The Kingdom of Heaven

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Jesus in Matthew’s gospel speaks about the kingdom of heaven more than any other theme. I’m quite intrigued as I look at what He has to say about it. I want to spend some time here at Another Red Letter Day digging into some of these statements and pictures Jesus makes and uses to describe it.

What is the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ like?

Jesus said it’s like:

a man who sowed good seed in his field. – Matthew 13:24

a mustard seed – Matthew 13:31

leaven – Matthew 13:33

a treasure hidden in the field – Matthew 13:44

a merchant seeking fine pearls, – Matthew 13:45

a dragnet cast into the sea – Matthew 13:47

a head of a household  – Matthew 13:52

a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. – Matthew 18:23

a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. – Matthew 20:1

a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. – Matthew 22:2

ten virgins – Matthew 25:1

Where is He going with this? I’m intrigued. Are you?

BenHeadshotCome back again soon.

Don’t forget to shine.

Ben

How Wonderful ~ Worship Wednesday

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War Room

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Corinne (my sweet wife) and I went to see War Room last night with some brothers and sisters from our home church. This film surpassed my expectations in so many ways. Sometimes “christian” films leave me a bit underwhelmed, but not so with War Room.

Many “christian” films have as their target the unsaved population who might accidentally end up in the audience. They spend their hard-earned currency with not so believable sermonettes hoping someone with pray the prayer before they leave the theater.

Don’t get me wrong. War Room gives space for clear declaration that Jesus wants to be Lord of your life, but the gospel is demonstrated rather than spoken in most cases.

The fact that this film was written more to Christians captivated me. The film uses compelling story telling to teach the principals of spiritual warfare to the world of faith. I’m sure many will find Jesus through this film. But I know this–it’s largest impact will show up in closets of Christians all across the land. I am stirred up about prayer–I am motivated to renew my prayer life–this film preached to me! It teaches line upon line how to think about prayer–and how to do it. It exposes some of the schemes of the enemy. How satan sets us against each other, so as to leave him free to do his will. Brilliant!

When leaving a film from this genre, I often think “that was nice, but I wouldn’t bring my unsaved friends to see it.” Last night I left feeling that every Christian should see this film, and their unsaved friends would begin to see the gospel lived out–loved out–right in front of their eyes.

If you can manage it–get out and see this film.

In the words of Larry the Cucumber: I laughed; I cried; It moved me Bob.

BenHeadshotBlessings,

See you again soon,

Ben

PS–The quotes around christian above come from my disdain for things to be called christian. There really is no such thing as christian music, or christian films, or even christian books. There are Christians. These are folks who have been rescued from this present evil age, who have changed their citizenship from earthly to heavenly. Just one of my pet peeves. Forgive me, please?

Identity Theft

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It’s a huge problem today. People have had their identity stolen and they don’t even know it until they go to check their assets and realize don’t have any access to their wealth.

I’m not talking about cyber-crime.

I’m talking about Christians who think they are lowly sinners, barely citizens of the kingdom of God. Christians who believe they are barely saved, and stand the risk of eternity in hell if Jesus happens to come back the day they skip church. After all, we should never do anything we would not want Jesus to find us doing when He returns.

It’s a crime, and Jesus is the victim.

What the thief made off with is that for which Jesus paid the ultimate price. God didn’t just pay a ransom of gold and silver to buy you back from the clutches of hell. He laid down the ultimate ransom. A life for a life. The life of the One and only Begotten Son of the Almighty, for you—for me.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. – Romans 5:10

We know from the Word that this transaction did not simply return us to His ownership—His slaves. He signed the papers with His own blood, and declared us—not His property—but His family.

Satan offered us up as slaves for sale, but Jesus paid for daughters and sons.

Sadly, though the price has been paid and the chains have been broken from our wrists and ankles, we approach our Father as though we are still enslaved by the hater of our souls.

It’s a crime, and the world is the victim.

Heaven’s plan, detailed by Jesus, included us walking through our generations as He walked through His, abiding in His Father, breaking the power of sin as we encounter it in the lives of others, preaching the gospel, healing the sick, raising the dead, setting the prisoners free.

the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. – 1 John 2:6

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. – John 14:12

“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. – Matthew 10:7-8

Because Christians don’t know who they are, or what they have in their possession, they live low impact lives. They (we) keep our heads down, not wanting to impose our “beliefs” on anyone else.

It’s a crime, and Christians are the victims.

We have been given so much and yet live with so little. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, – Ephesians 1:3

The Host of this party has asked us to sit in the best seat—a heavenly seat with a perfect view of all that surrounds us. And yet, every time we approach our Abba, we’re groveling, begging forgiveness. Our lives are marked with compromise, not because we don’t love God, but because we don’t know we can live above the poverty level.

and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, – Ephesians 2:6

Let’s take back our identities, and live like the supernatural soldiers we are.

Thanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

PS – How do you like my new digs?

Works Don't Work

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if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. – Galatians 3:18 NASB

It’s pretty simple.

Salvation comes through a promise.

Keeping the law never saved anyone.

Good works cannot save you.

There is no such thing as righteousness based on works.

Your relationship with God is not improved by doing good things—not even a little.

Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” – Galatians 3:11

Only faith pleases God.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him – Hebrews 11:6

The tricky part is that faith works.

Works flow out of relationship with God.

Faith is an action that demonstrates your trust in, and reliance on, the Father.

Can you see places where we slide back into a works mentality?

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by.

Walk in the light.

Ben

Doors ~ SoS Saturday

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If she is a wall,
We will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door,
We will barricade her with planks of cedar.

Song of Songs 8:9 NASB

Here’s where we stand. The bride is saying to the Shepherd King that she wants to nurture her little sister, and encourage her in the life she was made for.

We’re taking this to be the mature believer partnering with Jesus in the discipleship of a younger believer.

Basically our bride is offering two possible areas of ministry for her younger sister.

Walls speak of a pastor’s heart. One of protecting the flock. It reminds me of Paul’s parting words to the elders in Ephesus.

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. – Acts 20:28-30

While walls protect and keep danger at bay, door provide access.

Jesus called Himself the Door.

His life, even today, grants us access to the Father.

And there are believers who are doors too.

Each of us is called to evangelism. We are all called to preach the gospel as we go.

But there are some who make entrance into the kingdom so easy.

I have a friend named Grace. It’s the right name. In her day to day life, she comes across many folks in need. Almost every time we chat, she has a story to tell about praying with someone about their situations and circumstances. Often the stories end with “…and they prayed with me to receive Christ.”

Grace is a door.

Many have stepped through that door and met the Lord Jesus Christ.

benheadshot1Thanks for stropping by.

See  you again soon.

Ben

This Present Evil Age

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Many bemoan the evil of our present day. This is not new. All of my life, the generation ahead of me looked back at the “good old days” and now my generation is doing the same.

We read or hear the headlines of current events and we become disheartened.

Perhaps this is why Paul’s words to the Galatians jumped out at me this morning.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, – Galatians 1:3-4 NASB

Paul informs us that the Lord Jesus Christ by giving Himself for our sins, rescued us from this present evil age.

So why is it that we feel like captives to the evil of our present age?

We can’t say that in Paul’s day it wasn’t as bad as it is today. In Paul’s day the put the Christians in the Colosseum and fed them to lions—burned them at the stake—slaughtered them like so much cattle.

Paul was beaten with thirty-nine lashes five times, stoned, beaten, mocked, imprisoned, all by the evil of his day.

And yet, his heart cried out FREEDOM.

The evil of his day, evil done around him, evil done to him, did not hold him.

He pursued the Father’s business.

Want to go into the family business with me, my brothers and sisters.

We may need to shake ourselves and realize we are free in the midst of the mess of our day.

Free to love our neighbors.

Free to preach the gospel.

Free to shine the light of Christ in the darkness, this gross darkness.

Free to season and preserve our generation with the saltiness of Christ in you (me.)

Are you with me?

benheadshot1Thank God I’m free!

Don’t forget to shine!

Ben

an absurd & tenacious hope | Risking Love. Writing Brave.

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an absurd & tenacious hope

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The modus operandi of the new covenant gospel of grace by the dynamic of the risen and living Lord Jesus Christ will always be counter-intuitive, counter-cultural, and counter-productive to the ways of the natural world. Divine grace is always antithetical to human performance and productivity.

Jim Fowler

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard of the horrific story that came out of Virginia yesterday of a reporter and another man being shot dead on live TV. My Facebook news feed became so overwhelmed with this story and even videos from the TV station (that I did not watch), as well as a video from a camera that was on the shooter, that I had to step away yesterday for my own well-being. We are not built to handle an onslaught of evil – not instantly nor consistently. So today I am not privy to any details, though I do believe the shooter shot himself and died. I also saw some comments before stepping away from social media about how he should die…my spirit cannot accept this kind of talk; reading it makes my heart heavy and my stomach churn.

I did have a conversation with my youngest daughter earlier in the day about…

Read on: an absurd & tenacious hope | Risking Love. Writing Brave.

Daily Devotion-August 27, 2015-The Elijah Factor or How 1 Man Made a Difference-All For The Glory of God

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It Is Well – Wednesday Worship

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This is an enduring favorite, and I love what Jeremy Riddle and his Bethel Church team does with it.

There are some verses that don’t often get sung – here’s one rendition with a couple extras – thanks to TimelessTruths.org

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    • Refrain:
      It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

    –OK — This is my favorite part–

  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/It_Is_Well_with_My_Soul/

benheadshot1Have a great Wednesday.

Ben