Stop Assuming Someone Else Will Do It

Samaritan's Song

Yesterday in church, I was seated about three rows behind an elderly man who is a mainstay in the congregation during morning worship.

He walks with a walker and has mobility issues; aides get him in and out of the sanctuary.  Once he sits, he struggles to get back up again, and he can’t shift or move around very easily.  I’ve always admired that in spite of this, I can set my clock by his regular attendance.

As the service got underway, he dropped a small clipboard over the arm of the pew.  I saw it fall; I watched him look over at it, frustrated, and then slowly begin to maneuver his walker in an attempt to bring the clipboard a little closer so that he could pick it up.  Assuming someone else in one of the rows directly behind him would help, I didn’t stir.

And then, as he…

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Only the Blind Man Could See

The Millennial Pastor

John 9:1-41

When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (Read the whole passage)

Out of the sun and into the mud.

We have been on journey this lent through various familiar places of Jesus ministry. The wilderness of the desert of temptation. The darkness of Nicodemus’s questions by night. The bright noon day heat of the woman at the well and her isolation. Jesus continues on his journey through the lives of unsuspecting people, moving towards their questions, breaking their walls, and today helping them to see.

This Lenten season has shown us the movement of God towards creation. We have seen that God is beginning a new thing in the identity of Christ, despite the tempter’s wondering if Jesus is…

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Unlearning A Perverted Gospel

Bread for the Bride

There are all kinds of ways to hear the gospel.  We may hear it in a church, from someone speaking on TV or radio, or perhaps by direct conversation with another person.  ‘Faith comes by hearing’ is a maxim drummed in to us from very early in our Christian journey.  We hear, through faith the Spirit enables us to believe, and we cross over that invisible line from unbeliever to believer.  The journey begins.

But what if hearing the gospel and receiving the gospel are not the same thing?  What if the gospel that now makes its way across the airwaves, or is preached from the pulpit, or is conveyed by word of mouth has become so distorted and limited that it bears hardly any resemblance to the pure and measureless gospel delivered by Jesus Christ Himself?

Paul didn’t mince words when challenging the Galatian Christians with this very question.

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It is Time to Stand Tall

It is Time to Stand Tall

Take up the cross and follow Jesus—Not religion

Has the body of Christ in Western society become weak and anemic?  Have we become self centered rather than Christ centered?

When this topic dropped into my spirit…I realized it was time to stop hiding in my comfort zone and again take my place as a member of the body Christ.  Self has a hard time being nailed to a cross but in order to be a true disciple self must be crucified with Christ. We must like Paul say “not I but Christ”.

On social media I read believers shock and despair because other believers in other lands are being killed and tortured for their commitment to Christ.  They despair when our politicians remove Christian standards and beliefs from our public spaces but allow other faiths to have free run.

We are not of this world but we live in it, is the life we are walking reading this is a follower of Jesus Christ, are we the letters he writes for the world to read or do they see something else?

When I see the hatred and hysterics of those opposed to anything to do with Jesus it confirms his WORD just as much as his blessing in our lives.

Mark 10:29-30 (NIV)

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

Yes, when Jesus tells us to take up the cross and follow Him it will cost everything, but in turn we gain so much more if we truly every day decide to be dead in Christ instead of living for self.

It is a manmade gospel that tells us that we will not suffer in this life; anyone who has honestly read the scriptures and the lives of the disciples’ knows that along with the blessing of having a relationship with the living God, that in this world there is persecution.

So far much of what we as believers have suffered here in our Western Societies has more to do with our self-serving iterations of scripture rather than actual living out of scripture, and the life of Christ that flows from the disciple of Jesus whose life is hide in Him.

1 Peter 4:12-16 (NIV)

Suffering for Being a Christian

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Verse 15 indicates that if we suffer because of our soulish behaviour it is our own fault and we need again lay our lives at the foot of the cross, there is shame when our own unchristen like behaviour brings dishonor to the body of Christ.  I do not want to go into examples of this kind of behavior as we are all at one time or other guilty of some form of it, the Holy Spirit if we are honestly open to Him will show you the error and enable your repentance.

  Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

This chapter in Matthew is a great place to begin to understand how Jesus wants us to live and what our attitudes will be when our lives are hid in Him. (a big ouch to the flesh)

Today to many ‘Christians’ have no idea what the Bible actually says, and only know what someone has told them it says…we need to read the Bible for ourselves and learn what it really teaches.

Acts 17:10-12 (NIV)

In Berea

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

This I believe is the first step we must take if we are to be salt and light in our world today we must know what Jesus lived and taught!  It is the only way we will be able to stand in this hour fully clothed in the armour of God.(Eph. 6:16-18)

If we continue as a bless me club, and not the living out working of the life of Christ, we will perish without honor, but if we will gird up our lions, take up our cross and crucify self and walk each day the crucified life when real persecution comes and it will, the body of Christ will again be a force to be reckoned with in the earth.

 

Is this the Fast…

This evening as I was going about my usual Friday evening activities I had this portion of scripture come to mind Isaiah 58:3

They say, “We fast to show honor to you. Why don’t you see us? We starve our bodies to show honor to you. Why don’t you notice us?” Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)


(For the purpose of this short discussion I will use this version for its ease of understanding, I also suggest that you dear reader read the whole of Chapter 58 in your version of the Bible you prefer.)

I wonder how many of us through the years have said almost the same thing perhaps not in regard to fasting but in regard to the many things we do as we go about our walk with God. When it seems that life just isn’t going our way, we are not receiving the blessing we thought we should expect, after we gave all those things for God because our church taught it was the right way to please God?  After all God I am doing everything the Pastor tells me I must do to be a good Christian…it just isn’t working Lord why?

But God says, “You do things to please yourselves on those special days of fasting. And you punish your servants, not your own bodies. You are hungry, but not for food. You are hungry for arguing and fighting, not for bread. You are hungry to hit people with your evil hands. This is not the way to fast if you want your prayers to be heard in heaven! Do you think I want to see people punish their bodies on those days of fasting? Do you think I want people to look sad and bow their heads like dead plants? Do you think I want people to wear mourning clothes and sit in ashes to show their sadness? That is what you do on your days of fasting. Do you think that is what the Lord wants? ERV

Could this be our answer?  Have we taken the time to find out what God wants, or do we depend on others to tell us what he wants?  Do we have a personal relationship with our God through Jesus his son or is our relationship with God through others, the pastor or the latest big name preacher on TV or the Internet?  Without reading and thinking and praying over Gods word and letting it through the Holy Spirit speak to us personally it is so easy to lose our way and get away from life and into dead religion.

I didn’t come from a tradition where fasting was a big part of our formal practice, though it was taught that fasting and prayer was a good thing to do.  Fasting was also about going without a meal or a number of meals to spend time with the Lord in prayer often for a specific need.

I remember the first time that I read this chapter many years ago I was surprised to find that Gods take on fasting was so different from that which was taught.

“I will tell you the kind of day I want—a day to set people free. I want a day that you take the burdens off others. I want a day when you set troubled people free and you take the burdens from their shoulders. I want you to share your food with the hungry. I want you to find the poor who don’t have homes and bring them into your own homes. When you see people who have no clothes, give them your clothes! Don’t hide from your relatives when they need help.”ERV

Wow, what a different perspective this gives one!  Now you say to me well this is Old Testament where did Jesus telL us to anything like this? Matthew 25:31-40

31 “The Son of Man will come again with divine greatness, and all his angels will come with him. He will sit as king on his great and glorious throne. 32 All the people of the world will be gathered before him. Then he will separate everyone into two groups. It will be like a shepherd separating his sheep from his goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the king will say to the godly people on his right, ‘Come, my Father has great blessings for you. The kingdom he promised is now yours. It has been prepared for you since the world was made. 35 It is yours because when I was hungry, you gave me food to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I had no place to stay, you welcomed me into your home. 36 When I was without clothes, you gave me something to wear. When I was sick, you cared for me. When I was in prison, you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the godly people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you with no place to stay and welcome you into our home? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?’ 40 “Then the king will answer, ‘The truth is, anything you did for any of my people here,[b] you also did for me.’ ERV

Let us think about this could this be part of the reason our lives are so barren and filled with lack?

(Also read the rest of the chapter of Matthew and see what Jesus says will happen if we don’t do this.  For anyone who may want to read the version I have used in this article https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+58&version=ERV )