Many Waters - SoS header

But my dove, my perfect one, is unique:

Song of Songs 6:9 NASB

That’s right – You’re Unique – just like everyone else.

No really though – the bride, this one who is pursuing the Lord is set apart and without compare in the courts of the Lord.

I know it’s been said a brazilian times, but there is only one you, and you just have not gotten it yet.

You know how I know?

You are still trying to be like someone else.

You still look at other folks gifts and try to figure out ways to mimic them.

You’re still not satisfied with the way God made you.

But God has made you with a temperament that is unique.

He has given you gifts that are unique, especially when attached to your temperament.

He has placed you in a story that is unique. No one has your background and upbringing, not even your siblings. Each one of you (yes – I mean us) was born into a different family, and some into no family at all.

Then when you came to faith, He set you in His body, but not alone, with a group of other believers, a unique group, with their own mix of temperaments, gifts, talents, callings – giving you a solid hold on the title of ‘YOU.’ You’re the only one.

Then we have the aspect of God’s amazing plan.

Check this out:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10 NASB

(I’ve heard that word ‘workmanship’ rendered God's ‘masterpiece’ – nice!)

When did Father plan these works for you?

David saw it this way:

I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

When I awake, I am still with You.

Psalms 139:14-18 NASB

I have an assignment for you today.

Be YOU.

Let me know how it goes.

nora and papa at the table, benBen

2

I don’t know how they do the offering or collection in your church. In mine we usually ask the Lord to receive our gifts and then the ushers come forward and the music plays. Sometimes a soloist sings, other times we worship, and once in a while we watch a video.

Imagine with me for a moment the Pastor standing up just as you were about to toss your envelope with your tidy tax deduction into the basket and said:

WAIT – STOP – HOLD EVERYTHING!

Nobody puts another penny in that basket until we fix what happened at the business meeting last week.

The Church will not accept another offering until reconciliation is obvious. End the factions or end the finances! You pick, but I can no longer allow you to pretend to give to God, when you can’t forgive your brothers and sisters.

That might shake it up a bit – you think?

God is more interested in your relationship with your brothers and sisters, than He is with your money. [Tweet This]

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24 NASB)

Thanks for stopping by today.

Ben

Wallet photo credit: NCReedplayer via photo pin cc

Offering plate photo credit: k.landerholm via photo pin cc

Originally posted September 14th of 2012.

7

Shining through

So what does the Sabbath point to?

I realize I never really got to the Sabbath yesterday because I was so taken with the picture of circumcision. That really got me yesterday, and if you missed it, check the tail end of yesterday’s post.

Back to the Sabbath though, the passage we’ve been poking around all week – Colossians 2:16 ends with dashes in my Bible.

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- - Colossians 2:16

So the next verse really needs to be included in the conversation too!

…things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. - Colossians 2:17

I love it in the New Living Translation:

For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. - Colossians 2:17 NLT

I know some of you, in the comments have mentioned this, and it has taken me a long time to get here, but hey – I’m plodding here.

Jesus Christ is the reality – the Greek word here is body, so you could say that Jesus is the embodiment of the Sabbath. He is a living breathing Sabbath. He is rest personified. He demonstrates what it means to keep the Sabbath everyday.

And to take it one step further, as I am want to do, this word body – σῶμα – sōma – is the same word used here:

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. - 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

If then Christ is the embodiment of the Sabbath, and we are the body – embodiment – of Christ, does it not stand to reason that our live ought to be a walking demonstration of Sabbath?

In case you are not sure the answer is an emphatic yes!

But wait Ben, it sounds like you are saying Christians should lay around doing nothing. Doesn’t rest mean no work? Didn’t God tell us to stop our labors on the Sabbath? If we live in a constant state of Sabbath, how will anything get done?

Oh – I am glad you asked, because there are some red letters that will help us with this little paradox.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30

Christianity is a state of working at rest.

We rest from our labors to earn a place with God.

Jesus’ work on the cross earned us that place.

We rest from our labors to earn forgiveness.

Jesus’ blood purchased forgiveness once and for all.

We take up our work in the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ yoke is easy and burden is light.

This idea of a yoke, is one of work, but not solo work, work in partnership with Jesus. Like two oxen plowing a field, it is God’s plan to link you up with Jesus, and for the two of you to do the work He ordained for you, and created you for.

So, in the same way that He has prepared heaven and a future home for every one in covenant with Him yet He calls us to be seated in heavenly places today, so it is that He has prepared a future rest for each of us that is yet to be seen, yet the cross provides a Sabbath rest for us today.

The real work of appeasing and pleasing God was completed with the words, “It is finished.” That was the violent and bloody cutting off of your sin, the once and for all burial of your transgressions, the completion of your reconciliation to the Father. All that is left for you to do today is place your faith in THAT work, that finished work.

I pray for you today, that you will stop your working to earn favor with God, and rest in the favor that Jesus bought for you.

You can enter covenant with Jesus right now, if you have never done so. Simply come clean with Him about how you never have been able to “measure up.” It’s not like He doesn’t already know, but He wants you to own your sin, to confess it, and then to give it to Him. In confessing your sin - it is best to name it, out loud every sin you can remember. Be honest with God. Remember, He already knows, but in saying it out loud, you are putting it in Christ's tomb. Next time you look in there it will be empty! Confession breaks your old sin's hold on you. It gives you a place to point when satan tries to accuse you. "Look satan, I put it over there in that empty tomb and it is GONE!!!" [Tweet This]

Once you give Him your sin, and see that His blood on the cross paid the price for it, there is nothing between you and a wonderful relationship with your Father and mine. Simply ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life.

The Bible promises:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, - John 1:12

The only thing left to do is to put your faith, your trust, your life into His hands.

If you have done that while reading this post there a couple things I would ask you to do. (What more work?)

Tell somebody, someone you know if a Christian.
Plug into a local body – a good Bible believing church.
Start reading the Bible for yourself. If you don’t have a bible – go to http://www.blueletterbible.org/ or http://www.biblegateway.com/ and start reading. I suggest starting with Mark because you will get to know Jesus quickly.

Lastly, I would love you to tell me about it – either in the comments below or you can email  me: Ben@AnotherRedLetterDay.com

What a great way to start Christmas at Another Red Letter Day.

Ben NelsonThanks for reading today.

See you again soon.

Ben

Here is a related post you may enjoy: Remember to Rest

photo credit: Woodlouse via photopin cc
photo credit: Woodlouse via photopin cc

So – are you wondering if I will ever move on? I am almost done – just stick with me for a little longer.

As, I am sure you remember, we are responding to Jesus’ words

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. ~ Matthew 7:15-16

by digging through the little book of Jude to find some of the fruit that would identify such a tree – well in all reality we are letting the mirror of the Word give us a peak into our own hearts.

If you came here to load up with ammo to throw at your least favorite prophet, you will have to do some plank removal first.

Anyway – Let’s hear from Bro. Jude:

These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. ~ Jude 19

One of the Lord’s core values is community. He went to considerable lengths to break down the formidable wall of sin keeping us out of communion with the Father. If we are to walk with the mind of Christ, this (community) must become one of our core values as well.

When words are used to insert a wedge between brothers, beware! When a message, a teaching, a word of prophecy makes you distrust others who are in Christ, or suspect their intentions, it would be a good time to step back and take it before the Lord.

Check your motives here too. Were you looking for a reason to divide? Looking for an exit strategy? Another one of the Lord’s core values is faithfulness.

Just as Jesus remained faithful to the Father, even when that faithfulness was going to cost Him a visit to the horrible and wonderful cross, so His hope is to find a willingness in us to bear reproach and insult if necessary, to maintain or restore relationship. (please see disclaimer)

God crucified Jesus – He let the Truth spend some time in the grave – in order to restore relationship!

What would you do?

Would you leave your gift at the altar, and go repair a broken friendship before going back to worship?

Beware of words that divide, and God forbid that we should use our own words to maim the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t allow your words to be the spear piercing the side of the Body of Christ. [Tweet This] Don’t use the “sword of the Spirit,” His own word, to tear His body to pieces.

Tomorrow we will look at how Jude tells us we should use our words. I think you will like it.

BenUse good words to good purpose today!

See you tomorrow

Ben

--Disclaimer - I am not talking about abuse here - please hear me, I am not suggesting we door matt our way through life as physical or verbal punching bags, there by empowering some creep - got it? Good!

photo credit: mystuart via photopin cc
photo credit: mystuart via photopin cc

May I ponder these words with you a bit today?

You know how you are just chugging along and suddenly a scripture you have read bunches just jumps out at you. I had one of those in church this morning. We have been going pretty much verse by verse through the book of 1 Corinthians, and today this verse popped up on the screen.

The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. ~ I Corinthians 10:16-17 NKJV (my emphasis)

When I take communion, I always meditate on the Body of the Lord being broken for me. I have even made a big stink in the past about using unleavened bread and not yeast bread, since Jesus was unleavened by sin – the pure and spotless lamb.

For the earliest part of my life we went to a Plymouth brethren assembly where we actually passed a loaf of bread and tore off a piece. As I grew up and my opinions formed, I threw this practice under the bus as having missed the point.

As with most of my dogma – when I finally step back on look – I can see the merit in this. It is really what Paul is saying right here in 1 Corinthians. We are all part of one loaf. A big part of communion is about our community. We are the body of Christ, and in sharing the one loaf, we demonstrate the breaking and dispersion of the body of Christ into the world to carry out His purposes around the globe.

Now I take this back to the woman begging for her daughter’s life, willing to take the crumbs that fall to the floor to see her daughter delivered from the demon that tormented her.

Are we not the broken loaf – scattered – distributed in the world for the healing of the nations? Are we not like that boy’s lunch, blessed by Jesus, and distributed by the apostles over the ages and over all the earth?

What do you think?

BenThanks for pondering with me today.

Worship the King!

Ben

 

"Give us this day… "(Matt 6:11)

It is important for us to realize that we have nothing we have not been given. This is an area of Christian life that can actually stretch our faith considerably. Every material blessing ultimately comes from the Father.

Jehovah Jireh – When we were talking about the Name of the Lord, we noted that this is one of His names: The Lord your provider. In case you do not recall the story, in Genesis 22 God tells Abraham to take Isaac his “son of promise” and sacrifice him on an alter – to present his only son’s blood as a sacrifice to God.

When Isaac and Abraham where alone climbing the mountain to do this deed, Isaac (who was no dummy) took stock of the situation and asked his father what animal they were going to sacrifice. Abraham said: “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” (Gen 22:8 NASB) This is huge, and this God has done. God took His own “Son of Promise” and presented to Himself the innocent blood of the perfect Lamb. [Tweet This]

James tell us :

“Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” James 1:17)

All good things come from the Father, and He gives and does not hold back from us any good thing. In Romans 8 Paul tells us:

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NASB)

More than just material things, Paul tell us in Ephesians:

“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 NASB)

This verse is huge. It is written in the past tense implying that we already have everything we need in the Spirit. It has been given to us – deposited in our spiritual bank account for immediate withdrawal. We just have to figure out how to access that account.

The scripture even tells us that if we delight in God, He will give us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4) There are a couple ways to understand this. You could take it to mean that if you love God He will give you whatever you want. On the other hand, you could read it this way. If you delight in the Lord, then His desires will become your desires.

I had a Pastor when I was in high school, Dr. Richard Halverson, who used to say that if you pray persistently for anything, say for example a million dollars, and really prayed into it, not just say the words, but really prayed daily for that million, you would either get the million, or your heart and desire would change so that the million is no longer the desire of your heart.

Because Our Father is our provider, it is never necessary to compromise in order to get or keep a job, or any other form of provision. God is faithful, and has inordinate supply and so there is never justification to step outside the bounds of good upright conduct in order to protect or secure your income. Don’t ever lie for your boss!

“And what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7) Paul uses this idea to demonstrate that no one member of the body of Christ is superior to another because every gifting and talent that we have comes from God.  We are who we are because God made us that way. This is a big deal too. There are a number of take-aways from this idea.

  • God does not make junk. You were created and gifted by the amazing creator of the Universe Who does all things well.
  • You are not a mistake.
  • God gave you a specific gift/talent mix – I like to think of it as your Spiritual DNA. This unique combination of personality, gifting, talents, temperament is all part of His amazing plan.
  • You yourself are a gift and a provision for the Body of Christ, both on a local basis, and to His body worldwide. There is no one in the body that brings the exact mix that God has put together in you, and you are an integral part of what He wants to do in your local Church, your school, your workplace, your home.

Live like you are a gift today, and be thankful to the One who has given you all things!

Thanks for reading today. Stop in again soon.

Ben

So let’s talk bread. Jesus makes it plain that the Word of God is as important as physical nourishment. But He does not say meat or food, like He does with the woman at the well (see John 4.) He chooses bread. OK, I get that it is not arbitrary and it is actually a quote from Duet 8:3. But still, why bread?

In a read through the Gospels you can’t miss bread. It is the staple of life, and as such Jesus talks about it all the time, sometimes in the natural sense and other times as a figure for a spiritual truth.
Let’s just brush past a few of these bread ideas. (to get right to the main point skip down to where you see this. --> If you have plenty of time and want to go hard core  – read on by all means.)

All 4 gospels tell the story of Jesus multiplying bread and fish (some of them tell 2 accounts of 2 different times.) Based on how you count, He multiplied 12 loves and 5 - 7 fishes and fed somewhere between 9 and 20 thousand people (just depends on how many women and children those men had along in the crowd of 5,000) and took home 19 baskets of leftovers. Among other things these accounts demonstrate that Jesus was able to take the simplest gifts from the most unexpected places (like a boy's lunch bag) and provide way more than enough for what ever the circumstance required.

Jesus talks about bread when He is explaining that the Father gives good gifts to His children just as an earthly father would not give a child a stone if he asks bread of him. This one tells me that our Father does not switch out our gifts on us. He does not hear our cries for something good, and give us something evil. [There was a branch of theology about 10 or 15 years ago that would warn you not to ask the Father for spiritual gifts for fear that the devil might slip in and give you some false gift that would lead you astray. Seems to me Jesus shuts that argument down. Ask your Father – Ask and keep on asking!]
There was the situation with the Greek woman who wanted her daughter to be set from some demonic oppression. Jesus said, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” (Mark 7:28)
This story strikes me on so many levels, but I only want to talk here about the bread. She is asking for deliverance for her daughter, and Jesus basically says, deliverance is the children’s bread, I can’t give it you a gentile dog like your daughter. [It is a ground breaking story when the woman pushes through this insult, and breaks the dispensational barrier to a period in time when God would allow gentiles full access to the benefits of salvation. You might ponder if there is anything you are writing off as being for a different dispensation (heaven perhaps) that you would like to see in your life today?! Think on that for a while.]
--> Jump to here for the short version:
The one bread story I want to think about today is where Jesus says “I am the bread of Life!” (John 6:48) His ministry is booming. They are following Him in droves. He gets 198,000 unique hits every month on His blog and has 300,000 followers and 2,000,000 FB friends.
He goes and starts talking about being the manna that God sent from heaven. Worse He comes right out and says, “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” (John 6:55-57) WOW! I want you to understand. He did not take the time to stop them from walking away. He did not explain the significance of communion, and the fact that He was talking about Matzos and grape juice.
Only the 11 got the more complete rendition where Jesus gave them physical bread and said – “This is my body broken for you.” He really was not looking for crowds, but for people who would follow Him no matter what it cost them, and no matter how crazy it seemed. He knew that those who took His name would be facing incredibly hard lives, and so he would not water it down, or make it easy.
The gospel is still like that. We should not try to talk people into the kingdom using logical arguments, because logic breaks down when persecution heats up.
I remember leading a young man to the Lord (convincing him rationally anyway.) But one day we were chatting about His Jewish mom, who he could not bring himself to tell about his decision for Christ. He never came back, as he began to consider that fact that his mom needed Jesus. That was too much for him- she was good, and did not need to change. He had been a bad boy, and so change worked in his life, but in his good mom – no way. Very sad.
[One last bit on Jesus' body, the bread of life. We have a good theological backing for the fact that we are cleansed from our sins by the blood of Jesus. So what is with the breaking of His body? I go back to Isaiah 53, where it says “by His stripes we are healed.” I truly believe that the bread we break when we take communion is a depiction of the stripes He bore for our physical healing. It helps me to meditate on that as I take the bread of communion.]
So I ask you now, Has Christ offended you? What rock of offence has He put in your way to test your faith?
Share with us.
Thanks for reading (either long or short version)
Ben