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Showing posts from January, 2012

All the world's a stage...

11 The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.  (Galations 3:11 The Message) It is not what we do FOR God that matters - - it is what we do WITH God!  Shakespeare wrote:  "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts."  I believe there is great wisdom in the choice of "stage"  upon which we "act out" life - - and the choice of Director makes the difference in the impact of the play! Nobody can be "on top of their game" 100% of the time.  It is physically and emotionally impossible to be attentive to every thought which leads to action - except by the power o

Does God help those who help themselves?

5-6 Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. (Galations 3:5-6 The Message) This is indeed a good question for each of us to consider in our daily walk!  Does God do the "stuff" in our lives he does out of obligation to us because we have somehow "earned" it?  Do we obtain the blessings of God, including his attention and his directing influence, simply because we "did enough" to warrant it?  The Book of Galations is a letter to a church with a mixed up set of ideas.  They believe in the work of Christ - salvation through his shed blood (faith).  Yet, they

But...I AM trying!!!

15-16 We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over "non-Jewish sinners." We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good. (Galations 2:15-16 The Message) A long time ago, a friend gave me an illustration which has stuck with me through the years.  He held out a beautiful Montblanc pen, (since I am a writer, pens are kind of a passion of mine), and asked me to "try" to take the pen away from him.  Seeing this as an easy thing, I reached out to his outstretched hand to take the pen.  Now the pen was in my possession, or so I thought.  He then corrected me with the following:  He told me to only "try

Which "face" are you showing?

  14 But when I saw that they were not maintaining a steady, straight course according to the Message, I spoke up to Peter in front of them all: "If you, a Jew, live like a non-Jew when you're not being observed by the watchdogs from Jerusalem, what right do you have to require non-Jews to conform to Jewish customs just to make a favorable impression on your old Jerusalem cronies?" (Galations 2:14 The Message) Paul has spent a significant amount of time giving the run-down of his credentials for preaching the Word of God, his calling being direct and affirmed by those who had walked with Christ during his earthly ministry.  He had submitted to the leadership of the New Testament church in order to have his teachings "validated" or "affirmed".  This was not so much because of any "need" to get his ministry "blessed" by the other leaders, but because he wanted to be sure he was aligned in his teaching - accountable and committ

Am I popular yet?

10-12 Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn't bother being Christ's slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn't receive it through the traditions, and I wasn't taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ. (Galations 1:10-12 The Message) I imagine we have all struggled with the idea of being "popular" - being part of the "in" crowd.  In school, we'd look at certain groups of girls or boys, see how they dressed, looked at the way they did their hair, listened to what the talked about, and then what did we try to do?  For some of us, we tried to "fit in"!  If we have a tendency to be "followers" by nature, we want to "bend" to the whim of the crowd we are with.

Not everything is black & white!

6-9 I can't believe your fickleness—how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of Christ by embracing a variant message! It is not a minor variation, you know; it is completely other, an alien message, a no-message, a lie about God. Those who are provoking this agitation among you are turning the Message of Christ on its head. Let me be blunt: If one of us—even if an angel from heaven!—were to preach something other than what we preached originally, let him be cursed. I said it once; I'll say it again: If anyone, regardless of reputation or credentials, preaches something other than what you received originally, let him be cursed. (Galations 1:6-9 The Message) Wow!  Paul gets right up into the grills of these Galation believers!  He opens with is authority for writing to them, then launches into the very convicting announcement of the "fickleness" he is going to set straight!  His concern is the intentional "twisting" of t

Special Ops God!

1-5  I, Paul, and my companions in faith here, send greetings to the Galatian churches. My authority for writing to you does not come from any popular vote of the people, nor does it come through the appointment of some human higher-up. It comes directly from Jesus the Messiah and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. I'm God-commissioned. So I greet you with the great words, grace and peace! We know the meaning of those words because Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we're in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God's plan is that we all experience that rescue. Glory to God forever! Oh, yes! (Galations 1:1-5 The Message) We begin a new series this morning in the book of Galations.  The author is Paul, a disciple of Christ, born out of the ranks of the Jews - - a former persecutor of the believers in Jesus.  He begins with his credentials.  Whenever we are establishing new "relationship" with people, isn't this similar t

Iron in my soul!

I'm homesick, God, for your salvation;  I love it when you show yourself!     Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well,  use your decrees to put iron in my soul.  And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me!        I'll recognize the sound of your voice. (Psalm 119:174-176 The Message) This is our last passage from this great study into the depths of a man with "a heart after God".  We began our study 59 days ago!  Does it seem that long to you?  (Hopefully, you said "no"!)  We are at the final three verses of our psalm and find David crying out, "I'm homesick!"  We have seen his heart throughout this psalm - - both the ups and downs of it.  The Word of God has become an intensive training tool in his life - - he has come to rely upon hearing it, using it in practical ways to assist with the day-to-day decisions of life, and leaning on it when no answer seems apparent.  It has become his source because he has come to know

Silence speaks volumes

Let praise cascade off my lips;  after all, you've taught me the truth about life!     And let your promises ring from my tongue;  every order you've given is right.   Put your hand out and steady me  since I've chosen to live by your counsel.  (Psalm 119:171-173 The Message) Have you heard the term, "Talk is cheap"?  It means it is easier to talk ABOUT something than to do it!  Another meaning would be it is easier to talk ABOUT someone than to do something for them.  We could say talk is "cheap" in many respects - - if our words aren't a sincere revelation of our motives (inner heart), they are simply have no real "force" behind them. I have friends who speak continuously when we are together.  Other simply are happy to sit and enjoy times of quiet with me, occasionally bringing some discussion into the quiet, but it is not the main "theme" of our time together.  I was once told we could "gauge" the &q

God's Personal Attention

Let my cry come right into your presence, God;  provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word.   Give my request your personal attention,        rescue me on the terms of your promise. (Psalm 119:169-170 The Message) God's personal attention in our lives - - now, isn't that an awesome thought?  I have never had a "personal trainer" at a gym, or a personal financial adviser, but I imagine those who enjoy the influence of these individuals in their lives see real "benefit" to their advice.  I cannot imagine a better "personal trainer" than the Holy Spirit!  I cannot fathom better advice than what we find in the Word of God!  I doubt there is anyone's attention more devoted than God's! Whenever I have moments of distress, I want to stand assured my cries go "directly" to the source of all help: God himself!  No middle man involved - just direct access, front and center with God.  It took me a long time to

Burning the candle at both ends?

I've been slandered unmercifully by the politicians,  but my awe at your words keeps me stable.   I'm ecstatic over what you say,  like one who strikes it rich.     I hate lies—can't stand them!— but I love what you have revealed.   Seven times each day I stop and shout praises  for the way you keep everything running right.   For those who love what you reveal, everything fits— no stumbling around in the dark for them.   I wait expectantly for your salvation;        God, I do what you tell me.   My soul guards and keeps all your instructions—        oh, how much I love them!   I follow your directions, abide by your counsel;  my life's an open book before you. (Psalm 119:161-168 The Message) I think there are times we think proudly to ourselves, "Whew!  Now, did you see how well I kept everything together today?"  We look back over our day, see the chaos of events we tackled and proudly assess the accomplishment as "ours".  In fact, we


 Take note of how I love what you tell me;  out of your life of love, prolong my life.   Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth.  Your righteous decisions are eternal. (Psalm 119:159-160 The Message) Back in the day, a high-powered executive would speak authoritatively into the office intercom sitting on his desk, summoning a secretary to the office.  Within seconds, the secretary would be "front and center", ready to do the bidding of the executive.  It was not an uncommon thing to hear the words, "Take a note", implying that the secretary was to listen carefully, capturing the thoughts of the executive, then preparing a finished document with the dictated words.   To "take note" is really saying "observe with care" or "pay special attention to".  In other words, when summoned, the secretary had to put out of her mind all other thought in order to focus on the current needs of the executive.  Here, our psalmist