Show Me Your Glory

As we sang this lyric, my heart cried out as it has often in the past. “Lord, show me a visible manifestation of Your glory.” I’ve longed to see something like I’ve read about at the Azuza street revival when a visible glory cloud showed up. I’ve seen the videos of the cloud that floated around at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. I’ve sought after this for years, really.

As I pressed into this desire of my heart, I heard the Lord nudge me, “Look around.”

I looked. People worshipping. People I know, some that I don’t. Some hands up, some eyes closed. A team of Levites going after it with all their hearts.

Then the Lord said in my heart, “to your left, and right, this IS a visible manifestation of my glory. You may think of them as distractions to your ability to reach My glory, but My glory is manifested through them.”

“If you can’t see it, it’s because you don’t esteem them the way I do. You don’t love them the way I do. You don’t see them through My eyes. You don’t see what I’ve placed in them.”

“If you would see them the way I see them, you would recognize the glory I’ve put in them, and the unity I prayed for would be one step nearer.”

Then the Lord reminded me of His high priestly prayer.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;John 17:22

There it is. His glory manifest to my left and to my right, in front and behind me. I was surrounded by a manifestation of His glory, and as I looked through His eyes, I loved more, cared more, and understood. This is the path to unity in the body. Seeing His body with His eyes.

I’d still love to see some visible, tangible manifesttion, but today, I’m satisfied by His glory in you.

BenHeadshotLove you,

Ben

Water to Wine – A Monday Pondering

In John 2, the writer tells us about a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Mary, Jesus’ mother attended and brought Jesus and the boys.

You know the story – if not check it out here.

One of the striking statements in this story comes from the head waiter.

… “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” – John 2:10

I’ve heard this interpreted a bunch of different ways, but today the Lord put in my heart a simple idea.

From the beginning of creation, God wanted companionship from us.

Isaiah tells us

“For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. – Isaiah 54:5

So God gave the law to Moses and invited Israel to be His people, His bride. But the law was inferior wine. God invited folks to a wedding, but there was no joy. The bride couldn’t keep her garments clean and the whole thing went bust.

The law was inferior wine.

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, – Romans 8:3

So God took water and turned it into the best wine.

God through His Spirit, put His seed into the womb of a woman and filled a human water pot with a new kind of wine. Wine filled with the Spirit of God. He put His own Son into flesh and blood man and brought joy unspeakable to the wedding feast of the ages.

Anyway–just a thought.

cropped-BenHeadshotHave a great week.

Walk in the BLESSING.

Ben

Intimacy Realized – #SoSSaturdays

The King hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee. – Song Of Songs 1:4 KJV

Today we see our first brush with intimacy between our Maiden and the King.

Out of a nation of women, the Shulamite has caught the eye of the King, and He has invited her into His chambers. The courtship is ON!

Just to be clear, marriage is a few chapters off, but here she gets the first taste of one on one interaction with the King. Up till now, she has gazed at him from afar, but now she has met Him personally.

It is like one who has known of Jesus, perhaps Sunday School stories, or a formal religious experience being turned on its head when we have our first encounter with Him.

She is faced with how to keep this relationship fresh and alive. The Song gives us three ways to keep our relationship with the Lord fresh when we are out in the world.

Be Glad – The satisfied soul will carry you a long way from the Kings chamber. Gladness – Joy is one of the most powerful forces in life. Joy is stirred in the presence of the Lord (In His presence is fullness of Joy! Ps 16:11) and Joy creates strength as we step out of the chamber of the Lover of our souls (the joy of the Lord is our strength. Nehemiah 8:10)

Rejoice – A worshiping soul will refresh you when satisfaction fades. Rejoicing–Praise and Worship–draw the presence of the Lord. When we do not feel or sense the presence of the Lord, worship will call to the surface that which is resident in you. (God inhabits the praises of His people. Psalm 22:3 KJV)

Remember – A thankful remembrance of His words of love and acts of compassion in our lives will hold us for ages, and in fact, as we rehearse our testimonies, it stirs our faith and expectation for his continued participation in our life. The recounting of a testimony is the seedbed for the next miracle.

These 3 steps can take us through the “dry” times and hasten the return of the springtime.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by this week.

See you next week

Ben

Behold…

A Quick Thought for this Friday.

…so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” – John 1:31

John the Baptist ministered to hundreds, maybe thousands. He was happening!

Then Jesus showed up on the scene, and John’s true colors came into the light. It’s a thing with Jesus. He really is The Light. Everyone who encountered Him in the flesh found themselves uncovered–exposed.

And when The Light exposed John, we found a single focus.

Twice in this first Chapter of John we hear Him say

“Behold, the Lamb of God!” – John 1:36

Our key verse today states that John the Baptists ministry ran on a single goal, to manifest Jesus. It was the only reason he “went into ministry,” the only reason he spent years in the university of the desert, the only reason he lived off the land.

And when Jesus made His entrance, John played his part and then happily exited stage left, turned over his disciples and shined his considerable spotlight on this Messiah from Nazareth.

What about you? What’s the focus of your ministry? Does your ministry culminate in “Behold the Lamb of God?” or are you building a kingdom of your own?

It’s so easy to veer off this one thing, but truly one thing is needful–Behold the Lamb of God.

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in.

Have a great Friday, or whatever day your working on,

Ben

Thanks to Free Bible Images for the photo.

It’s a Two Way Street!

Four times in Matthew’s telling of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us we can expect to be treated in direct relationship to the way we treat others.

The first shows up here, in the beatitudes.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. ~ Matthew 5:7

The next is in the Lord’s prayer:

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. ~ Matthew 6:12-15

In the next chapter Jesus tells us:

Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. ~ Matthew 7:1-2

Finally Jesus tells us to live our lives by one simple rule:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. ~ Matthew 7:12 NIV

There is another similar statement in Luke’s gospel. It seems that this same principle is true with your time, talent and treasure.

Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. ~ Luke 6:38

Let’s take a tally. We have mercy, forgiveness, judgment, generosity, and in fact, in all ways, we are to offer others the treatment we desire to receive.

What would happen if you actually treated your wife, sister, brother, husband, boss, neighbor, pastor, enemy… the way you want to be treated?

What if, when someone hurts you, you gave them the same amount of mercy you give yourself when you mess up? Did you get that question?

If you are like me, when you screw up you cut yourself a lot of slack. You rationalize a thousand mitigations and totally excuse yourself. But when others hurt you, will you even listen to their apology?

Many times we find ourselves with no mercy, no forgiveness, and full of judgment especially toward those closest to us. Those who have paid the highest price of relational time with us get the least consideration and mercy.

God’s kingdom is upside-down, isn’t it?

The lengths to which God expects us to go to protect relationships amazes me. But on the other hand, God crucified His only son to restore His relationship with us! If I am ever to look like Jesus, I am going to have to put a much higher value on relationships.

What could you do today to improve a relationship that is not where you want it to be? Ask the Lord for some ideas, if you don’t already know where to start. Even if it is only a baby step toward reconciliation, it will be worth it. Take a deep breath and go for it.

It’s great you stopped by today.

cropped-BenHeadshotIf you like these studies, share them with a friend.

Bye for now

Ben

Greatness–Jesus style…

A few days back, I put up a post called “Satisfy Your Deepest Longings” about how our longings are not sin but God designed and given to us to manage. It stirred up some conversations here and on social media, but one reader posed a question I wanted to answer here.

Debbie Zeigler (Ziggy317) asked:

What are a couple of examples of how the longing for greatness is practically worked out with humility? There’s freedom tucked in there somewhere. 

I love this question.

As I considered her question, a thought poked its head into my mind. Muth. That’s what we called my mother in our family. Muth was amazing. I grew up a few years back (okay–a few decades back) when Muth worked full time as a mom. At least while I demanded care. When I hit my teens, Muth went to work, but while I was little-tiking she was momming full time.

The job tended to be thankless, the hours grueling, and the pay, intangible. It’s exactly what the women’s movement of the sixties and seventies militated against. Women fought for liberation and won. Women have some freedom to choose work over home if they want.

And I’m not thinking about ranting about that. I’m pretty egalitarian for a white male in his sixties.

But I’ll tell you something about Muth. She was the greatest! I don’t think my brothers would argue the point, and I know Fath wouldn’t. It turns out greatness exists in the most unlikely places.

You find it in the servant’s heart.

When the boys (Jesus’ disciples) were arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom they saw coming down the pike, Jesus tweaked their passions.

He didn’t rebuke them for wanting to be great.

He didn’t chide their foolish ambition.

He didn’t tell them they should take a vow of loserness.

He simply gave them the secret to true greatness.

“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; – Mark 10:43

It’s not wrong to desire greatness, the path is just not what we think. The path to the top of the corporate later runs through the servants quarters.

True greatness takes off His robe, puts on a towel and washes the feet of the one who would that night betray Him, and the others who would scatter and deny before sunup.

Thanks for the question, Debbie.

cropped-BenHeadshotBlessings,

Come back soon.

Ben

AN ORDINARY DAY AT WORK – 

AN ORDINARY DAY MEETS A DIVINE INTERRUPTION – Part 3

A day in the life of Elisha

The story of Elisha is one of my favorites. Here we find a godly young man who is working very hard with 12 pairs of oxen on the field. It’s hot and a brutal time to be working outside but Elisha’s work ethic was a demonstration of his faithfulness to where the Lord had placed him. We know from the scriptures that Elisha’s present situation was just a temporary one yet I can’t help but think that he knew it too. I can imagine Elisha, as he is managing the field that day and all the other days before, praying to God regarding his future and asking God for some greater purpose in his life.

Suddenly, on this ordinary workday, God responds. Elisha feels something draped over him; it feels like a divine covering, a heavenly embrace. So he turns around and sees the tangible answer to his prayer. It was Elijah, the man who prayed and fire came down from heaven. Elisha had admired this prophet of God all his life and probably prayed to the Lord that maybe one day he could be used like him.

Well, that day arrived and with it came a cloak of calling weighted with the glory of the Lord. Elisha knew that this encounter was not ordinary. The mantle that was put on him was from the man who represented the God he just prayed to. Elisha knew instinctively that this was his time! He was so convinced that this was his moment of destiny that he burned all his work equipment and oxen and left with the prophet Elijah for a new life of service.

His actions may have been a bit much for some to understand but it represented a leaving of the past behind, a no looking back approach to his former life, and a new pursuit toward his future. My friends, I don’t doubt that God in one way or another will do the same for you one. On an ordinary workday, your destiny will arrive, as it did Elisha, and it will speak into your heart and say “Today is the day! Leave your past behind and follow me into your future, purpose, and destiny”.

So until that moment arrives stay faithful where you are. Work hard and be thankful. Your time is coming. It might be today! Get ready! Be watchful–a divine interruption awaits you.

_5__Steven_Gomez_-_Married_Michele_GomezSteven Gomez

Read the story for yourself – 1 Kings 19:19-21

Two-Part Life Plan – #SOSSaturday

Draw me after you and let us run together! Song of Songs 1:4

Our young lady has boiled her life plan down into two simple priorities.

She is not looking for riches.

She is not looking for fame.

Just 2 things – Draw me and we will run.

Draw me into your everlasting everloving arms of intimacy and we will run together in a life of ministry.

Have you ever run into a new believer, and been moved by their fresh passion. As we discussed last week, we sometimes mistakenly thrust them directly into the work of the ministry only to see their passion fade and their disciple wane.

OR

Have you seen a young and passionate Christian sign up for Bible School and then Seminary, where they are taught all the how-tos of ministry; how to craft a sermon, how to develop a vision, how to plant a church – all of it great information. But all too often these young recruits for God’s army have lost their focus, their passion, their simple priorities.

I am convinced that much of what turns out as burnout, is due to our upside down system of preparation for ministry.

Why does this happen?

It is because we get the cart before the horse. A carefully and fully developed life of intimacy is the first ingredient to an enduring life of ministry. [Tweet This]

Have you found that sometimes you get the cart before the horse?

There is good news. It is never too late to go back to step one. I don’t care if you have been in ministry for 40 years, or if you just met Christ this morning. It is never too late to press into more of Him.

cropped-BenHeadshotThank you for stopping by today.

See you again soon!

Ben

Heavenly Words

I was reading the first verse of the gospel of John today and a thought hit me.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1

I’ve actually been mulling around the edges of it for a week since I read about Paul’s visit to heaven in 2 Corinthians 12.

There are lots of books out there these days about “my visit to heaven.” Some folks see mansions, some climb up in Jesus’ lap. Honestly, I don’t really know what folks have seen or heard in heaven, and I’m not sure what to do with any of that, if you get my drift.

So I had a heart attack a few weeks back on the 4th of July. I was dead for a minute or so. I got nothing–no visit to heavenno don’t bring me back mama–no white light. In fact, I don’t remember anything at all until the next day.

Back to Paul’s visit. He spent some time in heaven, but what overwhelmed Him?

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows– – 2 Corinthians 12:2-3

Wait for it–what blew Paul away about heaven? It wasn’t streets of gold or angelic choirs. It was the words!

…was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. – 2 Corinthians 12:4

Words fill heaven! Revelations so great, so amazing, it would break the mortal world to speak them here on this terrestrial plane.

We get tired of words. We wish the preacher would shut up. We take it as a chore to read a chapter or two in the Bible as though it was a price to pay for being a Christian. The fact is we just don’t get it.

In the beginning, the very beginning the Word is all that there was. Let me say it again – only the Word existed. The Word was God!

Remember what Jesus said about His words?

“the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. – John 6:63

He also told us this about God.

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:24

We know Jesus is the Word made flesh. He is God, in flesh. He is the Word of God. He is the Revelation of God. He is the Words that are so glorious–so beyond–that it’s not lawful to speak in their fullness here and now.

Sometimes I think I know Jesus. Then He shows me how little I know of Him. There is so much more of Him. His glory covers the earth, but that’s small potatoes.

The great wonder of heaven is not a big house with a yard where we can play football. The great wonder of heaven is the full revelation of Jesus.

And it’s going to take us all eternity to discover Him in His fullness.

John tells us one more thing.

… we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. – 1 John 3:2

Throughout eternity we will discover Him, and as we discover Him we will be conformed further and further into His image.

It’s really not about the stuff.

Just like all of life, it’s about Him–Jesus!

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for reading,

See you again soon,

Ben

Mercy not Sacrifice

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. ~ Matthew 5:7

Oh, how we need to hear this! After taking a big step up this stairway to heaven and stirring up a hunger and thirst for righteousness, what do you know, my spirit gets all, well, judgmental! I am a wreck. The more I see Jesus, the more I am amazed. Here is the One who never – ever – no never darkened a commandment with the slightest nod, but does He get all stirred up about sinners and their sin? Nope! He has lunch with harlots and protects the virtue of an adulteress. He goes out to dinner with the drunkards and hangs out with the worst vermin of all, tax collectors.

We have to get this. Have you ever used the line – I love the sinner but hate their sin? Are you aware that there is no chapter and verse for that? I have heard this used as an excuse for hate on more occasions than you can image.

If I am brutally honest with myself I wonder if I would have been the Pharisee in Jesus’ day. Is He talking to me when He says:

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:13

Have you read in Paul’s second letter to Corinth where he tells them (us):

…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them… – 2 Corinthians 5:19

Do you read this the way I have for decades, “God is not counting Christian’s sins against them?” That’s not what it says. If He did we are all without hope.

God is not counting anyone’s sins against them today! Today is the day of mercy and the day that grace is available!

A quick comment about the difference:

Mercy is the fact that God is not counting your sin against you. This is currently true for all men. You will have to give an account on the last day, but today, there is nothing keeping you from approaching God.

Grace, on the other hand, is the free offer of righteousness that is extended to every man. It must be accepted and received.

So here is the deal, and it’s pretty straight up here. If you expect to receive mercy on any level, give it in the same measure your hoping to receive. In this moment of grace, don’t impose condemnation where God does not.

In the meantime, we must keep up our pursuit of integrity, our submission to God’s voice, our honesty with God about our failings, and our humble spirit. WOW! These beatitudes are not just kid stuff, are they?

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in.

There’s a lot more ahead. Don’t miss it!

Ben