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Tradition or Intention?

So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. – Matthew 15:6 ESV

What traditions are you holding on to that empty God’s Word of it power?

These traditions of men can be picked up in church, or at home. They can be learned from peers or from teachers. We build them for our kids, and practice them with our parents.

There are truths we hold onto that keep us from walking the the light of the Word of Jesus.

These traditions Jesus speaks of are not simply rituals that we observe or methods of doing things that we hold sacred. They are philosophies and theologies that militate against the work of God in our lives.

Simple question today – are there traditions in your live—in my life—that keep me—us—from the power of God’s Word—Jesus?

OH – and did I mention that tradition is not a synonym for ‘old fashioned.’ There are lots of traditions in my life that are up to date and stylin’.

Do you have a traditional way to worship?

Do you have a tradition you perform before your meals?

Do you have traditions built into the way you hold your meetings?

Do you have traditions around your giving?

Do you have traditions built into your work-a-day life?

One huge danger with traditions is that they take our hearts out of what we are doing. When we simply follow our tradition for religious sort of things, we disengage our hearts.

Look at the situation the Lord is addressing in this passage.

First—realize the Pharisees were not some sort of ‘evil incarnate’ folks whose only aim in life was to undermine Jesus’ ministry. Many, if not most, of them ‘went into the ministry’ with good, noble motives. They may have wanted to please God, or make their parents proud, or—well—you get what I mean—the same reasons many people do what their doing with their lives.

He (our pharisee friend) was taught how to give by the law of Moses, and so he gave:

One tenth of this

One fifth of that

The first gathering of these

The best of those

Then, after years—decades—of giving as prescribed by Moses in the law and then some, his father dies, and his mother is left destitute. He cannot give into her support because everything he has above and beyond his own living is going into the ministry. He gives so automatically that he does not even consider the money his.

There may have been intention and heart engagement when he began giving, but now it is automatically withdrawn from his paycheck and there is no heart behind his action.

And so, by his giving (as prescribed by Moses in the law) he is breaking the commandment to honor his father and mother.

What’s a pharisee to do?

Engage your heart in your giving.

Engage your heart in your worship.

Engage your heart in every action.

This even applies to your work. Is work mundane and tedious? Is it high stress and does it feel like torture?

We have to stop falling through life with our minds turned off and our hearts disengaged. [Tweet This] (Yes, I’m talking to you, Ben, pay attention.)

The Lord walked into every situation with eyes open to what God was doing, and what His own part was in God’s activity. Our work is not what we do to pay our bills. It’s how we spend the life the Lord has given us. Our tithes and offerings are not supposed to be like paying taxes—Oh I have to give, or the Lord will curse me—NO.

Everything we do (man – this sounds hard as I write it) should be rooted in the right now will of God.

That’s what Jesus was going for when He talked about abiding.

Everything, not just the churchy stuff, but the work stuff, the play stuff.

That’s abiding, and it allows the Word of God to have its (His) impact on the world around us.

Is there stuff in your life that has turned from intention to tradition?

How can you (we) re-engage with life and Lord?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.Encounters With Jesus

Live like it counts!

Ben

===

Check out my new book – Encounters With Jesus – available now in paperback or kindle.

If you’ve read it, I would really appreciate an amazon review.

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Innermost Chamber ~ SoS Saturday

Many Waters - SoS header

I long to bring you to my innermost chamber—
This holy sanctuary you have formed within me.
O that I might carry you within me.
I would give you the spiced wine of my love,
This full cup of bliss that we share.
We would drink our fill until…

Song 8:1-2 ~ The Passion Translation

Have you had a chance to check out ‘The Passion Translation?’

I just love it! It’s brand new, and only coming out one book at a time. One of the first books translated by Dr. Brian Simmons was the Song of Songs ~ Divine Romance.

These verses are so clear in their description of the bride and her Lover, Jesus. He so clearly reveals the heart of the redeemed as he translates these first couple verses of Chapter 8.

Innermost Chamber

This verse takes me to the last discourse again. Where Jesus spent the evening of His betrayal with the disciples. This is where we learn of his intention to form this sanctuary, this innermost chamber within us.

Jesus tells us that His Father’s house has many dwelling places. We are the temple of the living God, we are His dwelling place. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” That place is this innermost chamber.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. – John 14:23 ESV

God on the inside!

This is not only our hope, it’s the hope of Glory!

The Father has formed in you a holy sanctuary made to His exact specification so that Father, Son and Holy Spirit can take up residence in you.

Hope you brought your shoutin’ shoes today, cuz that’s a place for a Hallelujah!

I urge you (Ben) to press in to that innermost place this day. Seek the one who formed it within you for the purpose of intimacy.

All life flows from intimacy.

If anything is going to be born, it will be from intimacy.

If there be any fruit, it’s the result of intimacy.

Ben NelsonPress in today.

Ben

I have a favor to ask of you. If you’ve read my book, ‘Encounters With Jesus’ would you leave an honest review on Amazon. It would be so appreciated. If you haven’t got yours, grab the paperback here, or the kindle here.

Thanks!

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Politics and Jesus

Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel? – Acts 1:6 NASB

Three years have come and gone. Jesus taught the boys to carry the kingdom of God wherever they went. He sent them out to do wonders—healing the sick—setting the demon possessed free—even showed them how to raise the dead.

After He fed the 5,000 they wanted to make Him their king.

He made His triumphant march into Jerusalem, and everyone watching thought that was the day—friend and enemy alike—that He would take the throne.

Then all hell broke loose. Less than a week later He was in a tomb. It was unthinkable.

But we all know, that was last week. We saw Him rise from the dead. He’s Alive. He is risen!

And with the risen Christ comes the old question—Now Lord?

Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?

Months, perhaps years, earlier when everyone was figuring out that He might just be the Messiah, Jesus told His disciples to beware the leaven of Herod.

This desire to have Jesus take up political power is a corruption of His anointing.

When they asked Him this question on the day of His ascension, He refocused them on what they needed to do. His call to them was not to bring morality to the nations, but to be His witnesses.

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” – Acts 1:7-8 NASB

Today, many American Christians want to put Jesus on a political throne. We—like Herod—dress Him in a purple robe and ask Him to legislate—to be King of America. We consider ourselves a Christian Nation and recast Jesus as a pundit with a political agenda.

It’s the leaven of Herod, and it just won’t do. The problem with leaven—yeast—it impacts everything it get’s into. Jesus told us to BEWARE.

I understand and agree that Jesus must impact every area of our lives. He will impact how we vote, how we behave as a society.

I long for the day when the Christians in the US—and around the globe—are known primarily for the way they love—the way things are just better when their around.

Jesus made the political rulers and religious rulers crazy, not by usurping their power, but doing—DOING—what they should have done.

He didn’t gripe about policy’s that fed the hungry, He fed the hungry.

He didn’t complain protest the laws that prohibited Him from healing on the Sabbath, He made men and women whole.

He didn’t moan about high taxes, He simply preached to rich and poor alike, a message of aggressive generosity.

Hey, I know He got on the Pharisees case in Matthew 23. My point is simply that He didn’t let Himself get all caught up in political arguments, He just did the good that was needed.

Ben NelsonLet’s go do it too!

Shine!

Ben

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What Am I Lacking?

Here is a free chapter from my new book, Encounters With Jesus. The book contains forty such encounters, looking at the life of Jesus from conception to resurrection through the eyes of dozens whose lives He touched.

The book is available in paperback and kindle.

Encounters With Jesus makes a great forty day devotional walk through the life of Christ. Each short retelling includes the original references so you can go and read the Gospel account.

 

Christ And The Rich Young Ruler – Heinrich Hofmann

“I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through
a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.”
Mark 10:25

What am I Lacking?

Rich Young Ruler

Growing up with wealth, I never thought much about the things that worry other people. I can’t remember ever being hungry or wondering whether another meal was in the offing. I never wore secondhand clothes.

My father was wealthy, and I’m not talking about money. Sure, there was always money, but money is a by-product of wealth. Many people get that turned around. They think, “If I only had ten thousand denarii, I’d be set.” What they don’t get is that wealth produces money. The lands my father passed into my hands and the herds and flocks I own produce all I could ever need.

I am always well dressed, and when I’m out and about, I usually have a few of my closest and dearest servants with me. I have always been able to afford entertainment. I can lay down enough coin to buy some happiness, but there has always been an empty place deep within me.

Recently, one of my attendants, a Jew like me, experienced something that changed him. Don’t misunderstand—there was nothing wrong with him before. He was always on time and faithful to me. He was trustworthy, and I could allow him to handle my money and manage my holdings.

But one day when he came into my presence, he . . . I don’t know. He just lit up. When I asked him about it, he told me he’d been passing through town and stumbled upon a crowd. His curiosity drew him in, and the words he heard held him there.

He said, “Now I am a disciple of Jesus.” He asked me if I would allow him to spend time listening to Jesus’s teachings while He was in town.

I have to tell you, he was so different.  For the first time, I felt he had something I didn’t. He kept talking about eternal life and living water. Though he was an indentured servant and subject to my command, he seemed to stand in greater freedom than I.

Since he said this man, this Jesus, was going to be in town for a few more days, I told him we could go together to hear Him talk.

When we arrived, He was having a conversation with the Jewish leaders, and it seemed like they were laying a trap for Him. They were pressing Him with leading questions. It was an obvious attempt to discredit Him in front of His rather large following.

I couldn’t hear the whole conversation, but the leaders from the synagogue walked away perturbed. As they left, the crowd began to press Him. Women sent their children in to touch this Jesus. I could tell His entourage was getting upset with the way people were crowding Him. But He put His hands on each of the children as they came to Him and spoke a blessing over each one. No two of the blessings were alike. He was speaking into their future and creating a path for them to follow. I was so impressed with every word He uttered. He never wavered, but spoke with a profound authority. My parents never spoke into my life like that. Yet here is this man from Nazareth picking up the children of total strangers and giving them a destiny. It was wonderful to behold!

I wanted Him to speak into my life. I wanted the eternal life my servant spoke of. I wanted Jesus to speak words of hope over me. The child inside me cried out for His touch.

Before I thought better of it, I dashed right into the middle of everything, fell to my knees before Him, and revealed what was in my heart.

“Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”

There I was, on my knees before Him, feeling quite foolish and just a little hopeful.

He looked at me—honestly, it felt more like a probe than a look—and He said:

“Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God.”

I got the impression He was asking me if I thought He was God. I grew up in a good Jewish home. I know the Lord God is One. But He kept speaking.

“If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you. You know the commandments . . .”

The commandments. Excellent! I grew up in the home of a Jewish businessman. From a young age, the commandments were pounded into my brain. Business is built on trust, and wealth flows from righteousness. We read the proverbs over and over, and the commandments hung on the kitchen wall.

“Which ones?” I asked Him.

He started to list them:

“Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”

As He was listing, I was counting to myself and trying to figure out which ones He missed. But when He finished, I told Him I had always kept the commandments. I was beginning to feel like this whole conversation was kind of strange. I thought He was going to speak a blessing over me. I thought He was going to receive me with open arms. I thought He would be eager to have such an important and outstanding follower. Why were we talking about me keeping the commandments? You know how things race through your mind.

“Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!” I said. “What am I lacking?”

He got quiet for a minute, and then a new look crossed His face. What was it? Love? Compassion? Pity? Sorrow?

“There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”

Now I got quiet. Was this a joke? A trick? A test? Sell it all and then just give the money away? And to the poor, no less. I am okay with giving alms. In fact, a portion of my earnings is set aside every year for the poor. But to give the indigent great sums of money can create an entitlement mentality. It undermines their ambition. It’s not a good idea. Why doesn’t Jesus know this?

Besides, how would I live? These guys look like nomads. They travel constantly from place to place. They have no visible means of support, and I’m not sure I trust the one holding their money. You learn to get the measure of a man in my line of work.

What is He asking? Is He really demanding I just walk away from a fortune accumulated over the course of generations? What if I have children someday? What would I leave them? Didn’t wise Solomon tell us to leave an inheritance to our children’s children?

I’m not sure if He knew what I was thinking, but His gaze never faltered.

My eyes must have been asking what my heart was calculating, because He nodded.

“Everything.”

My servant came over and helped me back to my feet. I turned away from this frustrating man. This was not how I expected the scenario to play out. I wanted what my servant had—that joy, peace, and freedom. But instead, my emptiness was deeper than ever.

To this day, I can’t figure out if I rejected Him or He rejected me, but in the end, I know we both walked away saddened.

Occasionally I wonder if I could do it, if I could forsake all and follow Him. But I realize it would be like putting the very core of my being to death. He was asking me to turn away from my identity, from who I am.

I can’t. I just can’t.

~~~

To read the original story, see Matthew 19:16-31, Mark 10:17-31,
and Luke 18:18-30.

Copyright – 2015 –  Benjamin Nelson

If you would like to buy these books in quantities, or get a supply for your church’s bookstore contact me via email – Ben@AnotherRedLetterDay.com.

Don’t forget to shine!

Ben

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Watch This Space

Ben Nelson:

I think you will love this poem from Cheryl at Bread for the Bride.

Originally posted on Bread for the Bride:

emptytomb

“Foolishness” mumbled the soldier

Casting lots for the rabbi’s garment

“An utter waste of a good man’s life”

“Serves him right” spat the Pharisee

Nodding to himself self righteously

Stroking his beard with smug delight

“It cannot be!” uttered the disciple

Tears streaming from bloodshot eyes

“It wasn’t meant to end this way!”

“Unbearable!” sobbed the women

Holding tight to one another

“We never thought we’d see this day”

“How will I bear it?” wept the mother

Recalling a long ago prophecy

“A sword will also pierce your heart”

“Remember me!” gasped the dying thief

“Though I don’t deserve mercy,

I know You are Who You say You are!”

“Have we won?” speculated the demons

Confused and unsettled

At the apparent ease of victory

“Holy!” whispered creation

Silently waiting and watching

Bowing before bleeding divinity

“Mystery!” shouted the angels

Trembling at the impossible scene

Unfolding before their puzzled eyes

“It…

View original 122 more words

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House of My Mother ~ SoS Saturday

Photo Credit - Graphic Stock

Photo Credit – Graphic Stock

I would lead you and bring you
Into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me;   

Song of Songs 8:2 NASB

These lines feel a little autobiographical to me.

I was introduced to the faith at home from a very young age. My parents were of the opinion that if the doors of the church were open we should be on the inside. That meant that at the very least, Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening. We were actually part of a few different churches through my formative years, first Plymouth Brethren, then an independent Evangelical church. After a move to Virginia, we spent some of my high school years in a Presbyterian church, and then finally back to NJ and that Evangelical church.

When the Song of Songs speaks of the maiden’s mother it’s talking about the church. In God’s plan and economy, the church is the normal agency for the nurture and training of young believers. The church is tasked with training up Christians in how to walk and grow in a life with God—discipleship. Jesus commissioned us:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20 NASB

When I was in my mid-twenties, I encountered Jesus, and began pursuing Him with a passion and zeal that I had not previously known.

Headstrong and full of self-righteousness, I gathered up my young family and left that church, to pursue ‘deeper things.’

I did learn some deeper things in my travels. Here are two of the deeper things I learned:

The grass is in fact always greener on the other side of the fence.

There is no such thing as the perfect church.

Through some not-so-interesting circumstances, I ended up visiting my old church, the one I could call ‘my mother, who used to instruct me.’

The draw I sensed was strong, leading me to come back and bring the grown up version of Ben back to this body where I grew up. I had grown. The Father is a genius at using even our questionable choices for good outcomes in our lives.

In my life, the Lord brought me back to my mother. At the same time I brought Him back to my mother.

The Lord is faithful to nurture us, even when we kick against the method He wants to use. We have a good Father.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by

See you again soon

Ben

===

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new book “Encounters with Jesus” in paperback or for your kindle reader. If you’ve already gotten it and read it, PLEASE leave an honest review on Amazon. Your review will get this book in front of more people! Thank you.

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Isaiah 53 Speed Run

Last year, leading up to the remembrance of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, I ran through Isaiah 53, that most wonderful chapter of the Old Testament, with brief meditations on each thought put forward by the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth.

Each is a quick reminder of what the immensity of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice. Have a look, as part of your Good Friday meditations.

The Arm of the Lord

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed
?

Isaiah 53:1 NASB

Tender Shoot

For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;

Isaiah 53:2a NASB

Nothing to Look At

He has no stately form or majesty 
That we should look upon Him, 
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

Isaiah 53:2 NASB

Strange Will, O God

He was despised and forsaken of men, 
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; 
And like one from whom men hide their face 
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:3 NASB

He’s a Carrier!

Surely our sicknesses he hath borne, 
And our pains — he hath carried them,

Isaiah 53:4 YLT

Who Smote this Holy One?

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, 
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

Isaiah 53:4 NASB

Not a Drop of Blood Wasted

But He was wounded (pierced NASB) for our transgressions, 
He was bruised for our iniquities; 
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, 
And by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 NKJV

Wanderers

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 NKJV

The Silence of the Lamb

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, 
Yet He did not open His mouth; 
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, 
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, 
So He did not open His mouth.

Isaiah 53:7 NASB

Our Stroke

By oppression and judgment He was taken away; 
And as for His generation, who considered 
That He was cut off out of the land of the living 
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

Isaiah 53:8 NASB

The Rich and the Wicked

His grave was assigned with wicked men, 
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Isaiah 53:9 NASB

The Prince of Peace

Because He had done no violence,

Isaiah 53:9 NASB

The Truth

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

Isaiah 53:9 NASB

The Path of Life

But the LORD was pleased 
To crush Him, putting Him to grief; 
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, 
He will see His offspring, 
He will prolong His days, 
And the good pleasure of the LORD 
will prosper in His hand.

Isaiah 53:10 NASB

Crushed and Prospered

But the LORD was pleased 
To crush Him, putting Him to grief; 
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, 
He will see His offspring, 
He will prolong His days, 
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

Isaiah 53:10 NASB

Satisfaction

As a result of the anguish of His soul, 
He will see it and be satisfied;

Isaiah 53:11 NASB

Fear of the Lord

By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11 NASB

Will You Bow?

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, 
And He will divide the booty with the strong; 
Because He poured out Himself to death, 
And was numbered with the transgressors; 
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, 
And interceded for the transgressors. 

Isaiah 53:12 NASB

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