What’s going on in the temple?

So this broke my heart this morning.

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. – Matthew 26:3-4

From what I can tell, while the Second Temple stood, until 70 AD, this hall of the high priest, where the Sanhedrin met, was located in the temple. I can’t be completely sure, but I think this is the place they met.

My heart was drawn back to the dedication of Solomon’s temple.

David had this great idea. I’m going to build a house for God. God liked the idea, but would not let David the warrior build it. David was a warrior from His youth, and God wanted His house built by a man of peace.

When Solomon finished the building of this house for God, He showed up. He filled the temple with His glory, and promises were made.

It’s a wonderful passage. It’s a few verses, but worth reading. The offer God makes to Solomon is staggering when you think about it.

Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

“Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. – 2 Chronicles 7:12-16 NASB

The passage goes on to make promises and layout conditions, but essentially, God promises Solomon and Israel, as long as you walk with Me, I’ll be your God, a Father to you, and care for you.

I know this temple was destroyed, and the temple we see in the Gospels was rebuilt in the days of Ezra. No such promises are made, no such glory is imparted, but God was in the rebuilding.

The ark of the covenant is in this temple. The holy of holies is considered the dwelling place of the Most High God. It’s in this temple that Zacheriah meets with Gabriel. It’s here the Messiah is dedicated as an infant.

But here in Matthew 26, these High Priests and elders of the people plan out the murder of God’s own Son.

David’s great temple, a place for God to dwell among His people has fallen so far from it’s place of glory. Rather than a house of prayer where God’s people could come and cry out for God’s mercy, and He would hear and answer and forgive, it’s been usurped by those who would cry out “No God for me,” and “We will not have this man to rule over us.”

It so saddens me.

And it warns my heart.

How easy it is to take our own temples, the heart we once dedicated as a dwelling place for the Most High, and allow it to house sedition and betrayal. We allow the unclean into the holy of holies. It comes in through the eye gates and ear gates and settles in the halls of the high priest.

The hall of the high priest–that place designed for intercession and worship–for righteous judgment–turned into a place of darkness and secrecy–a place hidden from the light of day. The secret place turned it a place of secrets.

Lord, clean the temple of my heart today. Bring the light of Your presence into the corners where I’ve let darkness prevail. Flood this dwelling place with your presence as You did when Solomon invited You into the temple he built centuries ago.

Have your way in me today.

BenSee you again soon,

Ben

Repentance – the path to Comfort

Before we dig in today, I want to state that this is one of my core teachings. I share this message when I have the opportunity because I truly believe it’s a missing note in the current chord of Christianity. If we get this idea planted in our hearts and stop resisting this wonderful gift the Spirit offers, we can experience true victory over sin in our lives and the real comfort that comes with it. So, here goes… enjoy!


Blessed are those who mourn… – Matthew 5:4

How could mourning ever lead to blessing? Mourning about what? Is Jesus talking about people who have lost loved ones? Blessed are the grieving? Is He talking about sad people here?

Once again, the answer is an emphatic NO.

We are talking about people who realize their need for God, the poor in spirit. As they perceive the great distance between their current state and the holy God a godly sorrow–mourning–overtakes them. This sorrow leads them down a straight path directly to repentance.

So then, what is repentance? Does it happen at the front of a church? Is it tears at the altar? Is it just saying I’m sorry? Does it simply mean to change your mind, as it is commonly taught today? Again, no. Repentance is one of the most basic yet most important parts of the Christian life. Without repentance, you can never achieve true freedom from sin. Repentance is Christianity 101.

Repentance – a biblical definition from 2 Corinthians 7:10-11

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things, ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. – 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 KJV

Sorrow of the world produces death: There are a couple types of sorrow that will kill you. One is self-pity. Feeling sorry for yourself will put you into a downward spiral from which there is no return. Another deadly type of sorrow is that which is born of condemnation. The Greek word translated devil in our New Testament means accuser. Condemnation comes from the accuser of the brethren, and it shows up as a general feeling of unworthiness. Condemnation is vague and depressing.

Godly sorrow which works repentance: In contrast, the Holy Spirit convicts.

Conviction is specific and actionable. Conviction always comes with the gift of repentance. That’s right, gift! Repentance is a gift from God. God offers to turn your sin and weakness into strength and victory.

And now Paul walks step by step through the process of repentance.

what carefulness it wrought in you: You are careful not to get yourself into situations when you can even be tempted by this sin. Job speaks of a covenant made with his eyes. Back in the 80s before Disney bought downtown Manhattan, I had a job where I had to walk right through the sleaziest part of town. I made a covenant with my eyes and glued them to the sidewalk. I did not want to puff out my spiritual chest and believe that I could resist. I took the extra effort to protect the gates of my soul.

Solomon offers a six-part plan to avoid temptation:

Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. ~ Proverbs 4:14-15

In the specific area of your repentance, this is the way to go – find a way to get around it. Remember also that Paul tells us:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

what clearing of yourselves: You get rid of everything that pertains to this sin you are fleeing. You don’t keep a stash of porn, or a bottle of booze around for when you lose your resolve. You clear the decks.

what indignation: You take offense at anything or anyone that would draw you, or others, into this temptation. You actually see this sin as the enemy of your soul. You realize that this sin will kill you if you give it any quarter. You have a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude toward that which once held your reigns.

what fear: You have a healthy realization that sin in general, and this sin specifically, ends in death. Hear the words of James:

Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. ~ James 1:15

Understand, there is a fear that is right – not a terror, but a respect and understanding. The fear of the Lord is probably best defined as an unwillingness to offend God. It’s not a fear of punishment, but a fear of separation. Remember when Jesus was in the garden, and prayed for deliverance from the cup He was facing. The thing He wanted to avoid was not the physical pain, but the separation He knew He would face as He became sin for us.

what vehement desire: Vehement would be a good adjective for a raging forest fire, like those that hit the West Coast of the US in dry seasons. Repentance brings a ferocious desire for purity.

what zeal: Zealots usually look crazy. We all know someone who is zealous about something. Some people are zealous with their exercise routines, and some with their finances. The ones that make the news are those who are zealous for their religion and blow something up. I met a man who would chain himself to abortion tables, or clinic doors because he was zealous for the unborn. In the case of repentance – you are ready to be outspoken about the evil of this thing, and you will do whatever you can to dissuade others from taking up this sin.

what revenge!: Finally revenge. Your passion leads others from going this way, and so you break the power of this sin in your life and in the lives of those you influence.

All that being said, true repentance is actually a gift of God according to God’s Word in Acts 5:31 and 2 Timothy 2:25. God only gives gifts He intends for you to use, and God’s gifts are powerful. When you repent in this way, God’s intention and promise is that you can be free from the sin He brought to your attention.

So, how do I know if I have been given repentance? You will know if you sense conviction. Conviction is a specific realization that something you have done has offended God. Not some vague condemnation that you are not good enough, but you know that you know that what you did is wrong. If you have been given repentance, that means God will give you the freedom from that sin once you repent. True repentance can set you free from sin, as God leads you through these steps.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by today.

Walk in the light.

Ben

Get Out of the China Cabinet!

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; – Hebrews 3:1

Here, at the beginning of chapter 3 of Hebrews, we see the writer reminding us who we are in Christ. Though this letter is full of warnings, though it takes us by the shoulders and shakes us from time to time, in the end, the writer wants us to know who we are.

Holy–a word usually reserved for God, but the Holy Spirit wants you to know that through Christ’s work on the cross and His work in your spirit, you are holy. You are set apart.

One thing about the word holy that we miss sometimes. We tend to contrast holy with wretched, or miserable, but in truth, the opposite of holy is common–ordinary–every day.

My wife has some dishes in a china cabinet that belonged to her grandmother. On any random Tuesday in May, we’re eating off Correll. But there is a Thursday that comes up in November and we eat off Grandma’s good china. After dinner, it’s hand washed and carefully placed back in the china cabinet for the next special occasion.

The china is holy, set apart for a specific calling.

And that’s what’s going on here.

We are God’s good china, and He has a calling for each of us.

But in God’s economy, He puts out the good china every day, for everyone to see.

God created us each with specific gifts and talents that fit our calling in the body of Christ. Paul uses this image of a body, and how each part fulfills a specific function.

One big problem in the Church world is this eighty-twenty thing that everyone seems to notice.

They say (and clearly they know) that in the average church, eighty percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people.

Before we all go off angry at the eighty percent of folks who aren’t pulling their weight, let’s realize in God’s actual calling, not all are set apart for a job in the church as usher or greeter. Some are called into ministry in the world, outside the church walls. Frankly, most have callings outside the church, with the exception of the full-time staff, and I’m not even sure it’s OK to give them a pass on extra-church ministry.

But what can be observed is that eighty percent (more or less) of churchgoers are simply attendees, and don’t participate in ministry of any kind, at any time, anywhere.

Assuming they know Christ at all, they are effectively good china that NEVER comes out of the china cabinet. They are just for show. They miss their heavenly calling and go through life unfulfilled and missing God’s best for them.

If you find yourself in the china cabinet, I hope your asking, “how do I get out there on the table?”

I can’t tell you what you are called to do. But this I can tell you for sure. It’s God’s will for you to know. And it’s God will for you to be a dirty dish at the end of each day, ready for God to hand wash you and get you ready for use tomorrow.

If you start serving, maybe in church, maybe in a para-church kind of gig, if you’ll get moving, God will steer you into your destiny.

Shake off the fear of getting involved. Stir yourself and ask God where to start. It’s His will to use you, and He promised if we asked for wisdom He’d give it without reprisal.

cropped-BenHeadshotHey, thanks for stopping by.

Get out of the china cabinet.

Ben

Raising the Dead

He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him. – Matthew 9:24

What’s dead in your life today?

Jesus walked into the house of a man whose daughter had just died. This is what He found.

When Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder,  Matthew 9:23

The pipers piped, the mourners mourned, the weepers wept.

Yet Jesus’ words were not about the problem. He didn’t stand in line to hug the mourning mother or listen to the 500th retelling of that tragic morning when, after weeks of fighting disease, or months of steady decline, or suddenly for no apparent reason, they found their daughter had stopped breathing.

He didn’t sit down in front of the casket and weep.

He didn’t look at a memorial of the girl’s life.

He stepped in and changed the atmosphere.

And not just by walking in.

Sometimes that works. A man or woman full of the Spirit of God can walk into a room and just their presence changed the room. But this time, Jesus had to physically change the atmosphere.

It’s not unlike after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He drove off the money changers and then healed the sick. Jesus was not afraid to change the environment, to drive off the things that undermine faith.

He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him. But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. – Matthew 9:24-25

As I read this, the Lord put marriages in my heart, though the truth is relevant for other circumstances too.

Is your marriage dead or in need of healing?

You need to begin to speak life into it.

You need to drive off any trappings of death.

You need to shut down any outside voices speaking death your marriage. I don’t care if it’s your mother or father, your best friend or oldest confidant. If they are throwing fuel on the funeral pier of your relationship they are not helping.

I was at a wedding once where the minister address all the congregation on both sides of the aisle.

You who stand here today to witness this wedding, are entering into covenant to stand behind this union. As God makes these two–one, you must commit to supporting that one.. When one of these two come to you complaining about their spouse, you remind them of love, you speak life to the one new flesh. When you stand with one against the other you “tear asunder” that which “God has joined together.”

Begin to speak out loud those things that are not as though they were.

Then, when the sound of death has been stilled, take that which seems dead by the hand.

Life will return.

True for other dead things too.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by.

Have a blessed day.

Ben

Who’s Your Master?

Matt 6 19-24

 

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.Matthew 6:19-24

Provision

So Ben, What’s God talking to you about?

God’s been talking to me about provision but from a strange place.

In Matthew 4 after Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan, the Spirit leads Him into the wilderness to be tempted.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” – Matthew 4:3

I want to focus on just one aspect of this temptation, though there are many. After all, Jesus experienced every temptation we do.

My thought…

The devil tempts Jesus to provide for Himself.

Again–I know that’s not all that’s going on here, but I realized that the devil tempts Jesus to do the very thing we spend our lives doing.

The more I ponder this, the more I think I’ve been missing something in my understanding of kingdom living my whole life.

Before I dig deeper, let me highlight the Lord’s answer.

It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'” – Matthew 4:4

Jesus says we are to live by every word God speaks to us. The “Word” here is Rhema, not Logos–spoken word, not written word. And in fact, Jesus lived this way. He said, I only do what I see the Father do and say what I hear the Father say. How did Jesus live day to day, how did He eat and drink?

When He wanted to throw a party, He sent the boys to a particular man who would give them a room to use. When He wanted to feed multitudes all He needed was a boys lunch–more accurately–all He needed was a word from God. When the tax man came, He sent Peter fishing–and not net fishing which would have been like saying “go work for it,” but “throw in a line” fishing. When He needed a donkey to make His entrance into Jerusalem, He didn’t call Uber.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

We all know this verse, but here’s a fact–most of us believe something much different. The average Christian I know believes this version:

I will supply all my needs according to my toil and hustle, and if I have a shortfall, desperate prayer to Jehovah Jireh, and some belt-tightening will rescue me.

Peter tell us:

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. – 2 Peter 1:3

If you have ever given to a Christian charity then you know the mountain of junk mail that you’ve just signed up for. Have you ever had this thought which I have all the time: Why can’t you be more like George Mueller who never asked for support, but simply trusted God. If God ordained it, He’ll supply it. Stop begging.

Does this mean God didn’t ordain my life? Am I toiling for a living because that’s what God ordained for the common man, but the full time Christians should live by faith. Woops. There it is. I’m exposed. I’ve chosen to fall for the lie Jesus resisted. I’ve taken the bait and spent my life toiling.

Let me drop two more scriptures into the mix here.

…Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. – Genesis 3:17

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE” – Galatians 3:13

I’m not suggesting all the Christians in the world quit their jobs. Work is not the enemy here, but toil originates with the curse.

We know Paul made tents for a time to support himself and his ministry.

Let’s start with a simple change in perspective.

Let’s make hearing the voice of God our first and most important job. Stop thinking of Him as the safety net or the One Who fills our shortfalls, but rather the One responsible for all supply. Let’s ask Him to light our path and show us how to walk in His provision.

Paul, in his discourse about giving in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 says the Lord gives seed to sow, food to eat, and plenty to share. If our finances drive our lives from stress to stress instead of from glory to glory, we’re not doing it right.

Finances place high in reasons for divorce.
Finances figure among the top reasons for suicide.

God does not intend for His people to be stressing over money. Stop trying to provide for yourself! If you are a child of God, it’s His job to provide, and your job to listen and obey.

cropped-BenHeadshotWhat do you think?

Ben

for Signs and Wonders

The third quote the writer uses to show us how Jesus identifies with us comes from Isaiah 8:18.

“BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.” – Hebrews 2:13

Here’s the original:

Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. – Isaiah 8:18

Oh, how I love this verse. It’s so packed! Let’s just break it down and feast a while this morning.

Behold…

He begins with LOOK! What He’s about to tell us is evident. He’s not revealing hidden truth here, but something that can be seen and understood with our senses.

…I…

This I is the I AM. We can be sure of this because of this reference in Hebrews. Isaiah once again is bringing Jesus to our attention.

…and the children…

We know this is us. In Isaiah, 2 verses earlier the Lord specifically calls us “my disciples.”

…whom the Lord has given me…

These children are not begotten by Jesus, but given to Jesus, committed to His trust. The Father entrusted Jesus with His (the Father’s) flock to shepherd them. This flock is the Church for whom the shepherd laid down His life. The Father gave us to Jesus, and He paid the full purchase price for our freedom.

…are for signs and wonders…

Somehow this flock thinks it’s mission in life involves sitting in pews and being entertained.

Jesus trained us.
God empowered us.
The Holy Spirit filled us.

And yet we sit.

That’s not our call. God calls us to signs and wonders.

…from the LORD of hosts…

Not some sappy signs, like a smile or friendly nod on the sidewalk. Signs from the Lord of hosts look like something, Jesus sized signs and wonder–NO–bigger than that. Signs so big you can’t even imagine it now.

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.John 14:12

It makes me so sad when I hear preachers minimize this promise.

You know…

Radio is the greater work.
Television is the greater work.
Our money will buy more influence than Jesus carried.

NO!

It’s not even possible for Jesus to lie. When He starts a verse with Truly, Truly, how dare we diminish or explain away what He said.

It’s not unclear.
It’s doesn’t use hard to understand words.

the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do

But it will never happen as long as we won’t,

1 – believe it
2 – free our selves from distractions
3 – press in for it.

Why did the Father give Jesus children?

We are for signs and wonders.

We MUST begin to walk in this light. We can’t ignore our calling any longer. God never intended the Church of Jesus Christ to sit idly by and watch the world–in judgment and condemnation–but to turn it upside-down.

But Ben…how do I start?

Begin to call those things that are not as though there were.
You can simply take this verse and begin to declare it over yourself.
I am for signs and wonders!
I am for signs and wonders!
I am made for greater works the Jesus!
When I walk into the room, the Spirit of the LORD of Hosts comes in.
When I step into my workplace, the Prince of Peace enters with me.
When I speak healing and health over folks at Kohl’s, Jehovah Rapha confirms my words (His words) with signs following.

Get His word in your mouth, and let Him use you today.

Ok – I’m excited. I wonder what today holds?

BenHeadshotAs you go…

Be light…

Ben

Missed something – catch up with us here.

A New Nature

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. – Hebrews 2:10

Jesus, the uncreated Son of God, existing through all eternity past, walked through life as a man in sinless perfection. And yet, in taking on flesh and emptying Himself for us, He subjected Himself, not only to our weakness and temptations but to a need to learn and grow.

In creation, He counseled with God. The Word God spoke in creation, John reveals as Jesus. That spoken Word of creation continues to create galaxies today. It continues to hold all things together.

But this all knowing, all powerful, everywhere present Son of God needed schooling.

Let’s start in Luke 2 today.

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

This is amazing to me. We are introduced to Wisdom in Proverbs 8. When you have a few minutes, you can read the whole chapter, but in particular, check out verses 22-31. I can’t get away from the fact that this passage describes Jesus, the Word of God. And of course, this makes perfect sense. Where could you find more wisdom than in the Word spoken by our infinite, all-knowing Father?

Yet here is Luke 2 we find Jesus increasing in wisdom.

Next Luke tells the story of the boy Jesus in the temple at age twelve.

After that, we have only one verse in the entire Bible telling of Jesus’ life from age twelve until He starts His ministry at thirty.

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

This one is really striking because, at age thirty, we hear the voice of God at Jesus’ baptism.

and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” – Matthew 3:17

The Father is well pleased with His Son before Jesus begins His ministry. Before He ever works a miracle or heals the sick. But we learn from Luke 2:52 that Jesus’ grew in favor with God.

It’s a little mind-bending. How can the one who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, grow, learn, or progress?

It goes back to the concept of Jesus emptying Himself, and living life with a man’s nature. Not a sin nature, like you and me, but an un-fallen human nature. This is the nature offered to every man and woman in the new birth. It’s why the new birth makes such a great metaphor for the New Covenant offered to every one of us.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

The new nature we receive in the New Covenant puts within our grasp the ability to walk like Jesus walked. It makes it possible for us to grow in wisdom and favor with God.

Today was a bit of a rabbit trail from Hebrews 2:10, so we’ll come back to it on Monday. In the meantime press into all that God has for you. You can grow in favor with God. His pleasure in you will increase as you give yourself to Him in worship, in devotion, and in your daily walk.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by today.

Bloom and flourish where God has planted you.

Ben

If you’ve missed anything – check out the Hebrews page to get caught up.

Implications

how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? – Hebrews 2:3

Let’s go a bit deeper into this “so great salvation.

Friday, in my post “Bread” we talked about the truth of God dwelling in the believer. What implications can we draw from this concept of God on the inside?

It gets pretty interesting and will cause us to look at whether or not faith exists on any level in the life of the average pew-sitter. Remember I said that Hebrews will drive us to look at our concept of eternal security? Does a repeat-after-me prayer said at the altar of a church make you a child of God? (Please hear me, I have asked people to repeat after me bunches of times–I will never despise this practice.)

But honestly–repeat after me and “REALLY” mean it “IN YOUR HEART.” What does that even mean? How do we know if they “really” mean it?

The old Bill Bright method had you read a booklet, pray a prayer and then gave you scripture and verse assuring your salvation. They even had a follow up to their Four Spiritual Laws booklet which encouraged you to put Jesus on the throne in the center of your heart, now that you were a Christian. WHAT??!!

I’m sorry. It’s just not like that. If Jesus is not on that throne, there is no new birth.

The new birth may come via prayer. It can start at the altar of a church. It can happen as a result of reading the Four Spiritual Laws. But these do not define salvation.

This “so great salvation”, this new covenant, requires only one thing.

It’s not about the truths you agree to, though doctrine is important.

It’s not about the church you attend, though gathering with other saints is critical for your health and growth.

It’s not about how much you give to what ministry.

The only way for a man or woman to move from the kingdom of this world into the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is for God to take up residence inside you–for your spirit to welcome the Spirit of God–for Jesus to be on that throne–in the center.

When Jesus told them you have to eat my flesh and drink My blood in John 6, when He instituted the Lord’s Supper, He demonstrated that He had to be in us.

Christianity that tries hard to be good, to pull itself up by its bootstraps, that toils to resist sin, may not have the God of all grace and comfort dwelling inside.

What would it look like for God to move in?

If you talk to some Christians, you get the impression that they used to sin and never have another thought, but now they sin and feel guilty. Charles Finney would have called this the alarmed or awakened sinner. He would not offer assurance until the breakthrough to life on the inside.

Jesus didn’t die to make us feel guilty. He bore our guilt so we would be free!

He lives inside each and every citizen of His kingdom. We are His dwelling place.

That has to look like something, doesn’t it? If it’s just words on the page, it’s worthless, and we should bag it all.

If there is no evidence in your heart of the presence of God, today is your day. Today is the day of salvation. God desires to take up residence in you, to partner with you in everything you step into. What He asks of you is surrender. Let Him know that you see your life is a mess. Confess your sin and need for a Savior. Then invite Him to take control. It’s God’s will and your only hope.

We who are in Christ need to press in until His presence in us becomes a reality. Confess it out loud. Believe it every day. Expect Him to show up in every circumstance. Don’t just let satan bludgeon you into thinking you’re on your own. God lives. Jesus lives. The Spirit of the living God, aka YHWH, dwells in you if you are a citizen of His Kingdom.

Here’s a declaration you can use today.

I am a dwelling place for God, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Husband, and my Friend. God is inside me. I am loved by the Father. I am filled with the Spirit of God. I am blessed with all spiritual blessings because I am in Christ and His Holy Spirit is in me. Nothing can separate me from His presence. I am His and He is mine. He walks with me in all of my circumstances.

cropped-BenHeadshotHey, thanks for sticking with me in this study.

Love you…

Ben

Have you missed some of these studies? You can catch up here.

Bread

how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? – Hebrews 2:3

A couple weeks back, in the post, Sitting Savior, we took a quick look at what Jesus accomplished before He sat down at the right hand of the Father.

Today, I want to press into one aspect of the New Covenant that always get’s my juices flowing. I don’t believe we talk about it enough.

We see it painted into the tableau of the Lord Supper–not the painting–the event. But Jesus talked about it frankly in John 6 and it made those who were following Him wonder if they were making a terrible mistake.

Let’s set the scene. Early in John 6, we see Jesus feeding the multitudes with fish and bread. Well, really the disciples fed them, but Jesus’ sets it up for the boys. This multitude is so impressed, they follow Him across the lake. Next, we find ourselves at the synagog in Capernaum, Jesus’ home base during most, if not all of His ministry years.

A dialog ensues in which Jesus drives His following off in droves. He begins by suggesting they only want to be near Him because He fed them. They bring up mana and how God fed their forefathers in the wilderness.

What happens next gets pretty bizarre…

He says in effect, “Yes, I know about that–that was Me.”

I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” – John 6:41

The crowd murmurs with an understated, “Wait, what?”

So He pressed in,

 “Do not grumble among yourselves…I AM the bread of life.” – John 6:43,48

A man in the congregation sees, from the corner of his eye, his wife rise up in the women’s chamber, collect her children and walk out the back. She catches his eye and gives him a look that says, “stay if you want, but I’m out of here. I’ll be waiting in the car.”

Then Jesus presses on,

if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” – John 6:51

Now the exodus begins in earnest. But rather than pull back and explain Himself, Jesus just goes all in.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” – John 6:53-58

This one might have even rocked His core crew, but they got it. They understood that they didn’t have to understand. His words held life, even when they didn’t have a clue what He was talking about.

In Matthew 13, when Jesus taught with parables, He actually told the boys it was so some would not understand. He intentionally put roadblocks in the way of people so they could not get to Him at a surface level. If they were not willing to trust Him alone, they would go away offended.

Here in John 6 He asks them in effect, “Does this offend you?”

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” – John 6:67

Great question.

Jesus asks this question today, too. Does this gospel offend you?

Today, the world and its children question God at every turn.

Let’s jump right into the deep end.

For example, the world says, “How can God condemn a gay man for being gay? It’s genetic. He was born that way. If God didn’t want Him gay, God shouldn’t have made Him gay!

Hmmm…

So we back down. There’s something about this argument that gives us cause to be offended at God.

Jesus looks us in the eye–yes–us Christians–and says, “Does this offend you?”

Let me help you on this topic. God didn’t create me with an evil desire to be with other men. But I was born with a sin nature and completely bent toward sins of many flavors. I am by nature self-centered. Oh, how my flesh delights in pleasing myself, in promoting myself.

I came out of the womb (a good Christian womb at that) lying, cheating, stealing, swearing, fighting for my own way. I wanted to be my own Lord. That desire still wars against my spirit, and sometimes gets the upper hand.

If God didn’t want me to be a liar, why did He make me this way. If God wanted my sex life to be completely devoted to one woman and only in one context, why did He give me this sex drive? Why does God continue to allow the birth of people who are enslaved to sin? Why?

Does this offend you?

Jesus isn’t afraid of losing those who don’t hold on to Him as their only hope of life. Jesus is never looking for fringe followers. He’s looking for those who throw in their lot with Him. Only complete regime change works in this New Covenant.

Only those who are willing to take Him into their life at the expulsion of all other gods, all other priorities, all other lovers.

And so we come back to the flesh and blood.

He finally explains it all to His disciples at the last supper. He didn’t want them to gnaw on Him like a herd of zombies. He wanted to implant His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, within each of them, within each of us. He wanted us to become a dwelling place for the Spirit of God. The two become one flesh–me and God–you and God.

He’s not looking for a long-distance relationship here. He’s looking for intimacy. He doesn’t want to shout to us. He wants to be in our spirit so that His whisper bubbles up a spring of life from within us. His word flows from us because that daily life producing bread–that Word of God come from within.

The secret to this “so great salvation is God on the inside.

WOW

I again need to borrow my brother Larry’s word…Hallelujah!!

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by,

Blessings

Ben

You can catch up with our Hebrews musings here.