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8

 

Colossians 1 has one of those wonderful “Paul prayers.”

Join me today in praying for someone who the Lord has put on your heart. I am using the pronoun ‘him,’ but you can obviously substitute ‘her’ or a persons name.

That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will…

I pray he would know with the same depth that he is known by You, Your will for him, not just what You wants him to do, but who You have made him to be.

…in all spiritual wisdom…

I pray he would not derive his motivation today from his natural tendencies, but he would hear the wisdom that comes from the Spirit of the Holy one that dwells in him, in whom he dwells.

…and understanding…

As he move in You today, he would see what Your hope is for him, that the eyes of his understanding would clarify Your call in him, and that he would see how his gifts and talents were to be deployed to glorify You, Jesus, today.

…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…

His day would be full of faith actions, led by the Spirit, doing that which well re-presents You, the way You walked and Your actions re-presented the Father’s good pleasure.

…to please Him in all respects…

That every aspect of his day would draw the Lord’s pleasure. That he, like Jesus, would increase in favor with You today.

…bearing fruit in every good work…

Not only would his labor be pleasing to the Lord and edifying to him, it would be fruitful, bringing a harvest of character in his life, and a harvest of souls into eternal life (the knowing of the Father and the Son – John 17:3)

…and increasing in the knowledge of God…

Lord, increase him in knowing You. Not in the knowing of facts, but in intimacy with You. Though he may see You as through a glass darkly, let there be a deeper, clearer knowing of Your heart, Your will, Your intentions.

…strengthened with all power…

Father, let the supernatural of Your presence inside shine forth in wonders beyond his expectation.

…according to His glorious might…

Let his works reflect the size of Your works, Father, and the magnitude of Your power and not just the size of his faith.

…for the attaining of all steadfastness…

Allow the wonders You work in him to increase his faithfulness to you. Allow Your presence in his life to create a supernaturally strong link between You and him.

…and patience…

Let Your faithfulness to him create patience in his life equipping and enabling him to wait on you without murmuring and complaining as You do Your work in him day by day.

…joyously giving thanks to the Father …

Let there be joy in his day as He recognizes your hand and opens his mouth with thanksgiving to you.

…,who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

I thank you that You have qualified him, by Your blood, Your death and resurrection, to be a partaker of the divine nature, that Your presence in him qualifies him to know you and receive from you all that he needs for life and godliness.

Colossians 1:9-12

BenBlessings,

Ben

11

Jesus Heals a Leper

The stories and news reports were reaching my little village and a spark of hope began to spring up, perhaps for the first time since the day I pulled my shirt over my head to get into bed that night nearly four years ago. My wife asked me about the white splotch under my left arm.

I had to pack my things, leave my home, my wife of nine years, and my three beautiful children, and go live with the lepers.

Some say there is no way out of this village, but I have seen many leave. Their destination? The grave. Welcome to No Hope Flats, my home.

Jesus meets a leper in Matthew 8.

This leper put into words the thought a great number of good God honoring Christ followers have every day:

Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean. ~ Matthew 8:2

A number of things intrigue me about this statement.

He acknowledges Jesus as Lord.
He doesn’t question the ability of Jesus to heal.
He doesn’t actually ask Jesus a question.

He begins on a very good footing. He calls Jesus “Lord.” This is as much a fact today as when He walked the shores of Galilee. Jesus is Lord. As He sat on the hillside teaching, the people could tell – they knew this was not some gifted teacher. The authority which He carried declared it.

He had demonstrated right from the start of His ministry that sickness and disease were under His authority, and the leper had, no doubt, heard these stories. He, our leprous friend, does not wonder about Jesus’ ability. He is confident that he has come to the one man who could set him free from this living death of leprosy.

He does however have ONE HUGE QUESTION that is stuck right in the center of his being.

Will He or won’t He?

He does not frame it as a question though. It is almost as though if he asked the Lord the question, it would force an answer, and the thing he dreads even more than living with his disease is going back to the land of no hope.

When Jesus comes on the scene suddenly hope springs up. It stands boldly on our friends splotchy right shoulder saying – ask Him, ask Him, ask Him. But in his left ear he hears some familiar words. I bet you have heard some of these in your left ear.

  • You deserve this disease
  • You certainly don't deserve healing
  • He won’t help the likes of you
  • Maybe if you were a better father (mother, son, daughter)
  • Maybe if you were a better Christian (prayed more, served harder, slept less, ate less)

You no doubt have heard others. That left shoulder liar has a HUGE repertoire to shut down hope.

Today there are a few words I want you to hear. I want you to hear Jesus speak them to you. If you can identify with our leprous friend, I want you to read these next few lines out loud – YES out loud – do it – really – it’s important that you hear Jesus' answer to this unspoken question.

I am willing; be cleansed. ~ Matthew 8:3
I am willing; be cleansed. ~ Luke 5:13
I am willing; be cleansed. ~ Mark 1:41

Just in case you are not sure you understand what Jesus said, here is Matthew's account in a few different translations (keep reading out loud – it will help)

I am willing; be cleansed by being cured. AMP
I do want to. Become clean. CEB
I want to! Now you are well. CEV
I want to heal you. Be healed! ERV
I will; be clean. ESV
Of course I want to. Be clean! JBP (I love this one!)
I will; be thou clean. KJV
I do choose. Be made clean! NRSV
Of course I wish to. Be clean. VOICE

Are you getting the point. There is no equivocation here. Jesus takes this non-question, these waves of doubt and hope that are tossing our new friend to and fro, and calms them with this one phrase.

I want you to hear Him speak these words today, and not just in your right ear, but in your inner most being. “I Will, be clean.

BenThanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

====

This was originally posted in June of 2013. It encouraged me this morning, and I hope it encourages you too!

====

Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation; Common English Bible (CEB) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible; Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society; Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) Copyright © 2006 by World Bible Translation Center; English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.; J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS) J. B. Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition by HarperCollins; King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain; New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.; The Voice (VOICE) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

8

Have you noticed that prosperity has become a bad word in church? Saying “I believe that a Christian should prosper” is almost as unwelcome in some congregations a fund-raising drive.

And yet I read in the first of David’s wonderful psalms:

And in whatever he does, he prospers. - Psalms 1:3

Here it is in context

How blessed is the man who does not
walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalms 1:1-3

Today, I would like for you to consider what it would look like for what you are going to do today to prosper.

Many who read this will probably be writing today. What would it look like for what you write to prosper? How about this:

I pray the person or people I am writing for would read what I write.
I pray they would hear it the way I intend it,
they would not misconstrue my intentions, or misinterpret my words.
I pray it would encourage one tempted to despair
I pray it would heal a broken heart
I pray it would enlighten someone’s path
I pray it would convict a hardened heart
I pray it would turn someone from a bad choice
I pray it would stir hope

How about other work you will do today. What would prosperity look like in your endeavors today?

What would prosperity look like in a college paper?
What would prosperity look like in cooking dinner for a family of five?
What would prosperity look like in planning a computer network?
What would prosperity look like in a law office, or an operating room, or on a Naval base?
What will you put your hand to today?

Perhaps you are a Pastor, and you are preparing a sermon, or visiting someone in the hospital, or speaking to a group of friend who are mourning the loss of a loved one.

What does prosperity look like in your life?

I pray today that you would embrace this idea of prosperity, and that you would ask the Lord to prosper everything you put your hand to.

There is one other fringe benefit to this prayer. As you ask the Lord to prosper everything you put your hand to, you may find that you will have a much harder time putting your hand to things that you know He would not find pleasure in.

It is would be very difficult to spend a lot of time

walking in the counsel of the wicked,
standing in the path of sinners,
or sitting in the seat of scoffers

when your meditation is on His pleasure.

You see God prospers those endeavors that He takes pleasure in. He smiles on us when we walk in the path He has set before us. [Tweet this]

Enough said.

Don’t be afraid of prosperity.

Ben NelsonThanks for stooping by today.

Shine where you're plugged in.

Ben

3

photo credit: AlbinoFlea via photopin cc
photo credit: AlbinoFlea via photopin cc

Sunday afternoon musing

While listening to a podcast yesterday at Fire on your head

David Edwards the co-host said something about God always sending thoughts and ideas our way, and it got me thinking about one of the most precious passages in the Bible, Psalm 139:

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

How precious also are Thy 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 Thee. ~ Psalm 139:16-18

I got thinking that rather than things about us occurring to God as we run into circumstances, what if God in His vast foreknowledge has, before He knit us, before He molded us in our mother’s wombs, thought His thoughts and wrote His book. What if those thoughts are available to us by plugging into the Spirit any time we need them.

Any time we need direction, God’s thought toward us don’t just happen, but are already being broadcast, or sitting ready to be tapped.

Think of it like this. One of my favorite Bible Commentators is Matthew Henry. He wrote in the early 18th century. I sit pondering a passage of scripture, and then go digging in his commentary for some further light.

As I read his work, the light turns on and I get a totally new revelation (to me) about the Bible. It happens to be something Matthew Henry wrote in 1709, but I just tuned in 300 years after the fact.

It was there for the taking. My dad had a set of these commentaries that he bought before I was born, so any day in my life I could have gotten this “new” idea from the good old MHC.

So it is with God’s knowledge of us and what we will be needing.

The One Who formed us, Who knows our end from our beginning, Who knows every possible consequence of every possible choice we could make, has thought about these things and written them in His book about us.

And He has not locked that book away so we can not get to it. It is available to be checked out of His library any time.

We simply need to plug in.

I am convinced this is how Jesus lived. Daily communing with the Father, senses tuned to hear His voice and His council as He walked the paths of Galilee.

God is not perplexed by your circumstances. He knows you and would be glad to share some great ideas with you.

So turn down the noise in your life that drowns out His voice, grab that volume from His library shelf, and settle in for a good read.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon.

Ben

Caution sign

And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road. ~ Matthew 8:28

We left off a couple weeks ago with an account of Jesus calming the seas. Now when He and the boys reach the shores on the other side, they are faced with an impassable road.

Seems as though somebody did not want Jesus coming to this side of the lake.

How do you deal with resistance?

Have you ever sensed that God has given you direction and at every step the path itself is against you?

The trick is discerning whether it was my idea, and God is preserving me by closing the door, or is it God’s idea, and the hater of my soul would rather have me dead than walk in the will of my Father.

Jesus knew.

Have you ever tried to walk the path and seen the road signs that say, “Demon ahead, find another path?”

What would you do?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you tomorrow.

Ben

Cheryl at Bread for the Bride posted this article this week, and I wanted to share it with any of you who do not know Cheryl's blog.

gethsemane

And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  Mark 1:40-41

The willingness of God to meet us just where He finds us is absolute.  There is no dark place He is not willing to enter with His light and His Life. There is no hidden corner His Love is not willing to penetrate.  There is no shame, no hurt, no brokenness He is not willing to heal, no secret sin He is not willing to forgive and no life destroyed He is not willing to restore.

The greatest test of God’s willingness towards man took place in Gethsemane.  There the Father proved His willingness to sacrifice His own Son so that humanity might escape the grip of sin and death.  There the Son, through blood, sweat and tears, surrendered His human will to agree with the divine will of His Father, for humanity’s sake.  There the Holy Spirit ministered unfathomable grace to the Son, enabling Him to emerge victorious from the greatest spiritual battle of His earthly ministry.  The battle was all about willingness. (Luke 22:42)

The dumbest question a person can ask is:  … Read More

The Real Coalition of the Willing | Bread for the Bride.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping in

Ben

Jesus Heals a Leper

The stories and news reports were reaching my little village and a spark of hope began to spring up, perhaps for the first time since the day I pulled my shirt over my head to get into bed that night nearly four years ago. My wife asked me about the white splotch under my left arm.

I had to pack my things, leave my home, my wife of nine years, and my three beautiful children, and go live with the lepers.

Some say there is no way out of this village, but I have seen many leave. Their destination? The grave. Welcome to No Hope Flats, my home.

Jesus meets a leper in Matthew 8.

This leper put into words the thought a great number of good God honoring Christ followers have every day:

Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean. ~ Matthew 8:2

A number of things intrigue me about this statement.

He acknowledges Jesus as Lord.
He doesn’t question the ability of Jesus to heal.
He doesn’t actually ask Jesus a question.

He begins on a very good footing. He calls Jesus “Lord.” This is as much a fact today as when He walked the shores of Galilee. Jesus is Lord. As He sat on the hillside teaching, the people could tell – they knew this was not some gifted teacher. The authority, which He carried, declared it.

He had demonstrated right from the start of His ministry that sickness and disease were under His authority, and the leper had, no doubt, heard these stories. He, our leprous friend, does not wonder about Jesus’ ability. He is confident that he has come to the one man who could set him free from this living death of leprosy.

He does however have this HUGE question that is stuck right in the center of his being.

Will He or won’t He?

He does not frame it as a question though. It is almost as though if he asked the Lord the question, it would force an answer, and the thing he dreads even more than living with his disease is going back to a land of no hope.

When Jesus comes on the scene suddenly hope springs up. It stands boldly on our friends splotchy right shoulder saying – ask Him, ask Him, ask Him. But in his left ear he hears some familiar words. I bet you have heard some of these in your left ear.

  • You deserve this disease
  • You certainly don't deserve healing
  • He won’t help the likes of you
  • Maybe if you were a better father (mother, son, daughter)
  • Maybe if you were a better Christian (prayed more, served harder, slept less, ate less)

You no doubt have heard others. That left shoulder liar has a HUGE repertoire to shut down hope.

Today there are a few words I want you to hear. I want you to hear Jesus speak them to you. If you can identify with our leprous friend, I want you to read these next few lines out loud – YES out loud – do it – really – it’s important that you hear Jesus' answer to this unspoken question.

I am willing; be cleansed. ~ Matthew 8:3
I am willing; be cleansed. ~ Luke 5:13
I am willing; be cleansed. ~ Mark 1:41

Just in case you are not sure you understand what Jesus said, here is Matthews account in a few different translations (keep reading out loud – it will help)

I am willing; be cleansed by being cured. AMP
I do want to. Become clean. CEB
I want to! Now you are well. CEV
I want to heal you. Be healed! ERV
I will; be clean. ESV
Of course I want to. Be clean! JBP (I love this one!)
I will; be thou clean. KJV
I do choose. Be made clean! NRSV
Of course I wish to. Be clean. VOICE

Are you getting the point. There is no equivocation here. Jesus takes this non-question, these waves of doubt and hope that are tossing our new friend to and fro, and calms them with this one phrase.

I want you to hear Him speak these words today, and not just in your right ear, but in your inner most being. “I Will, be clean.

BenThanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

Oh yeah, don't forget to leave your questions about the Bible or Christian life here:

Another Red Letter Day Q&A

Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation; Common English Bible (CEB) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible; Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society; Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) Copyright © 2006 by World Bible Translation Center; English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.; J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS) J. B. Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition by HarperCollins; King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain; New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.; The Voice (VOICE) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Before I move on from Matthew 7:21-23 there is just one bone I have to pick with Jesus. (Just to be clear, I never win when I start on this footing, but it’s how I process.) But first – the red letters:

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

It has always struck me that Jesus lists the same works He did in His ministry

  • Prophecy
  • Casting out Demons
  • Performing miracles

and positions these as acts of lawlessness.

Check out some other translations:

  • ye that work iniquity. (KJV)
  • you lawbreakers! (HCSB)
  • you wicked people! (GNT)
  • you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]. (AMP)
  • you people who do wrong. (ERV)
  • you evil people. (GW)
  • you that traffic in wrong-doing. (KNOX)
  • you have worked on the side of evil! (Phillips)
  • You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important (MSG) ([i])

Iniquity, law-breaker, wicked, evil, strong words all. Every translation of the Bible puts this in the most unyielding light. And yet, Jesus did the same things, and declared, He was doing the will of the Father.

More to the point, just a couple chapters later Jesus would be sending His own boys out to do the same works.

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

So what is the deal, Jesus?

The DEAL is this. You must be connected – you must daily hear the voice of the Father for your life. You must do what you see the Father do, just as Jesus did. Trying to do these works, even doing these works, while not under the instruction of the Father is, as Eugene Peterson put it in the message “missing the boat.” He paraphrased Jesus’ words this way:

You missed the boat. All you did was use Me to make yourselves important. ~ Matthew 7:23 MSG

Check out this verse in Malachi 3 – it nails the problem as it defines the difference between the wicked and the righteous:

So You will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. ~ Malachi 3:18

My call to you today is to walk like Jesus walked (1 John 2:6,) ever connected to His Father, and doing only His Father’s will. [Tweet This]

You can abide in Christ, and He has promised that He will abide in you.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. ~ John 14:23

BenWalk with Jesus today – do the works that Jesus did, as you see Him lead you.

Come back again soon

Ben

By the way – I have found a wonderful tool – I am sure most of you know about BibleGateway.com, but did you know that if you type a specific verse reference, a link appears below it that lets you see “all English translations.” I love this, and use it all the time. Bible Gateway has like 44 English New Testament Version available, and some times the simple nuance you get from a different way of translation opens a passage up to your heart and mind.

My favorite Bible site is still BlueLetterBible.org for word studies and the like, but this tool is a huge blessing!


[i] Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation; Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) Copyright © 2006 by World Bible Translation Center; GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) Copyright © 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group; Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society; Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.; J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS) J. B. Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition by HarperCollins; King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain; Knox Bible (KNOX) Knox Bible. Copyright © 2012 Westminster Diocese. Published by Baronius Press. All rights reserved; The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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