Greater Lessness

Greater Lessness

Humility. Meekness. It has been compared to a stallion with a bridle. Powerful. Knowing it. But willing to use power to serve.

Humility is not having a low opinion of yourself. It is knowing that whatever power you think you have even over your own body is a gift and not given because you earned it but to use to serve others.

In Christ it is knowing you are no lower than any king, and can therefore speak Truth to power regardless of the consequences. And it is also knowing that you are no higher than the poorest soul on earth because they are included in the people you serve. Every human being is in need of JESUS and there is no soul higher or lower than yours that you can’t tell about Him.

That is why JESUS says that the third step to being wholly happy is to be meek or gentle. It is to realize we are holy because JESUS has given us eternal Life though we are totally undeserving, to mourn the cost it was to JESUS through a life of limitation, temptation, torture and death for us and mourn the greatness of our sin. And, having the Holy Spirit plead with us to be comforted by Christ’s resurrection, we are made humble at the realization of our equality with every other human being. After the terrifying realization of our neediness and sinfulness we reach the gentleness of realizing our equality with humanity.

Scripture says that the greatest human that ever lived besides JESUS Himself, no matter how holy or powerful they may have seemed, was as much a sinner and as much in need of JESUS as we are. And the poorest, most wretched and most sinful person who ever lived was, is or will be no more in need of JESUS than we are.

JESUS demonstrated His meekness and humility by being GOD the Son yet becoming human to suffer and die for us. He was no less GOD the Son in flesh. As He said, He could have called on legions of angels and could have used His power to glorify Himself at any time. Yet He chose to submit. The greatest King rode a donkey. The Creator of the Cosmos washed dirty feet.

So we are able to accept both our GOD-given strengths and our human weakness and see our life on earth as a level field that we are called to serve GOD on, nowhere too high and nowhere too low to serve. And when we serve to serve gently, meekly. We treat everyone as better than ourselves as servants though we know intrinsically we are of no less worth. We serve from strength. We seek to have “greater lessness” while thinking no less of ourselves or others.

Even if you are not in the Army you know that a General is as good as it gets. I was working for the Army Chaplaincy as a civilian when I saw humility in action.

The Chief of Chaplains (top officer in the Chaplaincy), a 2-star general, had just gotten done addressing us & departed. As I was leaving the room, the Public Affairs person took me to the side and said “The Chief wants to see you!” Before I could panic, the Chief of Chaplains, who towered over me, was in front of me & shaking my hand, passing his coin to me in the process. (Brass coins are given in the Army as a sign of achievement or doing your job well).

Afterward, his escort said “That coin is more special than you know! The Chief was already in his van when he said he forgot to give you his coin. Rather than handing it to someone else to give you, he insisted on giving it to you himself.”

A 2-star General going out of his way not only rewarding me, but doing it himself when he could have delegated it to a dozen other people.

A Colonel who regularly invited me along to get haircuts when he went. And reminded me about the appointments.

A retired Colonel who takes me to do errands because I can’t drive.

That’s meekness. That’s humility from those who recognized the cost incurred by Christ to save them because of their sin and their equality with every sinning soul, including mine, on earth.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:5‬ ‭ASV‬‬

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Meaning for Mourning

Meaning for Mourning

The worst part of life is the loss of it. Death of loved ones. The thought of our own death. Even the passing life of the seasons, of animals, of plants, all have a way of breaking our hearts and making us mourn the loss of life.

JESUS is sitting on a mountainside teaching those who are following Him to be healed to keep them from death. They think that will make them happy but He is teaching them more than they bargained for. He is teaching them not just how to have temporary happiness until they die but to die so they will be wholly happy in this life and for eternity in the Life to come.

The first step is to admit that they have nothing in themselves that is good or holy. And, coming to Him, realize they are holy if they belong to Him by giving themselves to GOD the Son with all their hearts. Being Spiritual paupers with no good thing in themselves they…and we, if we are willing…give ourselves to JESUS and have every blessing of the Kingdom of GOD because of Him.

The second step is to mourn. We all know the pain of mourning, whether it is the loss of a pet or a loving grandparent, the death of the relationship we relied upon or the reminder of our own soon coming step into the eternal unknown. Death grabs us by the heart and squeezes the breath from our lungs, hope from our life and tears from our eyes.

JESUS says that once we realize our Spiritual poverty and that JESUS offers us the joy of Heaven we must mourn at the price He paid for it. This is a key element many overlook to see if their Christianity and their basis to be truly, wholly happy is real. The less you value the gift or the person giving it the less you will value it and the person and the more likely you are to take them both for granted. But when you realize what your living in your own power cost JESUS until that moment, serving Satan by your disobedience to GOD, it should make you mourn.

GOD the Son, the unimaginably limitless, smothered Himself, strangled Himself, chained Himself, imprisoned Himself, in clay flesh for us. He allowed Himself to be tormented beyond anything any of us will experience. He allowed Himself to suffer hunger, thirst, homelessness, fatigue, and every other human limitation. He allowed His limitless dignity to be ripped away by being shamed in front of the shameless world, stark naked. He allowed His Body to be ripped open with whips, thorns, and spikes while He lived and desecrated with a spear when He was dead. Perhaps worst of all, He who was absolutely pure and innocent allowed every disgusting, vile and deadly offense to GOD and humanity to be piled on Himself.

JESUS suffered every thing we mourn about, including death, to keep us from suffering torment forever. And in our Spiritual poverty, if we understand that, it will make us mourn.

We will mourn with the realization we deserve eternal punishment and hell. We will mourn for what our selfishness put JESUS through. We will mourn the torturous life of temptation and agonizing death of JESUS caused by us. And the more we “get it”, the deeper our mourning will be.

That is why so many hate the Name of JESUS. Because whatever they believe or don’t believe somehow they know of what He suffered. And they hate the realization of what that means as they can’t help seeing Him in their mind’s eye at the mention of His Name. The face they cannot face without facing their own guilt.

That is why there was so much uproar at how gory Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ (which I recommend) was. The same people who watch gore nightly on TV and pay to see it in “slasher” movies protested at seeing the representation of the beaten and battered Son of GOD in pools of blood. Because they knew every whiplash, every hammer blow, should have been on them.

JESUS says in order to be wholly happy we must know that we are made holy by His offering us the Kingdom of Heaven in return for our recognition of having nothing of worth in ourselves to offer for it. And to mourn the life of death we lived and the death the Creator of Life suffered for us in order for us to have it.

But then, He says, we shall be comforted. By knowing He conquered death for us and lives in Glory as our King. By knowing we have eternal Life and joy with Him to worship Him for what He did for us. By knowing He is always with us now and will be for eternity. By loving Him so much for what He has done for us that we want to do everything we can for others in His Name. And by knowing that we will be resurrected as He was because of His death and resurrection for us.

Mourning has meaning because the loss of Life only serves as a taste of eternal life available to us from JESUS whose death we mourn but resurrection we celebrate as ours.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:4‬ ‭ASV‬‬

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Holy Happy

Holy Happy

The only way to be wholly happy is to be happy because you’ve been made holy.

Some wannabe Bible teachers these days don’t bother studying the original languages of the Bible but click over on their iphone Bible to a list of all of the different meanings of a word and use any of the different meanings for a word regardless of which definition is intended by how it’s used. Those cutesy rewrites lose the original meaning of the Scriptures and end up as misquotes of Scripture on Facebook. That is a serious problem. And that’s what has happened to the word “Blessed.”

One of the meanings of the Greek word translated “blessed” in the New Testament is plain old “happy.” But the majority of the times that happiness has a connection. It’s not just emotional happiness. It’s not just life going your way happiness. It is a happiness of wholeness brought about by GOD showing His happiness towards us. Even the ancient Greek philosophers used it in this way of the gods smiling down on a person.

In the list of “blesseds” JESUS uses called “The Beatitudes” some poor paraphrases use “Happy” instead of blessed. And that’s wrong. If you read the verses the circumstances would have any sane person UNhappy. But the people JESUS describes in this list (and that are described most times throughout the New Testament) are not just emotionally or circumstantially happy, if at all. They are made or being made holy by GOD. They are being changed, cleaned up, taught, cared for, by GOD. And because of having GOD with them, cleansing them, even if the scrubbing hurts from time to time, they can be wholly happy beyond the emotions or circumstances of life.

The first JESUS mentions in the list in Matthew chapter 5 is the first step in becoming a Christian. Being poor in Spirit. Some call it being Spiritually bankrupt. Being poor certainly never made anyone happy. And neither will being Spiritually poor. Realizing you have absolutely nothing in you that deserves to be saved from death is the unhappiest moment in life. Nothing you have done or could do can save you. And there is no way you can claim “tried to” as an excuse or “better than them” as a credit. When you realize that no matter what you have thought or done in life it is not good enough and your heart is broken over what you have done, you are a Spiritual beggar.

And that is exactly when GOD blesses you. As JESUS says, they now have the Kingdom of Heaven available.

Before realizing their need, they thought they were the ruler of their own lives. Most of their thinking and actions were against others and against GOD to keep themselves going, to get control and avoid sliding down the gravel hill of life into the pit. That pit was meaningless gathering before letting all go at death. Or pleasure that slid away as fast as gotten. Or relationships or even family that slip away in anger or death or circumstance.

But now that they realize they have nothing in themselves worthy of GOD giving them anything they are open to receiving the Kingdom of Heaven because they are ready to accept JESUS, not themselves or even family or anyone else, as King. In time they will learn the fulness of JESUS making them holy through His death for them and resurrection for them. They will realize that they are a holy priesthood, a kingdom of priests, bought and made Spiritually rich by belonging to JESUS.

But the first step is to acknowledge the need for King JESUS. And that is the blessing, not from happy emotions (it’s emotionally devastating when fully realized). Not from circumstances (JESUS usually leads us through terrible circumstances, the Valley of the Shadow of Death…realizing we can’t help ourselves, to come to Him). But blessedness realizing that although we have nothing, He is everything. And through Him we have the Spiritual blessings of the Kingdom if Heaven, Home with GOD in joy forever, whatever unhappiness we have here and now. Only then can we be wholly happy, knowing that in JESUS we are made holy because we are His.

“and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:2-3‬ ‭ASV‬‬

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Student Teachers

Student Teachers

JESUS began His ministry by teaching about Who He is as the promised Messiah. And that He, the Messiah the Scriptures had predicted, is GOD the Son, offering a new Life as citizens of His Kingdom. The class demonstrations were healings and the classroom was wherever He travelled.

Scripture seems to say that JESUS hardly noticed the crowds that followed Him from everywhere. Every town that heard of Him and His miracles had those who wanted more of His teaching, more healing. And they swarmed him like the surf swarms the seashore. Yet it seems to be suddenly that He noticed them.

You know the feeling. You’re so engrossed in your work that you’re shocked to see others leaving at the end of the day or so engrossed in a book that you don’t notice someone enter the room until they speak. JESUS had been so busy healing and teaching that when He noticed the crowds He went up high on a hill where they could hear Him teach more clearly. He had known they were there but waited until class was in session for class to begin.

His hand-chosen disciples saw He was about to teach and they sat closest to hear Him best. Little did they know they were not just disciples, students, but were about to become student-teachers, teaching others as they learned what they learned as they learned it. And that is your job, too. It is the job of every human being though most don’t realize it.

Even JESUS was a student. I struggled with this at first. How could GOD the Son grow in wisdom as a boy as Scripture says He did? He knew the hearts of those around Him. He knew the future. How could the One Who created all things and by Whom all things were held together learn anything?

Then I realized that’s what He meant when He said that He did only what He saw His Father do. What JESUS was a student of was how to be human and limit His deity in His humanity to not destroy but only give what we are able to handle. Just as GOD told Moses He could not reveal all of Himself to Moses or Moses would be destroyed. Just how merely speaking to Moses sounded like terrifying thunder the rest if Israel could not handle hearing and how the exposure of Moses to what little more of the Presence of GOD than others had made his face glow so he had to cover it. JESUS learned how to love and serve others within the limitations of humanity in portions that would not destroy them in its power as He taught it. He taught and His disciples learned and learned to teach as He did.

If you are not a Christian, and you are reading or hearing this, you are being called. Not to a job. Not to a social position or family but to your life purpose: to be a student-teacher of the Gospel. To learn about JESUS. To accept His offer of eternal Life.

And if you are or once you are a Christian, you are called to continue learning about Him and share what He teaches you to others. To be disciples. Student-teachers. Whatever your job in life it is ultimately to be a student-teacher about JESUS and what He means and does in your particular circumstances. Not necessarily by preaching or teaching in Sunday School. But in casual conversations. As you learn. As you get excited about what you learn. Wherever. To whomever.

Spiritually and mentally healed (and perhaps physically healed if that’s what He intends for us), we are all called to sit and listen to JESUS and share Life with Him and from Him with others. This is what will later become His command to all Who would follow Him, known as the Great Commission. And that is His gift, His call, His command to you today. Come and hear what He teaches. Learn it. And teach others.

“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Gone Fishin’

Gone Fishin’

Have you ever been in great need of help but when seeking and praying to GOD felt as if He has hung up a sign that said “Gone Fishin'”? That’s how John the Baptist felt when JESUS had triumphed over Satan, heard about John being locked up in prison for opposing Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife, and went the other direction instead of helping John.

We’ll find out later what John said and did about it. But for now let’s look at why JESUS went fishing in Galilee rather than helping John.

Galilee was a strange mix between the Wild West, backwater towns, and the ‘Hood. When Joshua inherited command after Moses and took over the land from the Canaanites, some were never driven out of Galilee. There was always foreign blood there. Yet others held a firm longing for Messiah. When Solomon gave his father’s friend Hiram cities in Galilee to say thanks for all his help building the Temple, Hiram was insulted at being given such trashy cities. When invaders came and went, Galilee was where the refuse of the population was left and left a gene pool of fighters we can see resulting in the big fisherman in a warrior body, Simon. And because of those invasions, trade routes and roads came through from all around to make a distinctive dialect of Galilee.

When JESUS heard John was imprisoned, He went the other way. He went to Galilee. He went to popular Capernaum. He went to Nazareth that would become known as His home town. He went to the hills of harvest in Zebulon, the mountains and shores of the Sea of Galilee in Naphtali. And to the Sea of Galilee itself.

All along the way, to the Jewish people whose ancestors had such turmoil, to the half-breeds and Canaanites, and to those who still trusted to see Messiah, the Hope of David, He preached one message. Repent.

This is the same message John the Baptist had preached. “Stop and think! You need to change!” But there was an important difference. John said, in effect, “Prepare yourselves for the One Who can change you.” JESUS was saying, in effect, “I AM here to change you.”

JESUS went fishing. For followers. And He found fisherman on the shores of Galilee willing to leave everything they had known or wanted to follow Him. He called them to learn how to spread His net of new Life to bring others as well. As the net unfolded it revealed the entire Gospel how the Messiah they longed for had come. How He would live for them, die for them, and conquer death for them as His followers in His Kingdom. He announced in the synagogues that the Promise they read about was fulfilled in Him and filled His nets with those healed Spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.
His net spread so wide it encompasses not only Gallilee but 10 cities plus Jerusalem and the area of Judea and beyond…all the area John had influenced and so much more. He built a tidal wave of followers that John would soon see.

When GOD seems to have put up His “Gone Fishing” sign it is not because He isn’t listening or acting. He is pulling His net around you to bring you closer. He is using your circumstances to use you to bring others closer to Him. He is saying “Come. Change. Heal. And follow Me!”

“Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:12-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Serving Spirits

Serving Spirits

We have no trouble understanding that there are light waves all around us that our eyes can’t see, sounds only a dog can hear, and that all of the radio waves and electronic signals going to our devices and phones are all around us, unseen.

But we don’t like to think about being surrounded by spirits. Not the ghosts of the dead. Scripture says that they are not roaming on earth but at Home with Christ or being held in torment to join Satan in the pit on Judgment Day. Not dead humans but spirits…angels…who are very much alive though not in the sense we understand. They are spirits created to serve.

JESUS bested the devil in the wilderness, refusing to serve Satan and ordering him to get gone. And Satan, being nothing more than a rebellious angel who had refused to serve but demanded service, had no choice but to flee the Presence of GOD the Son when told.

And immediately upon Satan leaving, angels came to minister to JESUS. The sense of the Greek word is that the angels had been standing by watching but could not approach until the results of this struggle the Holy Spirit had led JESUS to have with Satan was through. They were like those encircling a boxing ring, ready with water and towels to care for Christ after He knocked the devil out of the ring.

The word used for the angels caring for JESUS is the word churches get the word “deacon” from. It literally means food server. That’s how the role of deacons was started by literally serving food to widows who had no one else to provide food for them. And it may mean that the angels literally served food to JESUS after He had gone without food at least 40 days when tested by Satan. JESUS said He came to serve, not to be served. And that was a sort of pun since He not only served others by washing the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper but served them food, the bread and wine, at table. And, of course, JESUS served others through healing them and ultimately through providing His own Life for them (and us) as our Substitute on the Cross.

We are called to serve. As that famous theologian, folk singer Bob Dylan said, “Ya gotta serve somebody.” Angels were created to serve us by obeying GOD but some have fallen into serving angels by praying to them and focusing on them. Refusing to serve JESUS has you serving Satan by default.

Some believe in Guardian Angels but use texts that Satan applies to JESUS, not to humans. And Paul speaks of serving angels not as angels but having served what we thought were humans but were angels on a mission…perhaps to report on us. And when Elijah is fed it is in service to GOD’s orders not Elijah’s.

When Peter is freed by an angel from prison it’s not in service to Peter but of the Holy Spirit Who has a mission to do with Peter. And, unable to believe it’s really Peter at the door, they believe it’s his angel. Was this good theology? Did they mean ghost? We don’t know but JESUS tells us little ones have angels in the Presence of GOD. I think the case could be made that we have a placeholder in Heaven reserved for us for the time we arrive Home after having accepted what Christ has done to give us eternal Life. Angels may stand in our place until we get there through the Blood of JESUS. But angels always serve GOD and we are the object of the service or simply bystanders like birds in the trees as angels work on behalf of GOD to do His Will.

Angels comforted Christ by service and our souls are meant, born of the Holy Spirit, to serve Christ as well by blessing others by word by physical need and by Spiritual and physical strength. We are to be serving spirits serving other humans in the power of the Holy Spirit in love of JESUS and so they may come to know and serve Him by serving others themselves.

“Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Standing in Blood

Attended a Bible Study with Billy Graham today! Wellll…Chaplain Billy Graham. 😏 He did a good job, too, becsuse he made a point I like to make. As he puts it, all of our deeds are “in the Cross”, the result of Salvation making us want to please JESUS. I use the phrase “in the shadow of the Cross”, produced by Christ’s Spirit through us and nothing outside of Christ’s accomplishments we can count as good works. We are “filling in” what Christ’s work does in the context of today and our situations, including His sufferings (see Colossians 1:24). But it’s still Christ doing it not us.

Another great illustration is from the original Ben Hur where the Blood of Christ washes down through the rain into the cave where Judah Ben-Hur’s family and love interest are hiding in their leprosy and they are healed. We stand in Christ’s healing Blood and anything we do is through His Blood as a result of His Grace not ourselves.

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The Love of Judas

The Love of Judas

Think of an evil king offering a good man all his power and all his kingdoms. Good news, right? The end of torture, food for the hungry, money for the poor, help for the sick, leadership with compassion and love! Even if the good man were another king this would all be good, right?

JESUS was being tested by Satan in the desert. JESUS had been led there by the Holy Spirit like a sailboat driven along by the wind in order to strengthen His humanity to not use His deity for Himself.

Satan carries JESUS to the top of a high mountain and Scripture says Satan offers all of the kingdoms of the world “and all their glory” to JESUS if JESUS will simply kneel to Satan and worship him. The hungry fed. The sick healed. The demon-possessed clean. JESUS could free children from child molesters and wives from their abusers from under the evil Satan if He just simply showed humility and kneeled. That can’t possibly be wrong, can it? Isn’t humility a good thing? JESUS says Himself later in Scripture that He’s humble so why not show it now? He says Satan is the prince of this world so for all we know Satan really has the power to give what he says. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that Satan isn’t GOD. JESUS is. There are not two kings on top of that mountain. Only JESUS. GOD the Son is worthy of worship, in the Name of GOD the Father, in the unity of GOD the Holy Spirit. But Satan is a dog telling his Master to beg.

So often in Life we lose sight that there are not two kingdoms, no ying and yang of equal power or equal light and dark of the same Force. Only GOD is King. Satan is just a rebel among rebels and only leads what he is allowed to lead for the purposes of GOD.

Satan is only a dog in a kennel thinking it has more power than it does. The dog Satan may bark threats and whine promises and other dogs might cower, but JESUS is Master and decides what freedoms to give it, and then only on a leash.

JESUS was approaching the time to be crucified and a friend and follower of JESUS named Mary washed His feet with expensive perfume and her hair. Judas Iscariot protested this waste saying that perfume could have been sold to feed the poor. Was Mary being foolish? Was JESUS being cruel to say “You’ll always have the poor to help but you won’t always have Me here”?

Judas was barking from the kennel. He had been stealing the money the disciples specifically kept and was only sorry this money hadn’t gotten into his hands. JESUS was saying if you’re so generous you would have given already and will always have an opportunity, knowing Judas wouldn’t put actions to his lies.

Satan only had Satan in mind when making his “offer.” Judas only had Judas in mind when making his. But they are liars. Their acts of kindness are covers for evil.

Only GOD is worthy of worship. GOD the Son refused to bow to evil or flinch at the dog ordering his Master to kneel, just as He refused to treat the plot of Judas as kindness. Serving GOD under King JESUS means kindness is balanced with wisdom in Whom we worship. It means being discerning.

Evil people disguise themselves as good. Murderers of babies pretend to be health care. Haters of GOD vote against Him, disobey Him and claim the moral high ground as if they have higher power than the Source of Morality, twisting His Words. Wolves will oppose other wolves from being kept out of the sheep pen. And Judases will complain money they weren’t able to steal was kept from the poor but use it to serve Satan and try to overthrow the Kingdom.

JESUS is our example not to bow before Satan no matter how tempting the offer or how good an imitation of goodness he makes. Only GOD the Son in the Name of GOD the Father and unity of GOD the Holy Spirit…JESUS Who bought you at the Cross at the price of His own life for yours… is worthy of worship. He who died and rose from the dead to give you eternal Life, GOD the Son, calls us to follow Him to Life, not killing babies. And to protecting His sheep not allowing those who escaped the wolves to be fooled into exposure to wolves again.

Worship JESUS in wisdom. The seeming generosity of Satan is only an attempt to fool you into his service and steal your soul.

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:8-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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The Doubt Diet

The Doubt Diet

Keep fatty, non-nutritious things out of your mouth, exercise more, and you will be healthier. It is a simple plan except if you are human.

Healthy is hard for most of us and that includes being Spiritually healthy by keeping the word “if” out of our minds, mouths and hearts when thinking about GOD. “If you loved me…If I had what they have…If only…If you really did…” The word “if” for humans is like eating a pound of bacon, a pound of sugar and a pound of salt every day. You are damaging yourself physically the way doubt damages you psychologically and Spiritually.

JESUS was being tested by Satan who physically carries Him to the very top of the Temple in Jerusalem and says words to the effect of “If You really are GOD the Son, throw yourself off and let the angels catch you like Scripture says they will.”

Satan would win with the first step JESUS took off of that Temple. JESUS would have stepped into letting Satan control what He did. To try to prove what He knew to be true would only show doubt. And it would prove nothing to Satan who already knew who He was. Seeing wouldn’t save Satan. It would only make JESUS more of a target.

The response JESUS gives is the Scriptural answer that we are not to put GOD to the test. In effect we are not to allow doubt to enter our minds or try to get GOD to prove Himself to us. We are to go on a doubt diet and refuse to use any circumstance or desire as an excuse to say “if.”

Believers in JESUS are those who realize GOD the Son paid the death penalty they owed because they offended GOD the Father. They are empowered by the Holy Spirit given through belief in Christ’s finished work for them to have eternal Life with Him.

The Doubt Diet has the Christian refuse to take in the thought of “if” there is a better way than GOD’s. There is no “leap of faith”, no testing GOD to prove Himself, no possible “Ah ha! I knew if you just did it my way…!” There is just simple, trusting obedience as JESUS says “Follow Me” and we do. That is the exercise our souls need to keep the weight of doubt away. We can’t do it on our own but the Holy Spirit empowers us when we ask.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:5-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Bread Spread: The Flavorful Life

Bread Spread

There is nothing like a hot, chewy pretzel from a New York pushcart. I still remember them from my childhood and the squeak the soft dough would make as you bit into them. But as good as the doughy, bread-like pretzels were, they needed those huge crystals of salt added on top and the tangy mustard squished over it all for the full effect.

Or a hot piece of Italian bread the tip of the loaf always reminding me of my grandma’s elbow until the loaf was sliced. The bread was okay on its own but nothing in comparison to the same pillow soft center and crispy, flakey crust oozing with olive oil and smothered in garlic, dusted with parmesan cheese and lightly toasted in the oven.

Bread was never meant to be eaten by itself. It is always intended to be in conjunction with something else…oil or fish or more. The bread is edible but the real pleasure comes from the spread.

In Matthew 4:4 JESUS has been led to go out into the desert to be tempted by the devil. It is time for him to stretch into this humanity His Deity has been born into, setting aside much of His power to do so but fully GOD just the same. Like a woman stretching her fingers inside a glove to try them on for size or a man testing the limits of a tool, Christ is allowing His humanity to be stretched to its limits in order to associate with our suffering.

Part of that was hunger. JESUS had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. The same amount of time rain fell and wiped out every living thing on earth except those contained in the vessel GOD led Noah to build to save a remnant. The same amount of time Moses stayed on the mountain top communing alone with GOD to receive the Law of GOD, the foundation of the relationship between GOD and humanity.

And just when JESUS was hungriest, Satan came to tempt Him as the Holy Spirit had intended. JESUS was like a ship being tested to see if it is sea worthy. But when Satan tells JESUS to use the power JESUS has as GOD the Son for Himself by turning stones into bread, JESUS refuses. Satan tells JESUS to satisfy the flesh. Enjoy the world, the world JESUS made. But JESUS says no, because “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word of GOD.”

Humanity was never meant to enjoy this world without an eye to the world to come. The Presence of GOD as we live our daily lives makes all the difference. The bread of the world is not enough without the Word of GOD that gives it flavor and enjoyment. The Apostle John will later explain that JESUS Himself is the Word in flesh.

Moses learned the world is not enough and brought the Law of Relationship between GOD and humanity to GOD’s people, Israel. They learned this, too, when the bread-like manna fell from Heaven. By itself even the bread of Heaven wasn’t satisfying without obedience in the world. There must be both.

At the Last Supper JESUS would liken the bread at dinner to His Body, broken for His followers, and say “This is my Body.” He is the perfect combination of the Word of GOD, the fulfillment of the Law of GOD, the very Presence of GOD, not just given to have eternal Life but to be used by those who have eternal Life through Him to spread eternal Life by giving Him to the World.

When the disciples encourage JESUS to eat during His ministry, He will explain that He has food to eat they don’t realize, doing the will of the Father in fulfilling His mission. Not just earthly bread but Heavenly fulfillment. That is what GOD intends every Believer to feast on cheerfully throughout their lives.

The Apostle Paul will remind us that life is more than eating and drinking but the righteousness and peace and joy of enjoying this world as GOD intends it to be enjoyed by blessing others in GOD’s Name.

By concentrating on ourselves in this life, feeding on
the things of this world we eat unworthily and sin, as Paul said many did at the first Communion dinners.

We are the salt of the world, the flavoring on the pretzel of life, in the world but not of it.
Just as JESUS knew He must be about GOD the Father’s business, we must be, too.

First we must taste and see the LORD is good. But we aren’t meant to be Spiritual gluttons. We aren’t meant to live for the bread of the world alone or to worship GOD in an ivory tower. But we must be the broken Body of JESUS spreading the delicious news of eternal life in the world by actively helping others as an invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb when the appetizer of this life is done.

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