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Does He Even Have a Name?

Ben Nelson:

I love Diane Reid’s insights into the story of this demon possessed man. I think you will too!

Originally posted on Devo Mom:

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As he (Jesus) stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn’t worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery.

Luke 8:27

He was somebody before the demons victimized him. We aren’t told his name or what his life was like. But I would like to humanize him if possible. I suspect he was a man of significance; a significance he didn’t even recognize. Oh, it might not have been financial, though it could have been. Maybe it was influence; maybe he was a man that people respected, looked up to, enjoyed knowing. Maybe he had a wife and kids and a nice livelihood that enabled him to provide for them. We aren’t told these things.

Whatever his life was, it wasn’t anymore. Whatever his influence may have been, it was no more. The…

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The Father Uses Broken Things

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And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. – Acts 15:39 NASB

This is a sad chapter in Church history, and not the last.

Barnabas had been Paul’s first ally and had spent probably close to a decade (years anyway) traveling with him. They had seen and done many miracles together—not the least of which was Paul’s own resurrection (or near resurrection—he was at least mostly dead in Lystra.) They had led hundreds, perhaps thousands of new believers into faith. They had planted churches throughout Asia Minor. They with Peter stood together before the council to declare that God was saving gentiles (a fact for which I am very thankful.)

And yet, there came a day when there was a “sharp disagreement” and they parted ways.

One thing to note here. Neither one of them went home and quit the ministry. They did not close up shop. They did not shut down. They did go their separate ways. But as they went they continued in ministry. The church continued to back them up with prayer and commissioning and their ministers continued to be fruitful.

This is the way the Passion Translation puts it:

After the believers prayed for them, asking for the Lord’s favor on their ministry, they left for Syria and southeast Turkey. Every place they went, they left the church stronger and more encouraged than before. – Acts 15:40-41 TPT

I’m not making and space for division. I’m not saying we should split over our differences. I don’t think it pleased the Father to have these two apostles split. And I don’t think it was the best for either of them. I don’t think it was God’s plan all along to have division in the body.

What I see is the wonderful grace and mercy of our heavenly Father to continue to work with us when we are broken. He does not lift His grace and anointing even when we are thick-headed and stubborn. His mercies truly are new every morning.

In the end Paul and Barnabas were reconciled and John Mark forgiven, and that is as it should be. But in the mean time, these men went on about the business of the Father.

Isn’t God good?

benheadshot1Thanks for stopping by.

See you again soon,

Ben

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Awakened

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Beneath the apple tree I awakened you.

Song of Songs 8:5 NASB

It’s a good practice in our walk of faith to allow our hearts to go back and visit the place the Lord first awakened us.

Paul models this for us, and he recounts his testimony repeatedly in the book of Acts. I’m sure it came up in his ministry over and over. The Spirit would bring him back to the place on the road to Damascus where he saw the light—literally.

And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ “And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” – Acts 26:14-15 NASB

Have you been back lately?

I remember the day.

I was out in my car—delivering the New York Times hours before dawn—listening to a cassette tape message called “The Rich Young Ruler.” The preacher—and later the man who discipled me, Kim Josesphson—showed me, in no uncertain—that I was the man.

I kept the commandments from my youth.

I had a good handle on religion, and it served me well.

I was a Sunday school teacher, youth leader, children’s ministry leader and sang in the choir. I did door to door evangelism and paid my tithe. I even gave to missions.

But I didn’t know Jesus, or the indwelling of His wonderful Spirit. I thought I had a relationship with God, but it was just religion, just me trying to earn my way to heaven.

I pulled to the side of the road; I stopped what I was doing; I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.

And wonder of wonders—He accepted me—He was standing at the end of the drive with nail pierced hands out stretched to welcome me home. He gave me his own robe to wear. He put His ring on my finger. He killed the fatted calf.

I’m so glad He brings me back and reminds me of the day He awakened me.

What a wonderful Savior!

Where did He find you? It’s testimony time!

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by. Please share your story. I’d love to hear it.Encounters With Jesus

See you again soon.

Ben

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PS – If you’ve read my book, would you please do me a HUGE favor and post a review on Amazon? It would be a big help. Spread the word on your social media networks too. I want to get it into more hands.

If you haven’t gotten your copy – chick the image to go to the order page.

Thanks.

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You’re on Guard Duty

Listen to me. Never let anxiety enter your hearts. ~ Jesus (Luke 12:22 TPT)

How do you guard your heart?

As I scanned through Luke 12 this morning, I was struck by how many times in this address, or this collection of addresses, Jesus gave instruction on what I would consider emotional control, or emotional intelligence.

The chapter starts with,

Don’t fear those who may want to take your life, but nothing more. (Luke 12:4 TPT)

Followed closely with,

The one you must fear is God (5)

A few paragraphs later we have,

Don’t worry about defending yourselves or be concerned about hot to answer their accusations. (11)

Next Jesus tells them,

Be alert and guard your heart from greed and always wishing for what you don’t have. (15)

Still further down the page,

Never let anxiety enter your hearts. Never worry about any of your needs, such as food or clothing (22)

And finally,

Don’t let worry enter your life. (29)

So with all that, I ask you, whose in charge of your emotions?

I know hormones and sleep and health (or lack there of) all play into your emotional state. I know there are chemical tricks your body can play on you, and sometimes the forces that would attack your peace are immense.

That’s why we must be super vigilant in the guarding of our hearts.

That’s why it’s imperative to stay in God’s word.

That’s why it’s important to stay in fellowship with folks who will stand with you and help you fight these external enemies.

I’m not saying “suck it up” and “stoic” your way though emotional valleys. There are things that are out of our control. I get that.

But we must do our part.

If you find certain activities bring you down, or draw you into lust, or greed, or anxiety, follow Solomon’s advise.

Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. – Proverbs 4:15 NASB

In the same way we must guard against the feeling of condemnation. Don’t let any outside influence (including this post) wiggle it’s way into a place of condemning you. If you are in Christ condemnation can only come from the mouth of the liar.

Today, make choices that guard your heart.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by.

Shine where you’re screwed in.

Ben

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Glory Central

GreaterGlory

Our heavenly Father, may the glory of your name be the center on which our life turns. – Luke 11:2 TPT

What a great prayer.

You’ve probably heard this verse translated like this:

Father, hallowed be Your name. – Luke 11:2 NASB

The only time you hear the word hallowed, or any part thereof today, it’s linked to Halloween. So when Brian Simmons translated the Lord’s prayer in Luke 11, he put a spin on it that you can wrap your heart and mind around.

Allowing the glory of the Father’s name to be the point on which our lives pivot would bring Him to the center or our every decision. It would create an awareness of God in our daily walk. This phrase helps me understand what it means to abide in the vine.

When I abide in Him and He resides in me, His glory and the glory of His name settles to the center of all I am, and then out of that center—that well of life—all my decisions flow—all my choices originate in the fountain head of glory at the center of my being.

Will you pray this with me today?

Our heavenly Father, may the glory of your name be the center on which our life turns.

Why His name? What’s so special about His name?

His name is His promise—His covenant.

Moses leaned His name—I AM.

Then Father, through the scriptures and finally through His son, revealed His nature, His character, and His covenant to us though His wonderful name.

Yahweh-Jireh “The Lord will Provide” (Genesis 22:14)
Yahweh-Nissi “The Lord is my Banner” (Exodus 17:15)
Yahweh-Mekaddesh “The Lord Sanctifies” (Exodus 31:1)
Yahweh-Shalom “The Lord is Peace” (Judges 6:24)
Yahweh-Rohi “The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1)
Yahweh-Tsidkenu “The Lord is Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Jeremiah 33:16)
Yahweh-Shammah “The Lord is There” (Ezekiel 48:35)

I AM the bread (John 6:35)
I AM the light of the world (John 8:12)
I AM the door of the sheep (John 10:7)
I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11)
I AM the resurrection, and the life (John 11:25)
I AM the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)

That is some serious glory, some serious promises, and an amazing covenant. Let your life pivot on this. Let it be your core.

Jesus, be the center!

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by today.Encounters With Jesus

Keep the light on.

Ben

For more thoughts on His great name, check out:

Thy Name, Part 1
Thy Name, 8 (well 9) Old Testament names of God
Thy Name, 7 (well 8) New Testament names of God

If you’d like to learn more about my new book – Encounters With Jesus – you can read about it here.

 

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Leaning on Jesus – SoS Saturday

Who is this coming up from the wilderness
Leaning on her beloved?

Song of Songs 8:5 NASB

Before we move on the verse 6, I wanted to slide back up to the idea of leaning.

How often Christianity has been tagged as a crutch. A device to help the week and infirm get along in a world their just not cut out for.

But here we see the bride in full maturity leaning on her Shepherd King.

So is dependency a sign of weakness?

Does she lean out of her own inability?

Probably so. A mark of Christian maturity, is that we understand it is Christ in us that makes us who we are in Him. It’s the immature believer who strides out in pride and self sufficiency and invariably come back broken, beaten and burnt-out.

Like the maiden, early in the song, we get out ahead of the Lord and try to go it on moral strength and will power.

It’s not our strength that demonstrates our maturity, it’s our ever-increasing dependency on the Lord for support.

What is it that we lean on the Lord for?

We get some clues from the supplications the Lord taught the boys in His model prayer.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. – Matthew 6:11-13 NASB

We lean on Jesus for our provision—He is after all Jehovah Jireh—The Lord will Provide.
We lean on Jesus for our forgiveness—There is no other name under heaven by which we may be saved!
We lean on Jesus for leadership—He is our Good and Great Shepherd.

The interesting thing about this position of leaning is that it’s not following from behind. No—instead we find our selves in a defendant partnership. We walk with the Lord, like Adam and Eve did in the cool of the day, before the fall.

So does it show weakness to lean?

It is the way Jesus walked in relation to the Father! Jesus was always looking to the Father for His provision and His guidance. Even His salvation (though He certainly did not need forgiveness.)

When Jesus fed the 5,000:

Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, – Matthew 14:19 NASB

When He looked to heaven—was His silent prayer – “Give us this day our daily bread?”

When He was hanging on the cross and ready to finish His work, He cried out:

And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last. – Luke 23:46 NASB

Jesus entrusted the Father for the final phase of His own work—I have done all you ask of me, my Father, now receive me, and my offering.

And finally Jesus looked to the Father for leadership in every day of His walk:

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. – John 5:19 NASB

Was the Lord’s leaning on the Father a sign of His own weakness or inability? NOPE! It was a demonstration of His confidence in the Fathers love and care for Him. It was intended to open our eyes to His total ONENESS with the Father. The same oneness He offers us.

There’s an old hymn of the church from the late 1800s.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms is a hymn published in 1887 with music by Anthony J. Showalter and lyrics by Showalter and Elisha Hoffman.

Showalter said that he received letters from two of his former pupils saying that their wives had died. When writing letters of consolation, Showalter was inspired by the phrase in the Book of Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms”

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What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain:
Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

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benheadshot1Thanks for coming by today.

Leaning on Jesus,

Ben

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You Fulfill Me

Among the attendants at Jesus baptism were two very important VIPs—that’s right, very important Very Important Persons.

God His (our) Father—a.k.a. YWYH and the Holy Spirit.

And He (Abba) had something to say.

Check out the account from the Passion Translation:

One day Jesus came to be baptized along with all the others. As he was consumed with the spirit of prayer, the heavenly realm ripped open above him and the Holy Spirit descended from heaven in the visible, tangible form of a dove and landed on him. Then God’s audible voice was heard, saying, “My Son, you are my beloved one. Through you I am fulfilled.” – Luke 3:21-22 TPT

This may be the only time (at least I can’t think of another off the top of my head) where Father, Son and Holy Spirit all show up in a form that can be perceived by all present. Of course, they are always together in all of Jesus life, but right here by the side of the muddy Jordan river the Father is heard, the Spirit is seen, and Jesus is the center of attention.

We don’t get this kind of manifestation at Christ triumphal entry.

Not at any of His miracles.

Not for the sermon on the mount.

Not even at His birth, crucifixion, or resurrection, though They were all completely involved in each.

There’s something really significant going on at the baptism of Jesus Christ.

Mark and John don’t even mention Jesus birth—Christmas—but all four gospel writers include a description of Jesus baptism. This is the launching of Jesus ministry. This is the day the age old plan, that was set in motion before the foundations of the earth were set in place by the Word of God, is going into it’s final phase. It’s a big deal!

But what really caught my eye was this phrase used by Abba. Most of us are familiar with the usual rendition, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And if you are anything like me, you long to have those words spoken over your life too. You long to hear the Father say He is pleased with you and your life.

But the way Brian Simmons (translator of the Passion Translation quoted above) renders it, the Father tells His beloved Son, “I am fulfilled through you.”

Jesus tells us that He came to fulfill the law that was crushing us.

Here we see that Jesus—the God man—fulfills the Father. The triune inseparable, incomparable God is completed by this flesh and blood man, Jesus.

And I guess that is how you would have to define trinity in the first place. If any one of them was not, God would be incomplete.

By the same token, in Jesus high priestly prayer, He used His words—same kind of words that set Jupiter in orbit of our sun—to ask the Father to allow us into that same relationship.

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. – John 17:20-23 NASB

Could it be that we may someday here the same words from the Father, “you fulfill Me?”

So many Christians live lives of condemnation and feeling like they can never please God, or live up to His expectations. But what Jesus did for us, on the cross, gives us His nature, and His ability to please God, and to fulfill Him.

I heard Praying Medic say in a podcast yesterday that he finally heard to work from the place of rest, when he figured out that God was pleased with him, and even delighted in him. That’s when the spirit of striving died in him, and it set him free to minister in confidence.

Encounters With JesusSorry – I’m rambling a bit today, and now I have to get going.

benheadshot1Blessings on all of you today.

Thanks for coming by.

Ben

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If you haven’t taken a look at my new book, Encounters With Jesus, check it out!

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