Moldy Milk and a Stressed Out Honey

Honey Maid Graham CrackersWhen someone says milk and honey… I think honey maid graham crackers and milk… or chocolate milk… or ice cream! MM makes me hungry!

About 20 times in the Bible the Promised Land is referred to as a land flowing with milk and honey.

But I don’t think I ever remember hearing about moldy houses and leprosy in the Promised Land. In Leviticus 14:34 we read, “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mold (or leprosy) in a house..

WHAT?!! Seriously? So let’s review the Israelites story. They were oppressed so God sent 10 horrible plagues to release them from slavery. They were almost killed by the Egyptian army right before the waters of the Red Sea parted and they crossed through between intimidating walls of water about the height of the Sears Tower in Chicago. They thought they would starve in the desert but God provided manna every day. They thought they would die of thirst but water was provided out of rocks. Then, after their angry ancestors had died in the desert, it was time to enter the promised land. So the priests stood for at least 2 hours in the Jordan waiting for God to dry it up so they could cross, and they dug up rocks out of the riverbed as memorials, and then they were circumcised. To complete the journey they had to overtake the fortified cities like Jericho and defeat the giants like the Anakites!

And after overcoming 45 years of adversity, after their families had moved in and unpacked, and thrown away the moving boxes, they faced another challenge.   The husbands had to go tell their wives, “Honey, I’m sorry, this house has mold. We have to pack everything back up and move out for at least a week!”

The challenge for the Israelites was to remember how God had already provided.  They had to remember His deep love for them, like a father carrying a son (De 1:31).  They had to hold onto His desire to continue to be their Redeemer. Truly, as it says in Deuteronomy 6:11, they did live in houses filled with good things they did not provide. They were still exceedingly blessed, even with moldy milk and a stressed out honey! Do you see life’s hardness or God’s goodness in your circumstances this month? (Blog from September 15, 2014.)

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Day Away With God Resource

 

Thanks for committing time to seek the Lord.  Please find a place that inspires you and plan to spend time in solitude.  Just you, the Holy Spirit, a Bible, and a journal.  If you take your computer commit yourself to no surfing and no work.  The goal is to hear from God.

Please read Matthew 16:13-20.

Jesus asked His disciples “Who do you say that I am?” And then He said to Simon, “You are…” and He described what kind of person Peter would be and how he would function in the Kingdom.

Jesus cares about who we think He is.  And He cares about who we think we are.  He also wants us to have direction, guidance, and a clear sense of calling.  We are the church, the called out.  Who we are and what He calls us to transcends the circumstances we find ourselves in.  It’s also important we keep the boundaries in the right place.

As you spend time with Him please start a saved document entitled “Listening.Yr.Mo.Da.Location”.   Please ask Him these questions and then listen… just a Bible, a journal, and quiet…

  1. Who are You, Lord? -Mt 16:15-17
  • Which of Your attributes are important to me currently?

 

 

  1. Who am I, Lord? -Mt 16:18
  • Who have You created me to be?
  • What kind of son or daughter do YOU intend me to be? Our understanding of who He is will determine much of who He wants us to be as His sons and daugthers.
  • What kind of spouse do You want me to be?
  • What kind of parent do you want me to be?
  • What kind of professional do you want me to be?
  1. What am I to do, Lord? Where are we going?  Mt 16:19

 

  1. What are the boundaries, Lord? -Mt 16:20

 

Reasonableness of Reconciliation

Grand Canyon

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  1 Peter 2:2-3

In the United States, Christians are often stereotyped as being critical, condescending, and unreasonable. Is this what God intended for His disciples?  Often times among churchgoers, we watch resentments and unforgiveness grow into estrangements.  Is this what Jesus wants for His body?

I want to invite you to crave pure, spiritual milk.   The pure milk refers to the Word, that by it we are nourished to grow up in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus and His grace (2 Peter 3:18).  This word “spiritual” is fascinating to me.  It means literally that we apply God’s logic to become divinely reasonable.  Craving pure spiritual milk means we apply God’s logic to our everyday lives and in so doing become divinely reasonable.

First, pure, spiritual milk helps us to apply God’s logic.  As we grow in our faith we move from understanding the gospel literally to understanding it logically.  When I became a Christ follower in 1979, I understood literally that the wages of my sin was death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord, and I wanted that.  I understood it literally.  But over the years, as I apply God’s logic to my life and I study through the principles of the gospel, I’ve moved from understanding that I need a Savior to understanding that I am the chief of sinners.  My sin caused Christ to experience the pain of God’s wrath.  My sin caused Christ to experience more pain than anyone’s sin on earth has ever caused anyone else.  And so like Paul, I can agree with him in 1 Timothy 1:15: “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.”  When we apply God’s logic, we understand what our sin has cost Christ.  It creates a humility in us that as we’ve been forgiven much, we can love much.

Secondly, pure, spiritual milk creates a divine reasonableness in us.  To be reasonable is the ability to think through things and see across to the other side of a matter.   The Grand Canyon is up to 18 miles wide and over a mile deep. (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).  The rim to rim, top to bottom to top again hike is 23 miles long and takes most hikers two to three days to complete.  The Grand Canyon is a huge chasm.

To paint a picture of the reasonableness of God, I would point to Romans 5.  It says while we were sinners, living in darkness, while we were God enemies, while we were defiant toward Him, God was living in unapproachable light, perfect in holiness and sinlessness, and He was able to see across the chasm that separated us.  He, in unapproachable light, saw us in the darkness.  He, in perfect holiness and sinlessness saw me in my rebellion and sin.  He was able to see across to the other side – that’s what it is to be reasonable.  And He made a plan even while I was separated from Him to draw me back to Him through the death of His Son.  In Genesis it says we were created in the image of the Trinity.  Of the many ways we reflect His image, one of the things that we reflect is the ability to reason.  We are the only creation of God with the ability to reason.  However, when sin came into the world, in our sinful nature, our reasonableness was broken.  In my sinful nature I see everything through my own selfishness and my own pride.  I’m not willing to see beyond myself.  When I’m able to see God’s perspective, which is different from my sinful nature, my ability to reason is reawakened.  Our reasonableness grows as we crave the pure spiritual milk, applying God’s logic to think through things.  As we consider how great a work it was to reconcile the separation that was between us and God, we begin to consider how we can participate in reconciling others separated by a great distance.

Revelation 7:9 says heaven will be filled with people from every nation, tribe, people and language.  These are people different than me!  May we apply God’s logic to become divinely reasonable.  May we come to understand that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

May we have the divine reasonableness to participate in His reconciliation.

Dynamic, Fruitful Charisma 3, Corvettes and Caterpillars

Corvette L88 67 Renewed Restored

After being renewed and restored for 47 years, a $4,240 1967 Corvette L88 sold for $3.5 Million in 2014 at a Barrett-Jackson auction.  We place a high value on having things renewed and restored!

Genesis 1 says we were created in “Our image,” or the image of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  And because of sin, while still looking like Him (being able to walk and talk for example), we have been unable to adequately reflect His character in our sinful nature.  So God the Father sent Jesus as the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), and then following his death and resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit of Christ (Gal. 4:6, Rom. 8:9) to dwell in those who would believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord.  The Bible says that He is using every circumstance of our lives to “conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).”  Titus 3:5 says He regenerates or restores us to our original state, and He renews us, completely changing us for the better.  He restores us to being created in the image of God and renews us by completely conforming us into the image of Christ!

All this may seem mysterious and supernatural, and it is, but it’s also noticeable, specific, and measurable.  When the Holy Spirit’s fruitful and dynamic charisma is at work in a person’s life, the Bible teaches His fruit and gifts (charisma) will be evident.  In Galatians 5:22-23, the Bible teaches the Holy Spirit produces 9 fruits in a believer’s life:  they are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.  In 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 12:4, the Bible also teaches that we should not be uninformed of the variety of “charismas” of the Holy Spirit. You can read about these in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Cor. 12:7-11, 27-31 and 14:12, and Ephesians 4:7, 11-14.  Some of the charismas are service, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, mercy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, helps, and administration.

I have begun praying for the working of the everlasting, completely efficient, all powerful Holy Spirit in my life in nine areas…

  1. LOVING SHEPHERD

The Spirit’s fruit of love or agape simply means to prefer what God prefers.  It implies a steadfast goodwill or affection for His creation.

The Spirit’s charisma of shepherd means to care for the total wellbeing of a person or group.

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s loving shepherd makes us consistently forgiving so we may be like our Good Shepherd, not retaining our anger, but preferring to show steadfast love and goodwill for the whole team (Micah 7:18).

  1. JOYFUL MERCY

The Spirit’s fruit of joy means to be full of gladness, delight, or enthusiasm due to our awareness of God’s grace.  Literally we can sense Him kneeling or leaning toward us to rejoice over us.

The Spirit’s charisma of mercy means to communicate God’s covenant loyalty.

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s joyful mercy makes us remember that while we were still in sin, God was at work reconciling us to Himself through the death of His Son. So being in Christ, we experience God rejoicing over us with singing, and He makes us enthusiastically share with others the loyal mercies of God!

  1. PEACEFUL WISDOM

The Spirit’s fruit of peace means undisturbed serenity.

The Spirit’s charisma of wisdom literally means sophisticated interaction.

This dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s peaceful wisdom makes us pray regularly so we can consistently interact with others with undisturbed sophistication.

  1. PATIENT (Long-suffering) SERVICE

The Spirit’s fruit of patience means we are long-suffering or long-tempered.

The Spirit’s charisma of service means God births in us a persuasion creating a willing

attitude.

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s patient service makes us appreciate the

opportunities and people around us so we are long-suffering and continue with a willing attitude.

  1. KIND ADMINISTRATION

The Spirit’s fruit of kindness means having the integrity to do something helpful to meet real needs in God’s way in His timing, without harshness.

The Spirit’s charisma of administration means to steer or govern a ship at stormy seas to a safe harbor, bringing order to chaos.

This dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s kind administration makes us have the integrity to respond to chaos without harshness and help the team make it to a safe harbor.

  1. GOOD LEADERSHIP

The Spirit’s fruit of goodness means we have a moral excellence that resembles God’s.

The Spirit’s charisma of leadership means a well-established character and respected reputation which provides the needed model to inspire and influence others.

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s good leadership makes us have the kind of character that can keep us wherever His charisma takes us, so we can inspire and influence others toward Christ-like moral excellence.

  1. FAITHFUL FAITH

The Spirit’s fruit of faithfulness and the Spirit’s charisma of faith means a God-given persuasion or vision of His plan which leads us to confidently trust that He will come through.  The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers (1 John 5:4).  In Scripture, faith is God’s warranty, certifying that the revelation He birthed in us will come to pass (His way).

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s faithful faith makes us confidently hopeful.

  1. GENTLE ENCOURAGEMENT

The Spirit’s fruit of gentleness or meekness means expressing the power of God with

reserve and humility.

The Spirit’s charisma of encouragement means to call close beside to be a legal

advocate.

The fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s gentle encouragement makes us humble and strong

to cheerfully and gently advocate for, and comfort, others.

  1. SELF-CONTROLLED KNOWLEDGE

The Spirit’s fruit of self control or temperance means to have dominion from within for self mastery, creating a balanced or temperate disposition.

The Spirit’s charisma of knowledge means good doctrine, or having a biblical lifestyle gained from personal interaction with Christ and His Word.

The fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s temperate knowledge makes us repentant to change our minds and agree with God’s Word in our thoughts and attitudes, decisions, and actions.

 

A caterpillar needs 10 days inside the chrysalis (pupa) to be transformed into a monarch butterfly.   A 1967 Corvette L88 needed 47 years to be transformed into a $3.5 million collectors’ car.  How long does it take you and me to be transformed into the Spirit’s dynamic and fruitful charisma?  Maybe our transformation is more like trying to figure out how many licks does it takes to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?!!  The Scriptures promises the God of peace Himself will sanctify completely those who trust Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  He’s at work regenerating, renewing, and transforming us, because we have been predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ!  May you and I desire the dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Holy Spirit!

Dynamic, Fruitful Charisma 2, Cameras and Cars

NASCAR-OSS-inspection

In 2018, Nascar used 16 cameras and eight projectors to inspect each race car.  They look for any discrepancies or features that break the rules and give a driver an unfair advantage.

Jesus said in John 16:8, “And when (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness.”  The word concerning in this context means to go all around and be comprehensive.  The Holy Spirit gives the believer a full regard for his/her sin, or how often he/she misses the mark, and falls short of Jesus’ perfect holiness.  The Holy Spirit also gives the believer a full regard for his/her need to be made righteous in God’s sight.

The Holy Spirit makes us regard ourselves as sinners that are being saved.  We realize that we fall short (Rom. 3:23) in every comparison to the holiness of Christ.  Paul said in Romans 7:18, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”  I remember driving home after meeting with someone who had recently been released from prison.  He had assaulted minors and found forgiveness through Jesus while serving time.  As I drove home I had the thought, “Lord thank you that I have not done that.”  And I felt an almost physical slap on the back of my head and this thought, “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”  That sounded too close to the Pharisee’s prayer in Luke 18:11, “God, I thank you that I am not like others….”   I was reminded the Holy Spirit’s work in my life will instead cause me to pray, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).  Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15 that he was the worst of sinners.  Does that verse apply to us?  The next thought that came into my head was this, “Did that felon kill anybody?”  And I was reminded from 1 Peter 2:24 that my sin was placed on Jesus, and from Romans 4:25 that He was handed over to die because of my sins.  The reality is, friends, that if you have received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit will remind you that you killed God’s only Son.  Do you realize that if you’re still living, no one has hurt you as much as you’ve hurt Jesus?  And yet He forgives us.  The Holy Spirit works in each believer the humility to understand that his/her sin killed Christ, making each one the biggest sinner in the room.  We cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work of salvation in our lives when we daily regard ourselves as the chief of sinners.

The Holy Spirit also makes us regard ourselves as someone who is special to God, and is being sanctified.  We realize that as it says in Romans 15:16, He has made a way for the Gentiles to become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  The word to sanctify means to make holy, to consecrate, to regard as special or sacred.  God demonstrates the value He places on us when the Bible says we were redeemed or bought with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19), because we are God’s treasured possession (Deut. 7:6, 1 Peter 2:9), and precious to Him (Is. 43:4).  Our connection to Him through Christ makes us set apart, holy, sanctified.

In the Old Testament, the set apart, or holy, items in the tent of meeting were handled with special care.  The Lord told Moses and Aaron to train the sons of Kohath how to move the sacred things.  They had to cover them with porpoise or badger skins and a blue cloth.  They were not to look at them or touch them or they would die.  How much more are you and I special to the Lord!  If the temple curtain hadn’t torn in two at Jesus’ death, not only could we not come boldly to the throne of Christ through the blood of Jesus, but we couldn’t look at believers connected to the holiness of God.  We would all be covered by badger skins and blue cloths!

I had met with a Christian leader who had served very fruitfully for many years.  He acknowledged that somewhere along the way his sanctification had gone sideways.  What was at the bottom of his sin?  What speedbump had his sanctification hit?  Underneath it all, he had an inability to believe that he was special to God.  Over and over I hear how the inability to believe that we’re special to God and that He delights in us through Christ Jesus can cause sanctification to detour and we can find ourselves in a ditch of sin.  2 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”  If we are to cooperate with His sanctification in our lives we have to believe that He regards us as special.  1 Thessalonians 5:23 says that the God of peace Himself will sanctify us completely.  We are never more at peace that when we’re sure God regards us as special and is doing a good work in our lives.  If we can’t accept that, we will simply regard ourselves as hopeless sinners, repeating the cycle of repenting and then falling again.  Or we will struggle with self- righteous thoughts, living in judgement and blame of others, and not being able to acknowledge our sin each day, missing the peaceful process of sanctification.  Many Christians understand salvation, but I find far fewer know how to explain or cooperate with sanctification.

How does this play out in relationships?   Or in leadership?  Or with loved ones?  May we slow down our racing souls and bring them into the camera tent for a “Full Regard” checkup.  Do we regard ourselves as the chief of sinners?  Do we regard ourselves as special to the Lord?  If you believe you’re more special and those around you are bigger sinners, you’ll have many problems.  If you regard yourself as the greatest sinner in the room, and you communicate to others that they are as special to the Lord as you are, you will find your relationships experience the warmth and peace that reflects the image of the invisible God.  The more we cooperate with the process of sanctification in our lives, the more we will experience the dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Holy Spirit.  Next we’ll learn 9 specific characteristics of this fruitful charisma.

Dynamic, Fruitful Charisma 1, Diesels and Disney

Disney Diesel

In the world of pick-up trucks, the new diesel trucks are changing everything. They are generally considered to be the most fuel efficient, highest powered, longest lasting engines you can buy.   New diesel engines help trucks haul larger loads faster and farther on less fuel.  Having an efficient, high-powered, long lasting engine is a blessing.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is an everlasting, completely efficient, all powerful person.  He is everlasting because He is a deposit of the Father into a person’s life who trusts Jesus as their Savior and Lord, sealing them for eternal life in heaven.  To be efficient means to produce results with little or no waste.  The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is efficient, as there is no work of God that is ever wasted (1 Co 15:58, Isaiah 55:1, Jn 6:39, Jn 18:9).  The Holy Spirit is also the representative of God’s great power in a person’s life.  The Bible’s Greek word for power is dunamis or dynomis, and for those car guys out there, the Greek is noticeably close to the words Duramax (diesels) and Dynomax (exhausts). It’s also where the words dynomite and dynamic come from!  The Bible says this dynamic power is the same as the miraculous power exerted in Christ when the Father (Ro 6:4, Ga 1:1), the Son (Jn 2:19, Jn 10:18), and the Holy Spirit (1Pe 3:18, Ro 8:11), raised Him from the dead (Eph 1:19-20).  Romans 8:11 says, “If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.”  Thus the Holy spirit is an everlasting, completely efficient, and all powerful person, who lives inside every believer (Ac 2:42) of Christ.

My girls love to watch the Disney channel.  I think ever since 12-year-old Annette Funicello became a mousketeer in 1955, Disney has had a knack for finding high charisma kids.  Charisma is a compelling talent (or divinely conferred power) that can inspire devotion in others.  In 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 12:4, the Bible says we should not be uninformed of the “charisma” of the Holy Spirit. I regularly ask my kids while watching Disney with them, “Is it possible for someone without the Holy Spirit to have as much charisma as a believer?”  (Insert eye roll) They respond, “No dad!”

The Holy Spirit is our comforter (Jn 15:26), our conviction (Jn 16:8), and our competency or qualification (2 Co 3:6).  He is our sanctifier (Ro 15:16), our sufficiency (2 Co 3:5) and our serenity (Gal 5:22).  He is more dynamic than a Duramax, and has more charisma than Disney.  Next we’ll learn what His dynamic, fruitful charisma produces in a believer’s life.

Smile, You’re The Apple Of His Eye!

apple-of-my-eye1I had traveled alone, and after a 14 hour flight I had arrived in Shanghai.  I had no idea where I was going, so I followed the Americans through the airport trying to navigate strange signs.  I made it through fingerprinting… then immigration… then picked up my bags and passed screening.  Finally I came around the corner into a large group of people waiting, mostly short Asians.  And then I saw him!  My brother stood head and shoulder above the crowd, and he made sure that I knew he was excited to see me!  That was cool.  I’ll never forget the joy of seeing my brother on the other side of the world.

In Luke chapter two, “the angel said to (the shepherds), ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’”  They were learning that God loved them so much, He was sending His one and only Son (Jn 3:16) to be their Savior.  And while we celebrate how excited we are that Jesus came to us, we maybe overlook that the Christmas story is about our Heavenly Father working out His plan to reconcile us to Himself, so He can communicate to us how excited He is to see us and to be close to us again!

One of my friends sang his bride a love song at their wedding.  The guys were amazed he pulled it off.  The ladies seemed to think it was so sweet, the kind of thing every girl wishes someone would do for her.  The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”  The Bible is teaching us God sent Jesus at Christmas, to restore our relationship, so He could rejoice over us with gladness, and affirm His love for us by loudly singing us a love song!

When you picture God in your mind how is He looking at you?  Is He distant and unapproachable?  Is He stern and condescending?  Is He scowling and disapproving?  If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, the Bible portrays a very different image of Him.  In Psalm 147:11, He is the Father who delights in those who trust in Him.  He is pleased with, or He takes pleasure in, those who hope in His steadfast love.  The Numbers 6:25 blessing is that the Lord would “smile on you and be gracious to you!”

The Christmas story is good news that creates great joy.  I hope you spend time considering how much your Heavenly Father loves you in Christ Jesus.  And I hope you are satisfied with His steadfast love, so that you can rejoice and be glad all your days (Ps 90:14).  Be encouraged friends, and smile — you are the apple of His eye (Ps 17:8)!