Running out of Supplies

You may run out of grits one day. They are a temporary answer to a temporary problem. Shortbread, too.

There already is no electricity in many places on the earth. Some places only have it 1/3 of the day as an improvement from having none. It could all stop one day.

You should never run out of peace, though! You should never be short of patience. There should never be a lack of love or joy in your heart or household, at least to the extent that you can influence your space.

To be without peace means being without the Spirit of God. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) are manifestations of the Spirit in our hearts and minds. Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). With Him we can do all things (Philippians 4:13).

So, the only circumstances under which you could run out of the fruit of the Spirit would be if you were without the Spirit because He left, or if you threw Him out. One won’t happen, and the other shouldn’t.

Bear much fruit. Be awesome. All the time.

Blessing and Cursing

Cursing, in most peoples’ minds, amounts to someone talking to them loudly with the inclusion of offensive words to the conversation. Another possibility would simply be the use of phrases like, “damn it!” or “I’ll be damned if…”

Looking to examples in Scripture of both blessings and curses reveals something different from these cultural examples. Asking the Spirit how to respond to people or situations frequently obtains good examples of how to speak or enact blessings.

Blessings include events like the passing on of a family’s heritage or purpose, such as Isaac’s blessing of Esau, which was stolen by Jacob, and could not be undone or redone (Genesis 27). In Luke 6, Jesus was instructing about blessings and curses when He began with the statement, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (v 27). He described actions and words that were blessings and curses.

To “condemn” means to do something “with” “damnation.” When we see an event or action, and our response is to shake our head back and forth with the hope that someone sees us doing it, we are pronouncing condemnation without words. Thumbs down.

Jesus marveled when a Roman centurion grasped the power that was produced by connecting faith with our authority. When we speak to announce what we believe to be a likely future in a situation, we are prophesying that future, even if we are too silly to be aware that we are. Stating our opinion that a certain event will only occur if there is a cold day in hell is cursing that event’s likelihood of happening.

“She’ll never amount to anything.” “They’ll get what’s coming to them.” “Damn it.” “Damn him.” You can make a long list of such phrases without my help… These are curses, and when pronounced by a human, in the earth (where humans have been given authority over all things by Yahweh in Genesis 9), even with a tiny bit of faith, has the power to harm.

Curses include doing things to prevent someone from prospering or being free. Blessings include the opposite. As you consider how much faith it takes to actually bless or curse, remember that, immediately after Peter walked on water, Jesus told him that he had very little faith. It, therefore, clearly didn’t take much faith to walk on the water (Matthew 14:31).

People in Nazareth cursed Jesus, preventing Him from doing many mighty works in their area by the power of their doubt over Him (Matthew 13:58). Be intent on creating an environment where He can do many mighty works – around you and through you, by speaking blessings and breaking curses.

Will Power vs. Values Power

If I decide that I am going to start saving money, or stop using tobacco, or be nicer, or stop beating the dog, I am not likely to be successful if I have only had a change of mind, and not had a change of values. If I am not going to beat the dog anymore, but then the dog chews up my $30 shirt, the dog might get a beating.

If I have a change in my values system, and have decided that beating the dog only makes me feel better for a little while, but doesn’t change the dog’s behavior, I will look for a way to change the dog rather than just punish the dog. If I have decided that sugar is really bad for my health, and I actually believe it, I can use that truth to resist the addiction cravings for sugar. If I am not really convinced at a values level, sugar wins.

Adam and Eve were not convinced that Yahweh is always trustworthy, no matter who says otherwise. This weakness made their enemy able to deceive them. If I am convinced that every nasty thing that happens in my life can be a baptism through which I can find benefit and promotion, I can face any challenge with faith that my God is by my side and in my spirit, with intentions of always blessing me and providing me eternal benefits.

My will power doesn’t increase with the calendar changing from December to January. Rounding back up to the starting gate to begin the same race on the same horse will not be likely to cause the race to end anyway but the same way. Having the value of the race change from the prize being $20 to the prize being that my daughter lives instead of dying will likely change the outcome.

My faith is charged when I understand the value a situation has in the Kingdom, which is eternal. Things that are temporary don’t distract me as quickly if I see their value in the Kingdom. Things that are valuable to you become more valuable to me when I love you. That can change the way I live. Nothing is more valuable than seeing Jesus be satisfied with my life.

CAPS Warfare

Avoiding 4 things in your life can improve the outcomes of your warfare against your enemies drastically:

C omplaints – spending time complaining instead of praying or prophesying better outcomes can lock me as a prisoner in the situations about which I am complaining. (1 Corinthians 10:10)

A ccusations – even if the people I am accusing of evil are truly guilty of it, unless I am called to expose them to authority, or am an authority to whom they are accountable, my accusations may simply be only gossip or condemnation. On days I even accuse others in prayer, asking for God to deal with them harshly. If I am not interceding that they will be corrected in His mercy and love, He may only be hearing my accusation, and be disinterested in listening. Satan is the accuser of my brothers (Revelation 12:10). He was overcome in that capacity. I don’t want to be.

P hilosophies – when people are discussing current events or theologies or other philosophies, I always want them to know my version of wisdom. It is always superior to theirs, of course. It clearly demonstrates how in tune I am with the Spirit of Wisdom. It should impress them. By a surprising contrast, however, I am wrong at times. Even when I am right, there are days when making noise about my opinion will alienate me from people Jesus died to give me the privilege of serving with love and a call to salvation. The more I invest in having people hear me from their values system or cultural system or fears system instead of from mine, the more likely it is that they will hear the invitation of the Deliverer to the freedom to which He would like to call them through me (Proverbs 18:2).

S ecrets – Hiding evil things so that we are not exposed and shamed is very different from hiding things that are valuable so that we can protect them from abuse or theft. Jesus warned His followers against laying their pearls out where pigs could reach them or putting holy things within reach of dogs (Matthew 7:6). Hezekiah was once deceived by a group of visitors from Babylon into thinking that they had come to honor him. He showed them all of his treasure and all of the treasure in the temple of Yahweh to confirm to them how right they were in honoring him (2 Kings 20:12). Isaiah quizzed him about who had been visiting him and why. When Hezekiah answered him, he prophesied that everything he had uncovered would be hauled away to Babylon, which then happened (2 Kings 24).

Jesus was silent on many occasions in which He could have defended Himself quite well. There are powerful lessons to be learned in those examples of being confident that our Deliverer is at hand and can do things better without our involvement sometimes.

Hirelings

It seems that the difference between the definitions of “prostitute” and “mercenary” is simply what kind of work is being sold. Mercenary and merchant are words that have the same root. Our most common use of the word mercenary is related to the work of a soldier. The idea from its beginning was simply trading work for pay.

Malachi reported an impending judgement by Yahweh that included His judgement of people who had cheated hirelings (mercenaries) of their wages. Being a hireling is not evil, then. Yahweh even defends hirelings against their oppressors.

Jesus taught in what we call the 10th chapter of John’s Good News that to simply be a hireling is to naturally have less commitment than to be an owner, who lays his life down for the business. When I am a member of the family that owns sheep, I will take the safety and health of the sheep much more seriously than if I am simply an employee of the family.

The two main categories of life into which believers fall are that of being members of the family of the King and of being citizens of His Kingdom. The family members are citizens, but citizens are not necessarily royal. We are both. Our family relationship is our membership in His church – parts of His body. Our citizenship is related to submission to His authority in our lives: obedience to His desires of us; being in His Kingdom.

When Jesus was teaching Peter the difference, He used the issue of taxation. When the two drachma tax, which was also called the temple tax or the redemption tax, was due of every Israeli male by command of Yahweh (Exodus 30:11), Jesus asked Peter: who paid taxes – subjects, or family members? Peter answered that the family members were exempt. Jesus agreed (Matthew 17:24) and sent Peter to pay the tax with a fish’s money instead of his own.

So, I am deducing a few things:

  1. working for money is not evil
  2. being paid to do work that requires my Spiritual gift is not evil
  3. doing some work other than my Kingdom, Spiritual gift-empowered work is not wrong if it is not a distraction or conflict
  4. getting my calling, or destiny, or Kingdom related work right might cost my life, and that’s ok

Competition for Resources

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:3,4 Holman Christian Standard Bible® © 1999)

Part of the contention that existed around Jesus before He was crucified included the Jewish religious leaders’ fear of losing control of the nation. They had managed to negotiate with their Roman oppressors to keep some control by their surrender of their powers to Roman powers. Matthew’s work was an example of the system of control.  A traitor to the nation of Israel, his job of taxing other Jews and living well in the process put him at competition with his neighbors for control of their property.

Jesus’ answer to the warfare was to move on (through the path of cross and grave) and leave the war in His Father’s hands. In less than 40 years, the city of Jerusalem was handed over to its enemies, who destroyed it. Jesus warned His followers about how to recognize that judgement and avoid being swept away in it (Luke 21:20).

When Abraham’s annoying nephew Lot was still living in his presence, their shepherds were fighting over grazing land. Abraham asked Lot to pick property he wanted from Abraham’s possessions and to go live on it. Lot was selfish. He was not part of what Yahweh was building in the earth, and had no thoughts of cooperating with Him. He picked the best land of Abraham’s properties, and Abraham moved his people to the higher, more difficult pastures. Abraham continued to prosper. Lot ended up in Sodom, then in exile, and his descendants were Moabites, who persecuted and contended with the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 13).

On days, considering all things as loss for the sake of the Good News and the Kingdom frees us from weights and wars and distractions and sinking vessels that our enemies will happily occupy and be removed with. Trusting our King to replace our supplies or property or relationships that are under siege by people who are self-centered and contentious gives Him the raw material of faith, from which He can form better, bigger, more numerous blessings for us.

So He said to them, “I assure you: There is no one who has left a house, wife or brothers, parents or children because of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more at this time, and eternal life in the age to come.”
(Luke 18:29-30 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

 

Yahweh the Builder

Now I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.

Now these things became examples for us, so that we will not desire evil as they did. Don’t become idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to play. Let us not commit sexual immorality as some of them did, and in a single day 23,000 people fell dead. Let us not tempt Christ as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes. Nor should we complain as some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer.

Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall! 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.
(1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Paul wrote that the things that happened to the descendants of Israel from the time Yahweh called them out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses through the time that He took them into the land occupied by the descendants of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, happened, and were written down, to admonish us.

“Indeed, ask about the earlier days that preceded you, from the day God created man on the earth and from one end of the heavens to the other: Has anything like this great event ever happened, or has anything like it been heard of? Has a people ever heard God’s voice speaking from the fire as you have, and lived? Or has a god ever attempted to go and take a nation as his own out of another nation, by trials, signs, wonders, and war, by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

You were shown these things so that you would know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him. He let you hear His voice from heaven to instruct you. He showed you His great fire on earth, and you heard His words from the fire. Because He loved your fathers, He chose their descendants after them and brought you out of Egypt by His presence and great power, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you in and give you their land as an inheritance, as is now taking place.

Today, recognize and keep in mind that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other. Keep His statutes and commands, which I am giving you today, so that you and your children after you may prosper and so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”
(Deuteronomy 4:32-40 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

Moses wrote that the process Yahweh used to create a nation from the Egyptian slaves who were descendants of Israel included forming them “by trials, signs, wonders, and war, by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, by great terrors“. I infer that He is using the same powers of process to form a Kingdom of priests of us, as He translates us out of the power of darkness into His marvelous light.

 

Staying Welcome

Some of my evangelical mentors (Navigators, Campus Crusade, Intervarsity Press) instructed me to believe that when I turned to Jesus in faith I had my sin paid for. In Scriptural terms, they called that being “justified.”

The next step of my process from death to life is an on-going one: “sanctification.” In this part of God’s plan, I am having my mind and heart changed to think like Jesus, and to want to behave like Jesus. “Sanctified” means “made holy.”

The last step will be deliverance from my sinful nature: my body. In this shift, I will pass from being connected to by flesh to having a new body, that is spirit. I will no longer be a spirit in a body; I will be seen for who I really am: a spirit being.

Another of my evangelical heroes (Ralph Neighbor) says that all of this can be referenced by how it relates to sin: I am first delivered from the Penalty of sin, then from the Power of sin, and finally from the Presence of sin.

In these pictures of my identity & nature, I am still only as righteous as my past: like “filthy rags.” God the Father can tolerate being in my presence because Jesus is bringing me to the Father in Himself (Jesus), and because the Father sees me “in Christ,” He can bear my filthiness.

I see too many Scriptures that indicate that when I was born again, that I was born “of God,” however, and that I already have His nature in my “inner man.” This indicates to me that I am spirit, born of Yahweh this second time, not of Adam and Eve, like the first time. I am righteous in my spirit. I am clean in my spirit. I am perfected in my spirit.

Paul instructed the congregations in Rome: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
(Romans 12:1,2   NASU)

When I approach my God, He sees me as I am: reborn; His offspring; redeemed; holy; righteous; clean; unified with Jesus; much-loved; an heir to His throne with Jesus. He is waiting for me to live as if I am who I am. He is waiting for me to think as He does.

He is not waiting for me to be changed into a new nature when I die so that He can finally stand being around me. I am His son. You are His son or daughter. Stand in that identity. The earth is waiting for us to manifest our identities. Manifest doesn’t mean “become.” It means “become visible,” to “be revealed.”

Romans 8:19 – For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed.

Living Building Materials

Men like to make things out of materials that are uniform and straight and fit together without much trouble. God likes to make things that are alive be built together into something that seems misshapen and asymmetrical and poorly attached to each other from our carnal perspectives.

Peter wrote: “Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 2:4-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible® Copyright ©)

Paul wrote to the congregations in Ephesus something that I infer to mean that the mortar that holds living stones together as they are built up is love and peace: “I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.”
(Ephesians 4:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

What Paul wrote to the Corinthians in what we call 1 Corinthians 13 was introduced in the last verse of what we call chapter 12 as “a more excellent way” to attain the unity he had been writing about beginning in chapter 11.

Love the rest of the difficult stones into their destinies. It will be temporarily costly and eternally valuable.

Purgatory is a Trick

When a story passes through enough peoples’ lips, it is no longer the story it was when it was first told.

Words that have been abused long enough become something new. Part of Archie Bunker’s fame came from his misuse of words and stories. He was poorly educated, but strongly opinionated. His vocabulary increased by hearing other people use words, not by studying lists of words and their definitions in a classroom. Most people have learned much of their vocabulary in the same way. Some words that are a bit goofy:

Wicked. Pronounced “wik’-id”. Adjective – “evil in nature or intent”. Not really… before we abused it, it was: Pronounced “wikt” (rhymes with “picked”) Adjective – “twisted, like the wick in a candle is a bit of twisted flammable fibers.” The “ed” being pronounced came from Shakesperian English. Used mostly in religious circles or conversations, it came to mean what it initially only implied.

Talent. Pronounced “tal’-int”. Noun – “a level of ability or skill that exceeds the norm.” Not really… before we abused it, it was: Pronounced “tal’-int”. Noun – “from Hebrew; a measure of weight, used to quantify anything from gold to wheat.” Sermons on the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 were frequently applied to the idea that God has given each of us abilities that we must use. In Matthew’s record, they were referring to money, not abilities. Used mostly in religious circles or conversations, it came to mean what it initially didn’t even really imply.

Purgatory. Pronounce “perg’-uh-tō-ree”. Noun – “a place for the dead who were not bad enough to go to hell, and not good enough to go to heaven, in which they have some chance of being purged of evil by suffering. If they are purged before the day of judgement, they will be counted worthy of entering heaven. If not, they will proceed to hell.” Not really… before we abused it, it was: Pronounced “perj-uh-tō-ree”. Emphasis is on the “purging” process. The meaning is actually “a non-existent place invented by the Roman Church to control and extort money from their adherents by offering to help redeem their deceased loved ones from Purge-tory by sacrificing the flrsh and blood of Jesus on their behalf through a ritual called ”, and asking for the help of deceased saints in the process.”

Jesus paid for your sin. If you accept that payment, and believe that He is Savior and King over your life, you experience the mystery (can’t be explained) of being born again, of God’s Spirit. He already paid for all of your sin. Your new identity is fixed on that fact. There is a judgement based on your acts that you will experience, but the judgement that could cause you to end up in the lake of fire is based on one criterion: is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? The  works-based judgement is not related to the lake of fire. It is related to the connection between having entered His Kingdom here so that you inherit His Kingdom after that judgement.

Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.

Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:11-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)