All posts by Douglas Thomas

Responsible Servants

And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it.

The one who welcomes you welcomes Me, and the one who welcomes Me welcomes Him who sent Me.
(Matthew 10:38-40 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Whatever it means today to embrace what is killing me and follow Jesus, I need to discover it and dive in. It’s not just so that I can be found worthy of Jesus. Its so that others will be able to receive Him as they receive me.

Serious responsibility. Immeasurable privilege.

Be awesome.

Born of God

Many psychiatrists think wrongly that we are only two-part beings. One part is physical, the other is some combination of soul and spirit, something that is intangible or untouchable, but which undeniably exists. The fact that they cannot perceive the difference between soul and spirit accounts for the fact that they have only two avenues of assistance to persons in their care. They can counsel, and they can administer drugs. In either event, the techniques that they use to help us are all limited to the flesh as a vehicle for change, because even counseling can affect my soul only by using my eyes and/or ears, which are flesh.

When I perceive that I also have a spirit, I have had revealed to me another avenue of assistance. It is this avenue (my spirit) that God (Who is Spirit) uses most of the time to effect change in me. The first change is to allow my spirit to die, as it was doomed to do, since I was born in Adam’s image. “Now, wait a minute,” I can hear someone cry! “I thought God said He created us in His own image!”

Actually, He only created Adam and Eve in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Adam He created from dust, and Eve He created from Adam’s rib. Cain and Abel were born, not created. Look at the comment regarding Seth’s birth in Genesis 5:3. He was born, and born in Adam’s image in every way. I am a great, great, etc. grandson of Adam, born in his image in every way, including the spiritually dead state he was in by the time he begot Seth, because he had been thrown out of the garden of Eden by then. He was already doomed to spiritual death.

Very good news came to me when it was made known to me that I could go ahead and suffer the spiritual death that I was doomed to, and then in its place receive the spiritual life that Jesus died to give me. If I had died physically in the spiritually dead state that I was in, I would have stayed in my spiritually dead condition for eternity.

Praise His holy Name, He gave the privilege to me of accepting my spiritual death and receiving His Spiritual Life! So, in being born again, I was born in His image this time! Adam was the first person created in God’s image, but Jesus was the first person born in God’s image (Matthew 1:18; Matthew 3:17; John 5:19)! Father desired that Jesus would be the firstborn among many children (Romans 8:29).

Throwing Old Stuff Away

An ebenezer (“stone of help”) is a marker on a point in time or space (or both) commemorating an intervention by Yahweh that delivered us when we needed His help. It can range in value and influence from a reminder of His greatness to a symbol we worship in our past. Its greatest value would be to prompt us to expect His help in the future. Its greatest cost could be to lure us to long for the past more than for the future.

When Yahweh is done with something, He frequently lets it be swallowed up or washed away or beaten to dust. When He let the Romans destroy on the cross the “temple” that was the body of Jesus, He raised it back up in 3 days. He wasn’t done with it yet.

When 40 years later, He let them destroy the temple that Herod had built, it is still destroyed, and even now has an anti-Christ substitute squatting on the property. The “tabernacle” that David worshiped in will be restored, though (Acts 15:16-18).

Being sensitive to what our God is doing with our old stuff will save us much heartache and can prevent us from protecting something that He is sweeping away. Some people will be swept away with their old stuff because they won’t listen.

What He is going to do today and tomorrow is pretty important. Focus on it, and be ready to leap into something new if He says to. It will be awesome..

Praying Better

When our prayers start to advance beyond fixing our broken stuff and empty bank accounts to asking for preparation and opportunities that are related to being servants of the King of Heaven and Earth, we will not have to pray as much for our broken stuff and empty bank accounts:

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: they don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Hope of Glory

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly.
(Romans 5:1-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Affliction produces endurance. Endurance produces proven character. Proven character produces hope. Hope won’t disappoint us. To find the path to satisfied hope in the glory of God, stop avoiding afflictions and press through them instead.

Back in the Battle

“Men! Why are you doing these things? We are men also, with the same nature as you, and we are proclaiming good news to you, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. In past generations He allowed all the nations to go their own way, although He did not leave Himself without a witness, since He did good: giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, and satisfying your hearts with food and happiness.” Even though they said these things, they barely stopped the crowds from sacrificing to them.

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. After the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.”
(Acts 14:15-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Paul and Barnabas were mistaken for the “gods” Zeus and Hermes citizens of Lystra after they healed a man. The next mistake the mob made was to listen to some people from Antioch and Iconium and to believe that Paul and Barnabas should be murdered with stones. They therefore tried to murder them with stones. They did such a good job at it they thought that they had succeeded.

Paul and Barnabas thought it was ordinary Kingdom work. They went back to check on the converts on their way back through the area.

Getting Ready

When David faced Goliath, he was not trained as a warrior, or even as a soldier. He was simply skilled at keeping sheep safe. He had been prepared for the encounter with Goliath, though. He recognized when he stood before Goliath the two courses he had been enrolled in that made him ready: one day, he had been empowered by Yahweh to kill a lion, and on another, to kill a bear. This day, it would be Goliath!

He did not seem to have the same strength for dealing with the power of Bathsheba’s beauty. Since the revelation of his errors regarding his relationship with her came to him through the prophet Nathan’s story about a sheep, I expect that Yahweh had given him the instruction that should have been preparation, but he didn’t apply the lesson to the temptation. Nathan’s story prompted David to see the sin in the parable, but not in his life. David responded by condemning the behavior of the sheep thief. Nathan then pointed out that David was the thief. Suddenly it all became clear to him and he repented of his sin (2 Samuel 12:1-15).

Difficult situations that seem to promise our destruction or loss are frequently (usually?) courses of instruction in which we learn the ways or power of Yahweh. They are frequently (usually?) not even really about the potential loss at hand, but a future victory that we could be using them to prepare for.

Expect every difficulty to be a promise of some future challenge that is much greater, with a prize behind it that is also much greater. Be awesome.

Cast Demons Out

During their Kingdom missions, and as a prophetic picture of their futures after Jesus ascended to Heaven, Jesus instructed His people to throw demons out of people (Mark 6:7-13; Mark 16:14-18).

During the “Dark Ages,” the Roman Church performed exorcisms of demons with the same vigor they performed executions of dissenters. After the “Age of Enlightenment,” scientists taught people that demons were nonexistent, and that everything previously attributed to them was really explainable with science and reason.

When the Church experienced the Pentecostal movement, some people started to perform miracles and cast demons out of people. Both became religious formulas that lost their power in many cases, because people were using mantras they had heard gifted people use, but without gifts. A similar story appears in Acts 19:13-20, when seven would-be exorcists were cast out by a demon.

Somewhere between the mistake that every bad habit or sickness plaguing humans is a “spirit” and the mistake that demons were a pre-science explanation for things that went wrong around humans, there is the truth that unclean spirits are causing problems in the earth and need to be overpowered and dislodged from their positions of influence.

We have authority and responsibility to be dealing with them. If you don’t have ideas yet about your involvement, ask the Spirit what He would like to teach you about the matter.

 

Great in the Kingdom

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them. “I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18:1-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Quite likely, when your brain processed the phrase “this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” it placed the idea in the present tense. Also likely, I expect, when your brain processed the phrase “you will not enter the kingdom of heaven,” it placed the idea in the future tense, probably even aligning the meaning with “going to heaven when you die.”

I believe that Roman Catholic Mythology has influenced the shift from what Jesus intended, which was that both ideas were present tense in His mind. Entering the kingdom means becoming subject to the King. That is today and every day until there is no day or night – just Christ being the Light of the City of God.

Raising Up Leaders

On a playground, a sandbox is a place where the dirt is cleaner than the dirt that is found naturally around it. No roots, no weeds, less dangers. It is a created space, where the environment is different.

One method of creating leadership is to create space in front of a younger generation in which they can sandbox, to learn and create and fail and learn. Trusting them with things that would be beyond their reach without the help of the Holy Spirit can teach them to listen to Him. Trusting them in a space where the current leaders are present for advice and repair is a safe place for them to learn to make decisions and to follow through with them to discover the outcomes they produce.

Frequently the narratives about the ministries of Jesus imply that He sent disciples out to fulfill assignments and taught them how to do it when they returned with questions their experiences had prompted them to ask. Our methods are usually to give classroom instructions, written exams, and then exercises in labs before we trust anyone with real work. They have to prove something before we trust them with responsibility.

His plan seems to be to teach them to listen to Him.

     In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure. All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.”
     Then turning to His disciples He said privately, “The eyes that see the things you see are blessed! For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.”                       (Luke 10:21-24 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)