I was thinking of the game of football. I do love to watch the game and really was excited to see the Kansas City Chiefs win the Superbowl this year. To achieve the goal of winning the Superbowl it takes unity of purpose and each person sharing their gift for the common good of the team. The team is largely made up of players playing an assortment of different positions in either a defensive role or an offensive one. There are a number of coaches that are experts in various aspects of the game, and they develop strategies and teach them to the players.
When it’s actually game time the game is monitored by the game referees who are there to enforce the games rules. Now on the field there are a large number of players ( 11 on each side ) and only 6 or so referees. Now the referee’s role is an important one as it keeps the players confined to a set of rules that apply to all and make things fair.
Now as important as the referee’s function is, they will never win a Superbowl as a referee or even win a game for that matter. They are not required to have any football talent in their role. They will never know the thrill of victory or the disappointment of defeat. The likelihood of injury is low compared to a player. It is the players who put themselves out there and risk injury or even their careers. To ever win anything you must be prepared to sacrifice yourself for the benefit of the team at large.
I was thinking of the many similarities of this game to that of the church. A church has a lead Pastor who is in essence the head coach of the team. There are usually elders who assist the Pastor in the carrying out of duties. The church body are like the players of the team. It is this group that need to be trained up in the rules and strategies in the game of outreach. The players need to be willing to put themselves at risk in order to win a soul to the Lord. The glory in the victory of this is celebrated by all the team but the glory belongs to the one who made the sacrifice of His pure life. Jesus. He is the head shepherd or coach of every player in every team in his league. We are not on the field to war against another of His teams but against principalities and powers of wickedness in the heavenly places. The Pastor and elder assistants are there to empower the players. The players are not only there to learn the theory and strategy of this game only, but they are here to play the game. If they don’t play, there will not be any victories or defeats because you don’t put yourself on the line or at risk. It is putting yourself at risk that that enables you to truly know the game and the heart of the Head coach. This game is not about individual glory but one that brings the glory to God with whom we all owe a deep debt of gratitude. Let us play the game to the best of our abilities for the Glory of God!
First I hear about the Lord and how good he is. It all sounds nice and I think I would like to be friends with Him. Things in my life are okay so I don’t see myself as one in need of Him. As life goes on Jesus is largely ignored until I find myself in trouble. Trouble that I can’t seem to overcome. Then I start to consider Jesus as a possible ally and one who can help me through or around my problem. I start to read the bible and learn more about Him. Then I offer up a prayer or two asking Him to come and rescue me from all my difficulties. If the problem I have is overcome, then I say a quick thanks and move on without Him. In a very short time I will conclude that it was my own brilliance or lady luck that was my solution.
Trouble comes knocking again and again I offer up my prayer hoping that things will work out once again. Maybe this time they don’t work out the way I want. I pray harder and maybe explain the importance of the situation to God and lay out a plan for Him to follow. I say I am waiting on God but I do not rest nor do I really trust God.So I try again to come up with a strategy on my own. So I continue to worry, scheme, maybe pray some more and if things fail to go my way I conclude that God has failed me. What’s wrong with this picture.
In my minds eye I see myself in a fortress of my own making. I of course am sitting on the throne. I am king here and the fortress is my life. It is built to keep me safe from the dangers that exist in this world. Every time I experience more pain or disappointment I go to work on strengthening the walls, raise the walls higher or add new ones. Self protection is something that is common to us all. God who is great in concept is kept on the outside because there can’t be two kings within these walls. Wanting God as my ally, I try and build a relationship with Him. I may start to go to church and or read the bible. I may also pray and let Him know all my wants and needs. From this position I really don’t know Him and nor can I.
I look out from within my fortress and there is Jesus standing at my door …..knocking. I refuse to answer the door. I talk to Him through the door and believe that He is for me and not against me but yet the door remains closed. I have always lived my life trusting in me and I am afraid to have that change. I believe that I am the only one who truly has my interest’s at heart and that Jesus will be taking things away from me and ultimately He will take away my throne. I know that those who love Him truly are willing to let go of things but I am not.
Staying within the walls of the fortress will never allow you to truly know Jesus. Everything is filtered through the lens of self so you remain confused and deceived to what is true. How do you ever know or have relationships with anyone if you have these walls between you? If I am to ever know love, I have to risk being hurt, but it is the only to experience love and life. From within the walls you live by your imagination where things seem to go your way but none of it is real.
If you come to the place of surrender and allow Jesus to come in everything will and does change. He will lead you out of your safe place and He will become your new safe place. When you look back at your old fortress you will see it through the lens of truth. The fortress no longer appears as a place of strength and safety but now is revealed as a prison. You were actually a prisoner and not a king with authority. Everything that you truly needed was denied you in that place and yet you were deceived into thinking you had them.
Self protection is just a prison that we willingly assign ourselves into. There is only one way to be free. We must be willing to surrender your trust and confidence in self and put it in Jesus now. He loves you more then you ever loved yourself and He knows exactly what you need to come to life. Apart from Him there is no life but just the illusion of life. The world you create for yourself is actually self destructive as we choose the ways of death over and over again.
John 12: 25 “The person who loves his life and pampers himself will miss true life! But the one who detaches his life from this world and abandons himself to me, will find true life and enjoy it forever! 26 If you want to be my disciple, follow me and you will go where I am going.[x] And if you truly follow me as my disciple,[y] the Father will shower his favor upon your life.
Matthew 10:32-33 32 “If you openly and publicly acknowledge me, I will freely and openly acknowledge you before my heavenly Father. 33 But if you publicly deny that you know me, I will also deny you before my heavenly Father.
Luke 22:31 31 “Peter, my dear friend, listen to what I’m about to tell you. Satan has demanded to come and sift you like wheat and test your faith. 32 But I have prayed for you, Peter, that you would stay faithful to me no matter what comes. Remember this: after you have turned back to me and have been restored, make it your life mission to strengthen the faith of your brothers.”
33 “But Lord,” Peter replied, “I am ready to stand with you to the very end, even if it means prison or death!”
34 Jesus looked at him and prophesied, “Before the rooster crows in the morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Luke 22 6 A girl noticed Peter sitting in the firelight. Staring at him, she pointed him out and said, “This man is one of Jesus’ disciples!”
57 Peter flatly denied it, saying, “What are you talking about, girl? I don’t know him!”
58 A little while later, someone else spotted Peter and said, “I recognize you. You’re one of his, I know it!”
Peter again said, “I’m not one of his disciples.”
59 About an hour later, someone else identified Peter and insisted he was a disciple of Jesus, saying, “Look at him! He’s from Galilee just like Jesus. I know he’s one of them.”
60 But Peter was adamant. “Listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t you understand? I don’t even know him.” While the words were still in his mouth, the rooster crowed.
61 At that moment, the Lord, who was being led through the courtyard by his captors, turned around and gazed at Peter. All at once Peter remembered the words Jesus had prophesied over him, “Before the rooster crows in the morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 62 Peter burst into tears, ran off from the crowd, and wept bitterly.
Mark 16: 5 And as they stepped into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right, dressed in a long white robe. The women were startled and amazed. 6 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you’re here looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here—he has risen victoriously! Look! See the place where they laid him. 7 Run and tell his disciples, “even Peter”, that he is risen. He has gone ahead of you into Galilee and you will see him there, just like he told you.”
John 21: 15 After they had breakfast, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you burn with love[j] for me more than these?”
Peter answered, “Yes, Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!”
“Then take care of my lambs,”[l] Jesus said.
16 Jesus repeated his question the second time, “Simon, son of John, do you burn with love for me?”
Peter answered, “Yes, my Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
17 Then Jesus asked him again, “Peter, son of John, do you have great affection for me?”
Peter was saddened by being asked the third time and said, “My Lord, you know everything. You know that I burn with love for you!”
Jesus replied, “Then feed my lambs! 18 Peter, listen, when you were younger you made your own choices and you went where you pleased. But one day when you are old,[o] others will tie you up and escort you where you would not choose to go—and you will spread out your arms.” 19 (Jesus said this to Peter as a prophecy of what kind of death he would die, for the glory of God.) And then he said, “Peter, follow me!”
In a time of weakness and through a bad choice ( sin ) Peter had removed himself as one of Jesus’s people. Had he died I think he would have been lost to hell. The great news is that if you do this to yourself there is still a desire on the part of Jesus to restore you. Jesus really is the Great Shepherd
When I was a small boy and life was oh so simple, we had a simple little tool that was in just about all the homes at the time and that was a “ yard stick”. This is probably the earliest of training I would have got on the task of tracking things. It had so many uses back then. As kids wanting to be grown ups we were very interested in marking our height on a door casing and measuring it. It seemed like the higher the number the more worth you felt you had. If you were to compare yourself to someone else ( which often was the case ) you had to keep and eye on their feet to make sure they were not on their toes.
It was used to measure all sorts of things in the house as well. Mom used to use it in the sewing room as she cut and sewed material to make clothes. Sometimes it got used on my behind to bring me back into line. Today we are obsessed with measuring thing. Not so much with yardsticks anymore but in building the tape measure is still used a lot. In business there is often a spread sheet that is used to track or measure. As I worked in the Dairy production facility I used a number of these to measure various things like cost per liter, or to track packaging usage and waste. These measurements are used to determine value and profitability. But what about you?
How can you track or measure your value to your friends, family, business, church or neighborhood? The thing about measuring your value is that it has to be compared to someone else. The bible may teach us not to judge others but the world has us well trained in doing so. It’s almost funny to hear people say “ Hey don’t judge me!” as if they now have abandoned that type of thought. What they mostly mean is “Hey don’t call me on choosing to do what is wrong”. Life can really mess with one’s “sense of value” but our real value cannot be changed. Our worth is determined by what someone was willing to pay for it. Well God was willing to surrender His life for you so that makes each of us priceless. Just like governments print money and back it’s value God who never changes has put the price tag on your head. You have immense, incredible, value that never changes because God never changes.
The need to compare yourself to another is gone because when God designed you He put the same effort into each one of us. We all have things that we just seem to be good at and can touch others unlike any other. We also have weaknesses that allow us to work in community because we all have need of each other. Yes God had a great plan in mind when He designed us and the world that we live in. So the next time you look in the mirror just remember that the Almighty perfect, unchanging God took the time to design you just the way He wanted to so you would one day reveal Him to a world who has forgotten the One who establishes value. So tonight that is what you find me……… Just Thinking
I was at a men’s fellowship last evening and we were encouraged to dig into scripture to see if we could discover any information about Revival. The group is made up of men with different backgrounds and teaching. Most of the group are men who have retired from their working life. Anyway The facilitator went around the room to gather what everyone had gleaned. We concluded that prayer was a good beginning for anything including revival because as we know that if the Lord didn’t build it…..
As the evening went along I started to think about the days when my mind was so occupied with the strong feelings I felt for God. He was my everything and I knew it. I remembered and shared a vision the Lord gave me many moons ago when I really was just new in my walk with God. I was in worship at the first Christian Conference I had ever attended and decided to close my eyes while I sang to rid myself of the visual distractions.
I suddenly found myself standing before a judge in a courtroom setting and I quickly realized that it was me on trial. I remember thinking how unjust this was because I had not committed any crimes and in my opinion was a pretty good person. So as I faced the judge I was expecting to be exonerated as there had to be some mistake made. The judge began to read the charges that were made against me. He read for a few minutes which seemed an eternity for me. With each charge listed against me I felt more & more hopeless. The charges were true and I felt such shame. My children were there in this vision and I wanted to close their ears to what was being said of their dad. How would they ever love me again knowing their dad was anything but good. My view of the courtroom became limited as I could no longer lift my eyes under the weight of this shame. I wasn’t sure who the people in the sitting area were but if they knew me and were routing for me they would have changed their mind and distanced themselves far from the likes of me.
As the judge finished reading the list of charges against me he then asked how would I plea. I thought to myself, Was this a joke? Everything read was true and there was no fight left in me at all. I just wanted to die and the realization of what I really was. I continued to stare at the floor when I heard the sound of a courtroom door opening on the left side of the room. I somehow knew it was Jesus as my gaze remained down as He entered the room and made his way over to my side. I wondered if He had heard all those terrible things against me and if He did then why was he standing here? The judge still waiting for me to give a reply looked at Jesus as Jesus speaks on my behalf and says “ these crimes are listed to my account now and not his. The judge hit the gavel and said “ Case Dismissed. With that Jesus put His arm around me and led the children and I out of the courtroom and I opened my eyes and was still in worship. I wanted to cry but still had enough fear of man not to but I was close to being in shock as it was so real to me. As I shared it last night the realness of it came back to mind. I did shed a few tears though I wanted to really cry hard as I recalled what state my life was in without Jesus.
Jesus talks in scripture about those who are luke warm being spat out of His mouth. As I thought about my fellow Christian friends I thought that’s the state we are in now. We are luke warm when we need to be on fire.
So I pondered today why in the world we as well as many others would be luke warm? I think part of the reason for this is that I have lost sight of my daily need to walk with Him but letting Him lead the direction. If the sins were wiped clean before I became a Christian and I stood before the judge today things would still remain just as hopeless as they were that day. If all the sins I committed were wiped away except for those done in February I would still be sunk. Though I have been a Christian for years now I still desperately need God daily which is why He gave us His Holy Spirit.
It is my belief that many of us think that we are now in and so Jesus can wonder off and help those more in need. As time moves along I feel less and less thankful as I once again believe that this flesh of mine has been well trained not to sin any longer. I have a bible so I can just do what I think is right from what I read. This is such foolishness.
I should embrace Jesus and His sacrifice for me. I remain hopeless apart from Him. I continue to owe everything to Him. My good deeds have not somehow paid Him back. Besides one of the biggest mistakes we make is wanting to do this walk ourselves and in our own strength so we can show Father how well we have done on our own rather then leaning on Jesus everyday. Independence is about the poorest choice a Christian can make. He welcomed us into a new family so we really need to learn where we sit at the dinner table prepared for us.
I was thinking about the man who was lying on his mat at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years. That is a very long time and very likely was the majority of this man’s life. His situation was one where it was all but impossible for him to get the healing he was looking. Apparently every once in a while an angel would come and stir the waters of this pool and the first person to enter in after this happened was healed of whatever their affliction was.
So this man was crippled so rather then walking or running to the pool after this happened he had to crawl. Picture this for a moment. He is waiting for weeks which turn into months and finally the waters stir. He gets excited, rolls off his mat and begins to crawl. Suddenly he is covered by dust caused by the people running past to get to the water first. His heart sank as hope is dashed and he crawls back to his mat. Over the next year or two this same scenario is repeated over and over I wonder how many attempts were made by him for him to realize that this was never going to be the answer to his problem. It’s like laying out your financial plan and having it based on first winning the lottery.
So when I read in John 5 that Jesus asks the man “ Do you truly long to be healed?” ( TPT ) it made me wonder. When I first read the question I thought “ what a stupid question “ but we know that Jesus is anything but stupid so what was he getting at. So this is what I think. In that situation I would have certainly lost hope of winning the race to the pool. Then I would have been faced with a decision. Since this won’t change anything for me what do I do from here? With no money his options would be few. The point is that if you want things to change you need to try something new. This man did not so I am going to assume that he gave up.
When people get stuck in life sometimes that just accept things as they are and make that place home. In the son who became the prodigal had given up at the pen feeding pigs his story would have ended much differently. His options were few as well but he had to try something even against the odds of his dad accepting him back rather then just accepting things as they were.
Today many people are suffering with all kinds of physical and mental health challenges. What do you do when they come? Well many people today are being diagnosed with XYZ and the person accepts this proclamation as their lot in life and they lay on their mat and watch life pass by. Now perhaps you don’t know Jesus at least not in a real way. Maybe you do but your prayers have not changed your circumstances and you see that as Him saying no to you. So then we just nestle into whatever it condition it was that the doctor told us we had. For some it becomes our new identity. I can join a club of fellow people who suffer the same affliction. If your condition is made legitimate then you may become a speaker on behalf of your fellow suffers. Perhaps if it is sympathy and attention you wanted but never attained it before well you may have found a way.
So Jesus asks “ Do you truly long to be healed?” I’m sure the man at the pool knew everyone around there and their relatives. He was still alive so someone took care of him by proving food and drink perhaps a blanket. What did this man know how to do besides beg? It had been a long time since he worked. His whole world would change if he were healed. There goes the handouts that he had grown accustomed to. One thing that many of us fear is change. We cannot predict how the change will turn out and that stirs up fear. What if there was someone who you could trust completely. Let’s say that person loved you more then you loved yourself. This person already had a plan for your life that if you followed it you would be completely satisfied. Then you could surrender your life to someone like that and not need to fear.
So think about it. If you are sidelined with something and you just don’t know what you could do to change things then…. So Jesus asks “Do you truly long to be healed?”
This morning I found myself thinking about Jesus and His death. As a Christian we all know that it is His sacrifice that has allowed us to be accepted into the kingdom so I am not going to go there but this is where I am going.
There was a night long ago in my past where the fellowship that I attended was doing a bible study that was taught by Kay Arthur. We had her books and her video series but this particular lesson was on the night that Jesus surrendered himself to the religious authorities to suffer one of the most horrific periods that any man had ever endured. As I watched Kay describe what He was going through in great detail I found myself going into shock as I allowed myself to receive the truth of His suffering that He went through for my sake. When I say my sake I mean in a truly personal way and not the group type of understanding.
This was the night that the reality of what Jesus has done moved from my mind to my heart where I felt my own suffering that someone who loved me so very much was enduring this so I would not have to. I got to see through the eyes of my heart that this torture He was going through was unjust for Him but totally just for me. My life had earned suffering and death, not applause. He was abandoned by those he loved which would have been my fate. All my buddies that seemed so important to impress would all take off when things became unpleasant but it was happening to Him instead. This one friend I had, Jesus was the only friend who would stick by me when nobody else would and yet it was everyone but Him who got my best. Why would you stay with my when I was so unfaithful to me. I never deserved this love from you.
My heart was breaking but I didn’t want the people I was with to know how close to breaking I was. One of the men began to teach on the cat and nine tails but in a purely academic way that triggered such anger in me. I just discovered that Jesus was the best friend I ever had though I never realized it until now and also the reality of His death had hit me hard. I wanted to attack this man for his insensitivity! I wanted to grieve this loss I had just had but I seemed to be alone in this. I went home where the house was empty. My wife had just left with the kids just weeks before so I felt very alone. I allowed myself to go back to the thoughts I was having at the study. I became overwhelmed and I tried to tell Jesus how sorry I was but words could not express the pain I felt. I just knelt beside the bed and I let the dam go. I cried and sobbed buckets of tears that seemed to have been held back for years. This is what repentance must really have felt like. I had lived my life so wrong and been the poorest of friends to Jesus. I was no better then anyone and I realized it for the very first time.
I think that a part of me died with Jesus that night. When I had finished my sobbing I was a different person. I was a friend of Jesus now that did appreciate Him and did really love Him. My understanding had changed. He never chose me because I was so good or amazing but it was because He is who He is and very little to do with me. I just allowed myself to let the truth take root and change me. I was a sinful man born in sin so why did I think I had became something different. A worm does not transform into a butterfly unless it is willing to first allow itself a type of death for life to come forth from this.
This morning I was remembering who I had become and wondered what had happened to me that I no longer felt that new life flowing through me. I is all different and though my theology tells me that I belong to Him a great part of me feels like I was before this happened. As I pondered this a thought came drifting into mind. A word actually. “ ENTITLEMENT”. Somehow I think that I am now entitled to blessing and not suffering. I don’t need Jesus anymore as I “ saved” so I can move independently of Him. I looked up the word to refresh my memory of what this word really means:
ENTITLEMENT- he fact of having a right to something.
“full entitlement to fees and maintenance should be offered”
• THE amount to which a person has a right.
“annual leave entitlement”
the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.
“no wonder your kids have a sense of entitlement”
I was rescued by Him, so I could be part of the fellowship with He, Father, & Holy Spirit. I am meant and was made for this family and not to be independent or alone. How did I get so far from the truth? Perhaps it is time to repent once again. If you have forgotten what this word means
noun: repentance; plural noun: repentances
1. the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse.
“each person who turns to God in genuine repentance and faith will be saved”
Tuesday, January 9, 18
I HAVE THIS AWESOME FRIEND YOU SEE
WHO OFTEN HIDES HER SELF
A PART OF HER IS BROKEN
SO SHE DOESN’T SEE HER WEALTH
SHE DOESN’T SEE THE VALUE
DEPOSITED RIGHT FROM THE START
ON EVERY TEST SHE FAILS HERSELF
AND DAMAGES HER OWN HEART
OH THE DEVIL IS SO CRAFTY
AS HE SPEAKS HIS LIES TO HER
YOU’LL JUST NEVER BE ENOUGH OH CHILD
AND NOT WORTHY TO BE HEARD
THE OTHER GIRLS ARE OH SO SWEET
AS THEY LINE UP NEXT TO YOU
IF ONLY YOU WERE MORE LIKE THEM
SO ON THESE LIES YOU STEW
THE TRUTH YOU SEE IS GOD MADE YOU
WITH PURPOSE AND PLAN IN MIND
HE OFTEN IS REVEALED THROUGH YOU
BUT THE LIES HAVE LEFT YOU BLIND
YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO YOUR FATHER
AND TRUST HIS WORK IS GOOD
HIS HEART DELIGHTS IN WHO YOU ARE
IF YOU ONLY UNDERSTOOD
GOD’S MERCIES ARE FOR EVERYONE
IN THIS YOU DO BELIEVE
IT’S TIME TO LIFT YOUR EYES AND SAY
HIS LOVES I DO RECEIVE