Better Than Last Week

Almost everything can be improved on.

Increased vocabulary. Improved use of simple communication. Not needing spell check. My attitude toward people I don’t trust. Violin skills. Time intentionally set aside for important things. And important people. Driving habits. New glasses prescription.

If I’m not a little better at something than I was last week, and a lot better than last year, I might not care enough. Caring about the harvest, and individuals and nations being swept into it can give me the power to care about lots of smaller things. Caring about things related to the Kingdom will empower me to care more about the right things related to the church.

Don’t get lazy. Don’t get tired. Get filled with the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and be raised with Him to the high places, where your perspective can be improved. From where He sits, you can see better what’s around you and what’s ahead.

New Tech

I have just become eligible for a new telephone from Verizon. If I bite the bait and get a new phone, I will shop for the phone that does what I like done. My phone is really a pocket computer that happens to also work as a telephone…

I will then complain silently for a while as I find the new places where buttons and apps are. Soon, though, I will be spoiled by the new level of technology and speed. I just replaced the desktop computer that Hurricane Matthew destroyed. All the hours spent finding my documents and pictures and reloading software for the programs I use were rewarded by giving me a new level of tech – twice as fast as the replaced computer.

Before getting the replacement, I used an old computer from my shop to connect the hard drive from the crippled computer, to be sure I still had my saved data. I was first surprised, then annoyed, at how much slower that old computer was than the one I had grown accustomed to. It made the new computer seem even faster.

We need to be as easily spoiled by new levels of Kingdom access – greater power, greater authority, greater miracles. If you have seen anything of the power and authority and the miraculous manifestations of the Kingdom of Heaven in the earth, never revert to the speed or capability of the previous levels you have seen.

Every day – take more ground; study to show yourself as approved; find Jesus in greater clarity; speak with greater authority and faith. Get spoiled by new levels of the Kingdom.

Comforted, But Not Comfortable

2 Corinthians 1:3-8

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in your endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.

 

Who Writes Your Rules?

Yahweh told Israel not to eat pork. He also told them not to worship or pray to idols. He didn’t mention eating food that had been offered to idols.

In Acts 15, Luke recorded some of the discussion and the resulting letter that the Jewish leaders of the Church wrote to Gentiles who were becoming believers and facing some Jews instructing them regarding laws given through Moses. The leaders told the converts not to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols, and a couple other rules that they had boiled the whole law down to. 3 rules about food and one about sex.

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul told the believers in Corinth that it was OK to eat anything, with consideration for others’ well being. If they went to someone’s home to eat, don’t ask if the food had been offered to idols. Just pray for it to be sanctified (1 Timothy 4). If someone told them the food had been sacrificed, then don’t eat it so that you don’t weaken the faith of the one who offered it. Enjoy your liberty, but don’t be offensive.

All things are lawful, but not everything is beneficial, for me or for my neighbor. Be kind.

Your Escape

Paul said

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.

Francis Frangipane said something like

God will offer you a way of escape from every temptation, and it will always be the same way: become more like Jesus.

I said

Paul wasn’t just writing about sin or moral failure. The context of the quote is 1 Corinthians 10, where he pointed out that everything that happened to the Israelis between leaving Egypt and entering Palestine happened and was written down to admonish us. The temptations he wrote about are everything that we could do or fail to do that would not be appropriate for our identities and our destinies.

You’re in the desert so that you can become more like Jesus. Aim at 40 days instead of 40 years. Its important…

Ecumenism & Catholicism, or Unity

When Constantine gathered people he perceived to be the leaders of Christianity together in Nicaea in the year 325, part of what he caused to occur was an entitlement of “ecumene” over the church. This description means literally “the whole inhabited world.” It is as much a mistake as calling the church of Rome “catholic,” which means literally “the universal” church.

Both terms are claims of genuineness and uniqueness that are inaccurate. The Roman church is not the entirety of the Church of Jesus, and the Ecumenical Movement is not the entirety of the Church of Jesus. There is an entire, universal church, and there is a unity in her parts – her members – that is borne from the fact that there is only one Body and one Spirit, however.

Fear of these false teachings has caused some to despise any talk of unity among believers who disagree on points of doctrine. “If we can’t agree on all things, you must be wrong” is one of their mottoes.

If we cannot find the path to unity among believers, we will not be part of the fulfillment of the wondrous prophetic picture of the Church described by Paul in Ephesians 4.

But we will. Even if it takes so much hardship and threat and persecution that we will hate the enemies of Jesus enough to begin to love His people enough to become His body and be built up in love by what every joint supplies. A joint is a relationship. The most genuine and powerful manifestation of the body of Christ yet seen in the earth will arise from the relationships that believers have with other believers through which mighty works will flow.

Not Many Fathers

In John 15:16, Jesus informed His listeners that He had appointed them, ordained them, set them in place, to bear much fruit, and that their fruit should remain. They should have their thumbprints on lives that cause their own character, their giftings, their work, to continue after they were gone by residing in the followers’ lives.

In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul was writing a warning starting in verse 14 regarding his relationship with them and his hopes about its effect on their work and behavior. In the discourse, he prompted them that they were his children. He intended to come to them, to bless them, and to impart power to them. He intended to test their power.

Look for the people to whom the King has called you to be something of a parent. Pray that you may impart to them the power of the Kingdom, and not just words. Pray that they are blessed to take your discoveries and achievements and build on them so that the body of Christ is built up by what they learn to supply each other in love.

Baptized to Death

Being baptized is a three part process like sanctification and repentance are. You were this, then this happened, then you were that, or you were here, then this happened, then you were there, or you thought this way, then this happened, then you thought this other way.

An image that appears often in discussions of baptism in the Bible is the question of what someone was baptized into. Examples of baptismal targets include Moses (1 Corinthians 10:2), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), Christ (Galatians 3:27), John’s baptism (Acts 19:3), and Christ’s death (Romans 6:3).

Another common image related to baptism is the medium through which we are processed. Examples include water (Matthew 3:6), the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8), the cross (Luke 12:50), a cloud (1 Corinthians 10:2).

Being baptized into Christ’s death means that we were somewhere in an unconverted condition and were baptized through some process into the death of Jesus. From that point of access to Him, we gained the rest of our story from the rest of His story. He connected with us in death so that we could be connected in Life.

Because of that initial access, we now are seated in Him in heavenly places in His throne. We are members (parts) of His body – the believers whose spirits have been reborn of God and are now one with Him and share His nature.

Like entering the Kingdom as little children, death is a starting place. Don’t stay childish in the Kingdom. Don’t stay dead. Rise, and shine, and walk in His glory.

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.                  Romans 6:4

Be Encouraged

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like watercourses in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with shouts of joy.
Though one goes along weeping,
carrying the bag of seed,
he will surely come back with shouts of joy,
carrying his sheaves.

Psalm 126 HCSB

Sidelined

Much of the stress in our lives comes from struggles related to winning or losing our battles with sin and our enemies. I believe that the line should be drawn in a different place. Winning and losing are on the same side of the line. On the other side of the line are the sidelines.

If you fight correctly, you don’t have to be stuck with either a win or a loss. You can set the contrast at win or learn, for one example. Then, the sidelines are clearly on the “other” side.

You could draw the line between “prize” and “no prize.” The prize-free side is the sideline.

Another division can be “safe” and “not safe.” It’s free to sit on the sidelines. You can get hurt or die looking for a prize in the battle.

Injuries are not the point, victory is not the point (read Hebrews 11 again), prizes aren’t even the point. Obeying the King when He sends you into the game and doing the best job of being you that you can manage is the point.

If you are going to be stressed, then, let it come from whether you are being sidelined.