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10

How do you define worship?

I know how I use the word most often. Usually, when I use worship in a sentence, I’m talking about the twenty minutes to an hour (depending on what church you attend) of singing at the beginning of the service. After all, the people who stand before us are called worship leaders, or worship pastors. So what they are leading us into must be worship.

Or perhaps it’s the entire Sunday morning event. Church. (Yes, we should talk about that word too, I suppose.)

But I have another idea.

But first a picture:

In Isaiah 6 we get a glimpse of the throne room of God.

We see the six-winged creatures.

We hear their fearful and wonderful voices calling,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” - Isaiah 6:3

We smell the smoke as it fills the temple.

We feel the floor beneath us tremble as they cry out.

Then, we see Isaiah, one of the LORD of host's own prophets, lying on his face on the trembling floor. He too is trembling.

Then he speaks,

“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." - Isaiah 6:5

Now, one of those terrifying six-winged creatures, reaches into the fire burning on the altar before the Lord, and, using tongs, selects a burning coal. He places it in his magnificent hand and touches it to the lips of the broken man lying on his face before the Lord.

Strangely neither the winged creature nor the prophet seem hurt by this burning coal. The truth is, this fire-brand is an agent of healing and restoration for the man. The fire consumes only the dross, the rubbish, and leaves the man with a vision, with a testimony. A man ready to serve.

The next thing we hear is the voice of the Father of Creation Himself. The coal given up by the altar broke through the silent ceiling of heaven, that veil of brass that makes us feel like we’re talking to ourselves. Now Isaiah can hear the voice of the Lord, the voice He longs to hear.

"Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" - Isaiah 6:8

Now—pay attention to what happens next. It is the answer to our question. The next moments from the life of Isaiah define worship. He answers the Lord’s question,

"Here am I. Send me!" - Isaiah 6:8 NASB

In my mind, he first whispers it, testing to see if his voice still works after the coal's effect on his lips. He then repeats it, a bit louder. And finally, he calls out in full voice,

“Here am I. Send me!”

There it is—worship. Did you see it?

Paul did.

He defines worship for us in opening lines of Romans 12. After eleven chapters of talking to us about deep spiritual truth, Paul turns his letter to the Roman church to practical matters. He begins to address how we should live in light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. - Romans 12:1

We like to separate what we do with our bodies in the physical world from what we do with our hearts in the spiritual realm.

Nope—Can’t do it.

Isaiah learned that his spiritual act of worship before the actual throne of God involved what he would do for the rest of his days. He would serve the Lord of hosts as His messenger.

“Here am I, send me,” is the greatest worship cry the world has ever known.

It is, after all, the response of Jesus, to the Father’s call, too.

Jesus, who embodies the fullness of the Godhead, stepped into time as an act of worship in response to the call of His Father.

So today, my prayer is,

Lord, touch my lips, burn the mess out of me, and send me.

Join me?

Thanks,

Ben

2

Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; (Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV)

What is fragrance?

What does it do?

Here’s the thing. When our Song speaks of fragrance it is not talking actions. Not the visible actions of a Shepherd King, but rather the invisible features of thoughts and emotions – His passions.

When we talk about God and emotions we (the Church) have a strange box for God. We feel like God has this amazing joy when we are born again, and He spends the rest of our lives angry with us.

There is even a theological argument out there that says that God does not change so He cannot have emotions.

This is all so messed up. We are created in the image of God, emotions and all. If we learn nothing else from the Song of Songs, it is that we have an emotional Father.

There is, however, action in this verse and we don’t want to miss it. The fragrant ointment is poured forth.

Here we see the internal essence of Jesus, His thought life, His emotion, His passion, poured out by the declaration of His name. Last week we looked at His name, but today I want to draw your attention to this idea.

As His name is declared, His passion is revealed. [Tweet This]

Observe:

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-TSID-KENU  "The Lord is our righteousness" He was demonstrating His passion for transforming you into the righteousness of God in Him.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-SHALOM  - Our perfect peace - He was demonstrating His passion for creating peace between you and God as the Prince of Peace.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH RAPHA  - I am the Lord Your Physician or I am the Lord Your Healer – He was demonstrating His passion for healing you to the uttermost.

Interestingly enough Paul talks about fragrance too.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NASB)

The fact is, as our life declares by word and deed the name of Jesus, His passion is poured forth on our circle of influence, and it has an impact. It may draw some to Christ, and it may push some away. In any case, when you stand for Christ your life will no longer be neutral.

Do you need that ointment poured forth in your life today?

Do you need that healing balm, that peace that defies understanding?

Let the name of Jesus wash over you even now. Declare His name out loud over your circumstances today.

If you are sick say out loud something like “I am yours, Jehovah Rapha – the Lord who heals me”

If you are stressed instead of blessed – declare “I am yours, Jehovah Shalom”

Hey – we are not talking magic words, or secret formulae here. But there is power in the name of Jesus.

That’s good, isn’t it? Share what you learned, or what fresh revelation you received, or even what made you mad here today. Has His name poured out in your life changed your reality? Share!

Come back next week for more of the Song. Believe me, we are just scratching the surface here.

Ben

Yesterday, we looked at the fact that Jesus is the express image of God and to see God we should look at Jesus. But as I promised, I want to see where Jesus took this truth next as He answered Philip’s request:

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." - John 14:8

Here is the passage again, with my highlighting:

Again, it would be awesome if you would read this aloud:

Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 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. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. ~ John 14:9-21

Jesus, the way to know God

So along with telling the boys how they could see God, how they could get to know God’s character and nature, He was going to take this conversation to another destination.

The first paragraph of His answer basically goes like this. You have seen God because He lives in Me, and you have seen Me, the things I do and the words I say, show you exactly who God is.

And as we saw yesterday in Hebrews 1, He is not just the “good parts version” of the immutable (unchangeable) God, He is the “exact representation of His nature” (from Hebrews 1:3.)

The Other Shoe

After making it clear to the disciples that He was how they were to see God, He explains that in the very same way, they were, and we are, a way for people to see and know God.

Each reason Jesus gives Philip for seeing the Father through Himself, He turns around and explains how they will have the same ability to present or should I say re-present the Father to those they touch.

The same Spirit that was in Christ, “will be in you.” The same works that Christ used to demonstrate the character and nature of the Father, “he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.”

Just as Jesus spoke only what He heard the Father say, His promise to the boys comes down like this:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. - John 14:26

Honestly, this revelation is a bit of a world rocker to me. I can be such a screw up at times. I hurt the people I love on a regular basis because my head is stuck where the sun does not shine, and I am thinking about my agenda, my needs, my…self, and that is NOTHING LIKE GOD.

But THIS is His plan. The master plan, set in place before the foundations, before time, before sin, before life as we know it.

If you are in a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, His idea is that when people see you, they would be looking at the Father. [Boy, that feels downright blasphemous, doesn’t it?] [Click here to tweet it anyway]

OK – let’s not get all arrogant-n-stuff, because we fall, we fail, and that’s on a good day. But the fact is, when men and women look at YOU and ME, because of the new creation, the new heart, the new covenant, God, using His infinite power, gives your circle of influence a glimpse of the Almighty.

When they look at you, they see God, and when they see you fall, and God lift you up, they see their own need for God, their own need for “my Glory and the Lifter of my head.”

I know, crazy, right?

Lord, today, this day, shine through my successes and my failures, so those around me can see You, and are drawn to the Lover of their souls.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon. In the mean time…

Shine where you're screwed in.

Ben

Hi all,

Today and tomorrow I'm going to re-air 2 posts from three years ago about the nature of Jesus. I think these two posts will bless you and I pray we would together turn our eyes toward Jesus. Here we go.

===

Let's dig into Jesus’ answer to Philip’s request:

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." - John 14:8

Have you been pondering this passage?

Here is what jumps out at me – Now normally I would put all these words in red, this being Another Red Letter Day, but today I am going to paint a just a few words in blue so they stand out.

It would be awesome if you read this out loud (or out quiet) but I want it to be oral. The more faculties you involve the more tuned in you are, so let’s have a faculty party today.

Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. "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. "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." ~ John 14:9-21

I know, that is kind of a big chunk of scripture for a blog post, but as you can see from what is highlighted, there are some pretty strong ties from top to bottom.

Here is what I saw as I pondered this passage.

There are two (or maybe three) aspects Jesus emphasizes, that He says will enable us to see the Father.

Indwelling, or cohabitation

The first is the fact that, as He says, “I am in the Father.” This He says three times, and two of these are followed with “and the Father is in Me.” He tells Philip and the rest of the disciples that they can know God. They can “see the Father” right before their eyes because Jesus is indwelt by the Father.

The best way for them to see God was to look at Jesus.

Words and Works

The second way they could see God was to look at the things Jesus was saying and doing, His words and works. He actually tells them that if they were not sure what to believe about Jesus’ relationship with God, this indwelling thing, they should believe just because of the works He was doing. He was… – well as Luke tells us:

You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. - Acts 10:38

Jesus, because God was with Him, the Spirit of God dwelling on the inside, did works that demonstrated God, His character, and nature.

We read again in my favorite of all scriptures (I am pretty sure this is the top of my top ten list:)

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, - Hebrews 1:1-3

We see here that Jesus is not "like" God, fuzzy around the edges, like what the prophets taught, according to verse 1. Instead, Jesus is the “exact representation of His nature.” He is not a partial image, where He is only depicting "the good parts" of who God is, but Jesus is a complete revelation of God. If you don’t find it in Jesus, it is not in God. Jesus is the complete study guide to God the Father. Jesus is perfect theology. [Tweet This] There is nothing in Jesus that is not in God, and there is nothing in God that is not in Jesus. And God has seen to it that what is recorded in the Word about Jesus is enough of a revelation for us to know the Father.

So my first takeaway is pretty simple. The best way to know God, and what God is like is to look at Jesus, His words and His works. He, Jesus, tells us this repeatedly and these other passages reinforce this idea, that He only ever did what God was doing, or would do, and His words were coming straight from the throne of God.

But Jesus does not stop here. He does not simply say, you want to see God look at Me! He takes it to a place that changes everything.

Come back tomorrow, and we will see as the other shoe drops.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon. In the mean time…

Shine where you are screwed in.

Ben

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I'm away for the weekend at a wonderful (so far) conference - the Supernatural Life Conference in Harrisburg PA. One of my readers visited an article from two years ago and I realized it has been a long time since I shared my testimony on my blog, so I thought I would bring it back up for another look. This is my story. Perhaps you can share yours too.

Blessings

Ben

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Jesus said:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ~ Matthew 7:21-23

Who are these shocked folks outside heaven’s narrow gate?

  • They call Jesus Lord.
  • They have prayed “the” prayer.
  • They have been in Church – a lot.
  • They have even prophesied, cast out demons, and done many miracles.

When I read this I say with the eleven disciples at the last supper, 'Lord, is it me?'

In fact, this is the very scripture He used to draw me in.

I grew up as a church kid. I was always the good boy, always knew my memory verse, always got my Sunday school lesson done (albeit Sunday morning right before we left for church.)

  • I asked Jesus into my heart at age 4.
  • I was baptized in my little Plymouth Brethren Chapel when I was 11.
  • In my teens went through the Presbyterian Catechism.
  • At sixteen sang in a touring Christian choir
  • As a High School Senior joined the Church Choir
  • Considered becoming a missionary at the Urbana Conference at age 19
  • Taught Sunday school.
  • Ran the Christian Service Brigade boys program at our Church

Then one day I was listening to a preacher (Thank you brother Kim Josephson!) preach a sermon on the Rich Young Ruler, which described me to a tee.

I had to face the fact that I did not have an active, current relationship with Lord Jesus Christ. I asked myself, ‘Am I known by this Jesus?’

I started to ponder verses like John 4:10

…the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

I had to confess at age 25, I really did not know His voice. I knew His name, I knew His Word, I knew about Him, but He was not my Lord, my Master, my King, my Boss. I was not following Him, I was living life in a way that seemed right in my own eyes.

If you had asked me, I would say I had a relationship with Jesus, that He lived in my heart, but I could not point to His direction. I didn't know His voice. I didn't know His leading, so how could I be a follower?

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. ~ Romans 8:14

That morning, listening to that sermon, driving down the road, I pulled off to the side of the road and, brushing tears from my eyes asked Jesus to take control of my life.

He had used His Word and His faithful messenger to expose to me the “one thing I lacked” (from Mark 10:21) and from that moment, with that very first baby step of repentance and faith, I began to “hear His voice” in my life.

I am so glad He is faithful. I am so glad He pursued me. I have a sense that those prayers and activities early in life were not wasted. He honored the little boy’s prayer at age 4, and wooed me for over 2 decades until finally I was willing to give Him more than lip service.

Where do you stand today?

If you feel some kind of vague uncertainty, brush it away. Vague condemnation comes from satan, and he loves to exploit the Word of God to his own advantage.

However, if you sense the Spirit of God saying take up your cross and follow me today, even if you have considered yourself a Christian for decades, don’t hold back. Give yourself to Him today. You will never be the same.

He will lead you to the life you were created for. [Tweet This]

I am so glad you stopped by today to hear my story. I would love to hear yours.

Just think, someone who does not identify with my story, might really resonate with yours! Why not blog about it, and leave a link below – or if you are not a blogger, just use the comment section here to tell us your story.

BenThanks for reading today.

See you tomorrow

Ben

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My Christmas Gift

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Here's a rebroadcast from a couple years ago that I think you will enjoy - Merry Christmas!

God is the ultimate giver. I was thinking about this, and wondered if I could catch God giving in every book of the Bible. Most of the books of the Bible have way more than one gift from God. This is a very – VERY – limited.

He Gave:

Genesis – a covering for sin - 3:21
Exodus - the law – 20:1-17
Leviticus – the scapegoat – 16:10
Numbers – a bronze serpent for healing – 21:9
Deuteronomy – Salvation and Victory – 33:29
Joshua – a leader, Captain of the Lord’s army – 5:15
Judges – a deliverer – 3:9,15
Ruth – a Kinsman Redeemer – 4:1
1 Samuel – a giant killer – 17 
2 Samuel – a shepherd king – 5:2
1 Kings – His presence dwelling in His temple – 9:3
2 Kings – Eyes to see into the spirit realm – 6:17
1 Chronicles – mighty men of valor - 11
2 Chronicles – His presence in the temple – 7:14
Ezra – Protection to temple builders - 6
Nehemiah – rebuilt walls – 6:15
Esther – a happy ending – 10:1-3
Job – double restoration – 42:10
Psalms – sins forgiven, diseases healed – 103:3
Proverbs – Wisdom – 8:1-31
Ecclesiastes – Time – 3:1-8
Song of Solomon – Romance – 8:7
Isaiah – The Messiah – 7:14, 9:6-7, 53
Jeremiah – a hope and a future – 29:11
Laminations – new mercy every morning – 3:23
Ezekiel – assignments as watchmen – 3 & 33
Daniel – miraculous signs and wonders – 4:2
Hosea – Love when we were unfaithful – 3:1
Joel – prophesies, dreams and visions – 2:23
Amos – His word to proclaim – 3:8
Obadiah – Deliverance – 1:17
Jonah – His enemies repentance – 3:10
Micah – a ruler from ancient times – 5:2
Nahum – a just punishment – 1:3
Habakkuk – a revelation for a set time – 2:3
Zephaniah –Justice – 3:5
Haggai – the fear of the Lord – 1:12
Zechariah – a fountain to cleanse us from our sin – 13:1
Malachi – the Sun of righteousness with healing – 4:2
Matthew – great rewards – 6:6
Mark – a King making His triumphal entry – 11:10
Luke – a Father to come home to – 15:24
John – His Only Begotten Son – 3:16
Acts – His Holy Spirit – 2:1-4
Romans – sonship – 8:15
1 Corinthians – The gifts of the Spirit – 12:1-11
2 Corinthians – Spiritual weapons – 10:3-6
Galatians – The Fruit of the Spirit 5:22-23
Ephesians – The full armor of God – 6:10-18
Philippians – righteousness through faith – 3:9
Collisions – redemption, forgiveness of sins – 1:14
1 Thessalonians – the Word of God – 2:13
2 Thessalonians – a share in Jesus’ glory – 2:14
1 Timothy – abundant grace – 1:14
2 Timothy – all scripture – 3:16
Titus – Salvation – 2:10
Philemon –every good thing – 1:6
Hebrews – access to the throne – 4:16
James  – every good and perfect gift – 1:17
1 Peter – pure spiritual milk – 2:2
2 Peter – all things that pertain to life and godliness – 1:3
1 John – forgiveness to those who confess 1:9
2 John – grace, mercy and peace – 1:3
3 John – prosperity and good health 1:2
Jude – prayer in the Holy Spirit – 1:20
Revelation – The Lamb of God – 1:6

Go thou and do likewise!

Be a giver this Christmas.

4

Wineskins
From: By Book by William Henry Koebel (1872-1926) ."Madeira: Old and New" [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jesus often spoke in parables, and I want to pick around the edge of one this morning.

The day Jesus called Matthew (a.k.a. Levi the tax collector,) to follow Him, they headed back to Matthew’s home where Matthew hosted a “big reception for Him” (Luke 5:29) This was not some intimate gathering, but rather it was crowded with tax collectors and sinners, and apparently paparazzi, because both the Pharisee’s and the disciples of John the Baptist heard about it.

This big shindig is the setting for today’s Red Letters.

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough.' - Luke 5:37-39

As you probably already understand, in that day, they would put their unfermented wine into fresh leather bags, where the wine would age, and give off it’s gasses, and the skin would stretch to accommodate this expansion. As the wine aged, it became less volatile and the wine skins became less flexible.

This wine skin still worked as a perfectly acceptable vessel for other old wines that were past the fermentation stage, but could never again be use for new wine.

Ok, so we get it in the natural, but what was Jesus getting at with this teaching?

Message:

The message of the parable is pretty clear and easy to derive. The new wine He speaks of is the gospel of the kingdom, the good news that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The old wine skins are the religious folks of the day, who are starting to crack and leak and burst at the seams as they try to take in this new wine.

Audience:

At this point in the reception He is responding to two groups of critics. I think when we approach this parable it is easy for us to point at the Pharisees as the Old School Religious folks He was rebuking, but there is a second group sitting in judgment of His carousing, the disciples of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was, in Jesus own words, the greatest prophet born of woman. Jesus gave great honor to John. John was the man who fulfilled all those prophesies, like “I send my messenger before Him to make His path straight.” He was the prophet in the spirit of Elijah who every Jewish child knew of because there was always an empty chair at the Passover feast set just for him. John the Baptist was a big deal.

But John’s day was over, and John himself pointed his followers to Jesus.

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. - John 1:35-37

But apparently there were some who had been baptized by John, who gathered together to encourage one another in their resolve to live the fasted and repentant life style John lived in the wilderness. It seems there were pockets of these disciples all over the region, because people came from far and wide to be baptized by John in the Jordan. Decades later Paul ran into some of these folks in Ephesus in Acts 19.

I believe that Jesus spoke this parable not to the Pharisees, but to these disciples of John. The parable for the Pharisees was that of the physician, but to these who were zealous for good works, the Lord has a different message.

These men were asking why Jesus’ disciples did not fast, why they were not living in the austere pattern of repentance that John’s had taught them.

I am sure God had blessed them as they walked in repentance. God showed up for them when they fasted. They were attaining some satisfaction in their walk with the Lord as they lived the life John demonstrated for them.

Then they took one look at Jesus hanging out with crowds and joining them in their parties.

The very people who did not repent and follow John were now hosting Jesus, and He was spending time with them. These are the folk that the disciples of John had set themselves against, the drunkards and gluttons.

  • Don’t they know that the way to God is through sacrifice?
  • Doesn’t everything we know about God point to His pleasure in our sacrifice?
  • How can This Man be the Messiah?
  • How can this be a move of God?
  • Isn’t our way of touching God sufficient?
  • This old wine is good enough!
  • And so it has been for the two thousand years since Jesus’ ascension, and so it is today.

God has chosen to reveal Himself to the Church progressively. Every few generations there is a move of God.

The life of the Church is like that river described in Ezekiel 47 that flows from the throne of God. The river is teaming with life, there are trees beside this river that bring healing to the nations, but the banks of the river are dead.

What happens in every generation, or at least in every new move of God is that those in the move, upon the death of its leader, build a Church on the banks of the river.

There was Luther with a break through revelation of the grace of God, and his followers built a church on the banks of the river, and rejected anything that came later. After all, the wine in their wine skin was good enough. What’s wrong with that “old time religion” that was good enough for my grandparents?

The same thing happened with Wesley, and Calvin, and Finney, and Roberts.

Jesus wants to fill your wine skin with new wine, but as you grow stiff and inflexible, you exclude yourself from the ability to grow with what God is doing today, and you  will find yourself on the banks of the river. You will be the ones criticizing ‘those upstarts.’

Lord, will you make me a new wine skin today, so I can be a carrier of new wine to my generation. [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Shine where you're screwed in!

Ben

This is a repost from last November, but it spoke to me this morning, so I share it once again with you.

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I had one of those “Oh WOW”s tonight.

We are studying John 16 in our Home group and talking about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Just for the record – this wonderful person – the Holy Spirit is the most neglected and misunderstood member of our wonderful 3 in 1 God.

In any case we read this:

He [God the Holy Spirit] will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. - John 16:14-15 NASB

Let me connect a few dots here and then I want to link this thought to one other passage.

Point 1 –All things that the Father has belong to Jesus.

We know that God has everything – all things temporal and spiritual – all things tangible and intangible. There is not anything that God does not own.

All of that all-ness that belongs to God – is the possession of Jesus.

Jesus has everything – temporal and spiritual… [you get the idea – right?]

Point 2 – The Holy Spirit take what belongs to Jesus (see point 1) and discloses it to us. Disclosure – like revelation – like removing the veil. Some translations render it “declare.”

How does the Holy Spirit do this? By reminding us of what Jesus said. By glorifying Jesus and reminding us of His words – His promises – His commands – His reprimands.

Peter opens his second letter like this.

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - 2 Peter 1:3-4 NASB

Point 3 – By the knowledge of Him (the Holy Spirit will glorify Him and remind us of what He said) we receive everything we need for life and godliness.

This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He gives us what the cross bought us by way of revealing truth to us.

Point 4 – through precious and magnificent promises we partake in the divine nature.

What!!!

That’s right – in John 16 when Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will take what belongs to Jesus and disclose it to us, He is saying that He is giving it to us. His declaration makes it so, in us. Remember this is the one who made declarations in a vacuum and created everything that is. When these words are passed over us and to us, and penetrate us – we partake – take part in – the divine nature.

BN Writers Page 150Ok – chew on that for a while, and I will see you again next time.

See ya!

Ben

12

Shine!

We all know that Jesus is the Light of the World. But once Jesus set His light in you, He says:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; - Matthew 5:14 NASB

I guess I always have thought that being light meant not doing bad things or perhaps doing good things that Jesus did and told us to do.

Then I started to consider Matthew 5:16:

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (NASB)

Check it out:

You are the Light of the world

Your Light Shines

Your good works are illuminated

The Father is glorified.

You see? The light is shining on your good works. The works are not the light, but they are in the light.

I started looking at the other references where Jesus said He was the Light of the World, and I saw the same thing. Check this out from John 3:19:

And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. (NASB)

Men loved darkness because their deeds were evil. They did not love darkness because darkness was evil deeds, but because darkness hid their evil deeds.

This is why in the Old Testament men would leave the towns and fields and hide in groves to worship their false gods. They loved the darkness and cover that the groves provided for their evil deeds.

Our life shines in such a way as to expose our good works.

Does that sound like pride to you? Check out this little tidbit from brother Paul:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB)

You have been saved (Lit up) by grace (not works, no reason to boast.) Once saved by grace (not works) you are equipped by God to do good works that He planned and equipped you for.

The fact is, these good works you are doing in the light that Jesus has placed on, in and through you, are so good, no one will ever think it was your natural talent that produced such amazing fruit. It could only be God, and so He is glorified when your light shines on the works you do.

Was that too much for one thought?  It is leaking out of my brain even as I type it. (LOL) This makes me crazy happy. I am so excited that God has such an extraordinary plan for me that He will be glorified by stuff I do, and I can expose His amazing grace to me. And how will I do that. I will Arise and shine in this gross darkness, and let every man see what a miniChrist looks like.

If you are a letter written to this world, turn on the light so they don’t have to strain their eyes! [Tweet This]

Don’t cover up the stuff God giving you to do. Let it rip so He can get the glory He deserves.

Tell me what you think? Does this help you, or does it just bring up more questions?

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

photo credit: gigi 62 via photo pin cc

Originally published in September of 2012

Here we are back that the pool of Bethesda and we hear one of the saddest statements.

Sir, I have no man… ~ John 5:7

My first reaction is “get hold of your self man,” “suck it up,” “quit your whining.”

Then I remember how David prayed in the cave.

(Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.)

I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD;
I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare my trouble before Him.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Thou didst know my path.
In the way where I walk
They have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see;
For there is no one who regards me;
There is no escape for me;
No one cares for my soul.

Psalm 142:1-3

David was honest about how he felt when he prayed, and this did not offend God. God commands that we love Him. He does not command that we feel good about everything that passes through our life, nor that we keep it all to our selves.

God has no problem when we cry out to Him with what feels like hopelessness.

Back in Bethesda, this is not our friend’s first visit to the pool. It sounds like he has been coming, perhaps for years, perhaps for decades. I don’t know how long he had been alone, but he is alone now.

I have no man.

No man cares for my soul

There is no one who regards me

It reminds me of another man:

He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face,
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:2-3

Jesus gets it.

Jesus steps in.

Jesus heals him.

Jesus restores his dignity.

Man I love Jesus! [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonSee you again soon

Ben

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This post originally ran last August, but it touched me again this morning.

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