Let the Whole Earth and Each Diminished Person, Hear His Voice

Coming Friday, December 11, 2020

The vast strategy, beyond our knowing but available to see in part, is the spiritual heritage and strength of God’s people. Christmas comes with Good News for all.

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The whole earth, the broadness of the universe and then, little ole me. The precise care of God for the smallest among us and the widest dream-like visions of eternity are part of Scripture’s historical record. This week we seek to envision the vision making it real for ourselves.

I look forward to receiving your comments after this Friday’s post. Grace and peace to each of you. Thank you for continuing to share the web site address with others.

True Stories

December 4, 2020

Scripture Resource Passage: Revelation 5

The Stories Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Singer, Christie, Solzhenitsyn and story-tellers around the galaxy provide rich traditions of insight and struggle.  I love stories with faces of joy, blessing, peace, grace, kindness, patience, goodness and God’s presence. Stories also connect me to pain, suffering, infidelity, foul plots, evil, murder and sometimes genocide. Are you aware the best story always includes a song?

            Thankfully, the Bible fills out its true stories with both celebrations and spiritual disasters. Long have we, the people of Earth, needed these stories to be true for they include Messiah’s song. Messiah’s story is the best non-fiction of all time and can be found in Revelation 5.  

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            The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, opens a glimpse of the story’s climax in Revelation 5. Messiah’s story—I long for this story to be true.

            I need a Messiah—no gothic novel-like super-hero or super-heroine will suffice. North American culture, courtesy of our interests and entertainment’s emphases, provides many premium individuals. Our impoverished century seeks individuals who are super-self-flyers and possess anger-raged fighting power. Fire-starter eyes are a necessity, for these are super-folks. Yet, their weaknesses betray them and they do not bring the song.

            Strong? Yes, buildings are lifted and rockets snatched, mid-flight. 

            They fly without airplanes? Yes, they cruise the stratosphere.

            Fire-starters? Yes, with glaring tenacity, opponents are ignited. 

The Song Yet, their strength is insufficient. Their poverty is apparent to the heavens, if not to the earthlings. They lack true-story quality; and, they have not the song. We need Messiah’s story to be true because Messiah brings what no other provides. Messiah brings redemption’s song. As Messiah arrives the lyrics cause Saturn’s rings to vibrate as the Pleiades cry out in celebration.

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).

            Famous authors, intriguing manuscripts, plot lines to twist your mind—each of these are sum and substance of great story-telling. But the grandest story of them all is Messiah’s story and we need, oh yes, I need Messiah’s story—set to song in Revelation 5—to be true.

Life Applications

1. Which parts of Revelation 5:1-10 provide you with encouragement? 

2. Do you know songs which enhance a disciple’s commitment to Messiah’s story? Check out: “We Believe,” lyrics by Richie Fike, Matt Hooper and Travis Ryan, 2013.

True Stories

Coming December 4, 2020

Talking to yourself, drawing strength from your own spiritual story presents challenges. Listening to others (I’m thinking of the great authors), can provide insight and spiritual growth. I look forward to updating the site with a new post titled, True Stories.

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Again, my thanks for sharing the web site information with others who might find strength and encouragement through these posts.

As reports of family and friends impacted by the virus continue, please live as safely as possible. Grace and peace to each of you.

Thanksgiving and You

November 27, 2020

A Celebration of Faith and Friendship

Scripture Resource Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Many thanks to each of you who have made the year special. Challenges? Yes, we’ve had a few and some continue to this very day. However, I’m finding God to be good, ever present and a ready listener in the times of trouble; and then, there’s you!

As God’s communities of disciples in night’s dark hours and sun’s summer heat, we persist. During these times, even though in this medium of blog-world we meet only online, you are a blessing.

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Some days I’m like the young man in this timely photo, present but distracted, wondering what’s going on with others. Unfortunately, there is no world-wide community table at which we can individually meet for an evening’s outdoor dinner.

Today I’m content to follow the few words of the intensely challenging instructions of our brother Paul from the long ago: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances…” I rejoice in our online connection and wish for each of you a time of spiritually rocking thanksgiving!

Life Applications

  1. What does thanksgiving look, feel and sound like for you?
  2. Can you list specific ways you practice the discipleship instructions of our brother Paul?

Opportunity Seized, During Virus Saddened Days

November 21, 2020

Scripture Resource Passage: Revelation 3–please be sure to read the Resource Passage

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What does spiritual opportunity look like when it suddenly appears? Who is knocking at Heaven’s door? More importantly: Who is knocking at my door?

Heaven’s symphony responds to the rapping with thunderous sounds. Disciples are loudly cautioned to avoid temptation’s allure. Themes of judgment and eternal loss make-up much of the individual communiques to the seven churches mentioned in the opening words of the Book of Revelation; but, as almost always in God’s historical record there is also the invitation, an opportunity for redemption. However, we ought not rush over the virus-like warnings. They dominate the apocalyptic scenes.

It is the Christ—it is He, speaking to the churches. There must be no mistake that both resounding wrath and redemption come from Christ at the very Throne of Heaven. 

Christ’s Book of Revelation is Scripture’s challenge directing disciples to persevere and when appropriate repent of sinful ways. Christ’s words announce judgment as imminent and redemption secure. Christ’s Revelation decries the death of that which should be holy—the witness of God’s churches. There is also opportunity. All is not lost. All hope is not gone. Redemption is not forfeit.

In the midst of harsh judgment, we are not surprised to discover Christ’s blessed words of opportunity.  Wrapped in the package and securely proclaimed are promises of a disciple’s opportunities to be re-directed into a faithful life.

Christ speaks and John writes, “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent” (Revelation 3:2-3a).

 Friends, I trust you see the opportunity being offered to the disciples of the city of Sardis. The same opportunity theme likewise appears for the church which meets in Philadelphia. Christ speaks and John writes, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).The words of Christ remain ominous and hopeful—blended into the reality of a virus afflicted struggling life—the opportunities to change.

Life Application: Is God providing you with an opportunity to return to your life as a disciple, using the opportunities of today?

Exhaustion & Restoration

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Friends, this week exhaustion claims my mind. Not wanting to bore you and have you waste time reading a post minimally prepared I’m just reporting: exhaustion.

I have a restoration plan for recovery.

In the meantime, if you would like to read the Scripture Resource Passage of the upcoming post, please investigate and pray your way through Revelation 3. I’m hoping to have the post ready for a Weekend Special Edition. Thanks for understanding. Grace and peace to each of you.

Time for Justice

Scripture Resource Passage: Revelation 20:7-15 continued encouragement to read and reflect on the Resource Passage before working on the post

            The time of justice must come.  The battle of the ages broods in Revelation 20. “Lord, have mercy,” will be the resounding cry.  Mercy for some, judgment for others will rule the day.

            Revelation 20 forecasts God’s fire-laden lament and delivery of justice. At long last—Divine justice. 

            Revelation 20 is somber in tone and bleak in color; yet, hope springs within the words. My personal hope is not developed as I report my good works. No one would be sufficiently foolish to believe their personal righteousness provides relief in the King’s court. “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life” (Revelation 20:12a). 

            The Book of Life is Heaven’s record keeping, preserved for the Day when justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a flowing stream.

            Our brother John records his vision but gives little attention to the presence of Hope and Mercy’s Image-bearer. “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Revelation 20:12b). There is but one hope, one word of mercy for that Day—Mercy’s Name is Jesus.

            In part, Jesus explains Heaven’s Justice Day: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). Disciples are shown mercy on the wondrous Day only because Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

            Until that time and given our awareness of the upcoming Day, relationships with others manifest the grace given to us by Christ. We live with hope, in anticipation of the Day. O Lord, have mercy on us for we are a hopeful people.

Life Application: Believing justice is ultimately God’s to deliver what are the implications for disciples wronged by others?

Time for Justice

Coming Friday, November 13, 2020 an opportunity to reflect as we open the Book of Revelation as a Scripture Resource.

Additionally, over the past year many weekly posts have been available for individuals and small groups. If you click the Category button, the site will typically link to previous posts on similar issues.

Thank you for making use of the puzzlings and questions. I appreciate the notes and comments you provide and read each one. I am aware your time with me is time not spent elsewhere. Blessings to each of you.

In, and As

Living In, and As the Community of the King

Scripture Resource Passage: Ephesians 4:17-32

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In part, but not in whole, apostolic letters (like this week’s Scripture Resource passage) add fullness and precise application for living in and as the community of the King. However, Jesus’ words always have priority—truly not the other-way-around. 

                  Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude are not the primary source of God’s communication—Jesus is the Source. 

                  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Unmistakable—righteousness is spiritual sustenance for life. Spiritual hunger and thirst are comparable to the food-hunger and drink-thirst of physical life. Happily, or blessedly if you prefer, each can be satisfied. Jesus tells us it is possible. In the city of Ephesus Paul encounters nominal disciples who missed this vital connection. Dramatizing negative outcomes when righteousness is not being consumed they: …have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed” (Ephesians 4:19). 

                  Righteousness is not being consumed by the disciples to whom Paul was writing.  Righteousness is the choice food. As Jesus said, hunger and thirst for it—always search out and consume righteousness. Pursue righteousness as the soul-filling sustaining Bread of Heaven.

                  A second example of Jesus being the primary instructional source for life in and as the community of the King, recalling these words: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:19). 

                  To the disciples at Ephesus Paul highlights the consequences of disobeying Jesus’ instruction: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32). 

                  Did you notice, not much peace-making was occurring in Ephesus? When the Apostle writes, “Get rid of…” it certainly sounds like peacemakers are in short supply. Conflict is their harvest.

The transition for life as a follower of Jesus: Whenever you are seeking to understand any portion of Scripture’s specific instructions, including relationships between disciples, always include (at some point in your study) the primary source, the words of Jesus (Colossians 1:15-20). Friends, it is Jesus Who teaches us to live in and as the community of the King.

Life Application

  1. “The followers of Jesus are to be different, different from both the nominal church and the secular world, different from both the religious and irreligious.” When our late British brother John Stott wrote this comment he was artfully encouraging disciples to pursue Jesus’ teachings, learning to live in and as the community of the King. John R.W. Stott, Christian Counter-Culture,Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1978.
  2. Another fine resource providing clear application of Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount: Dallas Willard, The Divine ConspiracyDiscovering Our Hidden Life in God, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998. A weighty but significant read meant to be digested, not scanned.