Skip to content

3

"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord." - Luke 1:45 NASB

Mary was pregnant. She was not yet married. The baby was not the product of her relationship with her betrothed.

That’s the world’s take.

Elizabeth, who now knew first hand what God could do, saw it differently.

"You are blessed, my dear cousin."

Blessed!

We have, out of the mouth of Elizabeth and 9th Beatitude.

Blessed are you when you believe that God will do what He said He would.

Earlier in Luke 1, the angel told Mary,

"For nothing will be impossible with God." - Luke 1:37 NASB

Mary believed.

Mary received this massive blessing.

Note-The blessing probably didn’t feel like such a blessing at times. But we step back now and see what a huge privilege it was for her to carry and care for God’s own Son.

Can you believe that God will do what He said He would?

Your Blessed in believing, and you will be blessed, carrying whatever seeming burden comes with the blessing because God is in it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Come back soon.

Ben

3

Have you ever had one of those—Wait—What?—moments while reading the Bible. If you’ve been in the faith for a while it’s likely you know what I mean.

It’s especially fun when it happens in verses you’ve read hundreds of times.

Take, for example, Luke 1:2.

just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, - Luke 1:2 NASB

Luke, while telling his reader(s) what they’re about to read, and why he has the right to tell it, drops this phrase, "servants of the word."

For years I've read it in the KJV where it says "ministers of the word," which is a good translation, but somehow it didn’t grab me the way “servant” did. I guess I’ve often heard pastors and teachers referred to as ministers of the Word, but we, those of us who undertake to minister the Word, often forget that we are servants of that Word—THE Word, that is—not the other way around.

Luke looked back at those eyewitnesses who handed the first-hand accounts to him and saw that they were not bringing a message that served them. They were bringing a message that mastered them. They were not masters of the word, but subject to it. They didn’t reckon themselves teachers, but students.

And so it must be today. The one who lives as though he has arrived and attained some level of mastery quickly loses his ability to minister the Word. It is only in submission to the Word (Jesus) that we can be fruitful in ministry and helpful to those who hunger and thirst around us.

Lord, help me to serve the Word faithfully. Keep me from pride and arrogance. Anything I have, You gave, and Yours is the glory.

Thanks for stopping in today.

See you again soon,

Ben

1

Check out this great post about the power of our words by my friend Ginny Wilcox.

 

Speak the word only

ROMANS 4:17

‘…even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.”

Words have impact and power in our lives…

We all confess this to be true, but do we really believe it, do our lives reflect it? What about our prayers; are they prayers filled with item after item of what is wrong with a situation, begging God to hear our prayers and fix everything?

What about those words we choose when we speak to God, do they not have impact and power? (Positively or negatively) ... (Read more here.)

1

It's a great day to lift our voices in worship. Here's something fresh from Hillsong United, performed here by Amanda Cook and the Bethel Worship team. I'm really loving this one.

Don't miss the Lyrics in the third verse and chorus.

Enjoy...

 

So Will I (100 Billion X)

Words and Music by Joel Houston Benjamin Hastings & Michael Fatkin

© 2017 Hillsong Music Publishing CCLI: 7084123

VERSE 1
God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light

CHORUS 1
And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapour of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I

VERSE 2
God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice

CHORUS 2
And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I

BRIDGE
If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

VERSE 3
God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die

CHORUS 3
And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I

TAG
Like You would again a hundred billion times
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You’re the One who never leaves the one behind


Thanks to Hillsong United for the lyrics which I found HERE.

And thank you for coming by today.

Have an awesome day - let Him fill your day today.

Ben

3

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? - Matthew 7:9 ESV

There was a day when if you wanted to relate to the Lord God, your only choice was the law written in stone, but that was not God’s original intent. God was looking for relationship—friendship.

In Exodus, God hands His chosen people His Word—laws written in stone. The people send word to Him (because they would not—could not—address Him directly) that they would obey everything He told them to do.

All the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. - Exodus 19:8 ESV

But from the beginning, it was not so.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" - Genesis 3:8-9 ESV

I infer from this it was the norm for YHWH (in the form of a man, that would be Jesus—see Philippians 2:7-8,) Adam, and Eve to walk together in the cool of the day and commune—like friends.

But by the time we get to Israel and their exodus from Egypt, man is too awed by this miracle working God of wonders to think in terms of friendship. They can only imagine a Master/slave relationship with this God of plagues and miracles.

Master/slave works okay, but it’s not God’s best. His idea was a walk in the garden. Jesus demonstrates this as He often heads to a garden or other quiet place to be this His Father. Solomon wrote about it in the Song of Songs. (4:16-5:1)

God’s original plan is not the law of stone, an external law imposed upon us. He desires an internal relationship with His people. Bread, eaten by His beloved children, becoming part of us. The Word of God made flesh—the Bread of Life, broken for us, and eaten as a simple demonstration that God has come into us, He longs to be part of us, one with us.

The law God wants for us is not an external, hard, cold lump of stone. His holy law of love has to become part of us—written on our hearts—energized by His Spirit. A law that is so ingrained in us that our greatest desire is to walk in that simple law of love.

"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. - Ezekiel 36:26-27 NASB

Do you see it?

Lord, today, I ask you for bread, and for a heart of flesh where you can write Your law—Your love—with Your finger, Your love for me and for those I touch today.

Thanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon,

Ben

6

I want to see with God’s eyes.
 
This is especially true when it comes to how He views the people around me. In God’s economy, people comprise the main treasure. All the stuff we find ourselves running after amounts to so much flotsam and jetsam.
 
Perhaps you, like me, forget this from time to time. We shift our focus from seeking and saving the lost, like Jesus, to using people to gain those things we yearn for. The fame or fortune we grasp for, in the end, mean nothing, while the people we used or ignored to get there, were the ones we were sent to touch.
 
They need an encounter with Jesus, and we use them for our own advancement.
 
They have broken hearts and crushed dreams and we see only how they can be part of our plan for profit.
 
We like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day hate people unless we can use them to build their own kingdoms.
 
Luke 15 contains three of the most well-known parables Jesus ever told; the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost (prodigal) son. But the context is set with these two quick verses.
 
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them. - Luke 15:1-2
 
Though there is a ton of meat we could glean from these three parables, and there are plenty of life applications we can draw from each. But today, I find it interesting that they each end, in the same way, with Rejoicing.
 
[7] I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
 
[10] In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
 
[32] But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found. - Luke 15:7, 10, 32
 
When Jesus looked at the lowest of the low, He saw His Father’s business, God’s highest priority.
 
In the context of the whole teaching, He looked past the current life of these tax collectors, these “sinners.” He saw rejoicing in heaven over their repentance. He found no pleasure in where they were but looked at the potential party in heaven.
 
Some preaching today finds these their place in flames and wrath. Jesus looked at their potential for heaven. He saw what the Father created them for. That is what He spoke into.
 
The writer of the book of Hebrews says this:
 
… who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, … Hebrews 12:2
 
His entire life was given to this one task.
 
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. - Luke 19:10
 
He chose every word for its value in drawing prodigals home.
 
He looked at every person He met and envisioned the party in heaven. He saw the potential for a life filled with joy in the kingdom of heaven for each sinner He engaged.
 
Not so much for me.
 
I curse bad drivers, hang up on telemarketers, manipulate those I’m buying from, and pressure those I’m selling to. I walk past the homeless as if they don’t exist. I fear those I don’t understand. I think the worst of a man or woman based on his or her appearance, clothing, style choices or mannerisms. I do what I can to curry favor with those who can offer me advancement. I do it in business with those who can make me look good.
 
I even do this in the church. I live in ways that will make me look more spiritual. I choose my words and topics so that I seem to be the most godly, while at the same time ignoring the person obviously hurting in the pew beside me. I rub shoulders with those who can promote my agenda, while letting the visitors, seeking a touch from God, slip away unnoticed, and untouched.
 
Lord, I DO want to see with your eyes. I pray that your priorities would become mine and I would appraise with your value system. God forgive my indifference to those you treasure and give me a heart that loves without worrying about my reward.
Glad you stopped by.
See you again soon,
Ben

4

My dear friend Larry Carroll posted this on Facebook and his blog recently and I couldn't agree more. So, I wanted to share it will everyone I know who is married or ever plan, or hopes to be. I pray you will follow the link to Larry's blog.

Blessings,

Ben

Helen and I recently attended our granddaughter's wedding. During the reception, there was the dance (a waltz) where all of the married couples got out on the floor and little by little were ushered off until just the longest married couple remained, and we were "it". (52 years in September) So, the MC gave me the microphone and asked us to give the newly married couple some advice.
------------------------------------
Here it is, short and sweet:

(read the article here)

2

I love this simple new song from Jesus Culture. Here's the New Song Cafe acoustic version complete with an interview and a walk through the chords.

Verse 1

There’s a space in every beating heart
There’s a longing that reaches past the stars
There’s an answer to every question mark
There’s a name

There’s a hope flowing through these veins
There’s a voice that echoes through the pain
There’s an ember ready for the flame
There’s a name

We will fix our eyes on the One who overcame
We will stand in awe of the
One who breaks the chains

Love has a name
Love has a name, Jesus
Love has a name
Love has a name, Jesus

There’s a joy that triumphs over fear
There’s a laughter that wipes away all tears
There’s a presence that changes atmospheres
There’s a name

Love has a name
Love has a name, Jesus
Love has a name
Love has a name, Jesus
Love has a name
Love has a name, Jesus
Victory has a name
Victory has a name, Jesus

Joy has a name
Joy has a name, Jesus

The name that’s lifted up forever
The name that shakes the earth and shakes the heavens
The hope for every heart
The Savior of the world, Jesus
Jesus.


Thanks to WorshipTogether.com for these lyrics.

Thank you for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

2

Enjoy

4

Coming Clean

Zaccheus

“What are you doing here? We paid your abusive fees just two weeks back. You can’t possibly want more already.”

This is not the first time I received this reception. I may be the most hated man in all Jericho—maybe all Israel.

“Please let me in. I’m not here to take, I’m here to give—no—to return what is rightfully yours.”

Finally, the door cracks open.

“May—may I come in?” I ask.

Slowly the door swings a bit wider and Ethan, a well-to-do businessman, allows me to step inside his home. We stand in his foyer. He invites me no farther.

I understand. I’ve been collecting his taxes since he moved here from Jerusalem eight years ago. Truthfully, it’s men like Ethan who have made me the rich man I am today—or should I say, I was yesterday. The tax Rome requires of Jewish businessmen like Ethan is high to begin with, but I didn’t become rich taking just what Rome demands. I am allowed to take as much as I can get, and that’s what I’ve done—for years.

Ethan, and others like him, filled my accounts.

He broke the awkward silence. “What do you have to give me, Zaccheus, next month’s tax bill? Why not send one of your lackeys with it, like every other time?”

“Ethan,” I began, “It’s not like that. Today, I’m here to make things right.”

Ethan chuckled, “How could you possibly do that?”

I’ve found, in the past week, the best way to fix all these broken relationships in my life, is to come right out with it. It’s on me, so best to just get it off. Since the day Jesus came through Jericho, I’ve spoken with a dozen local businessmen. It’s always the same.

“I’ve been stealing from you,” I said.

“What?” he replied.

“I’ve been taking far more from you than Rome requires,” I continued.

“You’ve been what? You’ve been robbing me? And now you stand right here in my home, for what? Are you here to mock me?”

As his anger mounted, he yanked open the door and motioned for me to leave.

“Get out!” He was shouting now. From the corner of my eye, I noticed that his wife sidling up to hear what was happening. I stood my ground. This was not the first angry man I faced recently.

“I’m here to make it right,” I repeated.

He stopped pushing but did not close the door.

“I’m here to return what I’ve stolen, and to ask you to forgive me. I’ve grown rich through over taxing men like you, honest hard-working businessmen, who have earned their wealth through hours and days of planning and hard work. I’ve slithered in and taken every penny I could manage.”

As I spoke the truth He seemed to be softening.

“So how can you make this right?” he asked.

“I keep meticulous records,” I said. “I know exactly what I’ve taken, and today, I’m returning four times as much as I have over taxed you.”

I handed him the bag of coins.

“It’s all there,” I said, “6,400 denarii. Eight years worth of my dishonesty in a bag. I pray you’ll forgive me.” I said. He opened the bag and ran his hand through the coins.

“I-I don’t understand,” Ethan said, quietly now. His wife approached. He showed her the bag.

She looked at me, head shaking.

“Why are you doing this?” she asked.

I answered with a question of my own.

“Have you heard of Jesus the Nazarene?”

“I’ve heard the name, one of those Messiah pretenders, isn’t he?” Ethan replied.

“I saw him the day He came through town,” Ethan’s wife said. “I needed a few things and went down to the market. As I shopped the square filled with people, and a procession flooded the streets. The man you mentioned, Jesus, walked in the center of it all. Crowds of His followers filled the streets in every direction. People pressed toward him, calling out. People all around me told the most unbelievable stories. Healings. Miracles. I heard one person say He raises the dead. I didn’t know what to think about all of it.”

I say, “He picked me out of the crowd, or should I say, out of a tree.” I stifle a laugh as I remembered how strange it all seemed at the time. “The day He came through town, I too wanted to see Him. The crowds, as you say, were such that I couldn’t see anything past the second or third row. I looked farther down the path He was walking and noticed a sycamore tree, and had an idea. I ran ahead and climbed the tree to gain a vantage point.

“I thought I was hidden there, but as He approached my perch our eyes locked. He saw me. And this was no glance. His eyes seemed to be calling me, and not just down from the tree. His eyes were calling me out of my past, out of all the lies and cheating, out of my very identity. It unnerved me.

“The next thing I knew, He was actually calling me.

“Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house,” Jesus said.

“At the sound of His voice, I scrambled down the tree, and we headed off to my home. Once inside, away from the eyes and ears of the crowd, He sat with us. He had me call my whole family in. He asked if we had any bread and wine. He broke the bread and we shared the wine. It felt like the Passover festivities of my youth. We have not celebrated Passover since we have been here in Jericho.

“My childhood rushed back to me as I ate the bread He offered. In my father’s house, we always celebrated Passover and every other feast and fast of our people. I can remember hearing the story of the slaughtered lamb and the night our people ate in haste and fled Egypt before Pharoh’s army. My love for the Almighty grew in those years.

“As I took the cup from His hands and touched it to my lips, I heard my own voice, forty years earlier, calling out to the Almighty, and promising to walk in His ways all the days of my life.

“With this memory came a flood of shame for all that I’ve become. I sat there, surrounded by all the things my lying and thievery had won me and began to weep. It was then our eyes met once more.

“Drink,” He said. “Drink and be clean. This cup is redemption for you and your household. You can be pure again. That’s what my name means—pure—Zaccheus and that’s when I broke down.

“I wept there for what seemed like an hour, and He gathered Himself, and started to leave. We walked out the door together, and the crowd was still there. I gripped His arm and looked up into his eyes one more time.

“I said, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.

“His face seemed to say He knew I would. Then He turned to the crowd and said, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’

“Since that day I’ve been making things right. It seems I owe almost everyone in Jericho something. At first, I was afraid to approach those I had cheated. I thought I would find hostility. But it has been the most freeing thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t know the strength of money’s hold on my heart. The more money I had, the more fear surrounded me, and the more greed grasped at my heart. Once I broke the hold riches had on my heart, it changed everything.

“Now these visits fill me with life. Giving back what I have taken from folks like you brings joy and freedom. I never would have imagined giving could be so fulfilling.”

As I finish my story, I can see that Ethan and his wife are both on the edge of tears. I turn to leave and Ethan approaches and embraces me. “We do forgive you, Zaccheus, and I will be looking into this Jesus. If He can change you, He might just be the Messiah.”

His wife touches my hand and says “Thank you,” and the door closes behind me.

There is nothing more satisfying that walking in His ways.

~~~
To read the original story, see Luke 19:1-10.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017 all rights reserved.

Encounters With JesusIf you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Jesus, you might enjoy my book, Encounters with Jesus. It is a collection of forty stories told in similar fashion, from the conception of Jesus through His resurrection. It's available now in paperback or kindle versions.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by

See you again soon.

Ben

%d bloggers like this: