Category Archives: Who is your Life?

How do you live: Singular or Plural?

A gifted writer is a maestro with words.     All my life, I have enjoyed the work of authors without appreciating the masterful skill involved in their craft.

This past year, I have been studying the beauty of words and the art of word usage.  I have discovered some fascinating words.  Today I share two such words and how we misuse them in our everyday language.

Priority is defined as something of  “greatest importance.”

Sovereign used as a noun means “supreme ruler” or as an adjective it denotes “supreme or ultimate power.”

By their very definition, these words should only be used in the singular form.  There can only be one of greatest importance as there can only be one supreme ruler or power.   If we have priorities or sovereigns then there is not one thing or person that stands out about the others or is of the utmost, maximum level.

This misuse of the words is also lived out in our thoughts and actions.  We say the Word of God has priority over our daily lives yet we live with multiple tasks taking priority over it.  We declare Jesus is Sovereign in our lives yet little ‘g’ gods of all sorts rule over us.

I now have one motivation: to live singularly.   I desire to make the Supreme Ruler my One Priority.  In order to be victorious in this life-long endeavor, I must strive to understand who Jesus is as the Sovereign.  For me to see His rule in my life, I have to understand His sovereign hand in all circumstances.

My faith will not stretch over plural sovereigns.  My allegiance is not vast enough for multiple priorities.  Therefore, I am at my weakest when I am living these words in plurals.  How about you?

I have decided to break with my traditional Monday blogs.  I will in the next few weeks share a dream I was given.  I am not a gifted writer.  Oh how I wish I were.  For this dream needs to be conveyed with the words that can reveal the passion and power of the experience.   Pray for me to be guided by His Spirit, the Maestro of words.

You must stick with me on this because the concept won’t be clear until the final scene.  It left me so shaken; I lay on my bed paralyzed for hours.  “Lord, is it true?”  I prayed over and over not knowing if I could handle the truth.

When He answered, He was true to His Word and the truth did set me free.  I am free indeed.  Free from the chains of doubt.  Free from the confusion of faith.  Free from the confusions of life.  Free to trust.  I choose to believe in the One Sovereign Ruler who is my One Priority.  Will you?

Thanks for your prayers, chapter one comes next Monday.

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Justice to the nations

During this Passion Week, I have been thinking about Jesus the servant.  What is a servant?  Is it possible that a servant can be the most pivotal person in all of history?

Last Monday I used a passage from Isaiah 42.  This is the first of four Servant’s songs in the prophet’s writing.  Later, Matthew quotes this passage and attributes it to Jesus declaring the Servant Songs to be Messianic to Jesus.

I read about servants in Holman’s Bible dictionary and discovered this:

Isaiah 42 gives a remarkable picture of the ideal Servant of the Lord and the work that God intends Him to accomplish…  The tasks He is destined to accomplish are almost beyond belief.  He is to bring God’s justice to all the nations.  Almost more remarkable than the immensity of the task that the Servant must perform is the description of the way He is to do it.  He will move forward with absolute confidence, but nothing indicates strenuous effort will be needed.  He will have such an understanding of His overwhelming power that He can be absolutely gentle as He does His work even toward those whose efforts have failed. 

 

He was confident in His overwhelming power.  I am writing this as a furious windstorm in wrecking havoc outside my window.  Occasionally I look up to confirm that a tornado is not in the horizon.  Tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, bombs, earthquakes, and floods all have tremendous power.  The aftermath of such uncontrolled power is most assuredly destruction and death.

Combine all the forces of all the storms throughout all of history and the power would be nothing compared to the power in Jesus.  He had the power to obliterate His enemies, which certainly would have brought justice to all the nations.  But instead He harnessed all that power and died on the cross.  Why?

The gentle suffering Servant had two motivators I lack:  perfect love and selfless devotion to that love.  Jesus loved His Father; therefore obedience was the natural outflow of that love.   Obedience comes easy to those in love.  The motivation of lovers is to please the object of their love.  It isn’t difficult to conceive such love between the Father and His only begotten Son.

But the most profound truth of the cross is that Jesus loves us as much as He loves His Father.  Same love and same selfless devotion to that love, He served to us, the bruised reeds and smoldering wicks.

My favorite quote about the love of Jesus comes from Hannah Whittall Smith:

Put together all the tenderest love you know of, the deepest you have ever felt, and the strongest that has ever been poured out upon you and heap upon it all the love of all the loving human hearts in the world, and then multiply it by infinity, and you will begin perhaps to have some faint glimpse of the love and grace of God.

 

Unlimited power controlled in the hands of our loving Servant brings justice to all the earth and not one bruise or injury is suffered.

Oh, the gentleness of God.  He could have unleashed His wrath on the earth as He did with the flood in Noah’s day and will again as foretold in Revelation.  Such judgment is justice of God’s wrath for sin.

But justice can also mean the fulfilling of needs and giving of benefits.  Injustice is depriving others of their basic needs or failing to correct matters when those rights are not met.  The life of a believer is true testament to Jesus fulfilling all our needs according to His glorious riches.  Justice by this definition has reached into all the nations.

To fully understand the cross, you must combine these two elements of justice and then add the God factor and you can begin to get a glimpse of what the Servant did for us.  Isaiah’s songs give more detail of the tasks of the servant:

42:6-7  “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.  I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open the eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison, and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

49:6  he says; “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.  I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

50:4,7  The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary…Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced.

52:13-53:12, v5  He was pierced for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

 

I recently watched Remains of the Day about a manservant in British society.  He served with utmost efficiency, respect, and faithfulness to the determent of losing his own identity and his influence.  Jesus taught what a true servant should be.  A servant of the Lord has full power to change the world and he/she does so by harnessing that power in loving service to the Master’s plan.  When we serve like Jesus it could be said of us:

He will move forward with absolute confidence, but nothing indicates strenuous effort will be needed.

Hanging by a thread

There are times when life is just hard whether we are the cause of our crisis or the innocent victim.

  • We can feel like we are in a never ending earthquake and the last bit of earth under our feet is about to give way to the fiery abyss of Mordor.
  • Or maybe it feels like we have walked so far out of our comfort zones that we are standing on the end of the thinnest tree branch that is in the throes of a violent hurricane.
  • In the pinball game of life, we are being whacked at every turn.  Weak and disillusioned we know the next blow will shatter us into a million pieces.
  • There are times our bodies seem to fight against us and the pain is more than we can bear.  Or maybe we hear the diagnosis from a doctor and it sends us into a downward spiral of despair.
  • Sometimes it is just an inner struggle.  There seems to be no hope for the future or no peace for the soul.  God appears to have left us barren.  The Word leaves us empty.  Our worship is dead.  Our hearts are cold.

We are hanging by a thread.

No one is immune to seasons of pain and despair.  We all have stories of brokenness and defeats.  I have been at the edge of such a time.  I could easily plunge into the chasm, fly off the branch into a swirling storm, or hit the bottom of the despair pit.

Except for a few words that keep churning in my heart…

a bruised reed he will not break

Are you feeling like a bruised reed?  Are you feeling worn out or useless?  Maybe you would best describe it as weak, depressed in spirit, lowly and dejected.  All of these terms are what this passage has in mind.

The declaration is for all those who will admit they are hanging by a thread.

As I typed that sentence, I looked up to pray, “Father, now what do I write?”  My eyes focused on a spider on the wall.  Okay, I am not happy about this.  I hate spiders.  But today, I believe God placed that spider on my wall for His purpose.

Spiders make webs that are ultra thin but super strong.  The threads that come from their bodies are pound for pound 5 times stronger than steel yet incredibly flexible.  It has been said that a cord made of spider webs woven as thick as a pencil could stop a 747 flying at full speed.  Amazing, isn’t it?  If we could learn to create threads that duplicate the strength and flexibility of a spider’s web then we could create bulletproof vests with the power to protect us from bombs.

As marvelous as that sounds, it is nothing compared to what this verse says. Jesus is the thread that holds us together.  He did not tell us to create our own protective cord.  He did not tell us to stop the storms.  This kind of thinking will insure defeat.

In our weakest most desperate times, we need to know Jesus.  He came to rekindle and restore not to break or quench.  He has tender compassion for us when we are at our lowest despair and in our greatest pain.

Often in these times we tend to forget the heart of God.

His love knows no limits.  His tenderness is most evident in our weakness. He weeps when we weep.  He speaks love songs into our broken hearts.  He holds us close to His heart.  He covers us with His hand.  He calms our fears.  He soothes our tempers.

He delights in serving us. He shelters us from the storms.  He stands between our enemies and us.  He fights our battles.  He is the balm for our wounds.  His binding thread is a zillion times stronger than that of the spider.  Nothing, absolutely nothing can break Him.

Therefore we will not break.  I will not break.  You will not break.  This is a promise that cannot be broken.  God spoke it, therefore it is.

If only we had the faith to believe His Word.  A bruised reed He will not break.

When we live life hanging by a thread we can be confident we cannot fall.  This is the way to know the fullness of Jesus.  Don’t worry you don’t have to grab hold of Him, He’s the thread that is holding you tight.

Radical like Jesus

I am writing this from a small cabin in the mountains of Prescott AZ and the picture was taken on my hike.  These retreat centers are great places to write.  My phone service is limited and there is no internet service.  Therefore, no distractions, except for the blustery wind rushing throw the tall pine trees.

(To be honest, there is one other distraction.  I have a picture of Eli on my laptop and it is hard for me to not stare at it.  ;))

On these mountain encounters, I always find myself consumed with Jesus.  I teach about Him for hours each day.  I read and study when not speaking.  I meditate while walking the paths to and from cabins.  I love retreats.

Today, I am overwhelmed with the radicalness of Jesus.  He defied the norm.  He rebelled against the status quo.  Everything He touched was transformed.

He touched untouchables and they were healed.

He calmed waves and they obeyed.

He taught with authority and people listened.

He challenged the intellectuals and they caved.

He spoke truth and captives were freed.

He defied man’s authority and they yielded.

He left everything, acquired nothing, but gave everything.

He led by serving.

He loved without limits.

He never limited God’s power.

He stayed focused to the end and then died to give us life.

He lived at peace, died at peace, and left His peace.

He modeled life as it was meant to be.

T.W. Hunt said this of Jesus.

“When Jesus assumed human form, He did not leave eternity.  He stepped into time and showed us how eternity could function confined by time.  He demonstrated eternal life within time.  Jesus showed us what future eternity will be like and what present eternity should be like.”


 

Present eternity is our here and now.  Today!  Sadly my life doesn’t reflect what Jesus demonstrated it should be.  Not even close.

I protect myself from untouchables therefore they are not healed.

I run from storms and therefore they still rage.

I meekly proclaim His Word and people don’t listen.

I refuse to challenge others and they run amok misleading the world.

I am afraid to speak truth and captives are still chained.

I follow man’s ways and I am still bound.

I am holding on to my stuff, want more, and give little.

I choose to lead by manipulation.

I love with limits to protect myself.

I limit God by not expecting His supernatural miracles.

I focus on the things of this world and it is killing me.

I live in chaos, stress, and confusion and spread it around.

I see His life and refuse to suffer as He did.

When I look over my time, I see seasons of victory.  I am maturing in many ways beyond anything I could comprehend.  I know His power is in me and I have been His vessel to the world around me.  There are many times of praises to His Name for what He has accomplished with this weak child.

But when I am on the mountaintop I sense the need for so much more.  I want more of Jesus and more of His glory.

The plumb line is clearer.  The target is into focus.  The bulls-eye is my goal.  Nothing else will satisfy.  It’s all or nothing.

I want to live a radical life in service to a Jealous God.    Just like Jesus.

He’s my Friend

Today has been one of those days.  Actually it is has been one of those weeks.  The pressures of deadlines are looming over me and I am overwhelmed.   I can’t count the number of times I have wanted to scream, run away, and never return.

But every time my flesh would start to cave in, my soul would start to sing.

Jesus is all the world to me.  My life, my joy, my all;

He is my strength from day to day, Without Him I would fall.

Through many seasons of trials and struggles, I have seen Him calm storms I felt would consume me.  Each one has served me well and I am much stronger in handling the crisis of life.

Jesus is all the world to me.  My friend in trials sore;

I go to Him for blessings, and He gives them o’er and o’er.

I have learned to trust Him in times of pit dwelling.  I have spent a large periods of my life slugging around in the murk and mire of pits.  But He has always been faithful to pull me out, clean me up, and set my feet on solid ground again.

When I am sad, to Him I go; No other one can cheer me so;

When I am sad, He makes me glad; He’s my friend.

 

Of course, there are those mountaintop experiences where He takes me to heights beyond all explanation.  These are the times I wish could never end.

Beautiful life with such a friend, Beautiful life that has no end;

Eternal life, eternal joy; He’s my friend.

 

But this week is none of the above.  This is a season of drudgery.  Life at its worse for me.  I am a person of extremes.  I don’t do well with the day-in-and-day-out of just work, work, and more work.  Busyness is my curse word.

I have proposals to write, reports to submit, and projects to complete for the Southern Baptist National Convention.  Add to that the weekly chores of coordinating the women’s and children’s ministries of our church.  Pile on top of that an extensive to-do list to have accomplished before our grandson arrives.  I make myself exhausted just reading the list.  When am I ever going to find the time to study and prepare my heart to teach at this weekend’s retreat?  I see a few more all-nighters on the calendar this week.

Following Him, I know I’m right, He watches o’er me day and night;

Following Him, by day and night; He’s my friend.

So how is it I can sing?  The answer is simple.  He’s my friend.

He is the perfect friend who knows how to crash into my day at just the right time with just the right words.  He knows me better than I know myself.

He is the friend who not only cheers me on but also provides for my every need.  He has guided my thoughts and fingers as I have typed page after page today.

He is the eternal friend that knows what tomorrow will bring therefore He directs my focus each minute so that no time is wasted and I have every task properly prioritized.

His friendship is my comfort.  I am confident this season will end.  At its end, my Friend and I will perform a victory dance.

We will get through this together and at the end, He’s giving me an extreme high.  My first grandbaby!

Oh, what a friend!

Jesus the Zealous One

One of the most unusual events in Jesus’ ministry is when He cleared the temple.  Jesus is in a controlled anger doing what some men do in an uncontrolled rage.  It is difficult for us to picture anyone overturning tables, scattering coins, and driving out animals with a whip and not think of them as wildly insane.

He cleared a large area without any assistance from His followers.  This fact alone proves the event was a miracle.  One Man amid frightened yet stubborn animals and even more frightened yet enraged men, was in such control, that He stood firm and they were scattered.

All His disciples could do was remember Psalm 69:9 and apply it to Jesus.  I paraphrase it with this, “Zeal for His Father’s house will consume Him.”

I found zealous in the dictionary and to my delight discovered it has 12 synonyms and one antonym.  This gave me an idea.  I will use all these words within this blog and challenge you to find them.  Here goes…

The church is to be a House of Prayer.  We, whether alone or in congregation, are the meeting place for God on earth.   Jesus taught us in this event that anything, which interferes with God manifesting Himself to His people, needs to be cleaned out and scattered.

Therefore, believers are commanded to be passionate about personal heart cleansing as we repent of our sin before His holiness.  We are to be diligent about keeping ourselves from sin.  This same command must also be applied to the church.  But are we as eager to cleanse the church?

How is it that we have allowed the church which bears His name to tolerate blasphemy, mockery, and paganism within its midst?  This should not be.  Where are the devoted Christians that keep His house holy?

I am not against unbelievers steeped in sin coming into the House of God.  If that were the case then I would be against evangelism.  I, like Jesus, want none to perish.  Yes, the lost will come in and bring their sin with them.   But if the church is strong and the manifest presence of God evident, then these sinners will be convicted and transformed by His holiness.  It should be very uncomfortable for a sinner to sit in church. There should always be an intense awareness of their sin and the agony it causes to their soul.

Jesus cleansed the temple of everything that interfered with the worship of His Father and the working of His Spirit from among His own people not the Gentiles. Pastors, elders, and lay people need to have this same obsessive heart.  Never ask the question, “Is this good or bad?”  That is biased upon ones own interpretation.  We have to ask ourselves as His people,  “Does it bring glory to my God?”

We need to become fanatical about everything done in our churches.  We need to have a fervent focus on God and God alone.  We need to ask ourselves some extreme questions.

  • Do we perform weddings in our church of couples that are living in immorality without repentance?
  • Do we allow gossip, slander, broken relationships, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness to reign among our members?
  • Are we using curriculum that waters down the Word or even teaches falsehood?  Are the messages centered upon the Word and do they direct people to a life of holiness in Him?
  • Are we celebrating pagan holidays and cultural events of the world within our church?
  • Do we allow people who show no fruit of true spiritual maturity and gifting to hold positions within the church just because they are willing?
  • Have we allowed people to attend our worship when it is evident by the Spirit that their motivation is to disturb or destroy?

Maybe that is the problem, how long has it been since we heard the Spirit give warning concerning an evil within our midst?  The Bible is clear that savage wolves will come into all our churches.  (Acts 20:28-31) We must be discerning and vehement in protecting the church.  We must have a keen ear to hear the Spirit.

Acts 5 gives the account of Ananias and Sapphira in the early church.  But this is really the account of the Holy Spirit doing what He does best: exalting the name of the Lord to all the earth.  Believers need to be as enthusiastic about His name.  An apathetic church will soon be a dead church.

I have witnessed the Spirit move in our midst to protect His Name.

There had been a series of difficulties with a person.  He left the church declaring he would never return.  Yet he did.  Months later he came in with a live-in girlfriend and another woman.  Instantly the air of the church was in turmoil.  One thing was being made clear, this was a mockery to the holiness of God.  The Spirit spoke to our pastor and urged him to confront the man.  As Peter did in Acts 5, so he questioned the man’s intent in front of the body.  The trio stormed out.  The holiness of God fell upon the church and even the children were in a holy hush. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.  Acts 5:11

There are times when we need to face the evil head on and cleanse sin from our midst.  We teach that we are to daily cleanse our own flesh from evil.  But yet we allow vile and despicable blasphemy against His holiness to happen within His church.  We have more fear of offending people than we do of offending our Holy God.  This should not be.

The truth of God’s Word is that it is His holiness that attracts the lost one to Him.  A watered down truth, corrupt body with weak believers will do nothing to advance the kingdom.   An ardent passion to cleanse His church is just as much a miracle today, as it was when Jesus first cleansed the temple.  Are you zealous as He is zealous?

These words are difficult.  I challenged myself with each one.  Oh, how I would love to see our churches consumed with zeal for His house to be the place where believers and unbelievers can experience the power of His Glory.

I also gave you a fun challenge today.  Did you find the hidden words?  Just for fun I added a bonus synonym.  Please post the ones you found in a comment below.  Thanks!

Fragrance of Heaven

When I read scripture, I want to fully experience it with all my senses.  The only way for me to do this is to immerse myself into the setting within my imagination.  I play it over and over in my head each time playing a different character.  This way I can hear, see, touch, taste, feel, and smell what I believe they each encountered.  I can flow from the deepest agony to the fullest joy when experiencing the Word of God.

It is not often that I get to have these imaginations play out in real life.  But this story from my journal is one of those times.  I can’t imagine how you can experience it with me as you read this blog but I hope it inspires you to go, find a rose, and breathe deeply for the fragrance of heaven.

If I could go back in time to be any woman of the Gospels, I would choose Mary of the Mary and Martha sisterhood.  Only because the three times we see Mary in the Word she is at the feet of Jesus.  That is where I would want to be.

 

Often in my retreats I reenact Mary’s anointing Jesus’ feet just before His arrest and crucifixion.  Jesus and His disciples were in her home.  She was not going to miss a word that came from His mouth.  So once again she angered Martha by not helping in the kitchen.  She scurried past the kitchen door quickly enough to not alert Martha to her plan.  Her hands were trembling.  She clutched her most valuable possession against her pounding chest.  Mary knew what the others could not accept.  This may be the last time she sees Jesus alive.  She had to do this now.  There may not be a later.

 

Pausing at the door to where the men are meeting, she faltered.  Her reputation is at risk if she carries through with her plan.  Women are not allowed in the company of men.  What if they misinterpret her intentions?  In her hands is her dowry.  If she does this now, she may never have a chance at marriage.  Is He worth it?

 

At that moment there was a roar of men’s laughter and then, there it was.  His voice.  Jesus was speaking and the music of His words musters her courage.  She quietly stepped through the entrance and made contact with His eyes.  They drew her to Him as she weaved among the startled men.  She dropped to her knees at His feet.  Her hands break open the alabaster jar.  Sweet aroma filled the room as she caressed His feet.  Feeling no shame or rejection, she then let down her hair.  His eyes silenced all the accusations from the men.  Gently she dried His feet.  Her worship was complete.  Her beloved Bridegroom was ready.

 

I share this story to teach the vulnerability of true worship.  As I tell the story of a woman’s heart bursting with love, giving her most cherished possession, and defying the traditions of the day, I am walking among the audience spreading fragrant oil I have just poured from my alabaster jar.  I tremble every time.

But at one retreat things didn’t go as planned.  Just minutes before I was to go on stage, I poured oil into the jar.  But the oil had aged and had no aroma.  My heart nearly stopped.  How could I make my point without the aroma?  I was miles from a store.  The prayer team was on their way to pray for me.  The session was about to start.  I felt trapped.

I dropped to my knees and heard Him say, “Trust Me.”  So I replied with the following prayer, “Jesus, if You are there in that room tonight then fill it with Your fragrance from heaven.  If not, then it won’t matter what I say or do.  Without You, everything is worthless.”

When I came to the place in the lesson where I open the jar nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.  As I began to pour the oil into my hands, the most enticing aroma began to fill the room.  I could hear the ladies murmuring as I spread it around the room hand-to-hand.  “What is that?  How beautiful.”

By the time I made it back to the microphone, I was trembling from head to toe.  I began to tell them what had just happened.  He had turned the scentless oil into the most delirious of aromas I had ever known.  As I fell to my knees on the stage all I could say was, “Ladies, He is here.”

After Mary’s anointing, Jesus went on to be arrested, scourged, and crucified for you and me.  He carried the fragrance of her worship on Him through it all.  But what delights my heart is that Mary carried that same fragrance.  They shared an intimacy no one else would know.

 

That night in that worship center I too shared in their intimacy.  I experienced the Fragrance of Heaven and it is beyond words.  Some sweet day I will once again step into His Fragrance.  At that time I will be like Mary and will be drawn by His eyes and will fall at His feet.

Until then, let us all breathe deep into His Word, shatter all comfort zones, give all we possess and worship Him.   He deserves nothing less.

Jesus, the Specific One

I have been using my Monday blogs to introduce you to Jesus through His names given in scripture.  We could study His names for the rest of our lives, no matter how long we live, and never exhaust the vastness of His attributes as described by these names.

Often in my classes, I encourage believers to know God more intimately by seeking encounters with Him where He reveals Himself by specific names.  This has been my personal method of journaling my walk with the Lord throughout the years.

Therefore, I now want to add a new twist to my Monday blogs.  I am going to start interjecting an occasional testimony from others and from my own journals.  As I make my way through transcribing twenty years of prayer journals, I will share many of these stories with you.  But today I want to share a testimony from my cousin Judy.  Judy has been a mentor and ‘sister’ to me for many years.

Let me introduce you to Jesus, the Specific One. Specific means clearly defined.  Jesus truly defined Himself in precise details.  The Bible and the Holy Spirit clearly define Jesus in precise details.  Below is one encounter that taught Judy how specific He will be in our lives.

In 2006, my husband and I needed a new vehicle since our Explorer had over 150,000 miles of wear and tear.  So we agreed to pray and believe God for a car. When I would pray, I kept hearing the Lord say, “Be specific.”

 

Each time I heard this I would think, “Yea, I need to decide what I want.”  But I would just keep putting it off.  This went on until the end of December when I was getting things in order for the New Year and I discovered my prayer request list.  I lifted up yet another prayer and again heard, “Be specific.”

 

So this time I followed the command and researched cars on the Internet.  I decided on a Subaru Tribeca and printed out a picture.  After sharing with my husband, we agreed to pray together for the car.  We posted the picture on the refrigerator and as each of us would regularly look at it, we would put our hand on the picture and thank God for the car.  We prayed specifically.


 

In March of 2007, we received an invitation from a couple to meet them at the local Dairy Queen.  It was great to see them again.  But we were in for a surprise.   They handed us keys to a new Subaru Tribeca.  They told us the Lord had put it on their heart to buy us a new vehicle back in October.  They kept looking around but nothing seemed to be right.  (Right then, I wondered if I had been more specific when I first heard God, I would have had the car sooner.  He had said to be specific).

 

After looking for months, the friends finally decided this Subaru was the right one.   They had prayed and asked the Lord how much they should spend.  He gave them the amount of $26,000.  If you know cars, you will know that you can’t buy a Tribeca for that amount.  But this couple was persistent and began to haggle.  It took of couple of weeks before they were able to agree upon the price of $26,300.  On the way to the dealership, the wife stopped into Kroger for a few groceries.  On the back of her receipt was a coupon for $300 off at the local Subaru dealership.  Therefore, they bought the car for $26,000.  Even the amount was specific.

 

A week later the couple received a check in the mail for almost double what they had paid for the car.  God does bless those who give generously.

 

My cousin added that even the name of the car had specific meaning to her.  ‘Tri’ stands for the Trinity.  ‘Becca’ means communion for fellowship.

 

God in His completeness used their friends, the dealership, the grocery store, and even the Dairy Queen to bring a blessing when most needed.  He proved Himself Specific.

How have you encountered God to be specific in your life?

Daniel saw Jesus

I have always been told that when Jesus said anything twice we should take note.  If He said it three times then that was especially important to know.  I guess I always thought that if Jesus said anything at all, then we should listen with all our heart, soul, and mind.  Anything written in ‘red and white’ are the very words of God.  I think that makes it important enough to take note.  So what would you think the importance level would be of something that Jesus repeated over 80 times?  I would say that is huge and we need to devour it.

I am indebted to Holman’s and Bakers Bible Dictionaries as well as the New American Commentary on Daniel for all the new insight I have gained in researching for this blog.   Researching God’s Word is like a treasure hunt for the purest gold.  I find priceless nuggets every time I dig.

I stalled a minute there to allow you time to guess what Jesus said over 80 times.  I hope you were able to figure it out on your own.   Let me know if you did.  I trust you to be honest and not to have read ahead.  😉

For the rest of us who didn’t know this before, Jesus declared Himself the ‘Son of Man’ over and over and over again.  I have no problems understanding the title Son God which others gave Him.  But no one else called Him the Son of Man in the Gospels.  He alone gave that title to Himself.  So why did He call Himself the ‘Son of man’?

To find the answer, we have to go outside the Gospels.  It won’t take us long to read these references, there are only a few.  But I promise you they are worth the read.

Daniel 7:9-14 is the key passage.  I think it is safe to say that the people of Jesus’ time would have been more familiar with this book of prophecy than any other.  This small book was written during the exile just a few generations before His time.  But Daniel’s visions of the empires had been fulfilled with the greatest of accuracy in rapid succession of time.  The Babylonian empire fell to the Medes and Persians.  The Greek empire shattered them just as Daniel had said.  Now in Jesus’ time, the Romans were ruling and everyone knew that all four empires, which had blended into each other, would be shattered quickly and completely by the great Rock.  (Daniel 2:45)  These events would be considered recent history to this first century people.  So no doubt, the masses knew the book of Daniel and were awaiting the end to the empires of men.

Daniel 7 shows us a glimpse into heaven as the ‘beasts with horns’ rulers were destroyed.  In this vision we see the Ancient of Days on the throne of fire representing judgment.  Here we also see the coronation of Jesus.  He is the one like a ‘son of man’.  He is coming with the clouds, meaning He is deity.  Here you have God but His form is like a man.  Jesus is the part of the Triune God who took human form.  He is given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worship Him.  (Only God is to be worshiped.)  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.  Daniel saw the Rock, which will crush the kingdoms of the earth and rule forever and ever.  He saw Jesus, the Son of man, God in human form.

Now fast forward a few hundred years and hear Jesus saying over and over,  “I am the Son of man.”  He was saying to the people, “I AM God in human form.  I have been given all authority and my kingdom will never end.”  Oh, this truly is huge.  No wonder the Pharisees and Sadducees screamed blasphemy.   Interesting note here, when Ezekiel saw this One, ‘a figure like that of a man’, he fell facedown and had to be picked up by the Spirit.  (Ezekiel 1:25-2:2)  John in Revelation 1:12-17 saw this same One ‘like a son of man’ and he too fell at His feet as though dead.

Here is the difference of those who see with spiritual eyes into the Kingdom of God and those with hardened hearts who only see the flesh.  Lord, give me eyes to see as You see.

Most of the time Jesus used this name, He was referring to Himself as the Exalted One that will come in the clouds with great power and victory.  He was telling the people that He was indeed the One Daniel had seen and the prophecy would be fulfilled.

Next He used this term to say that the Son of man was also the Suffering One who had come to be crucified and rise again.  He was teaching them that this same One in Daniel 7 was the One who had to fulfill Isaiah 53 prophecy.

But finally He used the term to describe Himself as the Lowly One.  He tied the first two together to say that He had left all the splendor of Glory to live among lowly men to fulfill His Father’s plan.  As Augustine said it, “The Son of God became the Son of man that you who were sons of men might be made sons of God.”

Only Jesus is the Son of man and Son of God united in one person.  He is the One seated on the cloud with a crown of gold on his head and sharp sickle in his hand.  (Revelation 14:14)  He will judge the earth and is to be feared.  But never forget, He is also the One who will stand and welcome us home as He did Stephen.  (Acts 7:54-56)

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

Now that is a vision I want to see.

Test time!

Test time!  Nothing causes the heart of a student more anxiety.  I don’t care how many hours I crammed or how confident I felt.  When that test paper was placed on my desk, my heart stopped.  My hands went cold but my palms were sweaty.  Finals would cause me to nearly hyperventilate.  I hate tests.

Can you imagine yourself with these test questions:  “ Peter, who do you say I am?”  “Woman, will you give me a drink?”  “Do you want to get well?” “Do you want to leave me too?”  “Did I not tell you if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  Or maybe these commands to test your faith:  “Come out on the waves with me.”  “They are hungry, you feed them.”  “Come follow me.  I will make you fishers of men.”  “Do you believe I am able to do this?”

A master teacher gives test that enhance the learning.  His pop-quizzes reveal not only what the student knew but also what was still need to learn. The test itself is a learning experience.  Grades are not as important as knowledge gained and wisdom applied.  Acing the test meant successfully living out the truth.

When Jesus knew His students were ready, He sent them out two-by-two to test their skills in the world.  He never gave a test that He knew they would not pass.  His method of testing was to enhance a deeper level of learning in each student.  Wouldn’t it be great if it could be said of our students, “They left the exam room rejoicing in their victories?”

A master teacher knows when His students need a break.  When students reach their frustration point then learning ceases.  Jesus knew that regular breaks to rest were necessary to ensure the disciples were always ready for the next challenge.

A master teacher involves the whole student: body, soul, and mind.  Jesus’ use of word pictures was effective to get both lobes of the brain working together.  He would tell them a story that would elicit a deep emotion in them (Example: the prodigal son asking for his inheritance.)  Then once He knew He had them engaged, He would give the moral of the story.  This is why His enemies were often enraged with His teaching.  They got the lesson objective like a cannon ball directly to the heart.

A master teacher deals productively with bullies.  Jesus stood firm to their threats and used their challenges as teaching opportunities.  He taught with authority and never lost control of the classroom.  He soundly rebuked when necessary and He never faltered to prove His authority.  He showed no fear.

A master teacher gives clear and achievable goals to students.  He commissioned His students with this challenge for their lives:   “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

The final test for a master teacher is revealed years later.  It has nothing to go with Grade Point Average.  The question that proves the quality of the teacher is: Did the student become the teacher?

Did His disciples live their lives in obedience to the lesson?  The book of Acts can attest that Jesus was the Master Teacher.  His disciples became teachers and gave their lives for the message.  They taught Kings and rulers, stood before the elite and spoke the truth boldly, and shared the Teacher’s lessons with everyone they encountered each and everyday.

Jesus took a group of uneducated men who went on to boldly preach to Kings, the elite upper class, and the masses.  They made an impact.  Wherever the disciples went, they went with the same authority of their Master Teacher.  They became the lesson.

Are you the lesson?  Have you spent enough time with the Master Rabbi to learn all He has commanded for you?  Have you taken the tests of life and learned from them?  Is your life an extension of His teaching?  Are lives being changed because of you?  Are you teaching others?

My heart aches at these questions.  I am often the bully that keeps challenging His authority in my life.  I have refused some of His tests because I think they are too hard.  I won’t rest when He wants me to so I sink into an ineffective discouragement.

I am handicapped because I have missed too many days in His classroom.  I should be in graduate school by now but some days I act as if I am still in Kindergarten.

Father, help us to grow up.  Thank You for being The Patient Master Teacher, our Rabbi.  Keep us in Your classroom until we become the lesson.