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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

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Thomas Sunday: Confess and Believe

Proper confession and belief are vital to growing to your full potential in Christ.

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10

Confessions are not true and life-giving because I confess them.  I confess them because they are true and life-giving.

Beliefs are not true and life-giving because I believe them.  I believe them because they are true and life giving.

The most succinct and powerful of all confessions is “Jesus is Lord.”  Romans 10:9

The most succinct and powerful of all beliefs is “God raised Jesus from the dead.” Romans 10:9

Confessions and beliefs are integrated matters of the mouth and the heart.

  • What you confess with your mouth should be what you believe in your heart.
  • What you believe in your heart should be what you confess with your mouth.

Confession without belief is hypocrisy.

Belief without confession is doubtful and incomplete.

Notice the confess/believe tension in John 12:42-44

42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Early Christians, expanding upon the “Jesus is Lord” creed, unified the Apostles’ beliefs and teaching into what is known as the Apostles’ Creed.

This creed is called the Apostles’ Creed not because it was produced by the apostles themselves but because it contains a brief summary of their teachings. It sets forth their doctrine “in sublime simplicity, in unsurpassable brevity, in beautiful order, and with liturgical solemnity.”” https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/creeds/apostles-creed

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places

Creedal scholar Jaroslav Pelikan has collected and evaluated “nearly 1,000” Christian creeds.  In various times, places and cultures the Apostles’ teaching has been woven into relevant creeds.

Masai Creed

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created Man and wanted Man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the Earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know Him in the light. God promised in the book of His word, the Bible, that He would save the world and all the nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through Him. All who have faith in Him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

Today’s primary text, John 20:24-29, invites us into the confess/believe struggle with Thomas.

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Without a doubt Thomas missed it, got it and then changed the world.

The honesty of Thomas confessing what he believed is healthy.  Authentic honesty is necessary.

Thomas’ disbelief of the other disciples’ report, “We have seen the Lord,” is a huge mistake and error.  Mistakes and errors are costly and painful.

Jesus meets Thomas in the place of his disbelief with grace, mercy and love.

Jesus corrects Thomas.  “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Thomas immediately corrects his error becoming the only disciple in the Bible to be recorded as confessing Jesus as, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus then prepares Thomas for a life of ministry that requires believing (and its twin – confessing) BEFORE or WITHOUT seeing.

The Holy Spirit will minister with love, grace and mercy to you when you are in the “Thomas moment” of tension between belief and disbelief.

Like the father in Mark 9:23, 24 we may fully believe and at the same time have room for more belief.

23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can? All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

This week I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead because it is with my heart that I believe and am justified and with my mouth that I confess and am saved.

This week I safari with Jesus and trust Him to protect me from the hyenas.

Posted on 27th April 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Jesus: The Impossible Possibility

All of Christianity is anchored in the birth of Jesus, the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus.

  • At conception, Jesus was 100% God and 100% human. Jesus is the God/man.
  • Jesus lived, every moment of every day fully God and fully human.
  • Jesus died fully God and fully human.
  • Fully God and fully human, Jesus was dead for three days and three night.
  • Jesus conquered death as fully God and fully human.

These five actualities about Jesus are the universe’s most crucial truth.  It is impossible for God to be human and yet God became human thus revealing the impossible is possible.

Jesus is the “Impossible Possibility.”

Of huge importance are the realities of “Silent Saturday” on which Jesus, fully God and fully human is dead.

God did not raise Jesus from the cross.  God raised Jesus from the dead.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

The Bible reiterates it many times.  Jesus was not raised on the first day but on third day.  Jesus was dead part of or all of three days.

Jesus’ three days of death are filled with impossible possibilities.

Consider the impossibilities of Holy Saturday.

  1. It is impossible for God to be absent. But Jesus, fully God and fully human was not present.
  2. It is impossible for God to be finite. But Jesus, fully God and fully human finite and lay dead in Joseph’s tomb.
  3. It is impossible for God to be perishable. But Jesus, fully God and fully human is dead and decaying.
  4. It is impossible for God to be dead. But Jesus, fully God and fully human is dead.

The impossibilities in the dead Jesus shout to us, “Every distance of separation from God, sense of God-forsakenness and awareness of the absence of God has been personally and deeply experienced by God the Son.”

God who keeps His promises, said, “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”  Leviticus 26:12

In His death, Jesus walks with us into and out of these great impossibilities.

The world aches for a Lover who engages our fragmented loneliness with a pursuit that reaches us even in the most desperate betrayals. We pine for a Redeemer who has exhausted the power of the violence in our hearts by taking it fully, even fatally, into his own heart, returning peace. We crave a companion in suffering who not only empathizes but can give precious worth to our pain. Only a Mediator who descended into the hell of human rebellion against God can conclude our long war with the Father. Only a Christ who willingly received the lethal consequences of our sin can truly take away the burden of them. Only one who has been there, in the hell of our making, can comfort us in our suffering. If Jesus didn’t get all the way to the bottom of our predicament, our lost and forsaken condition, then we are left unredeemed at the root. We will be forever lonely, ever tarred with shame, never feeling known, never at peace. But because Jesus entered fully into the deathliness of our human existence, then he can bring us into the eternal life of the Triune God. Dawson, Gerrit S. Raising Adam . Oil Lamp Books LLC. Kindle Edition.

Somewhere in the place of the dead and at some time on Holy Saturday night, God (Jesus) transformed from dead victim to Living Victor!

I, he says, am the Christ. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven, I, he says, am the Christ.  Melito of Sardis, Died Ad 180.  http://www.kerux.com/doc/0401A1.asp

God the Son transformed “Why have you forsaken me?” into, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:6

God the Son transformed “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit (Matthew 27:50)” into “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die (John 11:25, 26).

God the Son transformed His finiteness of death into, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore… (Revelation 1:17, 18).

God the Son transformed death’s bondage into “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17, 18)

In your life experiences when God seems absent, finite, perishable and dead, know that God profoundly and personally understands.

God’s experience of transforming the impossible is ours today as we believe and confess Him in His death, burial and resurrection.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9, 10

Jesus, the impossible possibility, proclaimed, “Because I live, you too shall live.”  John 14:19

Posted on 20th April 2019 in Holy Week, Resurrection, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Devotion and Betrayal: Life Shaping Choices

Devotion and Betrayal: Life Shaping Choices

Mathew 26:6-16

A prayer as we consider the personal decisions of Mary and Judas Iscariot.

“Dear God,

Reveal to me through stories something of what it is like to walk around in someone else’s shoes.


Show me something about myself in the stories I read, something that needs changing, a thought, a feeling or attitude.

Deliver me from myself, O God, and from the parochial and sometimes prejudiced views I have of other people, other nations, other races, other religions.

Enlarge my heart with a story and change me by the characters I meet there.

May some of the light from their lives spill over into mine, giving me illumination where there was once ignorance, compassion where there was once contempt.” Ken Gire

Personal decisions, choices and determinations are windows into one’s soul.

Mary and Judas’ decisions reveal very different human beings at life’s deepest levels.

Analysis of the Biblical texts indicate Jesus was anointed by a woman on two different occasions.

Anointed in Bethany

Matthew 26:1-13

Mark 14:1-8

John 11:1-2, 12:1-8

Anointed in Nain

Luke 7:11, 36-48

Matthew, from my perspective, intentionally shows the disparity between Mary and Judas’ internal motivations and purity/impurity of heart.

In alignment with the above Ken Gire prayer, we may see traces of Mary and Judas in our souls.

Matthew 26:6-16

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Matthew locates these two narratives next to each other in order to spotlight the differences between devotion and betrayal.

  • Devotion includes being ardently dedicated and loyal with religious fervor.
  • Betrayal includes to deliver to an enemy by treachery and to fail or desert in time of need.
  • (Home spun definition combinations from https://www.merriam-webster.com/

It is important to note that Mary is honored for her decisions and Judas is condemned for his.

Neither robotically or mindlessly functioned as puppets, but intentionally and personally activated their freedom of personal choice.

This is vital, from my perspective, to know I am personally responsible for choosing to be a person of deep and abiding devotion or of broad and significant betrayal.

Devotion gives the self to the other and both are enhanced.

Betrayal takes the self of the other and both are diminished.

 

Devotion values the other far more than material worth.

In betrayal, material worth for the self is far more important than the other.

 

Devotion has expansive impact beyond what the devoted could estimate.

Betrayal has expansive impact beyond what the betrayer could estimate.

 

Signs of Increasing Christian Devotion (Increasing in betrayal includes the opposites)

  1. I am increasing (decreasing) in personal commitment to that to which God is committed.
  2. I am increasing (decreasing) in personal commitment to God’s reward
  3. Pleasing (displeasing) God and knowing His approval (disapproval) brings me increasing (decreasing) peace, joy and contentment.
  4. I am increasing (decreasing) in “upon His law I meditate day and night.”
  5. I am increasing (decreasing) in my love for His church for which He gave His life.

 

 

Posted on 17th April 2019 in Holy Week, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Palm Sunday: Luke’s Perspective

Lifelong full engagement is a primary message of Luke’s presentation of this day in the life of Jesus.

Luke presents five scenes in Jesus’ day now commonly known as Palm Sunday.

  • The transformation of Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10
  • The parable of the ten minas. Luke 19:11-27
  • The triumphal entry. Luke 19:28-40
  • Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. Luke 19:41-44
  • Jesus cleanses the temple. Luke 19:45-46

In the narrative of the transformation of Zacchaeus, Luke gives us his theme of Jesus’ ministry.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.  Luke 19:10

Jesus then taught the Parable of the Ten Minas with the following primary emphases.

  • I will leave.  Luke 19:12
  • Stay fully engaged in seeking and saving the lost while I am gone. Luke 19:13
  • I will return.  Luke 19:15

Jesus then enters Jerusalem as the King in what is known as The Triumphal Entry.

  • God’s future kingdom is already launched here and now!  Luke 19:38
  • Staying fully engaged in exuberant and energetic worship is a crucial component of seeking and saving the lost.

After this glorious event in Jesus’ life, He becomes deeply emotional and weeps over His city’s inability to see who He is and what God is doing.

  • Most people don’t see what God has done and what He is doing and what He will be doing.  Luke 19:41
  • Staying fully engaged emotionally is crucial for seeking and saving the lost.

Luke’s final component to Jesus’ Palm Sunday is the cleansing of the Temple.

  • Day to day life and business can easily distract and displace us from proper engagement in the mission to seek and to save the lost.  Distraction and displacement must be driven out.  Luke 19:45
  • Staying fully engaged in prayer is essential to the mission of seeking and saving the lost.  Luke 19:46

Personal Reflections

  1. Am I fully engaged with Jesus in seeking and saving the lost?
  2. Between Jesus’ first triumphal entry and His second triumphant entry, am I fully engaged in His mission?
  3. Am I fully engaged in seeking and saving the lost through exuberant and energetic worship?
  4. Knowing people I love don’t see who Jesus is or what He is doing in our world today, am I fully engaged emotionally in their plight?
  5. Am I avoiding the distractions and displacement of business as usual and staying fully engaged in consistent, powerful prayer?
Posted on 13th April 2019 in Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: God’s Commitment to those in Christ Jesus

Interwoven into the human, by God at creation, is the potential to become.

In God’s providence we are blessed with the opportunity to change.

  • We can move from worse to better.

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.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 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.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.  Luke 22:59-62

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”  John 21:17-19

  • We can move from better to worse.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ Revelation 2:2-7

  • We can move from one type to another.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

With eternity set in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) we long to transcend the temporary for the permanent.  In changing from worse to better, better to worse or from one kind to another we are faced with the temporariness of our best intentions and most diligent efforts.

Thanks be to God, He is entirely different than this.

God does not change and is not temporary.  He is perfect in every way (thus changeless) and permanent in every way (thus eternal).

There is no worse in God (he is perfect in every way) to change for the better (there is nothing better than His perfection).

There is no better in God (Being perfect, He is best in every way) to move to worse (perfection removes the option of becoming imperfect).

There is no other for God to become.   To become something other is to no longer be God.

To God, nothing can be added.  From God nothing can be subtracted.

Malachi 3:6 states, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Deuteronomy 33:27 features God’s eternality.  “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Notice, in Hebrews 6:17-20, the changeless nature of God is a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls.

17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purposehe guaranteed it with an oath18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

From Heidi Reeder, author of Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals, we understand the equation of commitment.

(Treasure – Troubles) + Contributions – Choices = Commitment

Applying the best of contemporary commitment science, we can confidently answer the question, “Is God committed to me?”

With current commitment science highlighting “treasure’ as the first integer of the commitment equation, I must ask, “Does God treasure me?”

When I place my trust in Jesus for salvation, I am adopted into Israel.  In this way, I am part of the “people (clans or tribe) of God.”

Consider Jeremiah 31:1, “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”

As a person in the tribe of God’s new Israel, am I treasured by Him?

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.  Jeremiah 31:3

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.  Exodus 19:5

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”  Deuteronomy 7:6

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  1 Peter 2:9, 10

These Bible verses place strong emphasis on God’s eternal commitment of love which allows us to become His treasured possession.

To His treasured possessions (Those in Christ Jesus), God is eternally and unchangingly committed.

Yes, God is eternally and unchangingly committed to us.

Therefore, we long for eternal (permanent) and unwavering (changeless) commitment to and from our friends and tribe.

The Apostle Paul reveals his deep longing for his friends and tribe to practice permanent and unwavering commitment.

Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  2 Timothy 4:9-18

May God’s eternal and unchanging commitment to me…

  1. Be reflected in an eternal and unchanging commitment from me to Him.
  2. Be reflected in an eternal and unchanging commitment from me to my closest friends.
  3. Be reflected in an eternal and unchanging commitment from me to my tribe.
Posted on 6th April 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Sabbath and Overeating

During seasons of fasting and prayer, I find myself reading, watching and reflecting upon the human relationship with food.

Ellen G. White’s Counsels on Diet and Foods (1938) is filled with inspiring insights worth considering.  Those who follow her guidance are among the longest lived, healthiest people on earth.  Although I am not a Seventh Day Adventist, I enjoy many of their insights and highly value their commitment to God and His word.

Today I am enjoying Chapter Seven, Overeating.  Her reflections on eating more than is necessary are thought provoking.  In the following paragraph, encouragement is given to embrace a sabbath rest for the digestive system.

(1905) The Ministry of Healing

We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this, the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. A clogged stomach means a clogged brain. The most precious words may be heard and not appreciated, because the mind is confused by an improper diet. By overeating on the Sabbath, many do more than they think, to unfit themselves for receiving the benefit of its sacred opportunities.

Throughout the years, “Jesus is Lord!” has become my creedal declaration.  From my perspective, all Christian truth flows through this primary creed.

As you continue in fasting and prayer, remember to declare the Lordship of Jesus over all of your life and especially your relationship with food.

 

Posted on 5th April 2019 in Fasting and Prayer  •  Comments are off for this post
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Growing to Our Full Potential in Christ: Commitment

By God’s grace and mercy, we are becoming people of fully realized potential.

Primary Text:  Ruth 1:15-18

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

We have identified the four most important decisions every human being decides for becoming people of realized potential.

  1. With who will I travel and stay?
  2. Who are my people?
  3. Who is my God?
  4. Am I fully committed to these three decisions?

Today we begin investigating “Am I fully committed to these three decisions?”

Commitment is the foundation of all great accomplishments. Without commitment, Amelia Earhart wouldn’t have become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Without commitment, Bill Gates wouldn’t have cofounded Microsoft and become one of the wealthiest people in the world. Without commitment, Roger Federer wouldn’t have become the greatest tennis player of all time, continuing to play even after the analysts said he was past his prime. Without commitment, Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, from James City, North Carolina, would not have been married eighty-six years, garnering the Guinness World Record and a lifetime of love and family. Inspirational stories about commitment are all around, but commitment is also a crucial ingredient for everyday goals, like designing a new marketing plan, training for a triathlon, or even quitting a terrible job so you can move on to something new. Despite its influence, few people truly understand what commitment is or how it’s created.

Reeder, Heidi. Commit to Win (p. 3). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Consider the following as a working definition.  Commitment is the experience of being internally attached to something and intending to stay with it.

God designed and created humans in His image (Genesis 1:27).  God, the Holy Trinity, was, is and always will be “internally attached and intending to stay with it.”

Valuing commitment is part of God’s nature placed inside every human by being created in His image.

Commitment is the living out of our deep desire for permanence.  We do not want anything of value in our lives to be temporary or disposable.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

The temporary/permanent dilemma is beautifully considered in 1 John 2:17.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

We are hardwired by God with longing for life’s most important and meaningful relationships to never pass away but to abide forever.

Commitment includes everything required to ensure these relationships abide forever.

In “Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals,” Heidi Reeder summarizes current commitment research in the following equation:

(Treasures – troubles) + Contributions – Choices = Level of Commitment

Treasures                    Rewarding and fulfilling

Troubles                      Challenging and costly

Contributions             Resources invested

Choices                         Other equal or better options

The Apostle Paul weaves all of this together powerfully in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.

Treasure

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us…

Troubles

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Contributions

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Choices

No other options!

This is Paul’s grand slam home run on the temporary/permanent dilemma!

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Considerations for increasing my experience of being internally attached and intending to stay with it (Him).

  1. Treasure Him (God) and everything He treasures. Psalm 73:2, 23-26
  2. Accurately assess the troubles. 2 Chronicles 20:15
  3. Increase my contributions. Colossians 3:23
  4. Hold firmly to God as my only John 6:68
Posted on 30th March 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival: Psalm 119:156

Personal Revival:  Psalm 119:156

The Psalmist brilliantly navigates the terrain of his heart and provides for us, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, an example of personal revival.

Eleven times in Psalm 119 the author petitions God to “revive me and give me life.”

Vs. 25              My soul clings to the dust.  Revive me according to your word.

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vs. 40              Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Vs. 50              This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Vs. 88              In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Vs. 107            I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Vs. 149            Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Vs. 154            Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!

Vs. 156            Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.

Vs. 159            Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.

The eleventh personal revival passage of the 119th Psalm is positioned with an abiding personal love of God’s word.

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
The expression here, “O how love I thy law,” implies intense love – as if a man were astonished at the fervour of his own emotion. His love was so ardent that it was amazing and wonderful to himself – perhaps wonderful that he, a sinner, should love the law of God at all; wonderful that he should ever have been brought so to love a law which condemned himself. Any man who reflects on what his feelings are by nature in regard to religion, will be filled with wonder that he loves it at all; all who are truly religious ought to be so filled with love to it, that it will be difficult for them to find words to express the intensity of their affection.  Barnes Notes

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
The law is God’s law, and therefore it is our love. We love it for its holiness, and pine to be holy; we love it for its wisdom, and study to be wise; we love it for its perfection, and long to be perfect. Treasury of David

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
He meditated in God’s word because he loved it, and then loved it the more because he meditated in it. He could not have enough of it, so ardently did he love it: all the day was not too long for his converse with it. His matin prayer, his noonday thought, his evensong were all out of Holy Writ; yea, in his worldly business he still kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord.  Treasury of David

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
When “thy law,” and “my meditation” are together all the day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with God.  Treasury of David

 

98 Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
Always with me, making me wiser than my enemies.

 

99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. More insight than all my teachers, because I meditate on God’s statutes.

 

100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. More understanding than the elders, because I obey your precepts.

 

101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have kept away from wrong paths so that I might obey God’s word.

 

102 I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
I have kept on God’s path, because God has taught me, Himself through His word.

 

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Observe, reader, there is such a thing as a spiritual taste, an inward savour and relish of divine things; such an evidence of them to ourselves, by experience, as we cannot give to others. To this taste the word of God is sweet; yea, sweeter than any of the gratifications of sense, even those that are most delicious.   Benson Commentary

 

104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

 

Avoidance of sinful courses is both the effect and means of increasing in divine knowledge.  Jameison-Fawcett-Brown

 

 

Posted on 27th March 2019 in Uncategorized, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Koulbila Church Dedication

Pastor Philippe Yameogo blessed me with the opportunity to speak at the dedication of our (Zone One Church and MCA Church) fortieth congregation in Burkina Faso.  The new and vibrant congregation is in the village of Koulbila, Burkina Faso, West Africa.

Following are the message notes for my presentation.  Knowing there were Muslim friends in the audience, I emphasized the blessings of Jesus are a fulfillment of God’s promise to father Abraham.

We thank God for creating the earth.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

We thank God for making us in his image.

Male and female, created he them.

We thank God for the assignment given to humans to work with God in the earth.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  Genesis 1:26

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  Genesis 1:28

We thank God for Jesus and the work He assigned to us when He said, “Go into all the world.”

Koulbila is part of “all the world.”

We are here in this part of all the world, made in God’s image, ruling over the earth by establishing this church and being fruitful and multiplying.

Jacob was about to leave Laban, his father in law.  “27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” Genesis 30”27

It is my prayer that Koulbila and the surrounding area is able to say, “The Lord has blessed us because of this congregation.”

The blessing of God’s Presence.  2 Chronicles 7:1-3

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

The blessing of God’s People  Mark 10:45

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The blessing of God’s Purpose  Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with  justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

The Blessing of God’s Prophetic City  Hebrews 11:10

For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

Posted on 24th March 2019 in Burkina Faso  •  Comments are off for this post
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Masterpiece of Order

By God’s grace and mercy, we are becoming people of fully realized potential.

Primary Text:  Ruth 1:15-18

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

We have identified the four most important decisions every human being decides for becoming people of realized potential.

  1. With who will I travel and stay?
  2. Who are my people?
  3. Who is my God?
  4. Am I fully committed to these three decisions?

Today we consider the question, “Who is my God?”

When God said (Exodus 20:3), “You shall have no other gods before (besides) me,” He clearly established the significant importance of correctly answering, “Who is my God?”

Upon saying, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart,” God revealed one’s deities are matters of the heart.

It is fair to say, “whatever you love with all your heart will contend for deification in your life.”

Augustine is the person most known for thinking through competing loves in a Christian heart.

But living a just and holy life requires one to be capable of an objective and impartial evaluation of things: to love things, that is to say, in the right order, so that you do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less, or an equal love for things that should be loved less or more, or a lesser or greater love for things that should be loved equally. (On Christian Doctrine, I.27-28)

For Augustine the question, “Who is my God?” is best answered through the lens of “rightly ordered love.”  (City of God, XV.23)

Today’s text, 2 Chronicles 27:6, honors a young king, Jotham, for properly ordering his life and rule.

“So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.”

The Psalmist prayed, “Keep steady (Order, establish) my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”  Psalm 119:133

C.H. Spurgeon, commenting on this Psalm said, “A holy life is no work of chance, it is a masterpiece of order.”

The sound of Spurgeon’s sentence rings true to every human’s deepest soul, “I want to be a masterpiece of order.”

  • There is order rather than chaos.
  • There is order that is harmonious with God as revealed in the Bible.
  • There is numerical

There is an order of substance and weightiness.

“God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things.” Tim Keller, “Counterfeit Gods.”

We are invited into the glorious love of God for His world.  John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

In this way, I am most like God when I love His world.

John, the same inspired author who wrote John 3:16 also gave us 1 John 2:15.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

In this way, I am most like God when I do not love the world.

In reflecting upon the ordered loves of our lives, we learn there is substance and weightiness in both the love and the world in John 3:16 that is NOT to be there in 1 John 2:15.

Learning to give proper substance and weightiness to loving the Creator and created things (at the same time) is the essence of rightly ordered loves.

Consider the longing for proper substance and weightiness available in a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, that the pop singer Madonna seeks.

“I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy . . . . I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being and then I get to another stage and think I’m mediocre and uninteresting . . . . Again and again. My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become Somebody, I still have to prove that I’m Somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.” Lynn Hirshberg, “The Misfit,” Vanity Fair, April 1991, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp. 160-169, 196-202.

The “Seven Deadly Sins” all receive inappropriate substance and weightiness.  In the early fifth century, Prudentius wrote Psychomachia, in which the deadly sins fight a battle against virtue.

 

Pride Humility  (Blessed are the poor in spirit)
Greed Liberality  (Blessed are the merciful)
Lust Chastity  (Blessed are the pure in heart)
Envy Kindness  (Blessed hunger and thirst)
Gluttony Abstinence  (Blessed are the persecuted)
Wrath Patience  (Blessed are the meek)
Sloth Diligence  (All the beatitudes)

 

Our longing to be a masterpiece of order is fulfilled by rightly ordering all our love and loves.

The Holy Spirit invites and enables us to recalibrate the entirety of our lives toward God.

Is it possible for me to refocus my entire heart toward loving God and become a masterpiece of order?  YES, because Jesus is praying for you!

 “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  John 17:26

MCA Church LIFE Group Homework

Listen – My Story

  • What is your favorite masterpiece?
  • For which person are you praying to trust in Christ and begin the masterpiece journey through this year’s Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • In both the Old and New Testaments God makes it clear that properly following Him is a matter of the heart. Please read 1 Samuel 16:7 and consider the human tendency to look on outward rather than inward things.
  • This week’s text, 2 Chronicles 27:6, instructs us to remember everything in our lives is “before the Lord.” What might you or others change if we are mindful that God sees everything in our hearts?
  • What of little substance and weightiness do we love? What of great substance and weightiness do we not love?   Consider 1 Corinthians 3:12-13

Lift – Prayer

  • With which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you most struggle? Pray for God’s strength to equip you to overcome.
  • Please pray for God to direct you to the involvement in Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames He intends for you.
  • What love is out of order in your life? Pray for God to give you grace to rightly order your love.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
  • Is there a change you need to make TODAY in rightly ordering your love?
Posted on 24th March 2019 in Realized Potential  •  Comments are off for this post