, benefits and place Christians will have in Christ after the Marriage and Marriage Supper of The Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9) will be awesome! However, it is my belief, as Christ's betrothed, that we Christians - His Bride - show forth His power, benefits and place now!

It is long past due for The Bride of Christ to start acting like the soon-to-be Wife of Christ. I pray the Holy Spirit will reveal to Christians everywhere we are enthroned with Christ and so have the benefits thereof - now and in the future! It is time Believers - The Bride of Christ - sit down next to Christ and practice reigning - for that is The Church's Place.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

GOD'S PLACE

Where have we put God? Where have I put God? Where have you put God? God is always the constant. He is everywhere. He promises the believer to never leave them or forsake them. Yet in the challenging times I catch myself asking God where He is. The answer is always - "I'm still right here."

Ravi Zacharias is noted for saying - "I think the reason we sometimes have the false sense that God is so far away is because that is where we have put Him. We have kept Him at a distance, and then when we are in need and call on Him in prayer, we wonder where He is. He is exactly where we left Him."

To Mr. Zacharias's comments I say -  I don't believe Christians Can place Him at a distance. First, God is omnipresent or everywhere. Second, Christians have His promises of never being without access to God. While our lack of whatever may place God on stand-by and activate our do-it-yourself mode, I don't view God as a distant God....ever. Just because we cannot understand Him and turn to our own devices does not mean He is far away.

With His promises to believers of being ever-present (Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20) in their lives, there is no escaping His presence, care and counsel anytime we need to turn to Him. We just have to call His name and speak with Him anytime, anyplace. He is Emanuel - God With Us - that is God's Place.

KNOTS IN THE ROPE OF LIFE


Have you ever heard the expression - "Tie a knot and hang on."? It speaks of a desperate last attempt to endure. I have come to that point many times in my life. The catch is - what is the knot made out of? Is the knot made from your weaving of the rope; your attempt(s) to create peace, forgiveness, health or whatever? Or is the knot made from God's promises for you found in His Word? It is o.k. to be still (tie the knot), just rely on your knowledge of Him to form your knot (strands of His faithfulness). "Be still and know that I am God." - Psalm 46:10

When Jesus was here on earth, there were several times when a person and/or people desperately tried to grab a hold of Him and hang on. Matthew 9:20 records the woman with the issue of blood reaching out in faith for her condition - "Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak." Here was this woman activating her faith in Jesus as the healer of her condition by literally and spiritually grabbing a hold of Christ.

Five chapters later, in Matthew 14:35-36 there is an event documented of people desiring and receiving the opportunity to touch The Master's Garment - "And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed." If word was sent to "all the surrounding country" that Jesus was in the area and to bring the sick to Him, the impression is there must have been a lot of sick. And all they did was "just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed."

The final example I'll share is cited in John 20:17 when Mary Magdalene realized it was the risen Christ Jesus speaking with her - Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” If I was there with Mary, I would want to give my Lord a bear-hug too - maybe after bowing at His feet first.

The Good News for me is Christ Jesus is, among many other things, my knot. His strands of faithfulness prove each time that the knot will hold. And now as I  look ahead to the future and climb up the rope of life, I find it is easier to allow Godly Knots in my life as a hand-hold and/or next goal to attain. Paul, in his letter to the believers in Philippi said, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Philippians 3:12) Jesus has loved me so much that He conquered all. Now He encourages me to possess the benefits (plural) He paid for - "to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." - to view, rely and take hold of Christ as my Knots In The Rope Of Life.