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Kingdom of HeavenI know I said we were going to be poking around in Matthew, but we need to take this one detour over to Luke. Luke gives us the only look at Jesus’ childhood, and in Luke 2 we have these two statements concerning Jesus and His coming of age.

The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. - Luke 2:40

And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. - Luke 2:52

Our young King had to spend time growing and learning. These are striking verses to me. They stand with what Paul tells us of Jesus:

… who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. - Philippians 2:5-8

We see in Galatians that a son begins as a servant. Even The Son of God came as a servant and lived, not as the Master He was by birth and blood, but as a servant and minister. He didn’t spend His time demanding obedience, or ordering people around. He gave His life—even before the cross—to those He encountered.

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. - Matthew 20:28

Yes, His death was a gift, given for the salvation of all mankind. But His life was also a gift. He gave His time, His heart, His power, His authority to those He came in contact with.

How often have we thought about what we would do if we could just get a touch from Him. If His power could be played out in our circumstance. He could fix my body, fix my finances, fix my relationships.

The mind of Christ thought differently. He did not think, “How can I use the power God has given me to solve my problems.” Instead He was always looking toward others. How would the Father touch this need or that brokenness.

The training for Kingship is service.

I’m hoping you’ll consider taking on this ‘mind of Christ.’ After all, we are sons and daughters of this same King. We are in training for royalty too. Rather than spending all our spiritual currency trying to receive our “due” from God, let’s see God’s heart for others and begin spending our spiritual dough giving into their lives. We might find out that miracles come way more easily when we are giving rather than striving to get.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgHope that helps.

Shine folks, shine.

Ben

photo credit: Mr. T in DC via photopin cc
photo credit: Mr. T in DC via photopin cc

How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
And the fragrance of your oils
Than all kinds of spices!

Song of Songs 4:10

It was all the way back in the second line of the Song that our Shulamite maiden called out to her heart throb, this Shepherd King that His love, then just an imagination to her, was better than wine.

She looked at Him from afar, dreamed of a day when He would hold her, when she would breathe Him in, when they would spend luxurious mornings together talking, laughing, loving.

Now they are married, on their honey moon, and the dream is a reality, and the words echo back to her from her past, and from His lips.

This wonderful Shepherd King has taken His place in her life as her King, her Love, her Brother, her Everything, and He breaths those words back to her.

How much better is your love than wine.

This brings me back to the realization of how far Jesus travels to make our relationship work.

Many speak of the Christian life as though it is hard work to keep up our relationship with the Lord, a struggle, a striving, just to keep your faith.

But in this wonderful Song, this picture of the relational nature of faith, we see that her (our) moves are slight, and He (Jesus) is the one leaping over mountains, bringing army’s to bear, and making call after call, pursuing us relentlessly.

One turn of her head, and glance of her eye toward Him and His heart beats faster.

I love that the Lord travels all the distance that separates us when we turn our desire toward Him.

The work of faith is to look to Jesus, turn your eyes on Him.

What a great Savior!

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Walk in blessing in 2014.

Ben

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In the last installment of Another Red Letter Day we looked briefly at Jesus cleansing the temple. Today I want to ponder this answer the disciples came up with for our unspoken question of the day.

His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.” ~ John 2:17

Jesus sees what is going on, and something rises up on the inside of Him.

He must look like an angry young man to all those watching.

What had gotten into Him?

The disciples thought back to their Bible readings.

The quote they remembered comes from the Psalms:

For zeal for Your house has consumed me, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. ~ Psalm 69:9

Jesus sees the oppression of the poor and the rich lining their pockets. These oppressors are using the system God put in place to bring relief from the burden of sin, the sacrificial system, the very system Jesus Himself would fulfill, to drag God’s people deeper into debt.

This oppression not only oppressed the people of God, but drove them further from Him. Church became a place where the sheep stood a better chance of being fleeced than fed, so the sheep would just as soon stay away.

Two applications here.

One for Church leaders – We need to lift the burden of sin and oppression, not the wallets of our sheep!

But what I really wanted to touch on today was the idea that Jesus is zealous for His Father's house. I know I have made application here for the house of the Lord as the Church, but YOU my friend, if you are in covenant with Jesus, are the House of the Lord.

Jesus is zealous for you. Jesus is zealous to see you become a house of prayer, to see you as a place of blessing for those who are oppressed. Jesus is zealous to see you set free, and then for you to be a place where the works of satan are destroyed!

Can you get yourself stirred up – can you let the Zeal of the Lord’s house consume you today? Are you zealous for your own life to be used by the Master to set others free?

Stir it up today!

Don’t miss SoS tomorrow!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon.

Ben

As I move through the Sermon on the Mount, I am intrigued by the flow of the 2nd half of Matthew Chapter 6. Most major translations have grouped verses 19 – 24 in one paragraph. When I read it in a standard Bible with each verse starting a separate line, it is easy to break this paragraph into 3 separate and district thoughts. However, those who translated this for us seem to feel they belong together.

[One rabbit trail here – I wonder if the fact that we read scripture verse by verse rather than paragraph by paragraph, or even letter/book/story by story, doesn’t lead to much of our inability to understand God’s word. It also makes it way too easy to take something out of context. It’s like leaving a stack of $20’s laying out on a park bench, and then being surprised when someone steals it. OK – I will let this rabbit go for now.]

Verse 19 – 21 are about treasure, verse 22 – 23 are about your eye and the light you allow into your body, and then verse 24 seems to go back to treasure. The rest of the chapter, from verse 25 through 34 are about anxiety based on your material needs, and point back to 19-24 as their thesis.

Where are you going with this Ben?

I am so glad you asked!

I have spent a few days now blogging about our eyes, and still want to say more about light, but I wanted to ponder the idea that this lamp – eye – light – dark conversation all comes in the context of our relationship to material things, what we treasure, what we serve, and what triggers anxiety in our lives.

This begs the question, what makes your eye’s light up? In this pre-Christmas advertising season, do you, like me, catch an advertisement that actually makes you ‘feel’ the ‘need’ for some new thing, that until that moment you did not even know existed.

There was an old Sunday School song I want to bring to your memory.

Be careful little eyes what you see!

Thanks for reading to my musings today.

Ben

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