The Shifted Gift

The Shifted Gift

At Bible Study today we studied Matthew 2, his version of the Christmas story like Luke 2 is Luke’s version. As we read the verses I realized that GOD promising Israel a Savior (Matthew’s version) then sharing Him with the world (Luke’s version) was like a father giving a child a gift.

The child thinks it’s only clothes, not what he really wanted. But then the father says “Surprise! You can share the wonderful gift I gave you with others!”

The child realizes that package he ignored isn’t clothes but something wonderful. He hasn’t enjoyed it for himself and he wants to do that before sharing it.

That’s what it must have been like for the Jewish leaders who finally came to Christ. They must have suddenly realized what a wonderful Gift They had been offered for centuries in prophesies about JESUS. But they didn’t really appreciate the Gift given in Matthew until reminded in Luke they were not only supposed to enjoy Him but share Him with the world. That’s why Paul said he tried to make his fellow Jewish people jealous to want the full Gift they had been offered but others were enjoying first.

#Christmas #Gift #Advent

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The Veteran’s Day Gift

The Veterans Day Gift

Every military member benefits from expressing what they experienced during service. Whether talking about it, writing about it, drawing, singing, whatever. It is essential to get it out of your head and into the world. Once you contain the chaos by making it tangible that others can experience, you can handle it, build it into your life as a done deal of a specific moment in the past and move on.

Every experience you’ve had that caused trauma is a brick flying in a tornado until you express it. Snatch it out of your mind. Express it. Contain the chaos. And no matter how evil or hurtful it was, once it is expressed it can be cemented into a staircase with others like it for you and others to use to rise up higher and help yourself and others heal.

If you are a Christian this is your ministry to other members of the Body of Christ: to show Christ was with you through the worst of it and to testify that He can use the most hellish of experiences in the past for forgiveness, healing and growth.

#PostTraumaticStress #MoralInjury #PTS #VeteransDay

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Change Your Mind #Repentance

Change is always a byproduct of Salvation or there’d be no point in us being given a new heart and new mind. And that is a work of the Holy Spirit not us unless we are “workers together with Him.”

I believe the Bible says that it’s not about proving you’ve changed enough to prove you’re a Christian but about proving your MATURITY as a Christian to fill positions of authority in the Church.

Some make a hypothetical that can’t be answered (“WHAT IF…a new Christian is killed immediately…A person who says they’re a Christian murders his wife…”) when you can’t argue hypotheticals. Those are straw men to me.

There is no way for us to know how much or how little people knew in the time of JESUS about JESUS to be saved. That’s another hypothetical. But there’s no reason to tell people today they don’t need to know JESUS is GOD the Son or that He is LORD when you can TELL THEM. Because He IS. And to say you don’t need to believe TODAY what He said about Himself (that He is GOD the Son and that He is LORD) is wrong.

I know I am saved because the Bible says JESUS did everything necessary for me to be saved. I know He was able to do that because He is GOD the Son and LORD because He said so. And He proved it by the Resurrection. And it is my duty as a Believer to teach what He said to teach about Himself. To me, to simply not tell them to make a point that you don’t think people before the New Testament was written didn’t have to know it is irresponsible.

I can tell people that if they believe what He said about Himself and what He did they will be saved. And that if they are saved they will have a change of heart and mind because GOD gives those along with His Holy Spirit as part of Salvation as repentance (wanting to live for Him instead of self). The maturity and degree of that change is another matter.

So repentance is a joint responsibility. It is only a “work” in the sense of our doing what only the “work” of the Holy Spirit can enable, commission and impel us to do. He works and wills for His good pleasure and although we can resist it (quench the Spirit) we can’t totally resist it and will be disciplined (again, towards maturity).

But to call it a “work” alone is wrong unless you understand it is like saying wood “works” as it is consumed by the flame. It is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit working in (changing) us as a result of repentance which is the work of GOD making us burn for GOD in response to the degree of our will.

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Follow Don’t Wallow

Follow Don’t Wallow

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Wait Training

Wait Training

I’ve always thought of the “discipline” of Hebrews 12 as being punishment, so the discipline of being left alone as being punished for doing something wrong in past relationships with women. Of course we’re all responsible for wrongs in any relationship and I probably did more than my share. But the punishment seemed especially bitter because in the last relationship I was the one wronged (lied to and tricked). I’ve accepted that and we’ve made our peace and moved on but I still felt resentment over being punished by GOD for being left alone all this time as a result.

But now I’m realizing the word for discipline (paideia, Strong’s G3809) doesn’t only mean punishment. It can also mean training. And that can be just as unpleasant. (Ask anyone in the Army who does PT.)

So in effect it may not be that I’m being punished for my last relationship with a woman but being prepared for the next one. Husband training.

An old man (of 39!!…ahem…) who should be preparing for death being trained for marriage is ridiculous, I know. But I keep thinking that’s how JESUS is. He’s like that…Whenever I tell myself how stupid I am for thinking that way I can see Him smiling and saying “Wait and see…”

It’s the waiting…”Wait training”…that hurts and is frustrating when we focus on the moment. But the goal isn’t a relationship with a wife, really. It’s the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as the Bride.

#Discipline #Training #Marriage

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Exodus Expunged

What would the Pharaoh of the Exodus say to those who say the Exodus never happened because no Egyptian records of it exist, if he could speak to them today?

“Fools! We did not allow any record of our fellow rulers to survive if they claimed glory greater than ours. We wiped the names of gods from stone with the muscle of our people and risked eternal wandering with no rest across the river. And yet you think we would preserve the records of foreign slaves and their god who humiliated us, destroyed our land, decimated our armies and escaped? Fools!

If I could walk the earth again and feel the sand beneath my feet I would wipe every monument from the earth. I would tear the tongue from any who would doubt this god of the one you call Mosheh. I know him now. I know he lives. Because he has conquered Anubis. He has shaded the face of Ra. He has entombed me in fire. And you will be as I am, slave of pride and feast of worms, unless you wipe the god of self away and learn of the god of slaves who is the only One.”

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Martin and Me: Reformation Day

I’ve been posting all day about my birthday but can’t let the day pass without mentioning #ReformationDay.

Martin Luther and I have a lot in common. Both raised in the Roman Catholic church. Both weighed down by our sins and seeing GOD as a vengeful monster who had to be appeased. Both thinking a religious order (priesthood or monk) would be our path. Both reading the Bible on our own. (According to Roman Catholicism when I was a boy you were only permitted to read the Bible no more than 15 minutes without the permission of a priest because you’d misunderstand and misapply it…Like some guy named Martin Luther!)

I only read it because my parents ordered me not to touch it. Martin had his own reasons. But we were both searching for the Voice of GOD.

For Martin it was Romans 1:17. For me it was Hebrews 10:10, “Christ died once for all.” The book of Hebrews could have been called The Book of the Roman Catholics. Even as a teenager I could see “the sacrifice of the Mass” was against the Book of Hebrews. Kissing a wooden statue of Mary with money pinned to it, Marianism itself was against Scripture.

For both Martin and myself the journey was painful. But Scripture led to our both being born again, leaving Roman Catholicism and finding Life.

I can’t compare myself in any other way to Martin Luther other than the greatness of my sin. But I am grateful that we share the same Savior, the same Spiritual birth and the same assurance of eternal Life because Christ alone did what needed to be done, once and for all. And in our own ways Martin and I spent the rest of our lives on earth telling others how to find true Life in Christ.

He was just more successful at it. 😏

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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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