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Showing posts from April, 2010

BAPTISM OF SUFFERING

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Luke 12:
49 "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

Jesus refers to a baptism that He must endure, though it would be very painful.  It was a coming baptism of suffering.  He had at this point already been baptized in water by John.  John's baptism dealt with people coming back to God's heart.  Jesus had been baptized to show his humility and identity with the people of God.

To be baptized is to be completely immersed into something.  When believers are bapt…

CONTROLLED BURNING

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When we lived out in the county on Holden Road, we had over an acre of yard around the house.  At the road, there were ditches ten feet deep.  It was not feasible to cut the growth in the ditch with my lawn mower, so I would look forward to burning it each year.


Occasional fire keeps things in check.  It burns away the dead material which allows new growth to take over.  Burns also kill the non-native plants which are intolerant to the fire.  
The deep-rooted native plants are capable of withstanding the heat and are not affected.
The benefits of a natural fire far outweigh the temporary charred-earth appearance.  The black only lasts for a week or two but the benefits of the controlled burn last much longer.  Among them are:
·Nutrient recycling·Helps with seed germination by exposing soil to the sun earlier in the year.·Controls non-native plants and invasion of woody plants[i]
Jesus came to bring a controlled burn on the earth.  It was God’s desire to burn away that which was dead and di…

FROM LONER TO PATRIARCH

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 Abraham belonged to a Chaldean family, the geographic location of modern Iraq.From his place in the clan, God called Abraham to leave the country and find a new identity.Abraham was an imperfect man with no hope of raising a family with his barren wife.And yet, he became the father of nations with an endless line of descendants.
Abraham’s defects of character caused him to lie and manipulate.He lied more than once thinking it would save his hide.He grew impatient with God’s timing and schemed together with his wife Sarah to start the family tree with their servant Hagar.Ishmael was born and a rift grew between Hagar and Sarah.Later Sarah would bear Isaac, the miraculous child of a barren old woman.
It was Isaac’s turn to carry on the call to be a new family that God had given to his father, Abraham.The sins of Abraham were handed down to his son Isaac, who also lied and manipulated to avoid conflicts.Eventually he grew to face conflicts and was blessed by God.
Isaac had children, too.On…

LONERS LEARNING ABOUT COMMUNITY

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God’s eyes are watching loners.He is the shepherd who leaves a flock of ninety-nine in the care of another and travels to find the one-hundredth sheep that wandered away and was lost.


He is the Father who watches and waits for broken rebels to humble themselves and return home to His endearing love and unmerited acceptance.
God is a father to orphans and a new husband to widows.The societal separation, abandonment and sudden loss create a lack of belonging.The loneliness of orphans becomes their new identity.Where will the widow and orphan belong?Who will provide for them?Who will be their protector?
God not only finds loners but calls them to belong to His family.He adopts and marries the ones misunderstood, rejected and divorced from their own family of origin.
His presence in a life can sometimes cause difficulty and separation from your roots.The sins of the fathers affect the family down to the great-grandchildren.But God’s blessing goes further in unlimited potential.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER BELONGS TO THE NEW WORLD

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When Jesus was born, Simeon prophesied to Mary about the revolution coming to Israel through her son.





Luke 2:33The child's father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

The prophecy indicates that Jesus would expose what was in the hearts of people.The sword would divide in such a way that some would rise while others fall.
Jesus would be spoken against in the context of His people Israel.
Not even His own mother Mary would escape the sword of Jesus.Her heart would be penetrated by the sword.This would prove to be true as she walked with her Son and witnessed the persecution against Him.His strong words would hurt and correct even her.
So that no-one takes on a persecution complex and blames t…

SURGICAL PRECISION

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The power of Jesus’ words have a holistic effect on the hearer.  The sword is able to cut through all things human and reveal what is inside.


Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
As the secrets of the heart become exposed by Je…

THE SWORD OF JESUS' WORDS

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In John’s Revelation he has a vision of Jesus.In the description, we see a Jesus who appears as a warrior.


Revelation 1:16In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
The sword comes out of Jesus’ mouth.This is clearly a reference to the power of His words.When He speaks, the truth comes out and it has authority.The sword is a symbol of governance and justice.
It is not the threatening words of a free-acting thug, but the authorized decrees of the King that has ultimate power.
In the first chapter of John, Jesus is called the Word of God.The power of God is communicated through the speech and actions of the Christ.To say tha…

THE SWORD IS DRAWN ON FAMILY

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Following Jesus supersedes the values and understanding we place on the family unit.  Jesus’ own example towards his family would be disappointing to those who idolize family values.  He was the twelve year old that left his family to stay behind in the Temple at Jerusalem.  Jesus prioritized the people who came to see him over his own family members.  His family did not understand him and questioned his sanity.

He said troubling things about family commitments and relationship to those who considered becoming his followers.
Matthew 10:34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
   " 'a man against his father,
      a daughter against her mother,
   a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.’37 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than…

EVALUATING YOUR FAMILY

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As an adult, what value and attachment do you attribute to your biological family?  


Most children assume that their family of origin experience is normal.  In this environment we learn to understand affection, communication, conflict resolution, daily routines, and expectations and so on.
As children gain their independence and start to evaluate how they will live, they will build or rebuild based on the foundation they’ve been given.  They will act and react on the values that their family established.
Further along, many have wrestled with the realization that their family was not always right.  What do you do in relationship to parents or siblings you no longer see eye-to-eye with?  Some will spend decades trying to be ‘other’ than what their family was.  Some parents will suffer great regrets for ways they feel they have failed their children.
All in all, the family model applies tremendous gravity to your life—you will be pulled in directions set out for you from an early age.  You …

FORGOTTEN FORECAST

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They did not know what He was talking about.Why was the meaning of His words hidden from them?He was telling them point blank what would happen and they just did not get it.

Luke 18:31Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.33On the third day he will rise again."34The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

There are times when repeating the truth seems to fall on deaf ears.Something deeper is required for one to be persuaded.The disciples heard it over and over.They were not convinced until they saw Jesus after the resurrection.
They were so convinced after it came to pass, that they gave their lives to preach His death and resurrection.Is it likely that they would go…

AFRAID TO ASK

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When the plans of God and the path ahead contain pain and suffering, we might miss part of the message.
Mark 9:30They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." 32But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
In this instance Jesus clearly states what will happen to Him.But were the disciples persuaded that it would literally happen?
Jesus had told them many things with symbolic meaning.He would tell parables to illustrate God’s story.His conversations often revealed things that people thought were hidden and unspoken.
When he talked about his suffering and resurrection, the disciples were afraid to delve into the meaning.What were they afraid of?Were these the words of someone who was becoming mentally unstable?Were they…

NO BETTER WAY THAN GOD'S WAY

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What does it take to be persuaded of truth?  The disciples were not easily convinced.  They may have followed Jesus, but they were not about to lose their own discretion and opinions.

Matthew 16:21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
Peter fell into the trap that Satan still uses.  ‘When the coming reality goes opposite to what you believe should happen, resist the plan.’ 
At the surface Peter looks heroic.  He does not want to see Jesus suffer persecution and be put to death. 
But supposed good in…

DON'T YOU REMEMBER?

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Clearly his disciples took a long time to be persuaded completely of his nature. 
It was a new day when Jesus rose from the dead and all the previous teachings, miracles and experiences had not guaranteed their understanding.  I wonder how persuaded we are when presented with the words of Christ?

Luke 24:1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?     6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucifie…

I AM PERSUADED

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I wear denim cotton jeans almost every day of my life.  I am convinced that they are more comfortable than other pants and reflect modesty in fashion. 

I am so convinced of the superiority of blue jeans that I named my son Levi.


I have other kinds of pants and will wear them when social situations suggest that my appearance requires a more formal attire, but I am set in my preference.  I don’t really care what other people wear.  I believe people should dress in ways that make them comfortable.
So, I’ve shared some personal beliefs with you.  Some of you may nod in agreement while others question the relevance of me opening my mouth in the first place.
It is apparent that we all have beliefs and are curious about what others stand for.  What do you believe and how do you communicate your beliefs to others? 
I am a persuader.  I spend much of my life involved in activities that persuade others to accept the things that I believe.  I wouldn’t bother except that I have been persuaded myself…