Skip to content

13

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

12

Path

I had the opportunity to speak at an evening of worship which carried an overall theme of repentance. This is not the first time I have shared this revelation, but I find it at the core of my ministry on an on going basis. Of course every time I get ready to share it, the Lord deepens the message in me, and shows me a new area to work on. Sometimes it frustrates me that I am such a work in process, but then I read The Book, and find that I am not alone.

Anyway – all that as a way of introducing the basic message. I hope it blesses you, and sets you on the road to freedom.

===

Repentance – the Path to Victory!

When you think of repentance, what comes to mind?

Most would probably describe confession as an apology. It is often the way we use the word in church circles.

Some go to the actual definition of the word, changing your mind.

These are both fine, since language is what it is.

But today, I want to give you a new way of thinking about repentance.

Repentance is a personal war on sin.

It is a war that God calls you to.

You will know you have been given this ‘call to war’ when you sense a deep sorrow over your sin.

I am not talking about feeling guilty or getting depressed.

I am not talking about weeping at a altar and

Repentance is a War on sin in your life.

Let me make this plain to you. You will never have victory over any particular sin in your life until you take up arms against it.

And today I am going to arm you for this war.

The first thing to understand is:

StrategyA war requires a strategy.

Check out what Paul tells the Church in Corinth

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. - 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NASB

You see – sorrow brings you to the point of needing to change – repent. Sorrow is not repentance – repentance is War.

And here is the strategy that the Corinthians used

EarnestEarnestness,

It’s time to get serious about getting the freedom God is offering. All repentance is a gift from God, and God would never give you a gift He did not want you to fully experience and embrace. But you will need to set you mind and heart on high alert if you ever want to lay hold on this marvelous freedom.

Vindication

The Greek word here indicates a verbal response to an accusation – I like to think of it as your declaration of WAR.

I recommend that you do it out loud – Declare war on the object of your repentance. Jesus spoke to trees, you can speak to the sin in your life. Put it on notice. Gossip, you are not long for this world! Bitterness, you are going down.

One more recommendation here; You should recruit others, someone or some folks to whom you can be accountable. Someone you can call when you just need to hear the word “no” in a voice other than your own, especially when the only thing you voice wants to say is ‘yes.’

IndignationIndignation

You have to get all your facilities on board – including your emotions – and it is appropriate to get angry here. No nation or people ever got free from the abomination of slavery without creating a public outcry of indignation – and that is what it is going to take in your life.

Fear of the LordFear

When you see how awesome a price God put on your freedom, how much he paid for you to be free from sin, there will rise up a fear – a concern for wasting the precious blood of Jesus.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. - Proverbs 1:7 NASB

Any true knowledge that makes a difference is experiential. True knowledge of another comes through intimacy, and this is a key component of this war on your sin. You must walk in intimacy with God.

It is in fact these besetting sins in our lives that undermine our relationship with the Lover or our souls.

Longing

How bad do you want to be free? Can you imagine life without the guilt and shame that always accompany this indulgence of yours? Do you have a deep desire within to be closer to Father?

Repentance_pptx 6Zeal

Can you stir up passion – no life and death battle will be won without zealous, passionate, persistent effort.

If you look at wars that have been waged without zeal, you see defeat or détente, but you never see victory. Contrast the Americans in Viet Nam, fighting for something they really did not care about, verses the way the colonials defended their homes and families in the American Revolutionary War, against the highly trained and organized British.

Avenging of wrong

There is this Avenging of wrong. God’s sneaky little (well big) plan is to set you free and then send you out with keys to set others free. [Tweet This]

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. - 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 KJV

Our biggest problem in this regard is we want to do this (help others get free) before we have dealt with it in ourselves. We want to be helping folks to pick specks out of their eyes, while mindlessly slamming around with a plank shooting out above our nose.

and finally

VictoryVictory

In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. - 2 Corinthians 7:11

Repentance results in victory.

So today, has God placed on your heart a sin that gets the best of you on a regular basis? You can be free.

Declare war on that thing.

Get Serious.

Get Angry.

See yourself free in the future.

Start doing battle today.

===

Hey – by the way, if you are located in the north east in a not too unreasonable travel distance from North Jersey and would like me to come and speak to your gathering you can contact me via email: ben@AnotherRedLetterDay.com

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

See you again soon

Ben

8

Rembrandt: Christ in the Storm

And He said to them, “Why are you timid, you men of little faith?” Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm. ~ Matthew 8:26

I want to talk a little about how the Lord makes disciples.

This word ‘timid’ strikes me today. Jesus wakes up and everything is a mess. The sea is crashing over the side of the boat, everyone is running hither and yon, in short, Chaos!

Before He even gets up, He processes what is going on, and decides on the lesson for the day.

In my mind, this storm is a scheme of the evil one to destroy Jesus and all his pals in one fell swoop. I know we like to call storms and things that are beyond our control “Acts of God,” but I am thinking that this isolated hurricane was probably a gift from the “prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2)

But Jesus, like His Father in every way, actively uses all things, every circumstance in the disciples lives, to their good, and for their education, their training in righteousness.

So back to our word for the day – timid – some translations use the word fearful or afraid. There are a number of words and variants of those words for fear in New Testament Greek. Many come from the root “phobos” like our phobia, which has in it the idea of flight. Others give the sense of awe and wonder.

But this word for fear that Jesus uses is always negative. The first definition is ‘Cowardly.’ I find it five times in the Word, in various forms though there may be other forms used elsewhere. Two of these times are two accounts of Jesus words in this instance. But let’s look at the other three times this word is used in the Bible and see what Jesus is going to teach the disciples though this circumstance they find themselves in.

Jesus uses this word one other time. Right after He announces He is headed off to prepare a place for them.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. ~ John 14:6-7

He tells them He is going to be gone, but they should take control of their hearts – guard them from the onslaught of fear that would overtake them. Don’t be cowardly.

Next we see Paul talking to Timothy about a spirit of timidity (pneuma deilia.) This word for spirit is the same word used for Holy Spirit, but it has a sense of breath or wind as well.

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

Paul is saying when you sense that cold breath of cowardice creeping up your spine, it's the breath of your enemy, not the Voice of Heaven issuing a warning. Stand strong when cowardice calls you. This cowardly spirit never comes from the Father.

The final use of this word is in the book of Revelation when John describes those who face the final condemnation of their eternal souls. It is in fact the very first on John’s list of the condemned.

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” ~ Revelation 21:8

This verse has always strikes me, as we view this group standing at the gates of hell awaiting entrance, and it is populated by cowards, liars and murderers. In our minds, these are vastly different "levels" of sin, yet they all line up for the same end.

Back to the boat – Jesus takes this circumstance (I contend it is from the hand of satan) and uses it to teach the boys courage in the face of opposition, even when it looks like ‘an act of God.’

Have you ever faced a sudden fear that overcame you completely out of the blue, a fear that made you want to fold up shop, or shut down, draw back? Perhaps it was at the start of something new God lined up for you, and starting seemed to be the worst punishment imaginable.

This spirit of cowardice is not from the Lord, and it is not part of you. It is from the enemy, and needs to be driven off.

It may take power to run it off, or it may take love to run it off, but for sure it will require self discipline, to stand up and speak to the storm.

The Bible tells us Jesus was tempted in every point just as we are. I am sure that day Jesus, waking up in the back of the boat was slammed by a spirit of fear, of cowardice and was tempted to panic, but He stirred up discipline, that oft forgotten fruit of the Spirit, self control, and He garnered that gift from His Father, power, and He declared the Fathers will for the day, “Hush.”

I do love Jesus!

What is God’s word today for your circumstance? Do you hear Him speaking over you. Push away the fear, and look for that power or love you need to move forward.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

Many Waters - SoS header

Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle
Or a young stag on the mountains of Bether. ~ Songs of Songs 2:17

So here we are – the moment of truth.

Remember back to verse 8 the Shepherd King came to our maiden fair climbing through the mountains and leaping across the hills. He invited her to come out. He described the glory of the newly sprung spring, fragrances, sounds and colors, beauty on every side. He promised to keep her safe, to hide her from the danger, and expose her only to the wonder and glory.

Sadly her answer is "I am not quite ready."

She tell Him, her gazelle, her young stag, to turn, leave her there and head out to the mountains. You can come back home this evening and I will have dinner ready.

God’s design for our lives is to move from glory to glory. He has a path we can walk that will take us to new levels of intimacy, to grow in our relationship, in our reliance on Him. He does not however drag us kicking and screaming. There are always choices we can make.

He is calling her to drop her concerns about foxes and flocks and follow Him, to join Him in what He is doing. Come and climb the mountains, leaps among the hills with me.

Nevertheless she sends Him on ahead. “No, you go, I am not ready, I don’t have enough practice, I am not prepared, my garden is a mess, frankly, I am afraid.”

The excuses all boil down to that last bit, “I am afraid.”

What kind of excuses do you make when you are simply afraid to step out into something completely new and foreign to you?

Have you been in this place?

Let me be completely clear here. We are going to see, by the way Jesus deals with her here that this is not a huge “sin issue” in her life. She is not staying at home because she is lazy, or lusting after other things.

She is desperately in love with Jesus, and wants to step out, she simply can’t stir up enough courage to take the plunge. At this stage in her story, it is not that she is unsure who is calling her. She knows His voice, and she is not confused about what He is calling her to do.

When we come to these places there are a couple things we need to know.

  • Jesus does not react in anger toward her.
  • Jesus is not surprised.
  • Jesus does not love her any less.
  • Jesus does not punish her.
  • Jesus does not move on to someone else.

In fact we are going to see (it may take a couple sessions to get there – but we will) that Jesus is simply going to give her more reasons to trust and answer her fears until she is strong enough to go for it.

If you find yourself frustrated by your inability to say “Yes” to the Lord in some area,  and the opportunity has moved on, don’t despair! All is not lost. Yes, there was a better choice you could have made, but our Father is all about growing us, and growing our relationship with Him.

Is the Lord inviting you to step out into something new?

What are you going to do?

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping in today.

See you again soon.

Ben

Rembrandt: Christ in the Storm

So tell me the truth. When the hater of your soul throws storms at you…

And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He Himself was asleep. ~ Matthew 8:24

… how well do you sleep?

There is something about Jesus’ inner peace that allowed Him to sleep in the storm.

You know what, this peace is supernatural.

Paul tells us:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:7

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, ~ Colossians 3:15

You see:

1)    There is no apparent reason for this peace

2)    It comes from the inside, from the Spirit of the living God who…

My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. ~ John 14:23

3)    It stands guard, protecting your heart, keeping fear at bay.

4)    It protects your mind, keeping worry and fretting from dominating every thought. Worry and fretting is what your mind busies itself with when your heart is ruled by fear.

5)    This treasure of unaccountable peace is locked in the safest of all safes – “in Christ.”

Picture it with me.

There is this fabulous treasure chest. Do you reckon your heart and mind a treasure worth guarding? Well it is! [Tweet this]

It is hidden away in an impenetrable fortress. They used to call Alcatraz “the Rock,” but that’s a leaky bucket compared to Christ!

Standing guard is a legion of heavenly armed and seriously beefy soldiers. We could call them Peace Keepers if you like.

That is how Jesus sleeps in a storm. He does not let His heart and mind entertain fear and worry.

He has heard the voice of His Father, and knows they are headed across the sea.

I hope you can see this today.

Ben NelsonI hope you will join me then.

Ben

photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis via photopin cc
photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis via photopin cc

As we approach Palm Sunday and Easter and things at church begin to swirl into the Holy Days schedule, with all its rehearsals, and preparations, and special services, I thought I would spend some meditation time in this part of the gospels. These are some of the richest passage and there is much to glean.

Today this phrase struck me. ‘The Lord has need of them.’ Here is the context.

And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them." (Matthew 21:1-3 NASB)

It strikes me that our Lord, at times, has needs. This is not to say He is needy, just that He has needs. As He walked the earth, Jesus, the limitless one, the creator of all things, the Alpha and Omega, subjected Himself to the limitations of a man. He had need of food, clothing, shelter, as well as the felt needs that each of us is given to manage.

But He knew a secret, that would change our lives if we could tap into it.

He knew that His Father saw His every need before He expressed it. He knew that His Father, not only was ready to, but had all ready seen to every provision for His life, and all He needed to do was ask.

I don’t believe that Jesus spent those long hours with the Father begging for provision for His needs. I am more inclined to picture that as mostly worship or intercession time. I picture Jesus approaching His needs more like this:

Father? Where did you put the tax money? Oh, in the fishes mouth? Perfect – I’ll send Peter to get it, he’ll get a kick out of that.

Or on another day…

Father, it has been so good spending the night with you. Oh, I sent the boys away with the boat, what’s your plan for me to get across? Just walk? Awesome! Maybe I can beat them across!

Or on this day…

You know Father, I was reading from the prophet Zechariah how I would be entering the city on a colt, the foal of a donkey. We don’t have any livestock. Where should I get a donkey and her foal? Ah, I see, just go up to the first one we come across and tell the owner I need it.

I am messing around (somewhat) and I am not trying to be flippant or disrespectful to either the Lord Jesus or His Father and ours.

I am trying to make the point that His provision, and ours, is all part of the Fathers plan. In the case of the donkey and its foal, we can see that God the Father had made this provision centuries before.

There is no need that you have that God is not aware of, and that He has not planned for.

The problem is, there are things that blind us to God’s provision, and leave us without. The number one thing that separates us from our provision is fear, panic and their little brother worry. There are others like murmuring or self-reliance. I am sure there are lots more judging by how many of us are so woefully low on resources.

Let’s see if we can do better, and begin to believe that God has in fact foreseen our needs as He promised, before it presented the bill.

Why worry, when you can pray?

Let’s change the question we are asking God.

Rather that ‘What am I going to do?’ perhaps a better question is ‘Where have you hidden my provision?’

And just for the record, He does not hide things so we can't find them, but rather to teach us to ask daily for our daily bread.

BenThanks for stopping by today.

Ben

medium_198494799

For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? (Matthew 6:25 NASB)

For what reason?

As I said on 11/27 in my post Treasure, Lamp and Master this next paragraph in the Sermon on the Mount about anxiety flows out of a close examination of who is in charge in your life.

Jesus is giving us the antidote to Mammon worship. I told you a few days ago to break the hold of Mammon by giving.

Here is another tactic that works. Break the cycle of anxiety.

Mammon’s worship service is a fretting session.

And look who is in the front row – the poor!

I know I have thought of Mammon worship as a rich man’s sin – like the rich young ruler who could not leave his riches and follow Jesus.

But Jesus, preaching on a hillside to the multitudes of the day’s poor tell them not to worry about – food and shelter. These are not the worries of a rich man. These are the woes of the poor.

Don’t get me wrong, as I pointed out earlier Mammon worship is a danger to us all, but clearly the poor are not excluded, and there is an antidote to this problem.

Don’t worry.

That’s it! Pretty simple plan.

Don’t worry.

Hey, if you take this and add it back to the beginning of Chapter 5 we could even say

Don’t worry, Be happy!

Hmmm

Good advice for today.

Come back tomorrow and we will dig a bit deeper, but for today, I hope to hear you whistling down the halls.

BenCome back again soon.

Ben

photo credit: R. Motti via photopin cc

 

%d bloggers like this: