Mystery of Godliness, part 3

7 Oct

Two weeks ago, I brought out how Paul tripped me up in his letter to Timothy with the phrase “the mystery of godliness.” I’m more familiar with the phrases the mystery of the gospel and the mystery of salvation, but I hadn’t considered godliness having a mystery about it. Then last week I looked a little deeper at Paul’s definition of that mystery.

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

God was manifested in the flesh,

Justified in the Spirit,

Seen by angels,

Preached among the Gentiles,

Believed on in the world,

Received up in glory.”

1 Timothy 3:16

I emphasized the mystery of how we see those things in the life of Jesus. We know them to be, but we know them by faith. We don’t comprehend every detail of how or why. God has held parts to be a mystery.

I ended with a greater mystery. How is this mystery to be expressed through me? Or better, how is it being expressed through me today, if it indeed is?

Perhaps the greatest hurdle to understanding the mystery is the first point: God manifesting in the flesh—or in particular, my flesh. Now, I’m not talking about not being who I used to be or what I could have been, given my before-Christ trajectory. One word comes to mind whenever I talk about this aspect of the mystery: intimacy.

We see that intimacy has been His purpose from the beginning. It’s written in Genesis 3 that after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they heard the voice of the Lord in the garden in the cool of the day. They recognized Him. This must not have been something new or rare for them. They enjoyed a companionship, an intimacy, that happened with few other men before Christ. God pointed out the importance of it when He rebuked rebellion even in Moses’s family by saying He has face-to-face conversations with Moses but no one else.

We understand that, in His omniscience, God hears our thoughts even before we speak them. However, as intimate as that might seem, He hears the thoughts of everyone. Knowing our thoughts and being intimate with Him are different things. This points out the different words used for know. One is simple knowledge; the other word speaks of knowing as Adam knew Eve and conceived a son.

In Jeremiah 31, the prophet wrote about a new covenant for Israel whereby they will no longer need teachers telling them what the Law says. Instead, He will write His Laws on their hearts. Looking backward through the lens of time, we know he was writing about the coming Messiah, Jesus. We also know how we have changed after we have put our trust in Jesus. I must ask, do we experience the intimacy and solid oneness indicated by God’s word to Jeremiah?

As for the new covenant we have through Jesus, consider His prayer in John chapter seventeen. He asked that not only those who were with Him but also those who would believe in the testimony, would enjoy the oneness He had with the Father. That should rattle a few doctrines.

And Jesus emphasized the importance of intimacy with Him and the Father in saying there will be those who have served in ministry even with signs and wonders that miss the mark. He said He will tell them to depart from His presence because “I never knew you.” In other words, we were never intimate.

Peter wrote that from the foundation of the world, God had sealed up a mystery that even the angels and spiritual powers longed to look into (1 Peter 1:10-12), but the revealing of the mystery was reserved for us to know. When Jesus was born, a myriad of angels in a great chorus sang of the wonder and wisdom of God having been born in a lowly manger. They saw only the beginning of the mystery and were filled with awe. When Jesus ministered on earth, even demons recognized who he was (the Messiah, God incarnate) and objected that this wasn’t the time for judgment. He silenced them. Cast them out. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that our warfare for the kingdom was not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers. Angels watch and see. It’s a mystery.

James indicated in his letter it is the in and out breathing of our faith—inhaling through our intimacy and exhaling through acting on what we believe—that keeps our faith alive.

Paul lists God in the flesh as the first point in the mystery of godliness. Every example, instruction, correction, and exhortation Paul wrote to the first century churches perfecting godliness points back to the core of the gospel message. He also warned that following to the letter the instructions becomes “unprofitable and useless” if it becomes law and lacks intimacy with Him.

I see this in the Word, now I am working toward it becoming real in my life. Here is a test I give myself regularly:

  1. On a one-to-ten scale, with one being I believe in God and ten being I am intimate with God, where would I rate myself?
  2. What are spiritual beings seeing in my life? When’s the last time demons have shuddered?
  3. What parts of the world are being affected by my testimony? Remember, the world isn’t around the globe. It’s just outside my front door.

A Closer Look at the Mystery

29 Sep

Why all the mystery? The gospel is simple—or supposed to be, right? Then why keep some truths hidden? Why speak in parables, metaphors, types and shadows? Who’s with me?

Okay, I was a little facetious in that paragraph, but only a bit. Many times I’ve told God to just be up front and clear with me, but then He has a better plan. Even the wisdom of this world attests to the fact we place greater value on things that cost more. How much is God’s wisdom and nearness worth? How much effort are we willing to spend to know His wisdom? Paul gave us keys to unlocking the secret of kingdom life. I introduced it in last week’s blog on 1 Timothy 3.

The first key reveals God manifested in the flesh. That alone is a concept that continues to trip up even the most intelligent men walking among us today. Even if they accept God’s existence, that He spoke the universe into existence out of nothing, that He maintains a vigil over events on earth; the thought of abandoning His place in heaven to be born a man eludes their reasoning powers. It’s a mystery.

If they can get past that premise, then they struggle over the story of Jesus. Was he God? Was he a man? Based on what we know in the Bible written about him, he differed from other men even though we are told he wasn’t. He even called himself the son of man. Yet, he did what other men couldn’t—nor can—do. It’s a mystery.

The second key to the mystery says He was justified in the Spirit. Jesus said to the people of his day who wanted to know the truth about him to believe him because of the works he does. I consider this partly a plea to remember what the prophets had said about the Messiah. I also believe it was underscoring his claim that he did nothing apart from the Father. The miracles he performed were not of his own doing. His Father in heaven sent the signs to confirm His Son’s message. The Holy Spirit released His power through Jesus so people would know that the Father was in the Son and the Son was in the Father. How does the Almighty fill a mortal man for such things? It’s a mystery.

The third key reaches through and beyond Jesus’s ministry on earth. Gentiles also heard and received the gospel and godliness. For the Jews, this was a mystery, even though their scriptures said this would happen. They had it figured out differently. In their understanding, God would lift Israel as the pinnacle of the nations of the world so their place as a favored people would be seen and reverence by all others. They overlooked the references to a new covenant that took God’s promises and favor to all individuals, not just nations. Being able to enter into intimacy in the Holiest Place without proper offerings and sacrifices by anyone but the High Priest was inconceivable. Jesus opened the way for that in his dealings with those the Jewish leaders disparaged. His followers carried it far beyond. Yet, godliness is a mystery.

The fourth key builds on the third key. The mystery is believed throughout the world. For the first believers, seeing people from every part of the known world claiming to have come into an intimacy with the Holy God—the One who is so holy that you couldn’t say His name—had to have been difficult to accept. They had a history of several millenniums that proved in their minds such a thing was impossible. At the same time, God had confirmed its truth by the same signs and wonders done in their own midst. God was in chosen men spreading His Word to all people.

The fifth and final key rests in the last testimony by God that Jesus is who he said he was. In plain view of over 400 followers, His Father received Him up in glory. After coming back from the dead, Jesus spent several days with His followers. He continued proving with signs and wonders that He really had died and was raised to life again—the first born of all creation in the new covenant. The final evidence of his position in God’s kingdom happened when lifted him up and took him away in the clouds.

The significance of Paul’s definition lies in this truth: it is not only a historical event. We are to be immersed into the mystery. Let the fullness of the concept of God manifesting Himself in you, in me, permeate every cell of your being. Yes, we know that “when we accept Jesus as our Savior, he lives in our hearts.” I want to shout, “Get out of the cliché.” The idea of the Creator of the universe coming down to mankind, to become one of them. What an earth-shaking idea! But, how much more should His coming down to me, to dwell in me, have an even greater impact. I’m sure you can give testimony of how your life changed from the day you first asked Jesus to forgive you, but what sort of impact does having Him in your heart—the Almighty living in you—have on a routine day? It’s a mystery.

The Greatest Mystery Story: Godliness

22 Sep

Two thousand years after the Lord’s ministry hear on earth, and I see something too basic to have overlooked. While reading through Paul’s letters, I saw how much I have let specific instructions and mere illustrations take me away from his core message. I think each of his letters point to the core from different perspectives, but the one that captured my attention is found in 1 Timothy 3:16 “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory,” (NKJV).

Quite possibly the same way I have overlooked the core message in Paul’s letters. I’ve gotten distracted by the examples he gave for adjusting cultures to align with the core message. I’ve gone with the flow in looking at the instructions as the way the Church should function (insert the word Law in place of “the instructions”), As his examples extended into family structure (husbands, wives, children, and yes, slaves), whole doctrines have been established. Debates over these, in Paul’s own words, are unprofitable and useless,” (Titus 3:9 NKJV).

I imagine Paul running into our midst with hands raised and waiving them about as he shouts, “Stop. You have missed my point.” As I read his letters now, I see the specific instructions as examples—not a finite list—of steps toward godliness. Only, I don’t use the word godliness as a general description of a righteous life. I think of it as Paul described in 1 Timothy—God-likeness, being infused by Him so His life is lived out through us in His power and expression. Paul calls it a mystery.

Like any good mystery, we need to track the clues and unravel the knots in order to see the fact without being distracted. Stay with me as I look deeper into the mystery.

Nightly Lesson in the Sky

15 Sep

In the story of creation found in the book of Genesis, we read that God gave a greater light to rule the day and a lesser light for night–the sun and the moon. We know the moon does not have its own light. Rather, it reflects the light from the sun. Each night with a clear sky, we see the moon go through phases from full down to a sliver or a new moon and then waxing again to a full moon. This happens as it moves in and out of the earth’s shadow.

Its light goes from being bright enough to cast shadows to having no light to share.

We have been taught over and over that in a like manner, we reflect the Light of Jesus to the world around us. So, it must also hold true that the more we stand in the world’s shadow, the less light we have to share.

James exhorted us to keep ourselves unspotted by the world, (James 1:27b). We can exhaust ourselves trying to fulfill that demand with self-discipline, setting up rules of do’s and don’ts, making them laws as we think ourselves spiritual. Or, we can move toward the Light. 

Moving Toward the Light

8 Sep

Last week’s blog has been years in the making. I remember spending months praying for a greater revelation and years growing incrementally. Paul wrote that he would give up everything he had accomplished. He even considered his name, reputation, and works he had done as a pile of pooh for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.

For Paul to make such a comment, I felt like I had so much to learn in comparison. Then I read again about his conversion experience and his retreating from public exposure in order to look at the Scriptures (Old Testament) for a deeper understanding of Jesus and His ministry. After only three years, he exploded onto the church planting scene.

I’ve had several more years in my devotion to the Lord than that and have nowhere near the foundation of faith Paul displayed. What’s wrong with me? Sure, it takes the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth, but why would He withhold any truth from me?

Seeking insights from Paul’s life
I have focused seasons of time on other verses Paul wrote, seeking to know fully the height, depth, length, and breadth of the love of God. Because of it, my faith has grown. Over the years, I have continued to know a little more. With the gain, I’ve experienced setbacks. Circumstances have overwhelmed me and our family, giving rise to doubts that took time to recover from.

About a decade ago, the Lord planted a word in my heart that set me aside from ministry in the church while I spent three years writing and re-writing what He had shown me. He continued to deepen and broaden that message. Then, four years ago, several insights began to merge into a clearer call I believe Jesus has for His church. Much like moving a magnifying glass to bend light to a pinpoint that can start a fire, these messages have the power to burn away the dross in the church and turn it into a light in the world that drives away all darkness.

How can we see the vision He’s given become active in our lives? It should be clear by now that we can’t make it happen. Anything we manufacture takes the power and the glory out of the Lord’s hand. We are dependent on the move of the Holy Spirit. However, Paul does give guidance in his letters how we can follow what he must have done in those three black-out years of his life.

  • He got alone with God.
  • He studied the Scriptures for what they said about the Messiah.
  • He received direct revelation of what God meant them to mean, not what men said they meant. 

Knowing that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah changed a lot of interpretations he had previously accepted. His understanding of God’s grace given through Jesus deepened as more verses about the Messiah came to light. He knew without any doubt Jesus only fulfilled them. Paul’s devotion to the Word and to knowing the truth was honored by the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus had said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”

Being separate
In the early days of my stepping aside from church leadership, a pastor in another church made a soul-shaking observation. “The problem in the church is too many Christians try to see how far away from Christ they can be and still be called a Christian.” Where does that attitude come from? Why would a person want to be like the world that they were delivered from with great joy?

It could be from a misdirected idea that the world might be more open to listen to what they have to say if they weren’t too different from them. Remember this: As the world drifts further from Christian values and truth, our attempts to blend in carries us away from His likeness.

Or, could it arise from the need for affirmation? In the need to have people like us, do we dance to their drumbeat? The Word reminds us that He loves us. No other love really matters. As we return His love, we find ourselves—our hearts and our lives—interwoven with others who share in that most important love relationship. Jesus desires that He fills our longing directly and through the body, His Church.

Our special place in Christ
He asked in His prayer in John 17 for all who follow Him to be one with Him and with the Father (not in some philosophical or even mystical way, so catch this!) even as He is with the Father and the Father with Him. Foremost in the Lord’s heart before going to the cross was this. What impact does that have on your image of being in Christ?

Let me take this a step further. Some prophesies about the Christ in the Old Testament have not been fulfilled. Jesus said we would go on to do even greater things than He did. I believe some things were left for His corporate body (corporate Christ, the Church) to fulfill.

Could the standard God promised to raise up in the last days when the enemy comes in like a flood will be the corporate Christ? I believe so. As events seem to be getting bunched together toward that final conclusion, I am believing more and more I may live to see the Church (individually and corporately) so filled with Christ that God’s glory will be evident and undeniable.

Never miss the mark in Him
However, even if His return is still in the distant future, and even if His way of bringing the conclusion of all things is far from what I’ve imagined; I have greater confidence in Him accomplishing the work He started in me. 2020 has been a time for revealing the dross in my life (or as Paul said, the pile of pooh). My reactions to events have not been in my Lord’s nature, but mine. My prayers now have been focused removing the heart of stone—any part of it that remains—and replace it with a new heart of flesh with His Word written upon it. Join me in that prayer, won’t you?

The Light at the End of 2020

1 Sep

If we talk about vision, 20/20 is everything we hope for or with corrective lenses, everything we strive for. However, for our calendar, 2020 has turned into the exact opposite. Some beautiful stories have come out of this year, but the headlines and the things 2020 will be most remembered for are the worst we could imagine. Each month has delivered a new never-saw-that-coming reality to deal with.

Fear morphed into cabin fever which triggered stir-crazy actions. Being fed up with more fear rhetoric, some people threw caution to the wind. We came face-to-face with fear-turned-to-anger response. One spark ignited the nation into nights of burning, rioting, and looting. I just read in Paul’s second letter to Timothy that evil will continue to move toward more evil. (See 2 Timothy 3:13.) I guess that applies perfectly in our day as one looter boldly proclaimed their lawlessness was justified restitution.

Yet, amid the shouts and chaos, a quiet voice is being heard and gaining in strength and volume. It’s sounding a word of hope and renewal: an announcement for a coming revival. The call has come in many forms. Some quote scripture like from the prophet Isaiah, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him,” (Isaiah 59:19b, NKJV). Others echo those who have talked of a long-awaited revival coming soon. I remember a message from over thirty years ago that a revival is coming that will be unlike any revival before it. It will differ in two ways: 1) It will have Baptists working alongside Lutherans, Presbyterians beside Catholics and Pentecostals. Names will be meaningless as Jesus will be the focus, and 2) It won’t be just another renewal; it will be a final harvest.

This coming revival has also been called the Third Great Awakening. While we can gleefully imagine the world changed by another great move of the Holy Spirit, let’s not forget what preceded the first two Great Awakenings. God dealt with and started changes in His people before bringing change to the world. Based on observing Israel and the Great Awakenings here in America, I anticipate these changes:

A new (or reawakened) realization of the Greatness of our God
It’s only in realizing how truly great and awesome God is that we are filled with wonder When David pondered that, he wrote “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4) and “I am a worm and not a man,” (Psalm 22:6). Others declared it is a fearful thing to stand in His presence.

A deeper realization of our own condition
Along with being awed by His greatness, we gain understanding of His holiness. When that happens, we realize how far we fall short, even with all our best behavior, of the holiness it requires to be found in Him. Isaiah said, ““Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips,” (Isaiah 6:5 NKJV). And Peter said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8) David asked in Psalm 24 who can stand before the Lord but he who has clean hands and a pure heart. When we acknowledge those things in our hearts and not just our minds our joy will be renewed for what Jesus has done for us. We will see with new eyes how deep and wide is the gap He bridged for us so we can fellowship with the Father and be called His Son’s brothers.

Our message will change
No longer will we preach only a gospel of saving one’s soul.
   • Jesus commanded that we preach the gospel of the kingdom.
      o John 3:3
      o Matthew 4:23
      o Matthew 24:14
   • We have been called to be joint heirs with Christ.
      o Romans 8:17
   • To be one with Him.
      o John 17:20-23
      o Hebrews 2:11
   • To have His mind.
      o 1 Corinthians 2:16
   • To be kings and priests.
      o Revelation 1:6

We will begin to act like it, to act according to our kingdom calling, and we will invite others to join us in the kingdom of the King of Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ.

His power will confirm the words
Even Jesus said to believe Him for His works (John 14:10-11) if you can’t understand and receive His words. He also said that His followers will do even greater works than He did. The first century church said signs and wonders were marks of a true apostle. Miracles have been used to attract attention, to get people to listen to a speaker. We have that backwards. The signs and wonders were God’s way of saying, “I am God, and I approve this message.” He confirmed the words with miracles. (Mark 16:20, 2 Corinthians 12:12) We should expect nothing less when our words come from His heart.

Our lives will be hidden in His secret place
We will stop doing church and start being the Church. Verses like we are raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenlies; we are dead and our life is hidden with Christ in God; we are alive in Christ; these will take on new meaning. Our first priority will be to reconcile others to God that we might fellowship together.

These are just the beginning changes that will happen in us. Yes, we will be tempted to fear by the changes that will be happening around us. Remember, God will raise up a standard. Be ready to receive what might not align with the familiar. Test it to be sure it aligns with the Word and the Spirit. If it does, don’t draw back. Be the Light, His Light He wants the world to see.

A Conspiracy Exists and How to Defeat It

4 Aug

Conspiracy theories are afoot in America. I want to go on record as one who believes in a conspiracy theory—one that reaches back to the Garden with Adam, Eve, the Serpent, and God. Everything in history to the present is but fragments of the whole. When viewed from that perspective, our right responses as Christians should become evident.

Disrupting systems seems to be a favorite tactic. By nature, we like things stabile. Change triggers anxiety and fear. When we don’t get immediate answers to our prayers—especially when we try to council God in them—we can let doubts claim valuable real estate in our hearts. In the midst of the resulting confusion, the chief conspirator will drive wedges between understandings of God’s will. Christians find themselves pitted against other Christians in what should be basic values. Then is the time to cry out in passionate agreement with the psalmist who wrote in Psalms 119:17-19:

“Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.
19 I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.

We’ve been promised answers when we pray for wisdom, the wisdom from the Holy Spirit who has been assigned to lead us into all truth.

Another highly successful tactic is to divert attention. Many have claimed the headlines have been orchestrated by political activists. They assert the failure to depose Trump by impeachment led to unleashing a national crisis in the form of Covid-19. When it started to lose steam, demonstrations turned violent and pirated all the news. That wore down so more Covid cases were reported—all things to keep fear and division growing. Maybe history will reveal the truth or lies in that conclusion, but I am speaking about a deeper work against the Church in America by the chief conspirator.

Continuing his wedging tactics, he has believers splintered into multiple special interest factions—some even in direct opposition to others. The attention and valuable resources are not enough to solve the varied problems so the Church is further frustrated, disheartened, and left wondering where God is in all this. Didn’t Jesus already answer this chasing after causes? He said in his sermon on the mount that we get anxious over what we will eat or what we will wear while the answer is to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV). I wonder how many of these insurmountable causes would go away if believers united in his kingdom purpose and life. I would guess all of them.

It seems once the turmoil gets boiling, the chief conspirator releases total chaos. We witnessed a glimpse of that when the recent demonstrations turned into riots. They triggered stronger police response which triggered a call to defund or disband police departments. In response, the populace reacted to prepare for vigilante justice so the federal troops were sent in to restore order. That effort failed. For a moment the fear that we could be watching the downfall of America entered some minds. At about that time I quipped to my wife that we need an FDR to say, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But, there is a better quote for us. Isaiah wrote in his chapter 26 verse 3, “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You,” (NKJV). Through all the changes we face, we have a place to go for the peace and stability we yearn for.

Some say that what is happening in America is the result of our own sin and God’s judgment. I say, whether it is Satan buffeting America as he did Job or God dealing with America’s sin as He did throughout Israel’s history, the answer is still the same. The Church needs to turn away from the god they’ve defined that allows them to be like the world and return to the God who created them. We need to repent from looking more like the world than like the Father. The revival many are hoping for will either not come or leave them out without that repentance. Remember, the two Great Awakenings of the past were preceded by a great repentance by believers.

To people in my hometown, I am undeniably a Huff just by my appearance. I want people to see my heavenly Father in me because of an even stronger resemblance to Him. When the Church gets to that position, the conspiracy will be defeated.

I Just Have to Say It

10 Jul

My wife and I have talked a lot lately about possibly moving to a different state when we are both retired. On our trip east to see our newest grandchild recently, I discovered one that seems to be after my heart: West Virginia. As an amateur photographer, I was immediately and naturally captivated by the beauty. Mind you, that was just in driving through. I can only imagine what could be discovered on foot. The biggest lure for me toward West Virginia was the drivers.

The state is not immune to road repairs with their lane blockages and force lane merges—things we endure in Illinois on a regular basis. Several times I saw the sign saying lane ends ½ mile head, merge right or merge left. I took a quick glance in my mirrors, looking for how many drivers gunned it to get ahead of as many cars as possible. Each time I did a double-take. Behind me I saw drivers adjust their speed and mesh together in single file. The long line of cars slipped right through the construction—no back up, no break lights popping on in front of me, no delays. It was phenomenal.

For this next discovery, you should probably be sitting down. They used their turn signals. Honest. Before starting to pass another vehicle, they signaled their intended lane change.
They signaled again to pull back into their original lane. In good measure before exiting on a ramp, they signaled. They knew what that little lever on the left side of the steering column is for and used it to the fullest.

I fell in love with West Virginia.

Then we made it back to Indiana.

Half-way through the state and about twelve miles from the ramp for our bypass route, the traffic came to a complete stop. We had noticed we were back in the region where the merge alerts—placed a full mile before the lane closure—created a very different response from drivers. For Midwesterners, the sign is like dropping the white flag. The race to the bottleneck is on! Never mind the fact that their actions are what causes the traffic problem. They plan on playing chicken and winning against those who chose to harken to the sign’s directive and flow naturally through the restriction. Some drivers compounded the traffic jam by dropping out of line and running up the shoulder, only finding they had to merge back in because the shoulder was also closed up ahead. And, once wasn’t enough. Two hours up the road we encountered the same thing—this time eight miles from our turn.

We finally made it home three hours late. Unnecessarily late. Why can’t we Midwesterners be more like drivers in West Virginia?

What’s the Measure of a Man’s Worth?

23 Jun

Is it how much money he has, how many homes he owns, how many companies he has formed and boards he sits on?

Is it the degrees he has attained? Is it the esteem he receives for the resource of knowledge he is amongst his peers?


Is it the skill in sports? Or his strength in contest? Perhaps his winning strategy in combat?

To what degree does lack of charisma or integrity tarnish any of these?

How can we compare the one who can best snap the ball to the one who can best handle the scalpel to the one who can repair your car with a quick and inexpensive tweak?

Some titles are born into, others bought.

Beauty can be natural or applied: both are no more than skin deep.

Yet, fortunes and souls are paid for the chance to be wrapped in one of these.

Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36 NKJV).

Men have said some good things about the worth of a man.
“There will always be people who don’t know your worth; make sure you’re never one of those people.”
― David Castain

“True friends esteem you of greater worth than you feel deserving. False friends demand you prove that worth.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

“A person’s worth is measured by the worth of what he values.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

What does Jesus think a man’s worth is? Well…He gave His life for it.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16 NKJV).

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10 NKJV).

I am and you are worth the universe to Him.


16 Jun

Government replaced God. Religious leaders tried to walk a line between pleasing the government and serving the faithful. That compromise usually leaned toward winning the favor of the government. Taxes were out of control. Neither getting ahead nor even getting by entered into the minds of the people. Surviving was the first goal. Injustice and oppression by government officials had no limits. Every action by an official was intended to keep people’s necks under government’s foot. A rebel group fought a hopeless battle, their zeal fueled by their belief that God would deliver them. If caught, they faced a tortuous death. Infanticide. Genocide. Though not called that, they were common practices by those in authority.

Into that scene, Jesus began his ministry.

Anger of man doesn’t work the righteousness of God (James 1:20)
I confess. My sense of justice, of right and wrong, and my emotions lay too close to the surface. It takes little to cause a kneejerk response in me. I want to set things right. I want to unmask error and show a better way. Having my counsel rejected frustrates and infuriates me more. I can’t estimate how many times I’ve started to type out my wisdom to benefit others only to erase one letter at a time with the backspace key. Social media does not need one more voice added to the din of controversy. So, what am I supposed to do? What insights can I share with other believers to help them in their struggles?

If I can’t be silent, then what?
These thoughts and more fueled my prayer as I walked. As my mind sorted through images of Jesus and His ministry, I saw one distinction. He never let circumstances remove Him from dwelling in the kingdom. He taught everywhere the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Yes, He was in it. Taxes? Have you so easily forgotten how Peter pulled the tax money out of the fish’s mouth? Food? Recall how He fed 5000 with a boy’s lunch? Safety and life? He told Pilate he had no authority in the matter other what His Father had appointed. He never stepped outside the kingdom. In that pathway, he healed the sick, lame, and blind. He raised the dead and walked on the water. Supernatural became natural to Him because He was in the kingdom of heaven while here on earth.

What mattered to Him, and should be what matters to us as His followers: the condition of the hearts and souls of others. Reach beyond the noise. See past the drama. Hear the silent cry coming from their spirit. Answer the questioning from their souls not their minds. We saw Jesus do that time and again. Now more than ever before we need to have that wisdom, that response. I know I do.

Open our eyes to see, Lord, the real battle
A revolution is underway in America. We see it as an ideological one, but it isn’t. It’s a spiritual one. As such, it will be won or lost in the spirit. The question to ask is not WWJD but WDJD. What did He do? He knew His position in His Father’s kingdom. He strengthened that relationship daily. Walking from place to place, He taught His disciples principles of the kingdom. When asked any question, His answer always cut through the circumstances and right into a person’s innermost struggles.

Let’s fight the real enemy
He set the example and made the way. Paul wrote we are new creatures on earth. How is that? We are no longer only human. We have been given the mind of Christ. My prayer is that I learn to squelch my natural kneejerk reaction and give place to kingdom action to do what Jesus did. I want to win this spiritual battle in my life and in the lives of those I touch—not for America’s sake, but for the kingdom.

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