I See, Part 2

Mark 8:22-26 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town. 

I’m convinced in the sequence of this chapter, the Lord through His vessel Mark is desiring all of us to SEE a powerful truth. Through the two circumstances preceding the record of this miracle and the two conversations that follow it a powerful revelation calls us to follow Christ.  

This 8th chapter of Mark is a revelation of Jesus, the Bread of Life. It opens with bread being blessed, broken, and then meeting a multitude of need; it ends with prophetic word of the Bread of Life being broken to meet the multitude of sinners need.  

At the feeding of the 4,000, Jesus clearly showed His miracle power to feed the multitude. He was moved by compassion, feeling bad for the people; not that He had taught for three days, but that they were hungry and would faint on their way to dinner. In the second circumstance preceding the miracle at Bethsaida, Jesus’ exasperation with the disciples is evident as He desires for them to “get it” about this bread matter. This second circumstance, primarily in the privacy of the boat with the disciples begins with a rebuke of the Pharisees who want a sign. They desired a sign so they could believe, but had done nothing with signs they already had received. These Pharisees are the poster children of church folks, who want a sign before they will function in obedience. As Jesus and the disciples enter the boat, Jesus cautions them to never become a people that see but don’t do. His rebuke against hypocrisy is perceived as being provoked by their lack of bread on the boat. He reminds them of the ignorance of limiting His words by their perception, as they seem to have forgotten the clear evidence that He can do the “bread thing.” This whole emphasis on the broken bread from the Bread of Life is prelude to the revelation He knows they must see. 

Stuck in the middle of the two circumstances where Jesus uses a symbol of broken bread as a prelude to two communications about lives broken as bread is this miracle of one seeing again.     

This miracle record has some fascinating aspects to it: 

  • A blind man, had his sight restored. 
  • Jesus took him outside of the town to heal him. 
  • After the first time Jesus prayed his sight wasn’t fully restored. 
  • Only able to see figures, shadows, movement.  
  • Jesus put His hands on him and prayed again. 
  • After second prayer, vision was fully restored. 

Following this Jesus asked his disciple who do other people say that I am. Following their answers to this question, He asked them, “But whom say ye that I am?” When Peter gave his revelatory answer, Jesus began to tell them how He as the Bread of Life would be broken (Mark 8:31). In one of His most remarkable rebukes, Jesus calls Peter, “Satan” at Peter’s rebuke of Him for declaring the path of brokenness that lay ahead for Him.

The concluding words from Jesus that Mark records in this sequence call each disciple to deny self, take up their cross, and follow Jesus.

Do you see? Broken bread can meet a multitude of need. 

Do you see the Bread of Life broken for you and I? Can you hear His call to us?

I See, Part 1

Occasionally, I gauge a message by how many apologies I need to issue afterwards. It may not seem like it, but generally pastors do prefer to be nice guys but we know often the word can be very abrasive, our flesh would rather apologize for it. Clearly, even though we’d like to apologize, that’s not always the right follow up. I do get that. However, if I make an error or misspeak I never want to get to place where I can’t simply apologize for such.  

While there is some worthwhile points of consideration there; let me not belabor them to avoid any pontificating.  

I messed up this past Sunday, stating Bethesda and Bethsaida were one location. I do apologize for that error, they are two different, distinct locations. You’d think somebody who’s been to Israel in the past month wouldn’t make that mistake. I did make it, I’m sorry. 

I see my error. Really, while it’s humbling to have to say, “I made a mistake”; I hope I never lose the ability to do so. There’s only one way to avoid making mistakes, and that is to do nothing. I never want to go there either. While this error is relatively a small one, I hope the size wouldn’t impact my ability to do the right thing.  

I do want to add in this space an AfterWord from the message this past Sunday, titled “I See”; but I want to pause and just let this portion of what I’ve written today have its own space for emphasis. So stay tuned next week, for an AfterWord from “I See” and let’s spend a little time contemplating how well we’ve been handling mistakes.  

Can we even see them?  

Devotions with David

In morning devotions the reading of Psalm 106 brought to mind the powerful verse,

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. I Corinthians 10:11 

This Psalm contains some amazingly timely AfterWords for the apostolic church of the last century. I have taken to declaring that prophetically, that we are within 100 years of the the end of the this church age. I am convinced we are the people upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Some of these Words that challenge our thinking and actions include:

Our Memory:

Verses 7 & 8 Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea. Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.

Do we remember that He has forgiven us of much? Has the multitude of His mercies to us faded so much in our minds that we fancy ourselves to have been forgiven of little?

Do our actions today reflect a mindfulness of the fact that He saved us for HIS NAME’s SAKE. Yes, what an honor; we are His Namesake in the earth. He will make HIS mighty power known. Not ours.

Our Faithfulness:

Verses 14-15 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

The wilderness best reflects today that part of our life often called “process.” As in there’s a “process” that leads to promise. The promised land for Israel is a symbol for us of the desired destiny of fruitfulness and fulfillment in our earthly calling (It is not a symbol of heaven for us, we won’t have enemies and battles there).

How tragic that we fail to enter the place of profit God desired for our callings and giftings to prosper because of unbelief in our life. Read Hebrews 3-4. Our strong desires (lusts) for things other than God and His perfect will in our process (wilderness) will cause us to miss out on the place of profitability (fruitfulness) God has for us, and while our flesh will fatten from our indulgence our soul will weaken from divine leanness.

Now I know some are either opposed or nervous about talk of any kind of profit/prophets. And they may not take the time for the reading in Hebrews. A key verse is Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For the record (FTR), God is not a non-prophet or non-profit God. He expects a return on every investment. And He has used prophets since the beginning of time, who are always rejected in their time.

Justice:

Verses 37-38 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

There is no greater social justice cause in our nation, than the Church continuing to be a voice or the unborn. In 1973 abortion was legalized, since then 58 million babies have been aborted. Defunding Planned Parenthood, who provides 30% of our nation’s abortions. 320,000 babies a year, one killed every 97 seconds is a worthy goal. They do this while robbing us of over $500,000,000 in taxpayer dollars that should go to true community health centers; in the meantime they sell baby body parts for a profit. REPENT AMERICA! Church be a voice for the most vulnerable humans! Be ready and available to adopt for young mothers in crisis pregnancies. Don’t just talk. Act. Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

His Great Faithfulness:

Verses 44-45 Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.

Lamentations 3:22-23 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

II Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

If we will cry out to God. Even when we have violated the covenant. The multitude of His mercies will cause Him to repent and remember His covenant. In spite of the fact that we broke it, God will repair it. The redemptive purpose of our affliction will be revealed. And Jesus will be glorified!

Choose Truth!!

Proverbs 23:23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

Matthew 13:44-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

This past Sunday’s Bible message began with a short video clip, it provoked a chuckle and allowed a current popular voice in our culture to confirm a fact about truth for me. The fact about truth is that it is objective and absolute. Man can’t change truth. My opinion that the world is flat would not change the truth that it’s round. A personal belief that you can fly will not change the truth of gravity and it’s affect on your body.

The greatest revelation of Truth comes from Jesus. He is Truth.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

The most successful lives are those that have captured an eternal Truth, established by God in His Word and applied it to the daily practices of their life.

There are certain truths from the Word of paramount importance for everyone. In the context of the Bride of Christ, His Church, we call those truths “doctrines.” The followers of Jesus in the 1st century were accused of filling their city with the doctrine of Jesus (Acts 5:28). Wow! What a great indictment! May the church of the last century have that same testimony!

There are four areas of doctrine for the Church. They are:

1. The Godhead – Colossians 1:15-20/Christ Is Supreme
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see — such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. Christ is also the Head of the church, which is His body.
He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything.
For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

2. The New Birth – Acts 2:37-39 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”

3. Making Disciples – Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

4. Separation from the World – II Corinthians 6:17-18 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Truth is always a bit controversial. Partly because truth doesn’t care what our opinion is. Let me address two that tend to generate the most discussion in Christianity.

The doctrine I’ve listed as fourth, Separation from the World, is often debated. Especially, when it comes to thoughts, values, apparel, activities, and conduct that the Bible clearly shows God is pleased by a distinction between the world and church. There’s no debate only a desire for distinction when it comes to the provision and protection of God. Ask Noah or his neighbors. Clearly, we must draw a biblical line of difference and live in the ark of God’s provision and protection. It won’t be rain next time.

The foremost doctrine and message of the church remains, Jesus. He is the Cornerstone of our faith. The Rock the builders rejected. That prophetic scripture was fulfilled during the life of Jesus, as established religion could not accept Who Jesus was (Psalm118:22,23; I Peter 2:7). Amazingly today, the parallel is true as well. Established religion, bound in it’s tradition of the trinity refuse to accept that in Jesus dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). When anyone truly sees Jesus, receives that first full revelation of Who He really is. Life can never be the same.

May the Church arise again to CHOOSE TRUTH! Not a one time decision made years ago at an altar. May it be a daily decision to practice the Truths God has revealed to us from His Word!

Fill your Jerusalem with the doctrines of TRUTH! Choose Truth!

Choose Today!

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. (I Kings 18:21)

May 2017 begin with a Joshua declaration in response to the challenging words from Elijah! As for me and my house! We will serve the Lord! (Joshua 24:15)

Elijah’s challenge to Israel contains 5 key words, “If the Lord be God.”

Simple, consistent, repeated actions of our daily life reveal who our god/God really is.

Opening this year, I ask, Is the Lord your God?

CHOOSE TODAY!!

At the start of this new year, just as every day that preceded it, you have permission to make a new choice. The choice you made yesterday, for 100 or even a 1,000 yesterdays does not have to dictate the choice of today. You can make a new choice!

Just as the past sometimes builds a false prison for some the future does for others. Paralyzed by a fear of “What if?” they remain stuck in a cycle of sameness uncertain a right choice today will be repeated tomorrow.
Make the right choice today!

Don’t choose a god that is not The God.

If the Lord be God.

There are many gods in North America that are worshipped. The greatest god that our nation worships is the god of me. Many bow daily to the god of me. They sacrifice to the god of me. This insidious faith creeps into churches in the exaltation of our feelings over our knowledge.

We know the Lord is God.

How is that knowledge reflected in the practices of our daily lives?

One of the best ways to get centered again in the will of God, is to go back to that point of revelation when we first truly saw the Lord. Remember that moment? Choose today to take actions, speak words that spring from that moment of revelation. May the knowledge that came from that revelation, that the Lord is GOD, direct your choices today. And every day of 2017!

May your new year be richly blessed by God!

Freedom or Independence?

Today we celebrate the birth of the United States, the Declaration of Independence from Mother England was made 240 years ago today. We live in an unusual day of history; that same Mother England less than a month ago declared its independence from the European Union, carnal man continues his assault on the commands of God attempting to be freed from them, and everyday people have been emancipated by technology from human relationships. Today a large percentage of digital natives are more comfortable interacting with machines than with people. Sitting at the dinner table, they text each other in silence, memes carrying more expression than their faces. Drowning in information, we are starving for knowledge.

In this context, I pose the question, “Did God make you to be free or independent?” The concept of independence is faulty, because it is contrary to scripture. No man lives to himself and no man dies to himself (Romans 14:7). No man is an island. Nobody is independent of others and certainly not of God. Countries today are learning the interdependence that has always existed among the tribes of the earth. Our interdependence on others and are dependence on God are immutable facts of human life.

Freedom is a God idea. God created us with a free will. Please allow a short digression to address the concept of evil. If there was no bad choice, and only good choices were available to us, then there would be no choice at all. A prerequisite to freedom is the possibility of contrasting choices. Returning to freedom, God desired a creation that could make the choice to worship. He will always have praise, because if we hold our peace the rocks will cry out in praise (Luke 19:40). For the Creator to experience worship, it required a creation with freedom to choose.

Freedom was His idea. And He is still in the liberation business. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36). He can set you free to live a life of worship. There is no chain, prison, or bondage; whether of your own creation or others; none of them can prevent the God who specializes in setting prisoners free.

He can free you today. Somethings that I know, have been freed from: their past, genetic curses, addiction, sickness, mental health conditions, small mindsets, jealousy, gossip, covetousness, carnal nature, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, fornication, fraud, theft, worldliness, adultery, and the list could be endless. No freedom is greater than the freedom to worship Jesus.  God can free you from any economic, educational, or ethnic limitation or boundary imposed by man.

On this Independence Day choose Freedom. It’s better than independence. Be freed from the confines of the earthy and conformed to the Eternal. In Christ you will find the fullness of joy that true freedom brings.

You Can’t Read a Book by the Cover

A rather embarrassing moment in my life happened one day going to lunch during a youth convention in Bristol, CT. Leading the crew into Sbarro’s, a picturesque plate of penne pasta, sauce and meatballs graced a table for two by the door. A side salad and drink completed the perfectly positioned advertisement of what we could expect. My mind was convinced this was a well placed imitation of the day’s special; this idea was corrected as my fingers sunk into the pasta I had reached to pick up, thinking it was a single mass of wax. Horrified, I looked up to see the clerk’s dismay as I had just destroyed a lunch, which only moments before he was hoping to enjoy. I quickly looked for napkins, wondering how I could recover from the poor example I had just set and apologize well enough for the defiled lunch.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
It was certainly a powerful reminder of the fact that you can’t read a book by the cover. I digress to wonder if God allowed the creation of blogs for preachers who didn’t quite finish the message on Sunday (or thought of all the things they didn’t say). That seems more plausible since I’m pretty sure preachers invented series (just kidding, lighten up!). Be fully persuaded in whichever option you choose. I’ll take my favorite dessert order: Both!  

So this past Sunday, time prevented the full development of the message titled, “You Can’t Read a Book by the Cover.” With your indulgence, I’d like to continue that thought a bit here.

Things are not always what they appear. I’m pretty sure more have been disappointed to discover a wax masterpiece was just that, not something delicious and edible. A few others, undoubtedly, also thought they would feel wax and discovered the real deal.

Sometimes life’s biggest disappointments precede life’s greatest blessing. Joseph the Dreamer of Dreams is such a powerful example of that. David the Worshipper is another. Zacharias a third. All Bible examples who faced tremendous disappointments in life. Assault, trauma, betrayal, delayed promise, personal failure, hurtful words, broken relationships, and many other disappointments that have been faced by many.

Other times, things that seem so anointed with promise become an albatross that causes us to sink into despair. We discover the old proverb to be true, “All that glitters ain’t gold.” We were positive this was the right relationship, the right time, the right step of faith and things just don’t work out the way we thought they should.

Here’s the message in a word, patience. The Bible does in fact tell us the trying of our faith results in patience. The story of faith is like many stories you’ve read. There’s an introduction, hope is birthed; then a conflict, where hope often is challenged; a climax, where hope seems dashed; and closes with a resolution, where it all makes sense.

If you feel ready to give up, I challenge you to hold on. Hold on to your hope. Hold on to your promise. Hold on to the dream. The end of the story hasn’t been written yet. Read another chapter. In fact, write a new chapter. Take that challenge, embrace it with faith. Look at that impossibility and declare it the measure of the miracle God promised to you.

Things may not look good, don’t give up on the story because of the page you’re looking at today. He that cometh to God, must believe that He is (faith) AND that He is a Rewarder of them who diligently seek Him (passion). Jesus, the Bread of Life, was broken, His Body marred beyond recognition. The story didn’t end there. The Cross happened. A resurrection followed. The depth of despair will only serve to heighten the joy that’s coming.              Blessings ~ jwp