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The More Of Him

14 Jan

The More Of Him…

Philippians 3 has an amazing thing that Paul says. He says, “That I might gain Jesus.” Now, if anybody had Jesus, it was Paul. He is the chief teacher of the New Testament, yet he says, “that I might gain Jesus.”

If you have Jesus, how can you gain Him? And, if you are gaining Him, how could you have had Him? What does it mean? We have to have that attitude.

The attitude goes on with, I press on so that I might know. It’s the attitude of one who has much more to go. There is so much more no matter how much you have.

If anybody had it, it was Paul, but he says I don’t even have the half of it. There is so much more, there is no end, Jesus is infinite. There is so much more Good News, more joy, more blessing, more revelation, more victory, more peace, more intimacy, more wonders.

So, if Paul could say it, you could too, that I might gain Jesus. There is a whole more of Jesus for you to gain.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8

Keep pressing on with all your heart to know God and be constantly filled by Him. The more you seek, the more there is to discover, unending joy.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed

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Separating The Leper

13 Jan

Separating The Leper…

In Mark 1:42 it says, that “the leprosy left.” A strange thing, it would be more natural to say the man was healed of leprosy. It doesn’t say that, it says the leprosy left him.

Now it would be the natural thing to associate the man with the disease. The man was a leper, because he had leprosy. But, here it separates it because ultimately Jesus is going to separate the disease and the man.

We often look at people by their afflictions. This man is a sinner, that one is selfish. But this one is a leper. God doesn’t see this one as a leper, He separates it. We should do the same thing.

This is not a selfish person, this is a person who is under selfishness, but can be free of that selfishness. See the person not as they appear to be, but as God made them to be, and as Jesus redeemed them to become.

Treat them as such and you will stop seeing lepers and you will start seeing the leprosy leave.

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. Mark 1:40-42

Put on the eyes of God today. Separate the person from their sins and their sinful identity. And see them as God made them to be – Just as God sees you.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed

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The One Who Blesses

12 Jan

The One Who Blesses…

The word for Jew in Hebrew is Yehudi. Yehudi comes from Yahudah which means to thank, to praise. So, if you are born again, the Bible says you are a fellow citizen of Israel, you are Jewish in spirit, a Yahudah in spirit.

That means your identity is to give thanks. So are you a thanker? Are you someone who praises and blesses, no matter what? That is what you are to be known for.

What is the key thing that comes out of your mouth? It is to be giving thanks and being the blessing. Look at your blessings, count your blessings, number them. All you have to do is be thankful.

It’s amazing how all of a sudden you are going to feel so happy, so blessed, so content, so rich, so joyful, so peaceful. Thank God every day for your salvation.

Thank God for everything, because the one who is always giving thanks for all things, that’s the one who is blessed, and there is nothing more Jewish than that.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Find your identity in Jesus as a blesser. Fill your day with thanksgiving and praise.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed

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Psalm 2 The Story – A Little Deeper

11 Jan

Psalm 2 The Story – A Little Deeper

Psalm 2 is a celebration of the unquestionable supremacy of God and Jesus over all the rebellious forces of humanity. To attempt rebellion against God is absurd, because God has already decided the matter and has invested his power and authority into a human king, Jesus.

There is no question as to who would win in a confrontation between God and Jesus on the one hand and rebellious humanity on the other: God wins. It cannot be any other way. Moreover, God wins through Jesus.

As far as humanity is concerned, there ends up being no substantial distinction between God and Jesus. You serve God by serving Jesus. If you rebel against Jesus, you rebel against God himself. To trust in Jesus is to trust in God.  The Psalm breaks down in four parts.

Why have the nations created a commotion,
And why are the peoples continually dwelling upon what is pointless? The kings of the earth are setting themselves, and the rulers have seated themselves close together against Yahweh and against Jesus. “Let us tear apart their manacles, And let us cast away from us their ropes.”    Verses 1-3

The one who sits in the heavens is laughing, The Lord is mocking them. Then he speaks to them in his anger, And in his wrath he terrifies them. “But as for me, I have set my king upon Zion, my holy hill.”  Verse 4-6

I will declare the decree: Yahweh has said to me,
“You are my son. I myself this day have begotten you. “Ask of me And I will give the nations as your inheritance, And as your property the ends of the earth. “You will break them with a rod of iron, Like the vessel of a potter you will shatter them.’  Verse 7-9

Now, therefore, O kings, act prudently.
Allow yourselves to be corrected, judges of the earth. Serve Yahweh with fear, rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son [or give pure obeisance]
Lest he be angry and your way of life perish
When his anger flares up even a little. Blessed are all they who seek refuge in him.  Verse 10-12

These four parts form an ABBA concentric structure. (Abba means “Father, I will obey you.” Most people think Abba simply means having an intimate relationship with your father, but there are actually two elements, not just one.) 

The first and last parts are about rebellious humanity. The middle two parts are about Yahweh and Jesus. Often these concentric structures are observable even in translation if you are paying close attention. Typically, the central parts of a concentric structure are the parts that have most critical significance – the punchline, so to speak.

Here, the central parts are about Yahweh and Jesus. The rebellion of humanity is not central. It lies on the outskirts of importance. It does not have the weight of eternity behind it. On the other hand, the wicked man, who is like the chaff that the wind drives away, is placed in the outer position, emphasizing, perhaps, his transitoriness. To reverse these positions would feel a little upside down to the implied reader.

This is a subtle point, but I think it is one worth dwelling on for a moment, in part because it relates to the purpose of Psalm 2, as a whole. We have a tendency to find ourselves focusing our attention on the evil that is in the world. When we do that, we expend the bulk of our emotional energy on that evil, sometimes in worrying, other times in being angry.

But this concentric structure, with its subtle but important emphasis on God and his righteousness over rebellious humanity and their wickedness, tells us that we ought to be careful not to let ourselves focus our energy and attention on what is bad in the world.

Sure, there is stupid stuff in the world. Sure, there is wickedness in the world, and if we find ourself in a situation where we can resist wickedness personally – and I mean specifically in person, face-to-face – then we should do so. But never should we allow our mind to just continually dwell on what is stupid or what is wicked.

To do that is to walk right into the hands of the enemy. The enemy wants you to spend all of your energy thinking about how terrible the world is rather than how good God is. Why? Because it drains you and makes you less able to be an active force for wisdom and righteousness with the people you come into contact with.

You end up walking through Wal-Mart with a scowl on your face rather than a smile. And you find yourself unfortunately more susceptible to the bad impulses of the flesh, such as cutting people off on the highway or saying harsh things to someone. Negativity even taints your rest time. When you ought to be able to recharge, instead you find yourself depressed and lonely.

On the other hand, if we are sensitive to this structural cue in the psalm, it will help us to realize that the goodness of God is of far greater importance and power than the evil of the world, and it is far worthier of our intellectual and emotional energy.

I am not sure I have a good explanation for why it seems easier to focus on the bad than on the good, because it sure does seem easier, but somehow it must have to do with our fundamental depravity. Darkness loves darkness.

But regardless of the reason, we need to resist the easy path and willfully focus our attention and energy on the goodness of God and the beauty of his gospel. This is precisely what Paul is talking about in Philippians 4:4-9:

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is near. Do not be worried about anything, but in every prayer and petition let your requests be made known to God with thanksgiving. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will protect your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, respectable, righteous, pure, lovely, of a good reputation, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things. And the things that your learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you all.

Here Paul is telling the Philippian Christians to focus their energies on positive things rather than negative things. Sure, there are going to be concerns and needs, but do not let yourself be consumed by worry over these things. Rather, as the Message translation puts it, “Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers.” Paul says, the Lord is near.

In other words, his victory is just around the corner, and we have too much work to do to waste our energy dwelling upon the wickedness of the world that is nearly defeated. Instead, focus your mental and emotional energies on good things: things that are true, respectable, righteous, pure, lovely, and of a good reputation.

But what do we tend to find ourselves gravitating towards when we read or watch the news? We find ourselves dwelling on what is false, what is shameful, what is unjust, what is impure, what is terrible and ugly, what is ignominious. I use the news as an example, we have the same thing when we participate in spreading gossip.

Because regardless of how much we might protest this, it is true that bad news sells better than good news does. But if we will resist this perverse urge within us to dwell on bad things and intentionally focus on the good things, the excellent and praiseworthy things, Paul says that peace of God which surpasses understanding will protect our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I want to be clear. I am not proposing mere positive thinking. Positive thinking by itself without some basis of certainty in objective reality – in other words positive thinking that is not centered on the goodness of God and on the certainty of his righteous rule in the earth – is often nothing more than wishful thinking and foolishness.

This, in my opinion, is why more pessimistically inclined individuals dismiss optimism – it is not realistic. I am talking, however, about a realistic optimism that is grounded not simply in my unfounded belief that good will always triumph and that everything will turn out all right but rather in my well founded trust in righteousness and goodness of God and of Jesus.

I acknowledge that bad things happen. I do not deny this, but I also do not dwell on it. Bad things happen, but they are temporary. There are evil people out there, but they are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Evil and wickedness are transitory by their nature and cannot endure. The realistic optimism of the Christian on the other hand endures through patience and faith in God.

So that might seem like a long winded explanation on the significance of a marginal observation about the structure of the psalm, but the fact is that this structural cue, this concentric form that subtly emphasizes God and Jesus over the rebellious masses of humanity, works precisely in the same direction as all of Psalm 2 in its entirety.

The nations rage. They make a great big commotion. But right at the beginning the psalmist says that this great big commotion is all about nothing. It is all about riq, a Hebrew word that means emptiness, pointlessness, nothingness. In my opinion, hagah seems to describe most directly a continual utterance under one’s breath. Dwelling upon something. Reciting it. Talking about it without realizing it. Thinking about it all the time.

On the other hand, the nations, the foolish and the wicked people of the world, continually dwell upon riq: pointlessness, emptiness. They get all upset about nothing. And if there happens to be nothing particularly upsetting going on at the moment, the world is great about finding things to be upset about. Like I said, bad news sells, and it also manipulates people and drives them to the polls, so both news agencies and politicians have vested interests in finding things to upset you, to make you angry or fearful.

Verse 2 characterizes this upheaval over nothing as human rebellion. Now, someone might make the accusation that verse 2 shows that the way I have applied verse 1 is inaccurate. Verse 1 is not about news agencies and people manipulating our emotions. It is about nations of people that have been conquered militarily and made subject to the Israelite king rising up and trying to rebel against that king.

My response is that this psalm never really was about any specific Israelite or Judahite king. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that this psalm was written long after the fall of the both Northern and Southern kingdoms. But even if it was written during the monarchy, even by David himself, there was never a time in Israel’s history that the political state of the world was anything like what seems to be described in Psalm 2. Israel was never a world imperial power.

Assuming the historicity of David’s conquests in 2 Samuel, even at the height of its strength, Israel was never anything more than a moderately strong regional power, nothing like Egypt or Assyria or Babylon or Persia or the Hittites. In other words, in my opinion, this psalm was always intended to be understood in a spiritual or idealistic way. For the Israelite or pre-Christian Jew it always pointed to some kind of future situation and was not intended to reflect the world with rigid realism.

In light of this, I think we are more than justified in understanding the rebellious uprising of the nations in a spiritualized or idealized way, as the commotion made by a humanity that is constantly in rebellion against God and against his good will. In ancient Israel, the ideal of a world in subjection to Israel and Israel’s king and Israel’s God was a world where justice reigned.

In this ideal world there would be no real reason for the people of the world to rebel except that they did not want to be subject to God’s justice. In other words, reading this psalm in the right context reveals that the world is rebelling against Israel essentially because they want to have the right to be unjust to each other. And that is, in fact, predominately why the world makes so much commotion, why the world seems to be perpetually on the brink of total chaos and destruction.

Humanity want to be their own gods. They want to define justice in their own image rather than be subject to justice in God’s image. They are not content with peace. They chafe under righteousness, so they make a big fuss and try to throw off the “manacles” and “ropes” of God, all the while justifying their rebellion by saying they are seeking the power to do something better and more virtuous. “We need to get rid of these silly scruples we have about unborn babies, because NOT permitting abortion is unjust to women.” The manacles and ropes of Psalm 2 are not literal manacles and ropes, but the bonds of goodness and righteousness and love – the laws of the Messianic kingdom.

The perpetual hissy fit that humanity seems to be engaged in is at its core a rejection of Messianic rule, a rejection of our confession that Jesus is Lord, and a claim to be their own lord, their own god, even. But as both the structure and the content of Psalm 2 tell us, all this rebellion is pointless and empty. God is in control, and Jesus is on the throne of heaven. So, as I’ve always said – Stay focused on Jesus and let the world pass by.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed

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Psalm 2. Read this first (1/11)

11 Jan

Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”

“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”

10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

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The Wilderness Leading

11 Jan

The Wilderness Leading…

In Mark 1:12 it says, the Spirit compelled Him. That’s Messiah, Yeshua, Jesus. The Spirit compelled Him to the wilderness. People preach that God always leads us to earthly blessing, and if we are in the wilderness, something is wrong. Maybe, we don’t have enough faith, or we’re in sin.

Just because you are in the wilderness, it doesn’t mean that you are not in the Spirit. It might be the Spirit Himself who took you there. We need the wilderness, the hard times, the times without, so that God can do a greater work.

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He was led there not because He was out of God’s will, but because He was right in the center of God’s will. God has a plan.

Are you being tested? Praise Him, glorify Him, obey Him, just like Jesus did. The Spirit led you in that place. The same Spirit will lead you out when God’s purposes have been accomplished; then you will be ready to take on the mantle of your greater calling.

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, Mark 1:12

No matter what you go through today, in everything, seek to hear His voice, find your mission, and follow His leading – to victory.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed

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The Magnetic Principle

10 Jan

The Magnetic Principle…

I am sure you have seen magnets. The thing about a magnet is that if it is not attached, it’s going to draw all sorts of metal to it. It’s going to get weighed down, but if it’s attached to something else, then the other things aren’t going to weigh it down.

In the same way our hearts are like magnets. If our hearts are not joined they become vulnerable. They become joined to sin, to unclean things, to addictions, to habits, to indulgences, to idols, to money, to whatever it is.

The key is, when your heart is attached to Jesus, then we become free of all the rest. Your heart was made to be attached to Him, that’s why He said, My Yoke is easy. Be yoked to Him and you will not be burdened with all the rest of the stuff in the world.

Join your heart to Him and you will be free from every other thing that tempts you in this world. You will be free, just like a magnet that is joined.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

Get real close to God today, like a magnet. Join your heart, soul, mind, and strength to Him. And you’ll be free of all those other things.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed

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That They Might Be With Him

9 Jan

That They Might Be Wirh Him…

It says in Mark 3:14, He appointed the twelve that they might be with Him. The Lord chose the disciples to teach them, to minister to them, to teach them to minister and to send them out to preach.

The first reason it says that Jesus appointed or chose them was that they might be “with Him.” They could not do anything else, if not first with Him. All ministry comes from being with the Lord.

You can only become as much as you are if you are with Him. If you feel like you are not really being sent into ministry, you don’t have your ministry, you are waiting for it or it is not really happening, maybe you are not really being with Him the way He called you to be with Him.

Do you want a great witness? You need a great “withness.” Spend time in prayer, communion, the Word, praising, loving, receiving, just being with Him. Then you will have a great witness and you will be great and mighty in ministry when you become great and mighty in being with Jesus.

He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach. Mark 3:14

Take God with you after you start your day with Him. Stay in His presence, sing to Him and praise Him through your day.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed

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Playing With A Plague

8 Jan

Playing With A Plague

Have you ever had a cold? Of course, you have. But do you realize that those cold germs are trying to destroy you? If your body’s defenses did not fight off that cold, you would be dead.

It’s the same way with sin. Every sin has in its DNA a strategy to destroy your life. But we sometimes act as if sin is harmless. We think a little gossip here, a little lust or pride or greed or backbiting there, what’s the harm? We have the illusion that sin might profit us in some way, or provide pleasure, thrill or satisfaction.

But sin is not harmless! It is like a virus designed to keep you from fulfilling your God-given calling and take away your life. Why play with fire? 1 Peter 2:11 tells us to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. So at the first hint of sin, take action.

From now on, see that sin as a deadly virus. Whatever the sin, however subtle, get rid of it. Throw out even the slightest trace of it. Then you can live the victorious life to which you have been called.

But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. James 1:14-16

Set up your defenses against the various attacks from the enemy who wants you to fall from fulfilling your calling. Flee from that sin as you would from a bad cold!

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed

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Living In The Ouranos

7 Jan

Living In The Ouranos…

In Luke 10:18, Jesus tells His disciples that He saw Satan fall, as lightning, from heaven. But the word ‘heaven’ in the New Testament Greek is “ouranos,” which means heaven or eternity. So it’s saying He saw Satan falling from eternity.

There is a real key here; the key of the enemy’s power. When the enemy fell away from eternity, he fell away from eternal things. This means that the power of the enemy is not eternal, but temporal, temporary. Things we experience in this life are temporal; things like panic, fear, emotions, temptations or temporary thrills.

When you live according to what’s temporary, you subject yourself to the enemy’s power, not the power of God. So the key to overcoming the enemy is in the word “ouranos.” To live the heavenly life is to live according to what is eternal.

Look to God and His eternal Word. Learn to look through the hardship to the eternal promises. Look through the fear to the faithful God. The enemy fell from the eternal, but you will rise when you look to it.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Overcome the enemy and all his strategies today by moving away from the temporary. Live above it, in the heavenlys, in the ouranos.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed