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That’s Good News

The Gospel of Christ is greater than any tradition or bent we could possibly come up with.
It reaches higher, deepr and farther than conservitivism, progressivism, liberalism, communism, socialism, libertarianism, greenism and all other isms.

 

The Good News is this:
God loves each of us.  It doesn’t matter who, where or what you are; Time in history is of no consequence.

 

He wants every single person to be saved; He is not willing that any should perish.  Yes, that even means progressives, communists, socialists and all of the other ists!
God’s love reaches to every income bracket, from the welthiest, most powerful people in the world to those who have absolutely nothing.

 

Jesus doesn’t fit in any box; yet he is present in every last one of them, even yours!

 

He has every resource you willever need.

 

Now, that’s Good News!!

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2 Peter 3:9
John 3:16-17
Psalm 139
Matthew 18:14

TRUST

Trust in the Lord,
Redeemer of your soul;
Unfailing in His love;
Savior who makes you whole;
Trust, yes lean on the Lord.

 

Times may seem hard;
Rejection everywhere;
Unfaithful words and deeds
Saying there’s no one to care;
Trust, oh lean on the Lord.

 

True ways are His;
Revelation and light;
Unveiling His blessing
So great His glory bright;
Trust, yes lean on the Lord!

GOD’S REALITY TRUMPS ALL

I have struggled with the contrast between what Scripture says and life experiences for most of my life, especially in terms of healing.  This has been magnified since my nephew’s death on July 17.  He was medically fragile.  I had contended for him in prayer from the time of his birth to the moment of his death.  An infection ambushed him and caught everyone, including his doctors, completely off guard.  He was all right; then he was gone.

 

I myself have had countless people pray for my healing; yet cannot see.  I have probably heard every explanation in the book for my blindness and the lack of healing, from the “hidden sin in my life” to “God doesn’t heal these days.”

 

In truth, I have had many injuries, illnesses and conditions healed by God, including repeated stress syndrome, anorexia, migraines, FibroMyalgia and more recently, an egg allergy.

 

I have studied the Bible thoroughly on this topic and have concluded that it is absolutely clear in this matter:  God heals.  This isn’t something He merely does; it is part of who he is.  I can find all sorts of verses to verify this and none that give exceptions, caveats or time limits.  Trust me, I have searched diligently:  This would have made my dilemma a whole lot easier!

 

You should see people when I tell them I believe that God heals.  They can’t figure that out, when I obviously have a disability.  It really messes with them!

 

I have taken a step forward this past week:  A deeper, heart-level revelation about trusting God first.  It means believing his word and experiences of him over other life events.  It has to do with recognizing that God’s ways and His Kingdom reality are far greater than anything I grasp or understand.

 

I told my pastor that I have had more than enough prayer for my eyes.  HE challenged me:  How do I know it’s more than enough?  He is right; that is an assumption on my part.  All prayer is answered; God is doing something bigger than what I experience.

 

The war between faith, in the sense of trust or expectancy, vs reliance on experience and understanding goes beyond healing.  It is something with which we struggle when it comes to any of God’s blessings:  Provision, protection, favor, salvation and all miracles.  There are all sorts of doctrines and arguements to support the status quo and plenty of discreditation for people who dare to go out on the limb of absolute trust in God.  When a miracle (including healing) occurs, there is no shortage of attempts to explain it away.

My point can be expressed in a stanza of poetry:

 

I bless You, oh Lord, for all that You do;
I will watch for Your miracles each day.
And even when they seem to be subtle,
I will not explain them away.

ESTHER 4

1When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
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I am impressed that Mordecai made such a public statement, while staying within the law.  He really got his point across!

I think there is something we can learn from this.  While I believe there might be times for civil disobedience, I think we have more powerful impacts when we can stay within the law.  For one thing, if we are acting righteously and receive punishment, no one can say it was because we acted illegally, which keeps our testimony clean.

Mordecai did not stay home and grieve in silence.  Instead, he mourned openly.  Actually, he made quite a scene:  He WAILED.  All of the other Jews did the same.

Too often, we try to put a good face on things that are not okay.  While our culture may not allow for wearing sackcloth and public crying, there are plenty of ways for us to express sorrow or disagreement with attitudes, events or practices that break God’s heart.

There is a next step for us:  To declare the truth of God’s Kingdom.  We can send the enemy to flight, just by worshipping, speaking  God’s word and making His reality known.
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4When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.6So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.  9Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said.
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I am a bit amused at Esther’s attempts to get Mordecai to dress decently.  He refuses, until he is heard.

There’s that “good face” on situations that aren’t okay.

I have often thought that “respectability” is one of the most powerful hinderances in the Kingdom of God.  It dampens so much of what we might do otherwise.  “Decency and decorum” can kill a spirit of freedom – Don’t raise your hands in worship and certainly don’t dance!  Don’t greet strangers and ask if you can pray for them…

How far outside the box are you willing to go?  If God told you to dip yourself in a river so you can be healed (from the story of Naaman, 2 Kings 5 ) would you do it?  If He told you to gather a group of young people in a city park so you can tell Bible stories, would you get right on it?  If you find yourself laughing uncontrollably during worship, is that all right?
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10Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”  12When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
15Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
17So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
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Here is one that catches me…and lots of other believers, I dare say:  Circumstances speak louder than God’s word, or so it seems.

Esther had not been called by the King for thirty days.  He might have been busy or lost interest in her; we don’t really know.  From where she stands, he doesn’t like her well enough to give her confidence that he would extend his gold sceptor to her.  She did not believe that God would go before her and give her favor with the King yet again.  God had already done that when she was chosen to be queen.  For this reason, she wasn’t all that willing to try.

I can’t say that I blame her.  I often forget that God supplies all…that’s ALL, with no exceptions, my needs according to HIS riches.  That includes things like recognition and favor.  IF my life depended on it, I think I might resist, too.

I think of another story in the Bible, where God’s provision was absolutely necessary, yet the women were on their way when they asked, “Who will roll the stone away for us?”  (Mark 16:3)  They could have stayed in hiding:  “The stone’s too big for us.”  “What about the Roman guards?”  Somehow, they didn’t go there; instead, they went to the tomb, where they discovered that Christ had risen.

May I come to know and trust God so thoroughly that I set out to do the work He has given me, knowing that every provision is already mine!
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Esther was called to do something she was sure she couldn’t do.  Not only that, she was in peril, just for trying.  Her uncle Mordecai warns encourages her:
WARNING:  God will save His people somehow; if you don’t follow His call, you and your family will die.
That’s quite the warning indeed!
It would be tempting to say this doesn’t apply to God’s people today.  Nice try!  There are lots of ways to die.

Some will perish physically.  Harold Eberle, (worldcastministries.com) raises up pastors in Pakistan.  When each class finishes and all are graduating, the new pastors understand that 30% of them are likely to be martyred.  They obey the call on their lives anyway.

There is a death that seems more subtle, yet it is quite real:  To fall into complacency and compromise, until one’s relationship with God has grown cold and ineffectual.  This is a death in one’s soul; something that will leave us without feeling or a sense of God’s presence.  The good news is, resurrection is available.  WE call it revival.  As a guest speaker, Scott Scheile, said this weekend,  “Revival means that something dead needs to be made alive.”

I think one of the most potent ways to die is to live in disobedience.  The most basic way this happens is to choose comfort and the ways of the world over a relationship with God through Jesus.  It isn’t about following the law and rules.  Plenty of people follow rules who do not know God.  They need to be reborn into His household and  Kingdom.

The next kind of disobedience is to neglect one’s vocation.  I am not necissarily talking about ordained ministry.  God calls people to all walks of life and work.  He wants His presence to be carried everywhere.  If you are to be a wife and mother, go at it with all enthusiasm and diligence.  If your passion is to build things or have a thriving business, make it the best product around!  Again there is the promise of resurrection life.  While there are opportunities that we can miss, God has a way of providing new ones as we repent and follow after Him.

Esther chose well.  She said she would carry out her office as queen, even if she died.  In the end, she succeeds, of course:  Her people are saved; justice is served; Mordecai and Esther prosper.  All of this because she obeyed.

Queen Esther could not have done this alone.  She needed the people of God to join with her.  They, along with Esther and all of her attendants, fasted and sought the Lord for three days before she went before King Xerxes.  Then, with God’s provisions of favor and wisdom, she fulfilled her mission.

We need each other in the same way.  There are all sorts of passages in the Epistles that say we are the Body of Christ.  We cannot live apart from Him; we cannot make it when we are separated from each other.  It is only when we spend time with God, individually and corporately, that we can fulfill the missions God assigns to us.

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Encouragement:
who knows but”…that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Here’s a thought:  We are living in the time, place and position that God has  design and chosen for us!

I think of such wonderful Scriptures as, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do all the good works that He has given us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)  Or “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

To me, this means I can trust God to provide all that I need for my assignments:  Connections, opportunities, materials…  How cool is that!

Moreover, I live and work as a princess – one with royal position and authority in my Father’s Kingdom.

I used to know a man who lamented that he wasn’t born 100 years earlier.  He loved everything that pertained to that time, idealizing the way of early 20th century life.  He also blamed his father for urging him to get a degree in accounting, instead of encouraging him to follow his own desire to teach.  The result was that he was not able to settle and enjoy life.  He could have returned to school for that education degree, but worked in an office instead, never taking responsibility for his own choices.  When I last heard from him, he was still searching.  What a loss!  He was excellent with children, very creative and tender hearted.  Had he been able to embrace the time and  place that God had designed for him, he and others might have shared in many blessings.  Thanks be to God who provides another way when one of us doesn’t obey:  Those who might have benefitted from his ministry have received provision from God through other people.

May each of us come to know Papa God’s love and hope for us so profoundly, we embrace our lives, positions and assignments with great joy and expectancy.

THE FLOWER

The flower started as a seed,
Hidden in a secret place
That cradled and nurtured it
Providing a growing place.

The seed had everything needed
To germinate, sprout and grow
Into the lovely flower
That would be admired so.

The rain and sun brought nourishment;
That helped to make the plant strong;
Fresh air boosted the fragrance;
The roots grew deeper and long.

Then at last the flower blossomed
With petals so soft and fair
Standing in glorious splendor,
Its beauty beyond compare.

Then the blossom turned back to seed;
It faded, withered and died;
But the seeds will live and grow,
Becoming the flower’s pride.

And so it goes every season:
Reminders of life and death;
Starting in secret places;
Emerging to light and breath.

All things in nature around us
Tell about Heaven above,
Pointing to God’s provision;
Expressing His endless love.

EVER LOVING, PRESENT AND FAITHFUL

Recently, I have encountered a lie that is expressed in rather subtle ways within Christian tradition.  It comes in many forms and variations, but the sentiment is the same:

“Maybe God will…(show up, provide, heal, answer my prayer….) if He takes a notion to; if He feels like it; if He wants to.”

The truth is,
God is always present and attentive to us.

He is our Refuge; He holds us in His everlasting arms and defends us. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
He is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
He comforts us, as a mother comforts her child. (Isaiah 66:13)
He is with us forever. (John 14:16)
He provides us with every blessing in abundance…
Since we always have enough of everything, we share abundantly in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8
He supplies all our needs, according to His riches in Glory. (Philippians 4:19)
He never leaves or forsakes us. (Hebrews 13:5)
He has healed us. (1 Peter 2:24)

Thank You, most loving, faithful and ever present Papa!  Amen.

A NEW COMMANDMENT

One of them,
a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  “This is the great and foremost commandment.  “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’  “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  John 13:34

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:9, 12
I have often been puzzled about the words, “A new commandment,” in John 13.
As seems to be the case with every christian I know, I have been well steeped in  teachings based on the two great commandments sited by Jesus in Matthew.  I have learned that I am to love God with all I am and have; that I am to love my neighbor as myself.
The challenge is, this usually means coming up with something on my own strength, which is impossible:  Apart from Holy Spirit, I simply have nothing to give.
Then, I heard a teaching that really made sense:
Instead of being called on to love as a matter of duty or obedience; according to the law, we are now brought into the New Covenant, which has a new commandment:  Abide; allow God to fill us; then share with those around us.  We don’t act on our own strength or resources; we receive first; then give.
I have often heard teachings about the need for us to love ourselves so we can love our neighbor.  That seemed right to me.  Now, however, I am thinking that part of the Good News is, in Jesus, we can love others, even while we are still healing, learning to love ourselves and growing.

I am reminded of Philippians 4:19.  In its context, it usually refers to material requirements.  For me, however, it has expanded to mean every need, spiritual, soulful, relational, financial, vocational, physical and material:
“God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory.”
He is the one who supplies the love that I can then express to my neighbor.  There is consistency in that:  Love is dependent on Jesus’ faithful provision; not my strength, mood or ability.  How cool is that!

JESUS, MY SOURCE AND GOAL

Arms of love are opened wide,
Inviting me to come in;
To know the way of truth and light,
Since I have been born again.

“Come, dear one, and be refreshed
Partake of My Heavenly food,
That heals your soul and warms your breast;
That teaches you I am good.”

In God’s Presence I am filled
His abundance strengthens me.
My doubts dissolve, all fears are stilled;
I have been healed and set free.

As I live and work each day,
I have everything I need
To reflect His glorious way;
In attitude, word and deed.

Not in my own strength, but His,
Do I love and serve Him so.
The Alpha and Omega is
Jesus, my Source and my Goal.

BECAUSE HE LOVES US SO VERY PROFOUNDLY

In a video I watched last week, Bill Johnson talked about “practical atheism.”
He said we all have areas of our lives in which we practice this:  The times we rely on human counsel and our own strategies, instead of seeking Him first.
The easiest example would be finances.  We go to a credit counselor or financial adviser, instead of asking Papa what He wants us to do or seeking wisdom from Scripture.
Just to be practical, there are times that He will send us to seek counsel from others.  The deal is, prayer and Scripture come first.

I have also been studying covenant.  Most of us don’t get this one.  It’s a solemn, formal, life-long pledge that is meant for the best of all involved.
So how do these tie together?
God’s covenant with us is that He will pour out blessings on us, take care of us, lead and guide us, give us everything, all because He loves us so very profoundly.
What He wants in return is our love, devotion, trust, obedience and everything else there is about us.  Yes, He wants everything.
That’s because He loves us so very profoundly. (Worth repeating.)

God understands that we are absolutely helpless and powerless apart from Him; that we can do all things in Him because He gives us strength.  He knows how we and the entire universe are made, down to the minutest details.  He also knows our enemy, how Satan wants only to kill, steal and destroy.  While we are still learning, God already gets the fact that our only Hope is in Him.  Because He loves us so very profoundly, He wants to protect us and see that we have His best – everything good and perfect.
Atheism?  No god?  That’s a lie!
How wonderful that the Almighty Creator, Lord of all is so personally interested in every aspect of our individual lives!

ONE MINUTE

Here’s a question:

If you had 60 seconds to tell the whole world one thing, what would it be?

For me, I think it would be this:

God loves you so very much! He knows everything there ever was or ever will be to know about you and treasures all that you are, from the tiniest, most minuscule particle to the greatest and most glorious aspect of your being.
He loves to bless you; His will is for you to be whole.
Draw close to Him; He will gather you up in His arms and pour out His affection on you.
God really is good, all the time, every day!
His provision, protection, healing, forgiveness, gifts and salvation are as much for today as they were for the Apostles in the Book of Acts.
Come, taste and see that the Lord is good; put your trust in Him and know the wonders of His love.

Okay, that would probably fill my minute and the powers that be might be cutting me off at this point, but if one person gets even one point, I will have accomplished an important work.