Foundation of LOVE, 10APR – #547

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Foundation of LOVE, 10APR

I’m itching to get out in the garden, NOT that I’m gonna have a beautiful garden but I just know I should be out there tilling the soil. NOT that I’m ready to be out in the actual garden, because I still have leaves to rake and I just moved my bare Christmas tree LOL that’s been sitting for 4 months waiting for the compost recycling trash pick up to start again…

And I’m itching to plant, but that’s rushing it, as the garden itself needs a new fence, and the soil needs to be tilled and I need to put a good soil foundation base down before I can actually grow plants that are not choked by weeds…, because otherwise it’s ALL weeds and bunnies…

I’m also thinking this way about the church, the global church… I’m thinking about God’s garden – that He wants – that He is re-growing. We can’t start fixing all the world’s problems and negating all the hate unless 1st we put down a good foundation base and that foundation has to be LOVE! Love that comes from God, love that is pure and truly from God, and love that is meant to be spread through the world…

And just like the garden, sometimes we have to compost the old stuff to give a good rich base to grow again.

The garden that God wants to bring our world back to is right here in our mist, but it needs reconnecting! If Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches and God is the Vinedresser then naturally it’s a mission to reconnect the world, to re-grow the garden…. Our job is planting seeds, our job is tilling the soil, our job is spreading the Good News…

We live locally… but wouldn’t it be great to solve ALL the world’s hunger problems and jet off to every 3rd world country and clean up the air and the water and give food to all the starving children??!! Wouldn’t that be thrilling??. How are we gonna do that? In our churches we are called to develop the future leaders. Our churches are NOT supposed to be comfy zones for us to rest on Sunday morning, they are supposed to be trampolines to spring us into action, they are teaching grounds, they are testing real life situations in Christian love, situations that we can build upon by using the Word of God to move forward… We need to find NOT our comfort but our uncomfort in the world…. We have got work to do, we really really have work to do…

And we need to start with ourselves, clear up our own hate, learn to live more simply, love our enemies, see and share the LOVE that God wants us to share…

If we are a branch of God’s garden, we need to be willing to hold and share the fruit that He places on us…. The fruits of labor (ours and His) will ROT if they are not shared…

Yes, please do what you can…. work locally, teach, develop leaders, grow the collective garden… Yes, enjoy the fruits of our labor but remember that really we have to get back to the basics of garden preparation, we have to grow the LOVE underneath as a foundation, we need to dig down deep and remove the hate…

I can do this with God’s help, in my garden and in His garden.

Till the soil, mulch in the good, plant the seeds, protect LOVE with a fence of the armor of God…

Pray for rain…

Grow…

Start with a base Foundation of LOVE…

LOVE is from God…

Cultivate the LOVE…

Bloom, 07APR – #546

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Bloom, 07APR

Winter is not yet releasing us into spring, snow in April? It’s just flurries, but still we are waiting and waiting for the warmth.

The forsythia started blooming anyway, it snuck its bright yellow flowers incrementally out with every degree of temperature increase…. It’s time to bloom, no matter the impending snow doom. The forsythia will get noticed for its boldness of color.

But oh! Wow, when we do get that big warm-up, wow EVERYTHING is going to bloom all at once!! Watch out my allergy-suffering friends, get ready to be overwhelmed, big time…

Our faith is that the blooms of spring will come eventually…  Our faith is also in God,  but that’s a fraction of God’s faith in us! God’s faith is that we ourselves will bloom in His Love for His Love. God wants us to awaken from our winter of life and see the NEW life in Him… God desires that we will recognize Him and feel how much He loves us. The warmth comes from WITHIN.

God waters the seeds of our faith like He waters the earth. Our faith could and will grow like the flowers of spring, some folks have faith that eeks out incrementally and noticeably early like the forsythia, some folks slowly wake to bloom with taking the time to grow their stems taller and their roots deeper, and some get a shock of faith bloom all at once…. and maybe like those dealing with allergy-inducing pollen bursts from the trees, some folks have to adjust to a new explosive faith that shakes them up and REALLY gets their attention… ACHOO!

Bloom, all God intercessions are for HIS Garden… “He who lives in you…”

God wants to bloom in you. Why? He’s planting and pruning His Garden (John 15).

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1John 4:4

Why???? Why does God want to bloom His LOVE thru us? Because we are the branches of His Love sent into the world today. We are to bear His fruit and share that SPIRIT of LOVE.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1John 4:7

LOVE will bloom, spring will come, and God will nurture us and all for His harvest… Let us pray for a new robust season to yield yet another future crop of seeds generated then joyfully spread for God’s future watering…

The SPIRIT of LOVE will burst thru the cold winters of faith. The Garden will Grow…

HOW? We need to tend to and strengthen our faith, develop our boldness, believe,

AND WE WILL BLOOM…

Amen

 


1 John 4 (below)

Also see

Galatians 2:20-

Romans 8:10-

John 14:20-

John 17:23-

Ephesians 3:17-

Colossians 1:27-

1John 3:24-

Revelation 3:20-


1John 4 KJV

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Knowing God Through Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Seeing God Through Love

12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

The Consummation of Love

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Obedience by Faith

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

 

 

 

TOGETHER, 06APR – #545

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TOGETHER, 06APR

Together

God wants us to be TOGETHER.

I went to a work happy hour – end of a hectic chapter in the day, beginning of another…. Fun to relax, chat and feel at home with “the regulars” who collectively come sometimes alone to be TOGETHER.  Encouragement all around, people are social creatures by design. We grow closer together for support.

God wants us to be TOGETHER.

I went because a friend sings there, it is fun and very freeing to sing along… MUSIC is an island getaway for our minds, provides a stream of comfort and lets us be together internally harmonizing with our inner peace. Music also gives us lyrics to work out the untangling of rough thoughts of the day and to quiet the loud mental static in our heads… we sing to get our heads together.

God wants us to be TOGETHER.

My singing friend encouraged another great singer, then half a dozen more singers and guitar players that night as they took a turn at the mic, cool… a small gathering majorly amplified in spirit. (I sang my favorite song not on mic but five feet away leaning against a pool table to keep my nerves TOGETHER… my friend encouraged me saying: “you had beautiful harmonies”… SMILES).  The right mix of people was not a coincidence, I witnessed the cozy crowd become the best encouragers – yes, encouragement is a spiritual gift to us from God. Together we harmonize; we make our own oasis of encouraging support (and fun!).

God wants us to be TOGETHER.

I skeddadled out just in time to get to another gathering of community, oh that amazing welcoming feeling stepping into my praise band practice, but not singing this night but rewiring, reworking, untangling networking lines to make it easier each hurried Sunday morning to “plug in” – simplifying our complicated situation so that we can get it together and keep it together before serving the Lord for the congregation to sing along. Together to gather His flock.

God wants us to be TOGETHER.

Come Sunday morning we will each plug into our own style to be the hands, feet, and voice for God, singing and playing together creates harmonies… “where two or three come together in my name, I am with them…” Matthew 18:20… Solo we surely praise, but truly we want to be together to worship, to be His flock.

God wants us to be TOGETHER.

Home (I did make it home), whew, couch collapse, home with the kids, HOME… Together…  Collected, content, comfy couch coma collapse…  “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” by finding joy in the journey, then by finding our way HOME…. Home is finding peace and togetherness, by knowing the Lord is ready to be with us wherever we are mentally or physically (Psalm 139)… and there, together WITH the Lord, we will find rest…

God wants us to be TOGETHER.

Even alone, yes completely alone, we are not alone, God NEVER leaves us… Always we are TOGETHER WITH HIM!  He gathers His flock. He holds us in His hands… We rest our burdens on Him, His HOPE is secured, His LOVE never ending…. For His own togetherness,  He is always looking for us…. Forever….

God wants us to be TOGETHER.

With Him.

Forever.

TOGETHER.

Amen

Speak to Hear, 29MAR/08APR – #544

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Speak to Hear, 29MAR/08APR

Sometimes I can’t take the time to finish a spirit-led thought – and I promised the Lord I would get back to this one –

“HEAR” it is…

I love Michael Card’s writing as much as his singing – like him i would call myself a “Jesus junkie” – I love pondering the spirit – so this writing came together from two separate non-related items – but when I read and the Spirit connected the dots – boom into my head  – I have to say: “It’s a match”…

Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man (Mark 7)

31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!”(which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

In Mark 7, Jesus opens the ears of a deaf man. Boom… “BE OPENED”…

Mark is a writer of stories of the emotional Jesus – thru the eyes, ears and reminiscings of Peter – His emotional disciple…  Michael Card interprets that this miracle and hearing Jesus’s own native tongue could be Jesus speaking to us – emotionally – “BE OPENED” –  as an urging that Jesus wills for all of us to hear… “BE OPENED”…hear the good news thru your own ears…

Surely CS Lewis has his own take on life, but when I heard this quote recently, I related it immediately even if ironically to that scripture…  CS Lewis wrote: “I wrote the books I should have liked to read. That’s always been my reason for writing. People won’t write the books I want, so I have to do it for myself.” As quoted in C.S. Lewis (1963), by Roger Lancelyn Green, p. 9

CS Lewis writes books that “he himself” wants to read… Although that may sound reverse of us hearing God’s word and not our own selves – it does connect to that fact that we won’t hear Jesus’s words until we hear them thru our own words to our own hearts… the spirit conveys the wisdom – we need to actually formulate and say those words to ourselves and then to our worlds: “Jesus is Lord”…

Jesus was asked to open that man’s ears – then asked the ears themselves to be opened – Jesus asks still today that the whole world of people’s ears be opened – Jesus wants us to open our ears and our mouths…  We won’t hear Jesus until WE OURSELVES ‘be opened” – we need to hear Jesus’s words thru our own ears – thru our own hearts – Jesus won’t ring true until we hear it for ourselves… “so I have to do it for myself” – yes, yes you do…

Yes, Jesus’ teachings were not just for those ancient times – Jesus was and is on a mission to open the whole world’s ears – Jesus taught in tremendous parables, stories that did and will still will be retold, reiterated, and will reverberate and reverberate – shaking us until they rattle enough inside our own ears until our sound barrier shatters…

God scripture does its work before it is returned to God… God wants us to hear Him so we can reiterate AND reverberate His Word back to Him….  “the purpose for which I sent it”

As Jesus is the Word made flesh, then we need to be the flesh that now speaks the words of the Word

Speak to HEAR!


“…As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
 

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
 will clap their hands

Isaiah 55:10-12

544 hear michael card book

In Paradise, 02APR – #543

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In Paradise, 02APR

I appreciate that this bible story (in the devotion section of Michael Card’s email newsletter) is cropping up so many many times lately for me – it is the story of the criminals on the crosses with Jesus – it is also one of our “Shipwrecked” VBS stories this year…  Michael Card says the criminal is the ONLY person in the bible who called Jesus by His own name – interesting…  I like the thought that Jesus so much wants to be on a first name basis with each of us – that we are supposed to be close enough to reach to Him without hesitation, NOT JUST when we sink, but when we are running in JOY too…

It was a kinship of pain for those two – Jesus could appreciate that the criminal was in such physical pain but yet still took the time to teach and rebuke the evil from the other criminal – every little bit of rebuke helps – like in James 5:20 “he who converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death and shall hide a multitude of sins” – perhaps it was just so they could have some “peace and quiet” (?) if only for a little bit… I would appreciate that and maybe (?) Jesus did too… taunting on top of pain – tough… Jesus was human and was God at the same time – He humanly enters the next phase of death (and everlasting life) with someone who understood the physical human pain too…

(Of course none of us could imagine Jesus’s and God’s God-sized pain looking at all the lost people – I feel only a fraction of that loss every time I go to a packed store just after church – the packed store has multitudes of  lost folks, can you even imagine the scale of God’s pain? Nope I can’t. )

Of course the most pleasing likely is the sinner’s repentance – “Remember me Jesus” – Like the repentant criminal, we should want relief, and we should ask, not expect but ask… to enter the next phase of life with someone who would welcome us too…  Jesus will welcome us…

Jesus’ humanness that day also hinted to the fulfillment of Jesus’s own suggestion that everyone travel in pairs for mission work while teaching and comforting…  Jesus as God is also forever with God His Father – but in this instance Jesus was very human and while hanging there, and realized that others felt his pain, that repentant criminal maybe understood Him – humanly… We all want someone to understand us…. that’s an emotion Jesus shares with us.

The criminal as a “last” became a “first” – and the “first” self-righteous crowd folks became “last”…  I bet the other non-repentant criminal was alone and was probably a “none” – even though he also was surrounded by multitudes of similarly hateful people, he was alone – and those people were alone too – they were separated from God’s comfort by their own sinfulness of ignorance… but Jesus even extended an amazing grace request to His Father – our Father – for them all… “forgive them for they know not what they do”…

All the one repentant criminal had to do was admit his guilt – and ask forgiveness…. as we remember that we all are sinners of equal sin weight, we all need to do this: simply ask IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH – ask Jesus in our own confessional way – and ask Him by His name – we speak by the spirit to the spirit – and we KNOW that He is the one who will give us that HOPE – of paradise… None other than Jesus can bring us back to paradise…

Yup… died for the lost…. paradise is lost until it is found by reconnecting with Jesus….

Amen

 

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Michael Card

Date: Sat, Mar 31, 2018
Subject: The Card Community Newsletter – March 2018

From A Violent Grace   p. 103-109

He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.  For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.                 Isaiah 53:12B

  He had always been a troublemaker, it seems – a criminal, a rebel, an unwanted specimen of humanity.  And two thousand years later, the repentant thief who died with Jesus is still making trouble.  Some people – especially very religious ones – protest that Jesus was too soft on him, too forgiving, as He was with the woman taken in adultery.  Others have used the story of the thief to argue about baptism.  I once heard a preacher say that regardless of what Jesus said about being with Him in paradise, the repentant thief could not have been saved since he “never got wet.”

  But then, it is in the nature of criminals to make trouble.

  Exactly who were the two thieves who died with Jesus?  In the absence of personal information in the Gospels, ancient manuscripts have filled in the gaps with names like Dysmas and Gestas, Joathas and Maggatras, Capnatas and Gamatras, Zoathem and Camma.  But these are most likely guesswork or fiction.

  We don’t know the details of their crimes, either, since we find no mention of titular inscriptions above their heads.  John refers to the simply and perhaps generously as “two others.”

  From Matthew and Mark, we learn that they were robbers or bandits.  Yet because in Roman law robbery was not punishable by death, the charge that brought them to Golgotha must have been more serious than an incident or two of lawbreaking.  Perhaps they had been bandits by profession.  Or perhaps they had been jailed along with Barabbas for taking part in the insurrection mentioned in Mark 15:7.

  Luke’s account of the two thieves is his longest and most significant addition to the crucifixion narrative.  As concerned as he was to emphasize Jesus’ innocence, Luke may have chosen to portray the two guilty men in more detail in order to highlight the contrast between them and Jesus.

  Whoever the two men were and whatever their crime, three men received the sentence of death that day.  Three were flogged.  Three stumbled out of the city, carrying crosses, guarded by soldiers, and followed by tormenting crowds.

  When the three arrived together at Golgotha, an awful sight might have greeted them.  Earlier victims – dying or long since dead – may still have been hanging, since it was customary to display the corpses of those crucified.  In the third century A.D. one witness wrote, “Punished with limbs outstretched, they are fastened and nailed to the stake in the most bitter torment, evil food for birds of prey and grim picking for dogs.”

  Guilt or innocence notwithstanding, the Place of the Skull received the three men with grim indifference.  The soldiers raised the mallets with the same brute force and drove the spikes through the flesh with equal finality.

  When the job was done, three new crosses broke the skyline.  On the left hung a criminal.  On the right, another criminal.  And in between, His arms spread out to each, hung the Son of God.

  The three crosses have been raised and the clamor of the crowd has subsided.  The earlier screams of the two dying thieves have given way to groans and curses.

  Now they turn to the silent man between them, trying to find some relief from their own misery by tormenting Jesus.  “Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him,” wrote Mark (Mark 15:32). 

 “Aren’t you the Christ?” gasps one.  “Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39).

  But somehow, one of the criminals has a sudden change of heart.  Perhaps when he heard the soldiers mocking Jesus, calling him “King,” something in his heart softened and broke.  Maybe the profane ranting of the other thief threw into stark relief the gulf between his own guilt and the silent man’s innocence.  With his next breath, he rebukes the other criminal.

  “Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence?” he asks.  “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40-41).

  And then a miracle happens.  The thief turns to Jesus.  “Jesus,” he pleads, “remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

  With these words, an unnamed thief becomes the only one we know of to speak to Jesus on the cross without derision or mockery.  An unnamed thief is the only person in the Bible who calls Jesus by His personal name, without any kind of title attached, as if their mutual suffering has placed them on an intimate, first-name basis.  In so doing, he becomes the first to address Jesus the way most of us do today.  And with his words, that unnamed thief becomes the first to be drawn to the crucified Christ.

  Jesus answers with a guarantee.  “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

  Paradise – it is one of the oldest words in our language.  For centuries it has maintained its basic consonantal form, prds.  In Hebrew it is pardes; in Greek, paradeisos.  The best we can tell, it is an ancient Persian form that originally referred to a walled garden.  The word appears two other times in the New Testament.  In 2 Corinthians 12:4, Paul speaks of the vision in which, whether in his body or out of it – he is not sure – he went to paradise and heard “inexpressible things.”  In the same passage he also calls this place “the third heaven.”  In Revelation 2:7, John says he heard Jesus use the word to describe the place where the tree of life grows.

  Was the criminal’s desire for salvation driven only by fear? Was it a pain-crazed plea from between clenched teeth? Or was it a sincere leap of faith based on sudden contrition?

  We don’t know.  The sentence could easily have been the first prayer of an entirely misspent life.  But the thief asked only once – and needed to ask only once.  The Son of God looked over at him and gave him his answer:”Today….”

  A few hours later, Jesus died.

  The thieves clung to life for several hours more.  When the soldiers saw that they were still alive, they picked up heavy mallets and broke their legs.  No longer able to lift up and draw air into their lungs, the two survivors started a grotesque dance, a losing battle with suffocation.  Soon, they too hung still and lifeless against the sky.

  But one of them awoke in paradise.

  Those criminals perfectly represent all humankind.  Like them, we have all sinned.  Like them, we all deserve only death.

  Like one of them, many people today will refuse hope, rejecting the possibility that Jesus could really be King.  The love, mercy, forgiveness, eternal life, and paradise He offers – all will seem impossible, unbelievable, unreachable, unacceptable.

  But some will receive all, simply by asking.

  Jesus was stretched out on that cross between criminals so that we can know for ourselves the amazing reach of His love.  From every wasted life, from every compromised motive, from every personal hell – it reaches all the way to paradise.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, You answered in love the thief crucified beside You.  Answer me, I pray.  You remembered him; remember me this day.  I, too, have been a rebel from birth.  In my coveting I have stolen, and in my anger I have murdered.  I deserve punishment no less than that dying thief.  So look on the one You love and died for.  Remember me in Your mercy so that I may deeply know and faithfully express Your love – and live forever with You in paradise.  Amen