Kit and Caboodle

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Kit and Caboodle

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17 (ESV)

If this verse only ended with”visible and invisible” but no it doesn’t. It goes right on to claim ownership of the kit and caboodle.  I am not able to manipulate the words in these verses and turn it into something other than what it says. God is taking responsibility for all things that exist.  Which is only logical if you accept what it says in verse 16, or in Genesis 1:1.

Now we can get into a philosophical discussion on cause and affect about the genesis of evil and attempt to place it at God’s feet. Thereby accusing him for all the evil in the world. After all, he does take responsibility for everything that’s been created. Except for taking responsibility for something is not the same as saying I am the creator of the thing. 

 

For instance, if your child goes out and performs acts of violence as in “Son of Sam” his parents must take responsibility for him but not for his actions. You might argue that the parents are responsible because they bore and raised him. The reality is that at some point you can not continue to blame the parents. The blame is solely on the perpetrator, it is on the child who decided of his own accord to be violent.  Likewise, God is responsible for creating all things, but He is not responsible or to blame for the choices we make. In the end, it is not Gods fault we sin. He created everything for His glory and our pleasure. We perverted that intent of our own accord. By the corruption of perfection with sin, we turned perfection into principalities and powers of evil.  

“All things were created through him and for him.” If we accept all things were made by Him, why would have he created evil? All things were not just made by Him they were made through and for Him. So all things have there origin Him, and He is perfect as the bible claims. It is impossible for perfection to come from imperfection as it is impossible for imperfection to come from perfection. Sin was introduced into the world through choice resulting in the corruption of perfection. Evil came into being not because God created it but because He gave man a choice. Man made a choice, and the choice man made lead to evil.  

God is responsible for creating the condition where a choice could be made.  We could have chosen perfection or imperfection. The choice we made had the inevitable consequence of evil. God is still offering us the same choice pick Him and live in eternal perfection, i.e., sinless perfection. Or choose imperfection, i.e., sin which leads to inevitable self-destruction. Whichever choice you make whether perfection or imperfection it will not be Gods fault it will be your choice and hence your fault.

If you choose perfection, evil can’t exist. If you choose to sin, evil is the prerequisite result.

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Same Jesus

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Same Jesus

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:11 NIV

This is an unusual moment. Jesus has been resurrected for 40 days and now before his disciples and the public he is ascending into heaven.  This event is so amazing. The only time in the history of mankind we see another realm of existence interact with our physical world.

It is our hope in the concrete form of our future.  It is the actualization of the totality Christianity. It is what we live and breathe for.  The resurrection and transformation of our lives to our permanent, eternal life.  Jesus is ascending into a different life. A different existence.

He is showing us what the future holds for us.  In this amazing moment, he leaves the audience captive. So much so that angels in human form have to address them and tell them what has happened. They pronounce or define what they have just seen. These two witnesses give humanity a hope that is not equaled anywhere in the world. He will return in the same way he left.

Christ will return. It is what separates Christianity from any other belief system in the world.  The subject of our hope and faith is actually coming back for us. He will return. This moment this occurrence is beyond the imaginings of anyone.  The risen savior of humanity has ascended to His home from where He came. He left us with a promise of His return and our reuniting with Him.

The really amazing thing is this we, those who believe in Him are the only ones with this hope. The rest of the world is hoping in what? There is no substance for their hope.  We have the substance of the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. We have the testimony of many an eyewitness. We have the fulfillment of prophecy. We have the witness of the Holy Spirit in us. We have a hope and faith In the one that defeated and conquered the grave.

“…….This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11 NIV

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Slavery

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Slavery

1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news.. Romans 1:1 

This word in any culture in the world has a negative connotation, but here it is describing the relationship between Christ and Paul the Apostle.  Paul himself wrote this book these are his words. We can only conclude that he is of his own free will aligning himself with Christ with a position and title of the slave.  Let that sink in a moment. 

It is allegorical in intent, or is it exactly how Paul wanted to be identified?  I think he intended it to be actual. I think he did not want it to be figurative but in every sense a reality. If you study the words and purpose of Jesus, you will find that he only has one intent. It is for the salvation of humanity. All of his actions were for the benefit of humanity. He never proposed violence. He never proposed evil. None of His actions could be construed as being harmful to His followers. Not a one of us has anything to fear from Jesus. He never intended harm for anyone that would follow Him. In fact, it is the exact opposite. His intent is for our salvation. If you understand the intent and purpose of Christ, you can begin to see how Paul desires to be a slave of Christ. 


Paul desires to identify himself as a slave not out of fear but because there is only an upside to this relationship.  Paul understands the provision of Christ. Not just in this life but in the life which is to come. He recognizes the sovereignty of Jesus.  He has experienced the depth of love Christ has for Him.  The word slave is the best word to use to describe a relationship in which you willfully and intentionally submit your will to God. 


In Paul’s times, it was possible to sell your self into slavery with the possibility of buying your way out of slavery.  Not that it was pleasurable by any means, but still you had the choice to sell your self and then pay your way out of slavery.  This is not the arrangement that Paul intends when he claims slavery as his position.  He intends to recognize the sovereignty and benevolence of God.  He understood that God had the very best for him in mind when God sent His son to die for him.  He understood and appreciated the best place to be was within the protected resource fill arms of God.

He knew that living as a slave to Christ meant that he would have the best life. 

He knew that being a slave to Christ was not a confining judgment it is a liberating, exciting purposeful loving fulling life of joy.

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A Magician He is Not

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A Magician He is Not

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians. 4: 19

This scripture and many others like it have been used to express that willingness of God to bless people.  It is often quoted out of context or out of ignorance. Often interpreted to mean that God will give us whatever we need or want regardless of the circumstances. Then when it doesn’t happen, we wonder about the veracity of this verse and others like it.  Is God really able to fulfill this promise? 

It is akin to the soldier in the midst of battle asking God to keep Him from injury while he engages in the fight to inflict harm on his enemy.  While his enemy is asking the same thing from the same God. What most people are asking for is for a magician to extricate them from their circumstance. They want to be freed, delivered from every undesirable situation without having to deal with the cause that brought them there. They want a free pass, and when they don’t get it they ask, where is God in all this? He is where He always is, where they put Him on the outside.  

For you to be blessed by God, you have to be in His will. Now, that is not a difficult thing. At least it is not a difficult thing to understand. Do what He has told you to do. How do I know what he wants me to do? Read the bible. Don’t be so thick-headed it is not about you. It is about God it has always been about God. It will always be about God. He allows us to be part of His kingdom but be assured of this He is the boss and always will be.  

To be blessed by God “according to his riches in glory” you must be part of His kingdom. Even then He is not a candy man. He is not going to give you the desires of your sinful heart. You must begin the process of transformation by the “renewing of your mind.” Renewing as in turning away from your sin and after the precepts of God. Then is when you will begin to see the blessings of God. The blessing of God is continual and never-ending but are also tied to our personal transformation into the image of Him.  To receive the blessing of God, you must be in a place where you can receive them. God does not bless those outside of His will. The blessing of God extends only to those that are called by His name. All appearance of blessing outside of the family of God will end in permanent separation from God. Regardless of how good it may appear and be confirmed by society. Without God, that apparent blessing may lead to permanent loss and separation from God.  

If you want to be blessed of God and receive all the blessings He has in store for you move into His will. Then be ready for a life of blessings, challenges, and victories.

 


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Four Words

Four Words

Last year about this time I participated in a fast my church had encouraged us to engage in. As I completed that fast, I felt the Lord shared with me four words. Expect, receive, glorify, repeat.

Expect

Means to expect something from God. It meant and means if we want to see God work in our lives we must expect Him to do something in our lives. A specific thing. Not something ambiguous and undefined.  Vague and unclear can’t be attributed to God.

Receive

It means we must receive what God wants to give us or do for us. If you don’t receive what God is giving you, then you can’t be blessed by Him.  Accept what He provides for you so you may accomplish what He has for you.

 

Glorify

Acknowledge that it is His doing that has brought you to where you are. Acknowledge publically not privately.  Let it be known that God has called you to the task and the success of that mission is dependant on His provision and not on your wisdom.

Repeat

Do the process again, expect from God, receive from God and Glorify God. Then repeat.

From last year to this year, the Lord has brought about the Faith Business Alliance. Which is responsible for the Faith Business Directory. Which is also responsible for the Aging With Grace Conference 2017 and the soon coming 2018 Conference. Which is also responsible for the Business Luncheons and Business After Hours.  As well as providing the “Essentials For a Startup, a class for new business owners.  While using all the monies collected from our activities to help fund the mission efforts of our church. Though my expectations were high last year and the Lord has exceeded my expectations. I am expecting more, receiving more so I can glorify God more. Then I will repeat.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 

EXPECT, RECEIVE, GLORIFY, REPEAT

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Time Limits

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Time Limits

12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: 1 Corinthians 12:1

Upon reading this verse, you are probably thinking I am going to write about spiritual gifts. Well yes and no. I am assuming you understand spiritual gifts are a given. Spiritual gifts are active and given by God to His people. The proof of the spiritual gifts given by God to His people is evident in the use of them not in the exposition of someone writing about them.   

This past Christmas I experienced the joy of watching my two-year grandchild play with all of her new gifts. It was the sheer pleasure watching her open an express her joy or displeasure at receiving a gift. She spent the day running from one gift to the other playing with them as long as her attention would allow. It’s been two weeks almost three since she received her gifts and some gifts have been regulated to the bottom of the toy box, and others are her constant companion. She prefers her blanket and her teddy bears or plush. She travels with her blanket and plush. I know, her mother knows, and the rest of the world knows that she would learn a great deal more about the world around her if she uses the other toys as well as her blanket and teddy bear.   

What are the gifts God has given you?  Has He given you crayons, a book, and robot, a microphone, a drum set, a dream? More importantly which one are you using?  Because God gives us spiritual gifts are we only supposed to use them in church only on church time? Only for those who are spiritual? Is there time limit, a location limit, a people limit.  Are we only to use the gifts of God on the people of God. For sure we are to share the gifts God has given to us to edify and uplift the church but is it only for the church?  

The gifts of God unlike the gifts given to my grandchild should become part of our DNA. They should be something we use on a continual basis. They should be what leads us in the direction of our lives. The positive figures of history are in the pages of history not for the mundane things in there lives but because they used the gifts they where given for the benefit of mankind. We know them for the exemplary use of there abilities not for anything else.  

We should be using the gifts God has given us at all times in all places for all situations. Jesus used the gifts He was given all the time in all places with all people.  And He said greater things than these you will do. With the gifts, God has given you, do for greater things.

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What Does it Look Like?

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What Does it Look Like?

37 Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37  

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 

When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, He answered with this verse.  There is no hidden meaning it is not a parable it is a direct answer to a direct question. What does loving God look like? How do you express your love for God and how is it evident to those around you. Love is not something that is kept in secret. It is something you want to tell everyone about or at least make it evident.

Think of all the ways you express love to your spouse your children, parents, siblings, friends. How do you show love to you God? It occurs to me that our love for God should be evident in the way we live. It is not about other people. Loving your neighbor is important, as the Bible says but loving God is on another level.  

God is the one that created you, gave you life, you exist because he thought you up. He loved you before you love Him. He created you for the singular purpose of loving you. His desire is for you to spend eternity with Him. He wants to care for you, protect you and supply your needs. Whats more He can do all of that.  He only wants to provide you with the best life you can live. Everything that is wonderful and glorious He wants for your life. Everything excellent and blissful is what He wants for you, and He has the capacity to supply it. He is not like us where we want the best for those we love but lack the resources to supply those needs.  

What have you invested to reciprocate that love? What time, effort’ money or service have you done or are doing to show God you love Him? If you love Him how do you express it?  We were created to love Him. That is our purpose. In this purpose resides the meaning of your life.  We spend all of our lives looking and desiring to be loved and all the while it has been right there in front of us.  Show God your love for Him, and you will find what you have searched for. It is said that God will meet us at the point of our need, our need is to love God.

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The Past

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The Past

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 

This famous and inspiring verse is used and quoted many times and rightly so, as it paints a picture of perseverance and steadfastness we all need to employ in our lives.  As I get older, I find I have not really forgotten some of the things of the past. 

Forgetting things of the past is not as easy as putting them away in some long-lost abyss in the mind.  Or covering them up with new more pleasurable memories and enjoyable activities. It actually requires that you bring them to the fore of your consciousness and deal with them.  It means not to turn your back on the hurt and pain of a memory or occurrence. It actually means  to bring it with full intent to your immediate and single-minded attention and laying it before God and saying, God here it is help me to forgive and forget.  It is not a time to place blame assign guilt or in some way push it off on someone else. It is time to bring that hurt before God and ask, heal me and release me. It is time for you to come naked before the Lord and ask for his redemptive power to work in your life. 

 

He is the only one that can release you from the past which will allow you to push forward toward the prize. When you bring your hurts, painful memories, failures, disappointments before God and permit Him to be God, you will experience a personal freedom that can not be obtained by human means.  You don’t have to wait for years to deal with the issues that are chains around your neck. You can deal with them with God at the time of the hurt, and He will heal you. Yes, there will be a time of healing but once completed you will be able to move forward toward the goal. 

 

What denies you the future victory in your journey of life is not what assails you from the outside nearly as much as what binds you from the inside. The fears that are causing you to shrink back from what God has called you to do are the obstacles that keep you from the prize He has made available to you.  You do not need to conquer your fear you need to be healed from whatever caused the fear.  By bringing your life before God He can heal you, then you can forget those things which are behind and press forward toward the goal He has set for you. Forgetting things of the past requires you to bring those things before God your healer and allowing Him to do what He does.

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Celebration

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Celebration

31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 (ESV)

Sometimes you have to read between the lines. After God completes His creation, He stands backs takes it all in and declares “it was very good.” For most of us today we miss the full implication of what this means. We move immediately from one sentence to the next without really appreciating the first sentence. 

I make custom furniture for a living, and the businessman in me is continually thinking about how can I do this better how can I do it faster how can I make my business more efficient.  I’ve been making furniture for a long time so much of it is first nature to me, meaning I don’t have to spend to much time thinking about how, it is almost automatic.  I always inspect my work with a critical eye trying to find ways to improve the product. However, every once in a while I complete a piece I look at it and realize it is good. Not that the others aren’t but this piece turned out as perfect as I could get it and in those moments I want to celebrate that achievement.   

When I read “and behold, it was very good” in my mind’s eye I see a celebration of untethered proportions.  I mean all of creation is standing cheering marveling at the greatness of God. All of existence is in awe of what he has done. Everything that existed before creation is celebrating with and for God at this moment. This is a stop the press moment. This is the moment of the unveiling of a magnificent achievement, and all existence is in one accord celebrating with God His wondrous creation.   

When was the last time you stop became still and looked at what God has done in your life? Have you had that stop the press moment? When you stand still looked at your life and come to the realization it is very good? That moment in which you appreciate how God has changed your life and your life is good it is better than its ever been. The outlook is better today than it was yesterday and not because of the economy, health, job or love but because the God of the universe has become part of your life and in Him exists all that is good.  In him, you have known and will know joy unspeakable and full of glory. With Him comes the victory that cannot be obtained in any other way.  

Have you come to understand what I am writing with the complete knowledge that the world can’t comprehend what I am saying. Because they live in a defeated, hopeless, pointless world and the language that I speak can only be understood by those who know God. Yes, it is English but if you don’t know. Him you can’t know what is good.  They can’t know what you know because to know what you know you must have the spirit of God in you. There does not exist a translator for His Spirit. The spirit of God in you is what will bring you to the liberty of God where the goodness of God exists. 

If you have never had that moment, I implore you to stop look at your life, and you will marvel and celebrate and with unfettered restraint. You will thank God for all he has done in your life. In Psalms it says,

10 “Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

If you become still and realize He is God you will know He is very good.

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In The World Part Two

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In The World Part Two

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. John 17:14-15

“You should keep them from the evil, this is an interesting statement or request. Jesus is asking God to protect us. To keep us from being defeated by the devil. You have to ask yourself why He would make such a request? Why do we need to be protected?

He is asking out of experience. He was hated, abused, ridiculed and had experienced the hate we would know. The reason he makes this request is that he knows if we follow him we will suffer. He knows that the world will reject us as they rejected him. So he asked for our protection, not that we will be protected to the point where we are unaffected. He asked that we are protected while we’re being hated and ostracized. Jesus was hated because he challenged the status quo. He introduced a new covenant. And he asks us his followers to maintain the same Covenant. By doing so, he became an irritant to the powers-that-be. If we are to follow him and do what he did, we will be hated and opposed as he was.

If you are a Christian, you will be an irritant because you are in opposition to the status quo. We want to be accepted. We want our beliefs and our actions to be received by society without conflict. We want everything that we do to be recognized and welcomed. But we forget how we were before we became Christians. We were anti-Jesus Christ. We had no interest in Christian values, faith, belief or authority. We were self-centered and only interested in our own desires. We believed we were entitled to do whatever we chose.

We would like Christianity to be a very neat conflict-free existence where we could live peaceably, favorably and orderly. The peace, favor, and order we receive comes from God.  It is foolish for us to think that we will have peace in this world. We are at odds with this world. We are at odds with sin. Our opposition to sin puts us at odds with society. We must realize that though we are in the world, we don’t belong to this world. As such we will always be in opposition to the secular world. That is why Jesus Christ prayed that we would be protected. Because we will always be in conflict with the world.

Though he was rejected, hated abused and humiliated He overcame the world. Through His victory, we will also overcome the world.   As joint heirs with Jesus Christ we have the assurance of our resurrection through Him.

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