Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wash and See

 "Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.  He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!" John 9:6-7


So many opinions and thoughts abound in this world and many claim that they are the ones that can truly "see." Their ideas are claimed to be right and some book or thought process becomes the latest fad. People get caught up in untruths thinking they are truth. Yet like the blind man they need Jesus' power to wash their eyes and see. We need His light to shine truth into our minds and illuminate the truth of God.

The greek word for "see" is horaĆ³. One meaning is "to see with the mind" (i.e. spiritually see),  perceive (with inward spiritual perception). Then we can "see with out minds" to attend to the things of God that we were blind to previously. He opens our eyes and allows us to see His ways.

 Unconsciously carrying things in this life that weigh our souls down ---we need Jesus to wash our eyes so we can see and be healed.  Layers are peeled back and a sharp mind for Christ comes forth. Sin causes us to be blind to the things we need to shed. The burdens our hearts carry that we need to put mud over and wash clean.

The miracle of the blind man seeing wasn't only for two thousand years ago, but for the ages. Believing we can be washed clean and experience abundant peace and clarity is for all of God's people. We must ask, believe and lean our whole selves on Christ. There can be no unwillingness to let go of old sin's or habits that waste too much time and take the focus off of our faith. This world pulls hard and it tugs and doesn't want to let us go. But we have to let the world go. The fads, trends, websites, magazines, latest books, constant materialism, entertainment, tv shows, movies and acquiring the latest "things"---they must be let go if we want to aquire Christ. As we seek holiness these things fall away and we stand before God submitting ourselves to His will. A life spent chasing holiness results in the fruits of the spirit and eternal life. A life spent chasing this world is chasing the wind. It passes away and chasing the world ends in nothing. Each fad---passes away. Each new tv show---ends and goes out of date. Each thing we aquire---eventually rots and rusts. God? He stands forever.

"The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever." Isaiah 40:8

After Jesus healed this blind man the Pharisee's questioned Him.  "Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them." John 9:16 

There are many in this world even after seeing miracles and the great hand of God in the creation all around them still deny Christ. There are great things done in front of our very eyes and we don't get it! The man said:

“Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind.  If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.” John 9:30-33

Jesus responds to them and tells them that they have a form of spiritual blindness. He turns their ideas and disbelief upside down.

Then Jesus told him,“I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”
Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”
“If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see. John 9:39-41

Claiming from our own wisdom that we can see, never realizing we are in fact blind and we hold ourselves back from a life of clarity, of healing, wisdom and seeing God's power. We place ourselves on a pedestal and our hearts remove God from His rightful place. We become blind because God is not in His rightful place and He is replaced with our own self attained learning.

There will be mockery, and there will be persecution. The life chasing Christ and all that He is will never be popular. Jesus was never popular. He was constantly questioned and persecuted until His death. Yet He is ruler of the world, sitting on His throne. He is above us, seated at the right hand of the Father. We all need to carry a mental image of this, and remember throughout our days, no matter what happens, He rules. May we always see Him and not be blind. May we pray that our layers of blindness are removed, and we only see Christ. He alone should be our world and anything that crowds Him out forsaken. Then we are truly like the blind man, able to see more than we ever imagined. Jesus will put the mud over our eyes and we can wash and see.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." Colossians 3:1

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Running to Keep Up


"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas."
Hebrews 13:8-9


One thing that is so wonderful about God's freedom is that we do not have to chase after every latest new spiritual idea and trend. There's no need to exhaust ourselves on every latest book and changing idea. We don't have to worry about devoting ourselves to one path and when popularity fades having to run to another. God's ways are true, right and never fade. We have peace because a great portion of our lives is not taken up by chasing the ever fleeting trends of the world.

"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." Psalm 90:2

God is the same as He was yesterday, and He will be the same tomorrow. Five hundred years ago He was the same and five hundred years from now He will be the same. He doesn't change the fashions or the technology on us so we are always struggling to keep up with Him. We don't have to keep up with God. We can run to His healing words and His healing life and He is the same. His word remains unchanging throughout our lifetime. We can read His promises thirty years from now and they remain the Rock which we can build our lives on. It's so comforting to know there are no shifting sands with God. He won't pull the rug out from under us one day. Unlike our human character, God will not falter or fail us. He is true and faithful. 

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17

As times change in a very fast paced world, technology rushes forward, and pop culture comes out with the latest and greatest we can rest in God's arms of peace. We should have discernment of what we'd like to keep up with and what part of the busy rush is best left behind. A life can easily be lived "chasing the wind" as Solomon says and it quickly flies by. 

"And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:17

The old wisdom of years past was that new technology and trends were met with skepticism. If it made one live beyond their means, become a slave to it or compromised ones morals it was seen as unnecessary. They carefully judged what would really improve their lives and what changes were wise to open the door too. People wanted to keep their hearts and minds intact and right with God and they used wise discretion.

"Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist." Proverbs 23:4

Today God is seen as outdated by many. His words are seen as no longer relevant in today's society, because they are "old." Truth doesn't go out of style and this is why God is unchanging. He is not going to come out with an updated edition of His word every year. Imagine the confusion and busy rush to keep up. Truth is truth, God is God, and human sin is human sin in any generation and we are in need of Jesus blood covering us every day. Just because we now can see someone's face over skype and type an email that reaches someone across the world in a manner of seconds does not mean we are in any less need of God. The technology around us and human advances does not take away man's sin and the need to be redeemed. Human minds may think our advances take us past God or make us like God, but our need for Him remains.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed." Malachi 3:6

We are not consumed by an untruths, half truths, and lies. No new idea can rush in and take over when a life is built on the rock of unchanging faith. We don't dwell in the pools of trends for too long or we know they flood over the other more important truths. Wise people spend time getting to know the eternal truths and hiding them in their hearts. They do not spend large quantities of time pursuing what will change in a few weeks or months. A fools time was then spent chasing the world which will pass away, and then they have truly been chasing the wind. 

"Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!" Psalm 39:6 

Those who follow God and chase His eternal truths never worry about keeping up. Our minds are fixed in perfect peace and our hearts in the shadow of His never fading truth. Here we find peace and fulfillment as the busy rush goes on around us and we remain unscathed.

"Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it." Jeremiah 6:16



Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Blazing Ones

"The Patronage of Saint George"

"Wake up, wake up, O Lord! Clothe yourself with strength! Flex your mighty right arm! Rouse yourself as in the days of old when you slew Egypt, the dragon of the Nile." Isaiah 51:9

 The wind blows strong and hard many days and it is hard to walk against it. Discouragement sets in wondering if we are strong enough to keep walking through the cold.  The enemy is strong at both sides and wants to oppress and confuse, but God's warmth holds safe and strong. A battle rages in the mind between confusion, chaos and the sharp sword of truth.

"Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Can we love as we should? Unselfishly, in servant-hood, death to the passions that taint us and threaten the ones we love. We can die to ourselves when we accept that is Christ-like. He did the work for us and we need only to accept Him as He is and all that He asks of us. Dying to self is not popular nor often preached in churches, but it is required of us. There is no warm and fuzzy feeling as the grafts of holiness over the grafts of dysfunction and sin may cause pain and discomfort as they take hold. Wondering if we have the strength to allow the sicknesses of the past to be slain or live in the comfort of the familiar discontent.

"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galations 5:24

The voices and screens of entertainment, and authors of the latest book and the radio and the news. The voices threaten to overtake truth and vision becomes dimmed and foggy. Half truths seem appealing and many mouths agree with them. Turning to the source of truth, the clear truth where there no fog, only light, is the answer.

"For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." Hebrews 4:12

Will this path be worth it we wonder? The hot furnace, the struggle, the wanting to give in. Wondering if we have the strength to walk the path of Truth. Saying no to another life we could have had, one that seems easier but is really empty. The struggle to live the one that is harder but comes with depth and wisdom. Going against the path of culture that puts many stumbling blocks in our path, can we be wise and strong enough to remove the rocks in our path?

"But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:20-24

Few seem to sustain it, to not give into the brokenness and dysfunction that threatens to overtake. To not give in to the culture, the status quo. Few can fight what is deemed normal. They dabble in half truths they think to stay alive and they stay half baked. The truth of God is never fully realized in their lives because of muddled thinking, stubbornness, refusal to allow Christ to overtake the heart. A life not fully lived enmeshed in God's Holy Truth is a life that was not given over to it's full potential were it lived in the shadow of God's wings. We doubt God's promises, the One who can never lie. The One who is truth, speaks truth, is the living truth. The One whose promises can never fail.

"He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection." Psalm 91:4

Wondering if we are brave enough to fight the good fight, picking up the armor that is dented and setting out again. Slaying lies, half truths, evil ideas and words that are not from The Word. Recognizing the dragons inside ourselves that need slaying first before we go out to be Christ's soldiers. Allowing ourselves to be pruned to bear fruit, the fruit of holiness, contentment, love, peace, unselfishness, and a gentle tongue.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:1-6

Will we be the brave ones--- the blazing ones, the ones who won't walk in the old patterns, but will tread the new ones. Trusting God's armor is strong enough, more than enough, that He is who He says He is.

"Harness the horses; mount, O horsemen! Take your stations with your helmets, polish your spears, put on your armor!" Jeremiah 46:4

Trusting God so that those after us will walk the path of victory that we were brave enough to walk, that those before us neglected, slaying the confusion and envy that haunts us so it is dead. Trampling it down so it can never rise again. Out of the ashes and the dust comes God's victory, held strongly in the hand His sword of Truth. Slaying all evil, all sin, and all unholiness, giving rise to His truth and righteousness. Putting on His armor, holding on to His right hand we shall prevail.

"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." Ephesians 6:13

As we set our faces as flint, for our husbands, wives, children, and our children's children, may we never give up, always holding our sword of Truth in front of us. The prophets, the prophetesses, God's children, His Holy Ones, His loved ones, His cherished ones,  His anointed ones arise to victory.

"But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame." Isaiah 50:7

"In that day the Lord will take his terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling, writhing serpent. He will kill the dragon of the sea." Isaiah 27:1

***Pictures of St. George usually show him killing a dragon to rescue a beautiful lady. The dragon stands for wickedness. The lady stands for God's holy truth. St. George was a brave martyr who was victorious over the devil.