OF FISH AND OF MEN

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Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, although he existed in the form of God

   did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied Himself,
   taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.
   Being found in appearance as a man,
   He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8

———–

I learned about the incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium. Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. I had to run a portable laboratory to monitor the nitrate levels and ammonia content. I pumped in vitamins and antibiotics and sulfa drugs and enough enzymes to make a rock grow. I filtered the water through fiber glass and charcoal, and exposed it to ultraviolet light.

You would think, in view of all the energy expended on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful. Not so.

Every time my shadow loomed above the tank they dove for cover into the nearest shell. They showed me one ’emotion’ only: fear.

Although I opened the lid and dropped in food on a regular schedule, three times a day, they responded to each visit as a sure sign of my designs to torture them. I could not convince them of my true concern.

To my fish I was deity. I was too large for them, my actions too incomprehensible. My acts of mercy they saw as cruelty; my attempts at healing they viewed as destruction.

To change their perceptions, I began to see, would require a form of incarnation. I would have to become a fish and ‘speak’ to them in a language they could understand.

A human being becoming a fish is nothing compared to God becoming a baby. And yet according to the Gospels that is what happened at Bethlehem. The God who created matter took shape within it, as an artist might become a spot on a painting or a playwright a character within his own play. God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages of real history.

The Word became flesh.
– *Excerpt from ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’ by Philip Yancey*

————

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the Only Begotten, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Trust Jesus!

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MY LORD AND MY GOD

Work willingly at whatever you do, *as though you were working for the Lord* rather than for people.

Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24

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The command to ‘do everything as if doing it unto the Lord Jesus Himself’ is far more easily said than done, I’ll admit.

Mostly I think, because we always expect favourable conditions when submitting ourselves to serve others, and our obedience is often only conditional upon what we get out of the deal.

But despite the difficulties, when I came to faith I had made up my mind that I would be in earnest pursuit of doing all things as unto God Himself – starting afresh with each new day, even if I failed the day before. And yesterday, to my surprise, I received a truly awesome encouragement from the Lord Jesus that reminded me to Whom I belong. 

I was hired on fulltime at DB Schenker in June 2011, and so June 2016 marked my 5 year anniversary with the company. 

It was a pretty important milestone for me since I had never stuck it out at any job for five years consecutively previously in my life.

It was actually during my employment with Schenker in November of 2012 that I came to faith in Christ and for the first time in my life had learned from the Bible that I could show my devotion to God by how well I worked at my job and served my employer.

Beginning to recognize how undeseving I was in many ways to even have a great job that I enjoyed, I never approached my work as ‘putting God to the test to see if He would bless me.’ I would instead do my best at my job out of gratitude *for all that Jesus had already done* in taking the punishment I deserve by dying on the cross in my place. 

When other employees reached their 5, 10, 15, 20, & 25 year anniversaries at work, I saw how the company would break out the gift cards, bonus cheques, and almost always have cake. 

But since those things aren’t especially important to me (although unexpected cake is always a wonderful treat!), when I approached my 5 years of service I was really just hoping for zero fanfare and attention.

And surprisingly, I got it!

In fact, there was no mention of my five year anniversary at all. No card, no cheque, no gift card. 

But since I was living a life completely abandoned to God and instead being daily thrilled by supernatural encounters, opportunities to reach others and experiences of grace, I hardly took notice and very quickly forgot about it altogether. I was a man just committed to serving the risen Lord. 

Earlier this year with everything from dreams and visions to divinely timed confirmations, I knew it was finally time to move on, so I left Schenker and accepted a new position with Prison Fellowship Canada. 

But in November 2017 – this very week, my previous manager reached out to me to let me know that there was a cheque that he stumbled across that was actually made out to me that he had somehow forgotten to give to me, along with a card.

Since I work relatively close by, I made the arrangements and walked over to pick it up. I was extremely grateful for the unexpected surprise, but since I am someone who has clearly seen time and time again just how intimately acquainted God has been with every detail of my life – and what significance and meaning each detail contained, I asked the Lord, “what purpose did it serve in receiving this cheque at this particular time, almost a year and a half later?”

Then I opened and read the card which said:

We are pleased to congratulate you on your 5th anniversary of employment with DB Schenker. Please find enclosed a token of our appreciation for the dedication you have demonstrated over the years.”

As I stood there reading, I heard the Lord say to me, “Happy Anniversary” and it suddenly dawned on me… November 2017 would be exactly five years since I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus – surrendering my life to love Him and serve Him according to His good pleasure!

I was once again confronted with proof of the Biblical truth that in serving others, just as the Scriptures have said, we are indeed serving the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and therefore will receive an inheritance, just as He promises!

If we set ourselves to understand His ways; if we continue to seek Him out, we will certainly see that He continually gives us great assurances of the very certain hope we have in Him in whom we have trusted!

————-

So I want to encourage all of you today in whichever place the Lord Jesus has placed you – who are living faithfully but battling with doubts and discouragement when it appears that your labours are going unnoticed or unappreciated… Obedience to Christ is a sure reward! The One whom you are serving is the omnipresent Son of God! And you will surely receive your prize if you continue to persevere and do not give up!

————

But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites.

Colossians 3:25

Trust Jesus!

Radical Christianity

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But wisdom that comes from above is…. *Without partiality*…. 
James 3:17

————

PARTIALITY – unfair bias in favor of one thing or person compared with another; favoritism.

————

I find it interesting what we do with the words of Jesus.

We take Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations and we say, “That means other people.” But we look at Jesus’ command in Matthew 11:28, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” and we say, “Now, that means me.”

We take Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit will lead us to the ends of the earth, and we say, “That means some people.” But we take Jesus’ promise in John 10:10 that we will ‘have abundant life,’ and we say, “That means me.”

In the process we have unnecessarily (and unbiblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all.

In this way we choose to send off other people to carry out the global purpose of Christianity while the rest of us sit back because we say we’re “just not called to that.”

Now we know that each of us has different gifts, different skills, different passions, and different callings from God. God has gifted you and me in different ways. This was undoubtedly the case with the disciples. Peter and Paul had different callings. James and John had different callings. However, each follower of Christ in the New Testament, regardless of his or her calling, was intended to take up the mantle of proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth. That’s the reason why He gave each of them His Spirit and why He gave them all the same plan: ‘make disciples of all nations.’
– Excerpt from “Radical”

   by David Platt

————

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
James 4:17

I implore you,

Trust ♔ Jesus!

GOD’S RESPONSE TO OUR DOUBTS

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GOD’S RESPONSE TO OUR DOUBTS

Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The LORD said to him, *”Who gave human beings their mouths?*

Exodus 4:10-11

————

Four years ago I had to complete the licensing process all over again from the beginning. In my previous life before faith in Christ, I had made a number of poor decisions regarding it that were in dire need of redemption.

As I prayerfully leaned on the Lord to work these things out in me, I had finally got to the day when I was set to complete my G test.

Looking for some sort of encouragement in God’s Word, I sought Him and came across this verse above in Exodus chapter 4.

I was sort’ve puzzled at first at how such a Word could be relevant for my driving test, but instead of rejecting it, I simply nestled it away into the quiet meditation of my heart as I went about my day.

When the driving examiner approached the car, she looked angry and annoyed. As we began the test, her demeanor was exemplified in her attitude. Short razor-sharp remarks followed a darkened seriousness and a strict focus.

The entire test was made up of her criticisms; pointing out driving errors and writing on my examination paper.

A moment of despair crept in as I imagined already failing the test and bracing myself to receive that news when all of a sudden the Word God spoke to me earlier that morning came bubbling up in my Spirit…

*”Who gave human beings their mouths?”*

I immediately realized that God was once again using this every day situation to demonstrate to me His *Sovereign* rule over *all* His creation.

Joy began to replace those brief thoughts of despair, and peace flooded my soul as I dared to believe that God had brought me this far and was going to complete the work He had begun regardless of what anyone had to say about it! I smiled as her critiques intensified toward the ending of the examination.

Sure enough, we pulled back into the ministry as she completed the rest of her marking and then handed me the paper marked, “Pass!”

———–

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,

    for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Why should the nations say,

    “Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
    he does all that he pleases.
Psalm 115:1-3

———–

This event also reminded me of a passage in Scripture where God used the murderous plan of the High Priest to prophesy the very way Jesus would die. (John 11:49-50) Think about that for a second…

The Spirit of God spoke prophetically through Jesus’ enemies to declare his future destiny which he came to accomplish!

If then, God controls the outcome of His every spoken Word to us to ensure that His purposes alone come to pass, how much more could God then make the meaningless rant of those who oppose or speak against what we are led by the Spirit to accomplish come to nothing?

When I revisited the passage in Exodus, it actually broadens the scope of God’s Sovereign rule over His creation. It says:

———–

Then the LORD asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? *Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see?* Is it not I, the LORD?

Exodus 4:11

———–

As the enemy stands ready to assault us with doubts and despair when we judge the outcome of our life’s situations based on our present circumstances or by the misplaced opinions of others, take a deep breath and remind yourself in these very moments Who is *actually*  in control of your life and purposes it for His good pleasure.

Whether it’s a matter of a simple driving examination, or leading two and half million people out of captivity, I encourage you to make a choice to believe by faith.

I implore you,

Trust ♔ Jesus!

What’s Our Purpose? 

WHAT’S OUR PURPOSE?

You, however, know all about my:
– teaching,
– my way of life,
– *my PURPOSE,*
– faith,
– patience,
– love,
– endurance,
– persecutions,
– sufferings
what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.
*2 Timothy 3:10-11*

———-

I came across this Word tonight in Scripture: “purpose,” and began to consider to myself what the Apostle Paul’s *purpose* might’ve been. I mean, I can make a number of well founded inferences based on how he lived his life, about the faith he professed, about how he spent his time serving others and so forth, but I wondered if it was possible to have assumed more or less of what the actual thought was that he had in mind at the very moment when he penned this letter to his young protégé Timothy.

I decided then, to look up the Word in its original Greek to see if it might lend any revelation and insight, but what I stumbled upon was more profound than I would’ve imagined.

It turns out that the Greek Word that he specifically used here for ‘purpose’ is the same Greek Word used for “Showbread.”

———–

PURPOSE (Gr. Prothesis)
a setting forth, the show-bread; predetermination, purpose.

———–

If you remember well, the showbread in the Old Testament was one of the key articles of the Tabernacle that was to constantly remain in the presence of the Lord in the Holy place.

When we consider the spiritual significance of this Old Testament symbol in light of our New Testament faith, we could faithfully posit that the Apostle Paul could be saying:

“you saw how I lived as if *always in the presence of God Himself* no matter where I went – follow my example”

OR

“You witnessed how I consecrated myself to the Lord. Do likewise.”

What if we expected to meet with and encounter God in the coffee shops, the barbershop/salons, the grocery stores, book stores, the dinner table, the short and long drives, the gym, work and school, and everywhere else we might travel day to day – in the same way that we expected to meet with Him in the sanctuary?

The Holy Spirit was revealing through Paul to his young protégé Timothy that the secret of living out faith in keeping with our God ordained purpose was accomplished by being *ever aware that God is always present with us* in all we do.

This week, I ask God to open our eyes to see all the different ways that He is at work in our daily activities, and that our faith would be encouraged to believe and step out to act when called upon to do so!

———-

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
*Hebrews 11:6*

*Trust ♔ Jesus!*

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Are You A Moon, Or A Son?

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ARE YOU A MOON OR A SON?

 

 

From the Old Testament to the New, there is a major paradigm-shift taking place in our identities that our churches are still struggling to fully comprehend today. Call it an ‘identity crisis.’ You can identify this because you’ll hear things being said like:

 

“You are called to be moons, reflecting the light of the sun, (or ‘Son’)”

 

And this might seem really encouraging to you if you haven’t wrestled through major doctrines like ‘positional righteousness’ before. But truly this was the same perspective that Old Testament patriarchs like David held as they prayed:

 

———-

 

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine ‘upon’ us
Psalm 67:1

 

———–

 

No doubt God’s ‘face shining upon us’ could be speaking metaphorically for God’s favour, but I’m using it as an example to convey a truth about where we stood positionally with God *prior* to Jesus coming 2000 years ago.

 

In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God could not come to live *inside* of a person, the Spirit could only come ‘upon’ a person at varying times – empowering them to carry out the will of God; give supernatural wisdom or strength; cause to prophesy of future events, and perform miracles, signs and wonders.

 

But *after* the sacrifice of Jesus was completed on the cross, for the first time since the Garden of Eden a positional change took place for every believer by faith – the very Spirit of God could now dwell *’in’* a person, in which case, man was no longer ‘reflecting’ God’s light, but had *become* the very lamp of the Lord.

 

———-

 

Consider the words of Jesus himself:

 

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

 

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

 

———-

 

The promises of the New Covenant are far greater than anything that could be experienced in the Old – as miraculous as they were. But being so accustomed to the old religious systems and ways of thinking, in many ways the early Church (and we along with them) struggled to understanding what we have been welcomed into through the Gospel, and all that makes God’s immeasurable ‘grace’ toward us so wonderful and praiseworthy!

 

Imagine the scandal… The very Holy Spirit of God indwelling sinful human beings! The mere thought of that makes the religious man’s skin crawl.

 

But this was indeed the change that occurred which is why the Apostle Paul vehemently refuted every form of false teaching that ever so slightly even attempted to bring the New Testament Church believers under a yoke of ‘religiosity’ again, keeping them from understanding all that was now available to them in Christ as sons and daughters of the living God – whom God now *indwelled* by His Holy Spirit.

 

Which is why when the Church was falling into legalistic righteousness, Paul passionately penned the letter:

 

———–

 

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

 

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?

 

Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, (received by faith) are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? (Religious effort) 

 

Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain?

 

So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
Galatians 3:1-5

 

———

 

In other words, are we still living out our New Covenant relationship with God constantly hoping for Him to ‘shine upon us’ so that we may in turn reflect His light, but only if we keep a few laws and commandments a little bit better each day in hopes of not eclipsing our connection to Him?

 

Or will we realize that His light has been made to dwell *within us,* rescuing us from the kingdom of darkness and transferring us into the Kingdom of His Son as we are being made into the very image of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God? (Col 1:3, Rom 8:29)

 

In fact, one might add that even all ‘correction’ and ‘conviction’ is also the fruit of this un-severed relationship we now share with God at all times. For a Father only corrects those He acknowledges as His children. (Heb. 12:5-6)

 

It may seem like a trivial thing to the undiscerning, but the effects of misunderstanding this can be monumental. Which is funny, because using the celestial bodies to confer our misunderstanding of identity is indicative of the greatness of its implications.

 

It’s the difference between a moon – that has no real light of its own, desperately seeking out light outside of itself in order to reflect its shine;

 

And a Son – who experiences perfected relationship with his Heavenly Father at all times, even when he doesn’t feel like he always perfectly measures up.

 

 

So I implore you,

Dig deeper…

 

 

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!