Listening to Faith

Father, You call us each to things that must be done for Your glory, to tasks that are both big and small, the seemingly mundane and the very public. Thank You for making us fit to serve You and bring You glory in a variety of ways every day. Please give us the strength to serve You in strength today and to echo this great crowd of witnesses that have done the same before us. May we sacrifice self and comfort in order to follow Your will. Amen.

Read the words of author of Hebrews, inspired by the Holy Spirit, slowly today.

Look and listen to the examples of faith and what each has given, in its wholeness, and prayerfully consider what God calls you to do for His sake.

Do not quickly dismiss these times of listening, rushing through them, but prayerfully seek His will above your own.We are all part of something more through Christ, our work of love and thanksgiving is brief, but we work for His eternal glory.

Just like these below, we focus on a reality that already is, and that we must also work and wait for in this season.

We are not alone in this walk, in this rhythm of grace.

Hebrews 11:1-22
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

Father, You call us each to things that must be done for Your glory, to tasks that are both big and small, the seemingly mundane and the very public. Thank You for making us fit to serve You and bring You glory in a variety of ways every day. Please give us the strength to serve You in strength today and to echo this great crowd of witnesses that have done the same before us. May we sacrifice self and comfort in order to follow Your will. Amen.

 

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Romans 2:17-24 // Why Consistency Matters

“17 Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rest in the law, boast in God, 18 know His will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, 19 and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, 20 an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the full expression of knowledge and truth in the law — 21 you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, ‘You must not steal’ — do you steal? 22 You who say, ‘You must not commit adultery’ — do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob their temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 For, as it is written: ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'”

Romans 2:17-24

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We can get so hung up on how well we ‘do’ our walk with God. It can so easily become about keeping this rule or that rule, going to this event, participating in this ministry. And as long as we are doing what seems to be the right thing out in public, we cease to keep a tight rein on our minds & heart and lose ourselves to inconsistency, damaging our witness. If the change the Gospel calls for isn’t taking place in our hearts, if we cannot get past what -we- do in order to live as Christ intends from the inside out, then we need to be woken up, get a fresh look at ourselves and ask God to help us see where our inconsistency begins and ends. 

Self evaluation is rarely fun. A deep probing of our heart and life usually leaves us feeling rather inadequate, and it remains simpler to just look at our schedule rather than what our life is teaching. Think about it this way, if someone had to learn about Jesus, not from the Bible, but from your life, what would they conclude? What would they say Jesus is all about? What were His main priorities? His focus for ministry? Where does Jesus spend His time? How does He use His resources?  Who does He value most? How does He conduct Himself? How does Jesus live? 

And there are so many more questions to ask. But what would they conclude? Could they get an accurate picture of Him by looking at you? Could they see Jesus clearly by how you live your life? Would He look consistent or wishy-washy? Would He stand for anything, if so are they the ‘right things’ or the truth? 

Now, the good thing is that we who follow Christ operate under grace. We know that He knows that we are prone to stumble along the way, and that His grace is sufficient to cover our shortcomings. But as we walk with Him, focused on Him, those shortcomings should progressivly lessen. They won’t disappear until we are with Him in glory, but there should be a change. Our life should stand as an accurate testimony of who He is, how He moves. And so daily, we are sent to prayer, asking for strength for the day, mercy for our failings and accuracy in our actions as we serve the world as His ambassadors. If we are disciples of Christ, truly following Him, then we know it’s not about a show. We know its more than some step-by-step process to look like good, obedient children. It is a meeting of hearts, ours & His. It is a changing over of a life, from death to a new creation. It is a walking in peace, not in worry. It is a faith for provision, not a scramble to accumulate. It is a lifting up of others, not of self. It means looking more and more like Jesus, and less like who we used to be. We’re going to mess up along the way, but we don’t resign ourselves to sin. We are going to do things wrong from time to time, but we don’t let that stand as an excuse for inconsistency. 

As we GoLove others in His Name, we should revere Him enough to be an accurate depiction of Him to those we encounter as we walk in the daily rhythms of grace. Our lives are meant to be songs of praise, everything an act of worship, meant to glorify Him and draw the eyes of those around us toward His glorious face. Let our witness today stand as a confirmation of the solid change He creates in us, the authority He has over us and His grace at work both in and through us. 

Mark 14:53-65 // ‘Are You?’ ‘I AM.’

“53 They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes convened. 54 Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the high priests courtyard. He was sitting with the temple police, warming himself by the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but they could find none. 56 For many were giving false testimony against Him, but the testimonies did not agree. 57 Some stood up and were giving false testimony against Him, stating, 58 ‘We heard Him say, I will demolish this sanctuary made by human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands.’ 59 Yet their testimony did not agree even on this.

60 Then the high priest stood up before them all and questioned Jesus, ‘Don’t You have an answer to what these men are testifying against You?’ 61 But He kept silent and did not answer anything. Again the high priest questioned Him, ‘Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’

62 ‘I am,’ said Jesus, ‘and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’

63 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy! What is your decision?’

And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 65 Then some began to spit on Him, to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, saying, ‘Prophesy!’ The temple police also took Him and slapped Him.”

Mark 14:53-65

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When someone is already convinced of something before they even begin investigating, it makes it almost impossible to find out the truth. The only thing that could have taken their minds and brought it around would have been an appearance of a legion of  angels and a theophanic confirmation that peeled the roof off the meeting hall. And even then, some might have doubted. 

When someone is hard-hearted, there is no getting through to them. Try as you might, they have silenced the voice of God enough that there is no chance of them hearing from Him simply because you point out their spiritual deafness. It is sad and painful to watch, and Jesus received no joy from this conversation. These 72 men in the Sanhedrin are the one group of people in all of Israel who should have known better, who should have understood the evidence laid out before them. But their hearts were hard and their love was cold. They were spiritually blind, spiritually dead. 

This is one of the most painful things to experience, when we look someone in the eye who truly knows better but is outright refusing to acknowledge the truth. They have rejected God’s will for their own, their selfish pride putting blinders on their heart. They have chosen their own course, and no one can tell them any differently. For that time, they have been resigned to their own sin and selfishness. Romans 1 talks about people who have rejected God in order to do their own thing, and it’s not a pretty picture. But it’s not impossible to come back from. I’ve seen it happen time and again. Prodigal children, sleeping around, getting into drugs, choosing homosexual lifestyles only to shake their heads one morning, wipe the spiritual crud out of their eyes and have their hearts awaken. 

Usually this is because a team of people who love them have continued to be open and honest with them, bluntly speaking love to them and teaming up to pray for them relentlessly. They encounter God and are given an opportunity to see where they stand. It doesn’t always happen, as much as I wish it did, but when it does, it is a glorious homecoming!

These men who gathered to condemn Christ in this illegal nighttime gathering were not in a place to hear the truth, although not everyone in the Sanhedrin was hard-hearted. A few had been listening, one visited with Him at night to ask questions, others were told they were not far from the Kingdom of God, but they did not take part in this kangaroo court. 

When we GoLove people, we must be consistent in how we live and speak. Our example may be the only bit of Jesus they ever see. For others, our consistency and love may be the only thing keeping a foot in the door of their hearts. But we can never back down from the truth. We must continue to boldly speak it, in love, to them so that the message of God is loud and clear. This requires wisdom, tact and grace in our words. Pray over your meetings before they begin, lift up your friend/relative/loved one before you speak the first word to them, and make sure that you are rooted firmly in the Word yourself, and not operating from sinful, human opinion. 

Numbers 15 // Daily Rememberances

“37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 ‘Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, and put a blue cord on the tassel at each corner. 39 These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the Lord’s commands and obey them and not become unfaithful by following your own heart and your own eyes. 40 This way you will remember and obey all My commands and be holy to your God. 41 I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am Yahweh your God.'”
Numbers 15:37-41

God understands our need for tangibles. He understands that we need reminders in different ways at different times. For the Israelites, there were appointed festivals during the year to commemorate the goodness of God, His provision and the deliverance that He worked out for Israel. There was a physical Tabernacle that they built at His command, and later the Temple in Jerusalem as a set place for worship. Things to eat and not to eat, things that were okay to touch and not okay to touch. And here we see yet another tangible given to them as a reminder of the desires of God for their lives.

All day, every day, no matter what they were doing, if they looked down, they would see these tassles, the bright blue standing in stark contrast to the ground, reminding them that they were to be different, that there was an expectation for their life beyond what the flesh would desire. And these simple blue tassels would be be a point of conversation when they met other people’s for trade & commerce. Questions would be asked, “Why do you all wear these blue tassels?” and the reply would point their minds toward God.

The old WWJD bracelets get made fun of a little today because they were a fad that swept through and people didn’t take them seriously since they were a fashion trend for many rather than a tool of devotion and reminder for discipline. That was their intended use from the beginning, to serve as a reminder at hand, but they just became something to wear and the desired effect gave way to sinful inclinations. Oddly enough, these tassels would be misused by the religious leaders in Jesus’ day because they made theirs extra-long and showy so people could see just how religious they were. It became a fashion accessory to draw the eye and inflate the ego, and God’s intended desire for them was lost on humanity because of our pride and sin.

But Jesus came to fix all that. No longer did we need to have a physical marker indicating that we belonged to God, but the marker would be our life itself. We have been redeemed by the blood of heaven’s perfect Lamb, Jesus, and the mark of His blood and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit stands today as the marker of our allegiance to Him. Not a tassel, not a bracelet, but the marker of our life, commissioned as it has been sanctified, to take on the appearance of the life of our Master & Redeemer, Jesus. Not that we could ever become Him, but that we would walk as He walked, more than just imitating, but desiring to talk and serve and live humbly as He did, putting others first. Jesus came to serve and not be served. We must do liekwise, because it’s never about us, not for a moment. It’s not about people seeing what we do and praising us or thinking better of us, but it is about God’s will replacing our pride and our lives becoming a testimony to His goodness, grace and mercy.

So, live like you’re covered in tassels, but do it for God as your offering of thanksgiving and love.

the burden and joy of proof

(unmarked journal entry – presumably from matthew 12)

we are blessed to have such a record of God’s love and work as we find in the Bible. such a burden of proof rests on us as we read. God’s very words, His actions among his people, vividly laid out for us.

the pharisees asked Jesus for proof of His divinity even after hearing His words, seeing His compassion at work and the miracles that happened. how hard hearted and blind!

yet we often act like jacob trying to strike a deal with God. if He does something for us, we’ll return the favor. these leaders wanted more of what had already been done in order to even consider who He was & odds are that if Jesus had indulged them, they would have accused Him of being a showman and not the Messiah.

and so the burden of proof rests on us today. how do we respond to the words and actions of God in our life? Do we clamor for more, or do we trust that raising the dead, healing the sick and living the life that He did is enough?

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we must remember what ‘faith’ is…’being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see’ [hebrews 11:1]

if we claim to operate from faith, yet constantly ask God for ‘just one more sign’ or ‘if you would do just this one thing’ and then we’ll believe…we are not and do not live a life of faith. we are behaving just like the hard hearted pharisees who asked for more evidence, more proof.

the Christian walk is a daily step of faith. we trust in God, and in His words, that what He says is true. we cannot keep waiting for Him to make one more peg fall into place in our personal schemes and desires. we cannot presume to force the Creator of the universe to bend to our will in order for us to comply with His. what arrogance and spiritual naivete!  if you or i claim to love Jesus, and claim to belong to Him, we cannot continue in this walk of sin, shame and demanding of proof. the evidence is laid out before us. what more do you ask? make your decision, and then live it boldly.

the bad kind of home brew

another unlabeled journal entry:

from the time we first become aware of our own voice, we are enamored by it…and we haven’t stopped talking since. if we hear things from ourselves often enough, we start to believe it is true, and then the

& what we conceptualize becomes canon without being checked

real soul-danger starts. our self made deception, our home brew of lies, takes the pace of the God-honest truth. We dupe ourselves into believing our lies are true. our deceptive, ego enhancing, eye blinding, truth blocking ideas that do nothing but usher in more lies to make up for the lack of consistency in what we have already come up with…

we convince ourselves that our agendas are actually important, and that our ideas are well founded. but in reality, they are untested, unproven & there is no evidence to support them. but since we are so arrogant, we assume they must be true because we came up with them.

confronted with that God-honest truth, we get defensive because, how could we be wrong since we’ve already convinced ourselves of how right we are? any suggestions that point out our ignorance are like a declaration of war…so watch out world if you point out my faults. don’t tell me what’s true, because i have already discovered truth for myself, we’ll say.

molded by our own making

what arrogance! what a pile of intellectual dung! what a defecation of the heart and soul this is…we are wading in the filth of our minds. blinded by the stink in the septic tank of our own importance.

heaven forbid, we’ll ironically say, that we actually be wrong in our ideas we’ve come up with. we’ve rationalized and made everything relative to fit into our boxes of self deception.

Father God, turn on the light! take our blindfolds off! i want to see! i want to hear! pull me out of all this stifling stink & this putrid poison i have been steeping in! help me, O LORD! clean me from top to bottom! wipe me clean & clear of my lies, and open my eyes, heart, mind & soul to the real TRUTH that comes only from You.

anything else is just a second helping from septic tank…

the filth of our own creating accumulates