October 31, 2014
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Walk with Me
Walk with me a little while
Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.
It is in your presence I experience love and grace.
I need your perspective as I run this race.
I covet your fellowship in the early dawn,
As I come to you in prayer and feel your holy bond.
It is your strength I covet in this challenging hour,
It is in identity with your life that I find my power.
The grade is getting steep as we travel on.
The way is more narrow and straight than where I’ve gone.
Those I once called friends now scorn my path.
Because I don’t hold the world’s views I incur their wrath.
So it must be as I look up and see the cross before,
I still believe that you alone are the only door,
That leads to life and the Father I seek.
You are the good shepherd that leads your sheep.
Help me Lord to be all that I must,
Forsaking the world, its vanity and lust.
Setting my eye on the prize that is before,
I press on to the high calling of Christ Jesus my Lord.
Walk with me a little while,
Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.
If so be that I suffer for You I will be glorified with You,
My peace and rest is in You, oh Lord, faithful and true.
October 29, 2014
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28″Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Come unto Me
We have a gift and an inheritance that so relatively few have. The Lord has made Himself known unto us and has drawn us to the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit which has quickened the reality and truth of Him to our spirits. What the Father has given us is life and just as we came into this natural life and drew our first breath we have come into the spiritual life of God and have drawn our first spiritual breath. Now we live and move and have our being in Him. We didn’t labor to enter in, but someone else labored over us. They travailed that we might be brought forth in Christ. It was not us that chose Him; it was Him that chose us from the foundations of the world. He has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His harvest.
We hear Him as He speaks to us, “Come unto Me.” What He is asking from us is not a labor; it is not our works or our goodness. We are called to take upon us the mantle of His spiritual life. That calling is not about works, but about rest. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Some of us have been so stressed. We have struggled to try and please God. We have wrestled with our sin and our unworthiness. We have come to the point where we have felt failure, defeat and condemnation. The arms of the Lord are extended toward you today and He is speaking to you, “Come unto me. Come and rest in my arms, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Religion often becomes our taskmaster rather than our revelation of Christ. It so often demands of us, uses us and often it manipulates us to its own ends and purpose. We often feel that if we fail at religion we fail God. The Lord has come to lead us into His Sabbath rest. It is a ceasing of us and even our good efforts and it is a release of ourselves into His rest.
Do we do spiritual work in this rest? Yes, but it is not our work, it His work through us as we learn His voice and move in obedience to His Spirit. We want to struggle to redeem this old man, but this old man is dead. Let go of him and embrace the new creation you are in Christ. This new man is birthed in the likeness of Christ and every expression of our being; it is this spiritual man that we want to now express. We see this new creation man represented and exemplified through Jesus. Did Jesus struggle to do the work of God or did He just come into His presence and fellowship? It was there that He found the will and purpose of God for each day of His earthly travels.
If you are tired and you want to find that rest, then take His yoke upon. His burden is light, because He is your strength and wisdom to carry out His will and purpose for your life. What He has called you to do, He will enable and provide for you to do. Don’t be anxious, just rest.
October 28, 2014
Hebrews 7: 14-17
For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
The Power of an Endless Life
We have a high priest, one whose priesthood stems not from the natural, the traditional or that of the Law. Our high priest comes from the lineage of an indestructible and endless life. Our high priest is the descendent and Son of the Almighty.
We first hear about this Melchizedek priest in Genesis 14:18-20 when He comes to Abram after his victory in battle: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Here we see this mysterious priest appearing of whom it is said that He was “priest of God Most High”. Isn’t interesting that He appears bringing the bread and wine the elements of communion and covenant? He is not only a priest, but also a king and a priest, the king of Salem, which is “peace”. In Isaiah 9:6 we read the description of this King Priest, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
This priesthood is far above that priesthood that was established on earth through Levi, whose father Abraham paid tithes to this priest Melchizedek. The earthly priesthood was not able to bring anything into perfection, but simply served as a type and shadow of this greater priesthood that was to come in Christ Jesus. Earthly priests were weak, faulted and subject to death, but our High Priest Jesus is a priest after the power of an endless life and “Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them. [Here is] the High Priest [perfectly adapted] to our needs, as was fitting–holy, blameless, unstained by sin, separated from sinners, and exalted higher than the heavens. (Hebrews 7:25-26 Amplified)” Amen.
Now I would remind you again of what 1Peter 1:4-10 says of us as His believers, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” 8and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” If we then are this holy and royal priesthood, are we not after this same order of Melchizedek priesthood? If we are then what Revelations 5: 4 says concerning us, “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” what is the rank and calling of our priesthood if it is not after the order of our High Priest and King Jesus? It is He that has given and imparted into us this power of an endless life that we might rule and reign in the likeness of Himself and after the order of Melchizedek. Let us so live in the pursuit and faith of the high and holy calling that He has given unto us through the power of an endless life.
October 27, 2014
The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love Your self
It is interesting sometimes as a photographer to see how people view themselves. Often, when viewing family or individual photographs people can be very critical of themselves. Most often it is the women. They can see and magnify weaknesses or faults that most everyone else considers normal and a part of them. It is not uncommon that great family portraits will fail because mom doesn’t like the way she looks.
In today’s age of technology we have the skills and abilities to actually go in and alter the way someone looks. We can lift and tuck some of the sagging parts, hide the blemishes and soften the wrinkles, but the real issue may not be how we look to ourselves outwardly, but how we perceive ourselves inwardly.
On the other hand I have photographed attractive ladies who may have had a scar that could have easily been removed. I find it is often best to ask people what they do and do not want taken away, because assumptions can get you into trouble. These women that I refer too wanted their scars to remain, because to them they were a reminder of what they had been through and the gift of life that they still had. In today’s world many of us feel the pressure to live this façade of a perfect life, have a perfect body, beautiful looks, a perfect home, children and husband or wife. The truth is that that is not the real world. We all have scars, wrinkles, handicaps and weaknesses whether they are outwardly evident or not. Brushing or photoshoping over them isn’t going to take the reality of them away, nor should it. These blemishes upon our lives are the evidence that we have lived and experienced what life had to offer and that it wasn’t always nice or kind.
The Lord tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but some of us don’t really love ourselves, so how can we love our neighbor properly? Understand that all real people have weaknesses, faults and frailties. That is a trait of our humanity. Don’t be ashamed of yourself and don’t boast in yourself, but rather see the completeness of yourself in Christ. Christ is not a crutch; He is the fulfillment and the completion of our humanity. The scars, the wrinkles and experiences that we share all testify that by the grace of God we survived them and we are still taking hold of life. The wonderful thing about our relationship with Christ is that where we end, He begins and where we are weak, He is strong.
Don’t be so harsh and judgmental of yourself. I know that sometimes I think, “God, why am I stuck with being me?” It is because in my weakness He is made strong and His grace is sufficient for all of my needs, my infirmities and my weaknesses. If you are down on yourself today it is because you don’t have your eyes on Jesus. Take courage, take heart and know that you can do all things through Christ that strengthens you. Love yourself as Christ loves you.
October 24, 2014
The Deserts of Marriage
1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
Tears once more roll down the streambeds of her cheeks. Her heart is broken, discouraged, without hope, as once again she a has surveyed the landscape of her marriage only to see what appears to be but a desolate desert with the only moisture being that of her brokenhearted tears. Between the sobs and heartbreaks she only sees the ruins of what have been the years of her youth, the investment of her life, feelings and emotions. Dispersed in the pain are the feelings of anger and resentment that are like the cactus and thorns that are among the few things that now grow in this desert that is called a marriage.
Somewhere, in another room, another place or perhaps a bar, there is a man sitting quietly with his head hung down and a lump in his throat. Is this finally the end of the line? Has our love totally shriveled up and died? Has my insensitivity and inability to meet her needs put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage? Have my selfishness, my insensitivity and her continual nagging and criticism brought the closing act to our marriage?
Both lost in their thoughts and hurts think back to when they first met, their younger days of romance and early marriage. How different it was then. It was like the Garden of Eden. They were so in love. They never wanted to be apart. They thought about each other constantly and there was hardly a time when either of them could do wrong in the other’s sight. Things were so perfect. They dreamed together, they talked of what the future would hold for them and what they might accomplish together. Their hearts were swollen full of love and joy. They had found the perfect mate, the one that would fulfill all their dreams, expectations and fantasies. She would be the perfect submissive wife. She would live to meet and fulfill all of his needs. She would cook and sew, raise the kids, make the place a lovely home, always continue to be cheerful, joyful and full of love. She would be there when ever he needed her to meet his every need as his companion, friend and lover.
She likewise had the picture in her mind that he would always be there to share his heart with her, to spend lots of time communicating and talking. He would always be fun, exciting and making her laugh. He would often show up at the door with gifts and surprises, take her to unexpected places and constantly sweep her off of her feet with romantic ways. He would be her security, her tower of strength. He would provide for all the desires of her heart and fulfill all the dreams she had as girl. He would become rich, but still have bountiful quantities of time to spend with her.
As our honeymoons fade into the reality of everyday life we start to gain a greater and greater revelation of shortcomings of this one that we married. Many times our enchanted dreams of all that our marriage would be begin to slip into disillusionment as this person of our dreams begins to become more of the nightmare of disappointment to us. That person that could do no wrong, slowly becomes that person that can do no right. We begin to verbalize these complaints in hopes of changing our spouse’s behavior. On the other hand they are seeing all the places that we disappoint them and fail to meet their expectations. Most often a lot of shouting gets done, a lot of emotion gets expressed, but the results are far less than we hoped for because our alienation from one another only deepens and our intimacy grows less and less. We find ourselves dividing from the oneness we once shared into two emotionally separated islands dwelling under one roof. Hurt, resentment and anger continue to grow into walls of division, until we find ourselves at the place where this couple now stands, at the door of separation and divorce.
Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who is a closer friend than our spouse has been. Are we failing to keep the commandment of Christ when we fail to truly love one another? There may be a hundred reasons why they are unlovely and unlovable to you, but we have to factor in who we are in Christ Jesus. Did we have to earn our love from Him? Did He wait till we were good enough and met His expectations before He came and gave His life for us? Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When we see our human love in the light of His agape love, we see how shallow and empty it can be. The greatest problem for all of us in our marriages is our own selfishness. At the center of all our complaints is “my need isn’t being met.” Often one of the greatest problems for our disillusionment with our spouse is that we may have entered into marriage expecting them to meet areas of need in us that only Christ can meet. They are never going to be able to meet those needs in you. They are not a replacement for your intimate relationship with your Savior. We need to be complete and secure in our Lord before we ever enter into a relationship with a spouse, because He is your source of true and greater love. He is the one you can turn too, not only when your spouse fails to meet your needs, but also when you fail to meet theirs. We should enter into marriage and keep the perspective that I married that person to make them happy, marriage is not about me, it is about them.
When we gave ourselves in marriage we pledged the most important part of ourselves to one another, our hearts. It is to the shame of many of us that we have become very careless with that precious commodity that was entrusted into our care. Often we have dropped it, stepped on it, abused and misused it. We have not tenderly loved, protected and cherished it like we promised to do. If we are to keep Christ’s commandment of love, even to the one we promised to love, it can only truly be revealed as we abide in His unselfish love. If our commitment could be again to always submit ourselves to one another in unselfish love. Can we have enough of the unselfish love of God present in us that we would make it a priority to consider and minister to our spouse before ourselves? Can we obey the Word of God to release the offenses, the hurts and the unforgiveness that have become the walls of separation between us? If we can’t truly exercise and practice the love of God in our homes, how will we succeed in demonstrating it to the world?
Don’t lose your hope. Don’t give up or give in, there is a love that conquers even death and it can bring life back into your marriage. Let us come together and commit our hearts as one before Him who is our reconciliation. What is impossible for man is not impossible with God. When we become reconciled to God’s will and love for our lives with each other we will find again the joy and fulfillment that we had lost. Streams will come again into the deserts of our relationships, as the love of Christ is truly manifested in our hearts and lives. God hates divorce, but He has made a way for us to experience and find more abundant life in our marriages, if we are willing to become one in Him and the unselfish nature of His love.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Think of the natural and spiritual strength that you have, as the two of you are one in Christ.
October 22, 2014
Making Healthy Choices
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Life is made up of a series of choices we make everyday. Much like what we choose to eat, our lives eventually begin to show forth physically the fruit of what we have eaten or not eaten. One or two good choices or bad choices do not determine our fate, it is the overall direction that we go with a pattern of decision making that really begins to define who we are outwardly and who we are inwardly.
The best and the healthiest choice any of us made was when we asked Christ to come into our hearts and be our Lord and Savior. That should have began us down a path and a pattern of making much more healthy choices for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible. Why do we read God’s Word, why do we pray, why do we listen to sermons and the messages that come out of those who speak God’s Word to the Church? Isn’t it because we want the mind of Christ to make healthy choices and right decisions? We know that over time these choices will define our life, who we are and what we are with regards to the Kingdom of God.
Let’s be honest, most of us like junk food and fast food. I’m certainly no exception there. We are educated enough to know that a steady diet of this kind of food will result in an unhealthy end. Some of us are already experiencing the effects of those types of choices. And we can’t turn around and sue God because He made them available to us. All of our choices have consequences and we bear the responsibility for those choices. They can be good or bad depending on what they produce. One of the greatest gifts or curses God gave to man was the right and ability to make their own choices.
Joshua is saying in our verse today to the children of Israel, you all have to make a choice about who you want to serve in life. If it doesn’t seem good to you to really serve the Lord, then you can choose other gods, whether that be another religion or the god of self, or some other god, “but as for me and my house (those I’m responsible for) we will serve the Lord.” Joshua had made his choice long before he ever spoke these words and his life was the result of the choices he had made. We all have to make our own choices in life and consequently we all have to answer for them rather in this life or that which is come.
Are you making healthy choices spiritually today? Are Christ, His Word, His Truth, His Life and His Ways what you are feeding on daily? I believe God has given us this life to enjoy His blessings and the goodness around us, but if we have chosen Him and continue to choose Him, then all of our other choices will be centered in His will and purpose for us and not our own. “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).” May the Lord help each of us daily to make healthy choices in every arena of life so that our lives may be blessed and we may be partakers of all the goodness He has for us.
October 21, 2014
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.
Why is there power in the words, “Thank You,” or in the words that express thankfulness and thanksgiving? If these are words from the heart then they convey the attitude of deep appreciation and gratitude. We have discussed in the past about praise and worship, but where do these come from if it is not from an attitude of thanksgiving. Thankfulness is a gate, it is an entrance, and it is a condition of heart that makes us ready to really appreciate and express that appreciation to our Lord. It is like the precursor to praise and worship as well as being a part of it. Are we going to praise and worship what we don’t appreciate and aren’t thankful for?
It is important that thankfulness is a constant attitude of our heart. Psalms 30:4 says, “Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” Psalms 18:49 reiterates with, ” Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” The Psalms are alive with scripture that exhorts us to be thankful:
Psalms 75:1 Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, [unto thee] do we give thanks: for [that] thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.
Psalms 79:13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
Psalms 92:1 [[A Psalm [or] Song for the sabbath day.]] [It is a] good [thing] to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
Psalms 97:12 Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
Psalms 105:1 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
Psalms 106:1 Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
Psalms 106:47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, [and] to triumph in thy praise.
Psalms 107:1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
These are among a few of so many that extol thankfulness to the Lord.
Jesus even demonstrates the importance and attitude of thankfulness, when He broke bread when feeding the multitude. Even at the Last Supper He gave thanks as He broke the bread that represented His body that was soon to be broken and offered in the sacrifice of His life at Calvary.
Our giving thanks at meal times is a constant reminder to us of where our blessings and supply comes from and who we depend upon to provide our needs, as well as the expression of appreciation to Him who has so graciously provided it.
The New Testament exhorts us as well in the area of Thanksgiving:
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
1 Thessalonians 5:13 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
When we give thanks in all things aren’t we acknowledging that God is sovereign upon His throne and in control of all that touches our lives? Aren’t we declaring His faithfulness regardless of circumstances and conditions? Isn’t our thankfulness an acclamation of His Lordship?
Hebrews 23:15 continues this thought, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.” 1 Timothy 2:1 continues the theme of how our thankfulness ties into our praise, worship, ministry and intercession before the Lord, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;”
The relevance, significance and importance of thanksgiving is not just an earthly principle, it is a heavenly one as well that continues on through eternity, precious to the heart of God. Revelations 11:16-17 speaks, “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”
On the other side Romans 1:21-25 speaks of the ungodly and unrighteous who knowing about God fail to have a thankful heart, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Ungratefulness leads to a hardened and perverse heart. It is the fools gate and entrance to wrath and judgement. That lack of thanksgiving can take us out of the right perception and acknowledgement of who and what our God is in relationship with our lives.
As we acknowledge our God today and each day let us do it with a heart that is thankful and appreciative of the matchless grace and abundance He has worked in us. Sometimes we get focused so much on the adversity and the negative in our lives we loose sight of who still sits on the throne and is in charge of all that affects us. While we are not thankful for the evil that befalls us we are forever thankful for our God that brings us through our adversities and is perfecting us in the process. Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”