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Good for the Worst

God Almighty, Lord of Heaven & Earth, God-Who-Sees, God-Who-Provides, Judge & Counselor, our sinful lays before You revealed, nothing is hidden, everything is known to You. The darkest corners of our hearts & the false impressions we put on to impress others are exposed for what they are in Your sight. There are no secrets we can keep from You, nowhere we can run or hide from Your gaze. You know our going in & our coming out, our lying down & our rising up again. Grant us this mercy today, remind us of Your best, the good You have provided because of our worst. Let us see You & be reminded of our own condition in the light of Your glory. Let us remember today, pace ourselves with the footsteps of Jesus along the Way of Suffering & the Hill of the Skull. May we be present there today & turn our hearts heavenward. Remind us, sweet Jesus, of Your love, mercy & grace over us. Forgive us our deep failings, every one & restore our hearts with Your blood & Spirit. We pray this in the power of Your precious Name, Jesus, amen.

Read slowly.
Close Your eyes & imagine at the paragraph breaks.
Be present, an observer in the crowd today.
Walk through today aware of what He did for you as your day progresses.

Luke 22:54-23:56

(Friday, Early Morning)
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.
And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”  And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”  And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.”  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”  And he went out and wept bitterly.

 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him.  They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”  And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.”  Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

(Friday, Morning)
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate.
  And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”  And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”  Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”  But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”

 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”  A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’  For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

(Friday, About 9am)
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

(Friday, noon)
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,
while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

(Friday, 3pm)
Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man,
who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
(Friday, ~6pm)

Remember.

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The Way of Deepest Honor

Father of mercy & grace, I praise You this morning for Your consistency & faithfulness. You are deeply loving, and amazingly generous with us who are so broken & so desperately in need of You. It is so easy for us to get hung up in ourselves, to focus on our own accomplishments & struggles. Thank You for these reminders about Your authority, grace & humble servanthood. Remind us again today what it means to serve like Jesus, having the same attitude humility. I pray this in His Name, amen.

Luke 22:24-30
24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“But I am among you as the one who serves.” We should probably reread that sentence every morning at least, shouldn’t we? Maybe we should put it on Post-It Notes, and tack it up around our home & work spaces, put one on our dashboard in our car & stick one on the handle of our grocery cart on days when we’re in a hurry, too. Jesus says, “Look, I see this world & it’s structures, I really do. I understand the social pressures & the expectations you put on yourselves & your culture presses on everyone…but I am different. And because I’m different, I want you do be different just like I am different. Look at my example. Examine what I’m doing. Look more deeply into me & put less stock into what this world says. Follow Me.”

For those of us who’ve spent any time with Jesus, we know this is the right answer. We know what His example is for us, but we still struggle like the apostles did with this expectation we see the world cramming in our faces. Humility is a trait that is definitely admirable, but in this world it will get you run over, left behind & forgotten. People who really accomplish things are bold & make a name for themselves. They are pacesetters & captains of industry. People take notice of them & they build a name for themselves, These are the people set as our examples. They write books & do interviews. They get things named after them & they gain the admiration of everyone. That’s what we’re trained to shoot for in this life.

Count Nicholas Von Zinzindorf said this though, and he is more on track with Jesus than this mindset of looking out for number one. He said, “Preach the Gospel, die & be forgotten.” Inspirational, right? We’re probably not going to see a poster made of that one & hanging on the wall of a Fortune 500 office anytime soon.

IMG_DC9EB03D0796-1

This isn’t the way our world works. But this is the way of Christ. This is the reality that we are adopted into when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior & Master. Listen to Jesus again. Hear what He has to say.

“But I am among you as the one who serves.”

What would change in your world today if you and I really adopted that mindset? What will you do differently today if you choose to be forgotten so that Christ might be exalted? Who will you find to focus on if you take the efforts of your heart today and turn them toward that person in an attitude of servanthood like Jesus showed us? What kind of impact would you have on your family? Your friends? How might Jesus be lifted up & how might God be more deeply praised & glorified because of you?

Be among your peers today as one who serves. Walk among your family today as one who serves. Don’t seek your own way, your own priorities today. Walk like Jesus walked. Move in the rhythms of His grace. Wrap a towel around your waist & pick up the basin of water as you bend to wash the feet of those around you in His example & in His Name. You’ve seen the example of this world. You’ve seen what temporary things that accomplishes. Look instead to Jesus & serve today as He would serve.

 

A Perspective of Fire

Father, let us never forget Your presence & the wrath we have been rescued from through Jesus. Let us remember the consequence of hell that we once deserved, and the weight of our sin that He bore on the cross. May we walk in repentance, and also walk in joy, liberated from death and from ourselves. Your grace is greater than all our sin, Your love is deeper than the pit we were rescued from. May we praise Your Name forever, remembering Your holiness, mercy & grace with deep appreciation, thanksgiving & celebration! You are our joy! Amen!

Hebrews 12:12-29
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

God has given us so many visuals over the course of human history to help us understand and cope with the concept of Him & His holiness. He has taken every effort to help us hear, see & understand His nature, His righteousness, His wrath & His justice. And the wonder of it all is that He didn’t just tell us made up stories, but that He actually has done these things, in close proximity to humankind so that we can see and feel and hear and experience Him & His presence.

Hopefully, we have all had opportunities to be in places and experience times where we know we have been in the presence of God. And while there may not have been a burning mountain top to commemorate the experience, His whisper & still small voice of direction & discernment can be just as revalatory, just as powerful as His large displays of power & majesty.

It is very important that we do not forget those moments where He has spoken to us, that they do not become pieces of history, stories to recall in conversations alone. But we need to live in that remembrance. That is why God’s children have repeated these accounts daily & weekly for millennia, to keep them fresh upon our hearts. God gives us these moments, locked in present memory so we never forget the burning mountain top where the Law was given and so we do not forget the bloodied mountain top where grace was poured out on the cross.

Through these remembrances, we find ourselves inexorably intertwined with the tapestry of His story, woven into a living memory of Him. We see Mt Sinai & we see Mt Zion and we remember them in our own hearts, as if we were there. This is our heritage. This is our faith. We live in a perspective of fire & blood so that we may also live with a perspective of hope, wisdom & mercy given so richly for us who are not worthy of such affection. Living in the rhythms of this grace helps us, reminds us to speak the same mercy, love, grace and wisdom over those who stand apart from Him. This perspective draws our hearts in as living memorials to His faithfulness & righteousness.

Memorials are meant to be revisited, experienced and shown off. These memorials are our doorway to celebration, thanksgiving & mission. Every tribe, every tongue, every nation gathered in celebration, sharing in the abundant love of Christ, equals at the foot of the cross, in life, in faith & in mission to those who have not yet seen, to those who have not yet heard. We are celebrants of hope, living memorials of His loving-kindness.

Father, let us never forget Your presence & the wrath we have been rescued from through Jesus. Let us remember the consequence of hell that we once deserved, and the weight of our sin that He bore on the cross. May we walk in repentance, and also walk in joy, liberated from death and from ourselves. Your grace is greater than all our sin, Your love is deeper than the pit we were rescued from. May we praise Your Name forever, remembering Your holiness, mercy & grace with deep appreciation, thanksgiving & celebration! You are our joy! Amen!

The Act of Abiding

Father, so often we try to make our home in different places and in different ways apart from You. Forgive us our wandering hearts & grant us wisdom to see our place with You as peace. Amen.

John 15:1-11
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Again, John echoes these words from Jesus reminding us that our love shows through in our obedience to Him. We live in Him, dwell in Him, abide in Him. And when we find ourselves, through the strength & wisdom He provides, living in this way, we will find our lives daily bringing Him glory. These moments are those moments where we really ‘feel’ the presence of God, as we practice this discipline of self-control and focus our eyes on our Master. This is walking in the rhythms of grace. Not that we are pleased by ourselves and what we choose to do, but that we find ourselves pleased because we have given the margin to God, the center to God and seeing His holiness & righteousness at work in us will bring us pleasure. We delight in Him as He delights in us and we abide in Him.

This is living in love, abiding in His love. He prunes and trims and removes what we do not need, and what does not honor Him, so that we might bear much fruit. It is in our fruit-bearing that He is glorified, because fruit-bearing comes from obedience. The ability to bear fruit does not come from us, but from Him. The fruit of our life, righteous works standing as proof of salvation at work in us, and the bringing of lost souls to Him,  are again markers of our obedience.

The more we come to realize and understand that we are just wisps and vapors here, that our time is short and temporary, the less we will try to build a kingdom for our self here and seek to serve Him with a reckless abandon, content to simply abide in Him. This Radical, Immediate, Costly Obedience is the hallmark of the Christian life and speaks to the selflessness of Christ and the generosity of the Father.

“O Lord, make me know my end
    and what is the measure of my days;
    let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
    and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!                  Selah
     Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
    man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
    My hope is in you.”                                 Psalm 39:4-7

Use these days wisely & reject the desires of sin.
Abide in the Father.
Walk as Jesus.
Move in the Holy Spirit.

Father, so often we try to make our home in different places and in different ways apart from You. Forgive us our wandering hearts & grant us wisdom to see our place with You as peace. Amen.

 

Trust, Follow & Rest

May our sitting down & our rising up contribute, Lord, to Your kingdom’s work. Show us Your way, O God, deliver us out of the hand of the enemy and into Your goodness. Amen.

John 14:1-7
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

What is the answer to trouble?
Jesus is. Believe in Him.

Where are we headed?
To where Jesus already is. He is preparing a place.

How will we get there?
Through Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth & the Life.

How will we see God?
Look to Jesus, they are One.

How will we live?
Believe in Jesus & do the works He does, asking God’s provision in all things along the way.

Look at the depth Jesus answers within our hearts. We ask ourselves these questions in a variety of ways almost every day. Questions of provision, the direction of our life, of how we will please God, so many different things we could worry about, think about, dwell upon and wrestle with…and what do we hear Jesus saying in response to all these questions? What is His response?

Follow Me.

That’s it. It is that simple to explain. When we can finally let go of self, and find our peace in simply following Jesus, we will find that He is the answer to all the pressing questions of life, the universe and everything. We don’t need to worry, we don’t need to panic, we don’t need to get all wrapped up in the crazy that surrounds us in this broken world. When we are unsure, Jesus says, “Follow Me.” When we don’t know what’s around the next bend, Jesus says, “Follow Me.” Are we catching the message He’s pitching out to us? It’s always going to be the same answer, and it’s the best answer ever. We don’t have to come up with one, we don’t have to spend months on a mountaintop in Tibet chanting “Hey, Macarena” to ourselves over and over again until we achieve personal enlightenment.

Just. Let. Go.
and listen when He says “Follow Me.

Everything after that is butter. Jesus first, Jesus followed. That is the course of our life. Seek Him & the kingdom of God first, and everything else that we truly need will laid out in God’s way in God’s time as God determines we have need of it. This is about faith & trust, yes, but it is also about obedience. Both come when we die to self and listen to His call to “Follow Me.

“The great & firm foundation of the spiritual life is the offering of ourselves to God and being subject to Him in all things. We must completely forget ourselves, so that we regard ourselves as an object which has been sold and over which we no longer have any rights.

We find all our joy in fulfilling God’s pleasure – His happiness, His glory and the fact that He is our great and only delight.

Once we have this foundation, all we need to do is spend our lives rejoicing that God is God and being so wholly abandoned to His will that we are quite indifferent as to what we do and equally indifferent as to what use He makes of our activities.” – Brother Caussade

May our sitting down & our rising up contribute, Lord, to Your kingdom’s work. Show us Your way, O God, deliver us out of the hand of the enemy and into Your goodness. Amen.

Acts 2:37-40 // Hating Sin in Us

“37 When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”

38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, Be saved from this corrupt generation!”

Acts 2:37-40

— 

These verses contain some very sharp,very definitive language that I need to remember on a daily basis. First off, the crowd hearing the gospel message was convicted, cut to the heart. Not only because of what they had done to Jesus, but simply because they were now painfully aware of their own sin. 

Peter, having just delivered the first sermon of the church laid out the plain facts for them, citing God’s work through the prophets and through the life of Christ. They here and were cut to the heart. And that makes me wonder how much I am actually cut to the heart when it comes to my sin. How much does my sin offend me, and do I hate it enough to seek to live differently? 

Now, if I claim Christ, then all sin in me should not just be uncomfortable, but abhorrent, disgusting and repulsive. Because that is what ‘repent’ means. It doesn’t just mean ‘to change your heading’ but it also includes the idea that we are absolutely disgusted with where we were going, we were repelled by our choices and sin. 

And when we become so comfortable with our sin that conviction becomes more of a slight discomfort, then we have become too familiar with our sin. We have allowed too much to enter into our lives and compromised too much.

We are supposed to hate sin. We are supposed to be utterly repulsed by sinful activity in our minds, hearts and lives. Because sin is the opposite of what Christ desires for us. It is what He suffered and died to save us from, and so it can have no place in our lives. Period. 

So, when I find myself apologizing to God yet again for something I’ve done, but this is now, let’s say, 6 weeks that I have been apologizing, that means that I haven’t hated my sin enough to change my behavior, I’ve only admitted to it repeatedly. I need conviction. I need to abhor my sin and repent, disgusted, walking away from whatever it is that is dragging me away from Christ. 

When the Holy Spirit whispers into our heart these words of conviction, we cannot push them aside, meaning to address them later. No. We must address them right then, in these moments,and repent. 

If we are going to GoLove people as Christ has commissioned us to do, then we must live the life that He has laid out for us to live. Lukewarm Christians, comfortable with their sin, are not going to  make an impact for the kingdom. Their nominal hearts will produce a negative effect instead, encouraging a compromise with sin and the world. And that does not reflect the heart of Christ. 

Mark 12:1-12 // It all belongs to Him

“1 Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug out a pit for a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went away. 2 At harvest time he sent a slave to the farmers to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from the farmers. 3 But they took him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent another slave to them, and they hit him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 Then he sent another, and they killed that one. He also sent many others; they beat some and they killed some.

6 He still had one to send, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, “They will respect my son.”

7 But those tenant farmers said among themselves, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!” 8 So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

9 Therefore, what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t  you read this Scripture:

“The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

11 This came from the Lord

and is wonderful in our eyes?”

12 Because they knew He had said this parable against them, they were looking for a way to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the crowd. So they left Him and went away.”

Mark 12:1-12

The misuse of the Lord’s Kingdom and resources is a serious thing. The mistaken heart that believes that these things are theirs, simply by right, as if they are entitled to it, is woefully off track. The United States was, for a long time, the leading point of growth and outward sending evangelism in the world. But then, over time, the church here got distracted, started setting goals for comfort, and stagnated into an inwardly focused mindset. She became quiet and apathetic, and let the culture dictate what was acceptable rather than living and being that example. Complacency ruined her effectiveness. 

According to the Gordon Cromwell seminary, the fastest growth for Christianity is now happening in China, Nepal and the Arabian peninsula (2013 study.) missionaries are being sent out by countries that we used to send missionaries to and some are even sending them to the U.S.. 

Our work in the vineyard has not been effective and the Lord has seen fit to hire more laborers. This is for His glory and our shame. We do not get to dictate how this work happens or when harvest is supposed to occur. No. The work of the laborers is given by the owner of the vineyard. He is sovereign over us and He is the One who gives direction and guidance. We have no say in the matter, that’s what sovereignty is, the rule of one over another. But God is no heartless dictator, He desires to see us grow and flourish and be successful, because that is His heart and that is for His glory. A stagnant church or culture does not bring Him honor. And so our response to His call should be to grab a hold of His will, claim it for ourselves, and focus our lives and efforts through it. 

An effective worker is one who respects and honors the will of the one who hired them on. An effective Christian is one who respects and honors the will of the One who redeems and restores their soul. We GoLove the nations and our neighbors simply because He told us to. He has commissioned the labor for those whom He has purchased by the blood of His own Son. His Holy Spirit strengthens and guides us. We simply need to trust and obey.

Mark 12:1-12 // It all belongs to Him

“1 Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug out a pit for a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went away. 2 At harvest time he sent a slave to the farmers to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from the farmers. 3 But they took him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent another slave to them, and they hit him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 Then he sent another, and they killed that one. He also sent many others; they beat some and they killed some.

6 He still had one to send, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, “They will respect my son.”

7 But those tenant farmers said among themselves, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!” 8 So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

9 Therefore, what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t  you read this Scripture:

“The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

11 This came from the Lord

and is wonderful in our eyes?”

12 Because they knew He had said this parable against them, they were looking for a way to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the crowd. So they left Him and went away.”

Mark 12:1-12

The misuse of the Lord’s Kingdom and resources is a serious thing. The mistaken heart that believes that these things are theirs, simply by right, as if they are entitled to it, is woefully off track. The United States was, for a long time, the leading point of growth and outward sending evangelism in the world. But then, over time, the church here got distracted, started setting goals for comfort, and stagnated into an inwardly focused mindset. She became quiet and apathetic, and let the culture dictate what was acceptable rather than living and being that example. Complacency ruined her effectiveness. 

According to the Gordon Cromwell seminary, the fastest growth for Christianity is now happening in China, Nepal and the Arabian peninsula (2013 study.) missionaries are being sent out by countries that we used to send missionaries to and some are even sending them to the U.S.. 

Our work in the vineyard has not been effective and the Lord has seen fit to hire more laborers. This is for His glory and our shame. We do not get to dictate how this work happens or when harvest is supposed to occur. No. The work of the laborers is given by the owner of the vineyard. He is sovereign over us and He is the One who gives direction and guidance. We have no say in the matter, that’s what sovereignty is, the rule of one over another. But God is no heartless dictator, He desires to see us grow and flourish and be successful, because that is His heart and that is for His glory. A stagnant church or culture does not bring Him honor. And so our response to His call should be to grab a hold of His will, claim it for ourselves, and focus our lives and efforts through it. 

An effective worker is one who respects and honors the will of the one who hired them on. An effective Christian is one who respects and honors the will of the One who redeems and restores their soul. We GoLove the nations and our neighbors simply because He told us to. He has commissioned the labor for those whom He has purchased by the blood of His own Son. His Holy Spirit strengthens and guides us. We simply need to trust and obey.

Mark 11:15-19 // Renewing Proper Focus

“15 They came to Jerusalem, and He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers tables and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple complex.

17 Then He began to teach them: “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a den of thieves!” 18 Then the chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to destroy Him. For they were afraid of Him, because the whole crowd was astonished by His teaching.

19 And whenever evening came, they would go out of the city.”

Mark 11:15-19

— 

It’s frustrating to flip through tv channels and come across stations where people who claim to be Christians have placed themselves in opulent surroundings. Where there is always a call for an investment or ‘seed money’ that is more about increasing the comfort and wealth of the supposed evangelist than actually spreading the Gospel. 

Bad suits sitting in golden throne chairs with overdone hair piled high on top, televangelists seeking out private luxury jets that cost more than most of us make in a lifetime. Giant houses, fancy cars, all well beyond ‘need’ and into the realm of personal indulgence. Widows and the poor bilked out of their money so that these greedy few can have giant golden globes spinning behind them on their programs that make them look even more ‘impressive’ as if the Gospel message needs luxury and grandeur to legitimize it! 

God has given to His people so that they might invest in His Kingdom and see good work done that benefits everyone, not just the few. The widows are cared for, the orphans are fed and missionaries are sent out. Scripture says not to muzzle the ox while it grinds the grain, but the ox doesn’t need a $10000 suit, to get its teeth whitened every week or to go home to a solid marble barn stall with gold trim and a personal masseuse. 

The people in the temple and its courtyards had been distracted from God by the greed of a few, and it simply was not acceptable. Their worship had been waylaid and their sacrifices had been deemed ‘unworthy’ by unscrupulous men and money hungry priests. 

Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple was blunt, done in perfect, righteous anger and it was liberating for many. The people coming in knew it wasn’t right, but they probably felt like there was no way to fix the problem. They felt helpless under the power of those in authority and so they played into this corrupt system. 

As we GoLove people in Jesus’ Name, we need to remember what God has called us to and what really matters in this life. Is it comfort? Entertainment? Or should we invest in Kingdom work? Should we build up pastors and preachers into some corporate/CEO standard of living or should we keep the focus on reaching the lost and expanding the Kingdom of God? What is the proper use of the resources of the Bride of Christ? What does God desire? 

It is better to sacrifice and go without and see people reached for Christ rather than rob God and live in temporary comfort. I would not dare try God in this, His anger is poured out on those who fraudulently coerce and plan so that their pockets might be lined. Those who do this are self-condemned and do not represent His Kingdom or His Son. 

Mark 11:15-19 // Renewing Proper Focus

“15 They came to Jerusalem, and He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers tables and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple complex.

17 Then He began to teach them: “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a den of thieves!” 18 Then the chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to destroy Him. For they were afraid of Him, because the whole crowd was astonished by His teaching.

19 And whenever evening came, they would go out of the city.”

Mark 11:15-19

— 

It’s frustrating to flip through tv channels and come across stations where people who claim to be Christians have placed themselves in opulent surroundings. Where there is always a call for an investment or ‘seed money’ that is more about increasing the comfort and wealth of the supposed evangelist than actually spreading the Gospel. 

Bad suits sitting in golden throne chairs with overdone hair piled high on top, televangelists seeking out private luxury jets that cost more than most of us make in a lifetime. Giant houses, fancy cars, all well beyond ‘need’ and into the realm of personal indulgence. Widows and the poor bilked out of their money so that these greedy few can have giant golden globes spinning behind them on their programs that make them look even more ‘impressive’ as if the Gospel message needs luxury and grandeur to legitimize it! 

God has given to His people so that they might invest in His Kingdom and see good work done that benefits everyone, not just the few. The widows are cared for, the orphans are fed and missionaries are sent out. Scripture says not to muzzle the ox while it grinds the grain, but the ox doesn’t need a $10000 suit, to get its teeth whitened every week or to go home to a solid marble barn stall with gold trim and a personal masseuse. 

The people in the temple and its courtyards had been distracted from God by the greed of a few, and it simply was not acceptable. Their worship had been waylaid and their sacrifices had been deemed ‘unworthy’ by unscrupulous men and money hungry priests. 

Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple was blunt, done in perfect, righteous anger and it was liberating for many. The people coming in knew it wasn’t right, but they probably felt like there was no way to fix the problem. They felt helpless under the power of those in authority and so they played into this corrupt system. 

As we GoLove people in Jesus’ Name, we need to remember what God has called us to and what really matters in this life. Is it comfort? Entertainment? Or should we invest in Kingdom work? Should we build up pastors and preachers into some corporate/CEO standard of living or should we keep the focus on reaching the lost and expanding the Kingdom of God? What is the proper use of the resources of the Bride of Christ? What does God desire? 

It is better to sacrifice and go without and see people reached for Christ rather than rob God and live in temporary comfort. I would not dare try God in this, His anger is poured out on those who fraudulently coerce and plan so that their pockets might be lined. Those who do this are self-condemned and do not represent His Kingdom or His Son. 

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