Sacred Signature

If you’re in the Army you’ve seen or may have had the responsibility to even sign above the line that says “For the Commander” (or some other person of authority). That signature is as meaningful and powerful as that person taking your hand and signing their signature with your hand.

That is exactly what Paul is talking about in this verse. By doing or saying things in the Name of JESUS it’s the same as signing a memo as Him.

The only authority to do that is with thanks to GOD the Father in the knowledge of what JESUS has done for us by saving us on the Cross. And the proof that sacrifice was accepted by the Father is the Resurrection of JESUS that foreshadows that we, too, will rise with thanks into eternity.

What an awesome privilege and daunting responsibility to know how careful we should be as ambassadors of Christ not to misrepresent Him.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Nested Needs

Nested Needs (Matthew 6:24-34)

Anyone else telling this message would mention those little Russian Metryoshka dolls that nest one inside the other from tiniest to largest. They’re called Kokeshi in Japan. But I’m Italian so I think of the mixing bowls my grandmothers and mother used to knead dough for everything from cookies to pasta to bread. Little bowls in side larger bowls inside still larger bowls needed for kneading. Each with less or more of an ingredient or product of combining them in a mass.

That’s what JESUS is doing on a mountain teaching people who want to learn about Him. At first his message seems disconnected. But when you examine each of them it becomes clear He is talking about nested needs. There are some things you need to be or know or do before you can join the ingredients into the whole of Life and eternity with GOD. There is a recipe for righteousness.

In our selection for today, JESUS talks about not trying to serve two masters, GOD and things. The word “Mammon” (things) is usually translated as “money” but it’s more than that. It’s more properly understood as the old-fashioned word “goods”, like in “sporting goods”, things you acquire, getting. And the way JESUS uses it the word is used as an opposite to GOD. You can’t worship the true GOD Who is all about giving while you’re worshipping the false god of getting, Give Me.

Loving the true GOD, Who gives, makes us resemble Him by giving what He gives from love to anything we have. We hate the idea of grabbing to get and trying to build kingdoms in this life.

But worshipping the false god of goods, Give Me, focuses on what we want but don’t have. We hate GOD for not giving what we want when we want it.

With GOD we praise GOD and pray to use what He gives to use it to bless others. Worshipping Give Me replaces prayer with worry. Instead of resting in what we’re given and giving in return we worry what will happen if we give and don’t have for ourselves. What if we lose our job, our health, our youth…

One thing nests in another. One need inside the other. But JESUS explains the biggest bowl all the rest nest in is seeking GOD and His righteousness. When we do we return to the beginning of His talk when He first sat on the mountain and began to speak. To be blessed and whole as we’re intended to be we must be changed from the inside out.

Seeking GOD and His righteousness is admitting we can never live rightly on our own. Instead of getting we must give ourselves over to Him. It is only through GOD the Son, JESUS, that we have His Righteousness. We can’t get it but He gives it to us at the Cross when we give all of ourselves to Him.

Then, nested in Him, His Holy Spirit changes us from the inside out and all the nested bowls of our heart and life are flooded by Him. We stop seeking to get and seek only what He has given. And we overflow from our heart to the larger bowls of the hearts of others to the world with the Love He gives and we share.

There is a window I look out of every evening while waiting for my bus. I loved to see the thick bushes where birds darted in and out to their nests nestled in the branches. On Friday workers tore down those bushes to do landscaping. As I looked put over the dirt patches where bird homes had once been one lone bird came and sat on a post beside where its home had been. I exclaimed “Oh no!” And expected the bird to cry put in mourning. Instead, my own mourning unobserved, the bird made one great chirp and flew away unaffected. It knew, I think, better than I, that the same GOD Who housed and fed it before had a new home to give in His provision and love.

“”No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:24-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Evil Eyes

We can’t stop others from falsely accusing us of evil. They’re not seeing us but a reflection of themselves. #SeeMatthewChapter6Verse23

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“Steak” Your Life On It

Some people are all sizzle & no steak. Live a life of substance not sizzling slogans that go up in smoke. #quote See Matt 7:21

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Playing with Playboy

The world is mourning the death of Hugh Hefner, pervert publisher of Playboy magazine. When I think of all of the boys and men whose minds he poisoned I can only think of the words of JESUS:

“And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”

Luke 17:1 (ESV)

#Playboy #HughHefner

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The Value of Verified Vision

The Value of Verified Vision

“Perception is reality”…”The truth today…” Those sayings are popular today. And both are lies from Hell. Because they both deny the reality of Ultimate Reality and Ultimate Truth. They put flawed personal opinion, experience and emotion in place of GOD.

JESUS, GOD the Son, says He IS Truth. He is the Light of the World. So when He says that Light is necessary to see clearly, He says we must live in His Light and the Reality of the Truth that He is the only way to real Life and LORD if all reality. Otherwise the misperception of calling darkness light and evil good will only lead us to disastrous delusions.

I have vision problems. I suspected this when I went for an eye exam. I was to look through a binocular like setup and say what number I saw. There were no numbers. I could swear (in fact, I did, out loud, to my shame) there WERE NO NUMBERS. But those giving me the exam said there were. And the glowing green dots were easily visible, apparently, to the friend who had taken me for the test as well. I just couldn’t see the truth. But was willing to stake my life (and others, by driving) that there were no numbers. To get the truth I had to have what was true verified by the vision of others.

JESUS says that our vision of life is damaged. The way to Truth and Life are written in His Blood on the Cross. But to see them we need new vision from a new heart surrendered to Him. We must have our worldview and opinions of truth verified by Him. We must admit that what we thought was light was darkness and our life is wasted on what is not of Him. We need His Word (the Bible) and His Holy Spirit (by accepting His sacrifice as full payment for our sins). Then we will recognize our dark life is in a grave and we can follow Him out into true Life and eternal Light in the resurrection only He gives.

“”The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:22-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Needing to Kneel

GOD says soon every creature from glorious angel to every human to the demons of hell will “take a knee.” Not to dishonor the flag that gave them the freedom to become whiney millionaires but to honor JESUS Christ, King of Kings and LORD of Lords. Do you know Him?

#Priorities #NFL #TakeAKnee

“For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:9-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:3-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Investing in Eternity

Investing in Eternity

“Having the receipts” is slang today for having proof. What proof is there that you have eternal Life?

It seems confusing when we hear JESUS say that our hearts will be where our treasure is. We know somehow that JESUS condemns the love of money even if we can’t quote the verse that says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And that confusion is what condemns us because we automatically connect treasure with money.

But the word for treasure used in Matthew 6 is the place you keep what’s most valuable to you. A vault, a jewelry box, a safe. For parents who love their babies, the vault holding their greatest treasure is a crib. To a husband or wife whose wife or husband is driving that vault is a car. And for those who love JESUS above anyone or anything on earth, that vault is Heaven.

But let’s be honest. We can pretend we do that but how is that even possible? How can we fully understand GOD enough to love Him more than we love our wife or husband or children? The Apostle John will later call us out on this and say we can’t. Not unless we have receipts.

When JESUS says to store up treasure in Heaven instead of on earth He is talking about the Divine Deposit system. JESUS, GOD the Son, invested everything in us. He put aside His divinity and became fully human while refusing to use His power as GOD. He gave His Life for us to pay for us on the Cross. And His rising from the grave on our behalf is the receipt that He completely paid off any failures on our part to be worthy of Heaven.

The result of our using the faith He gives us to believe that results in the Holy Spirit deposited on our hearts. GOD the Holy Spirit reveals JESUS to us. And that allows us to invest in other lives because of Him. He so overflows our hearts that we deposit love in other lives as a sign of His living in us.Every act of love motivated by JESUS is a receipt that JESUS is in us. It is a deposit in Heaven.

If you believe JESUS invested everything for you to have eternal Life by depositing His Blood on the Cross, His Body in the grave and having the receipt of the Resurrection as His ownership of you and your complete forgiveness, you are a Christian. The Holy Spirit is deposited in your heart to help you change to invest Christ’s love in other lives for His sake.

JESUS is calling you to check your accounts. Monitor your investments. Everything else of flesh and blood, paper, silver and gold will be gone. But all you do for others because of Christ’s great love for you is an investment in eternity.

“”Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Lasting Fasting

Lasting Fasting

Most Martial Arts (Karate, Judo, etc.) seem the opposite of what they say. Although their name speaks of violence (Martial from Mars, the mythical war god) they avoid violence by redirecting the force of an attack to make the attacker powerless. A thrown punch by an attacker is pulled rather than blocked by the one being attacked. So the attacker’s own power is redirected against him and goes another way to make him powerless.

Fasting (not eating or doing something you otherwise would have eaten or done) is like that. You don’t just stop eating and starve yourself. You redirect the energy you would have given to eating another way to bless someone else.

As JESUS explains what following Him means on a mountaintop to those who want to know about Him, He mentions fasting. He says when you go without something, don’t make a big show of it. Make it a part of your normal lifestyle between you and GOD to redirect that energy for self to bless someone else.

JESUS says that if you go without eating and call attention to yourself for it you’re filling yourself up with attention. But if it’s a secret between you and GOD you redirect that energy spent on self to GOD and loving others in His Name.

Not eating? Spend that money you would have spent on a meal for a gift card to a food store for the homeless you pass. No homeless? Choose a charity or church. Need exercise? Help clean an elderly person’s home. Mow their lawn. Redirect the money, food, energy you would have spent on self to helping someone else through the power of the love of JESUS in you.

GOD is all powerful. But when Satan used what power GOD gave him to try to use death to stop JESUS, GOD the Son, GOD redirected Death into Life. JESUS used the very Cross meant to defeat Him as the means to defeat Death. He used His spilled Blood to wash those Who believe Him for it from sin. He used the Grave as His Doorway to open eternal Life to those who give up their lives to have the Life only He is and gives.

Fasting is meant to be a lasting lifestyle of Love. It redirects attention and blessings and resources from ourselves to the needy. Through the power of Love it is meant to show others the way to JESUS by not pointing to us but to Him. That love points from us into eternity.

“”And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:16-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Waiting at the Bus Stop For Your Ship to Come In

When you get as old as I am, you’re supposed to have wisdom to pass on to younger folks. I don’t know if they’d listen or if they can.

But if I have any advice in life it would be the importance of two things:

Believe in the LORD JESUS Christ & be saved.

And the truth of the saying, “Time and tide wait for no one.”

We all hear it when we’re young. We think we have forever but that’s only possible when you know you’re Blood bought by GOD the Son Who wants you to have eternal Life.

So first make sure you have eternity. And then cherish every moment of Life. Even those times that seem like Hell on earth. Shut out the noise. Breathe in the Breath of GOD and live that moment.

Because it will be gone like the tide pulling the perfect shell away from your feet just as you reach for it. And it will never return. You may settle but you will always hear the wave and seek that shell but never find it. Keep living. Keep breathing. Keep moving.

Don’t be the person who spent their life at the bus stop waiting for their ship to come in.

Especially in love. Especially in love. Especially when every part of your body, mind and soul says you’re in love.

When you open your eyes in the morning knowing life is worth living because you’ll see that face again and that is your objective of the day. To breathe more deeply in their presence.

But the tide pulls out. Don’t let go. Learn to swim. Build a boat. Fall on your hands and knees and grab that shell.

Then move with the tide. Move with time. They’ll be gone and you’ll be tossed into eternity and the arms of JESUS. Smiling. Having fully loved. Having been fully loved. Having no regrets.

I stand at the bus stop waiting for my ship to come in. But my feet are still wet. Because she swam without me but I told her in that moment. She has my shell in her memory and I have her memory in my shell, still calling me to swim.

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