God’s Degree of Difficulty

Easy Button

If you’ve ever watched or participated in a gymnastics competition, you are aware that every routine begins with a certain degree of difficulty which determines the maximum score which can be awarded.  For example, there has to be a certain skillset within the routine in order for the judges to award the competitor with a “10”.  As believers, we often place God in a box, sometimes unknowingly placing limitations on his ability due to our perception of the situation.   It’s very easy to say, “There is nothing too hard for God!”, in our best Christian face and tone. But we have a difficult time when the situation seems impossible to us.  It is almost as if God has to exert more energy to do some things rather  others which are a little less “difficult” to pull off.  The fact of the matter is,  God has no hard or easy button!  It’s all the same to Him.  Terms like “easy”, “hard” and “time” are all finite units of measure created for man. God is not limited at all!  His Word produces whatever is necessary for the situation or circumstance.  When there was no light, He spoke and there was.  He told water to produce fish and birds and it was so.  You know the scripture, “Is there anything too hard for God” Jer. 32:27 (paraphrased).  Whether it’s cancer or a headache; growing flowers or limbs on a maimed body; mending a broken heart or  a relationship; It’s not hard, it’s not easy; It’s all the same to Him. His word will produce by itself with any other external source, just as it did in the beginning. In Him is Life, and that life is the light of men (John 1:4).  The very fact that you may be walking through the valley of the shadow of “whatever” should encourage you. Why?  Because the very fact you can see the shadow means that light is present.  Focus on the light!  Light always dispels darkness. The two cannot occupy the same space.  So in good times, thank Him. In bad times, thank Him.  When he provides what you need or desire, thank Him; for the big and the small.  It’s all the same to Him.  And our praise for his provision should be the same as well.

Prayer:  “Lord remind me by your Spirit to give you just as much praise for the big as the small, and the easy as the hard, for you are God alone and it’s all the same to you.  In Jesus’ name  Amen!”

God’s Operation

Operation game1

If you’re young enough to remember this game, or even own one, you recall what fun you had playing “doctor” trying to carefully avoid the “ehhngggg!”  That sound meant you messed up.  Skillful, steady hands were necessary to do well.  We as believers more often than not, try to “operate” our own lives, only to find our best efforts are futile. Thank God for his grace!  The grace that saved us through faith in Jesus Christ always causes us to triumph!  But this happens spiritually before it ever manifests naturally.  The manifestation is directly tied to our belief system.

Colossians 2:11-12 King James Version (KJV)

11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

 

God uses circumcision in His chosen people, the Children of Israel to illustrate what He would accomplish through Christ in the spirit for every New Testament believer. Circumcision involved the cutting away of the foreskin of the male reproductive organ (flesh).  Once cut, the old flesh was discarded.  It was a sign of the covenant God had with His people. Once the flesh was discarded, no one went to try to sew it back on. It was thrown away.  So it is in the spirit when we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The person we used to be was cut away and discarded, and now God only sees us “in Christ”.  It is the revelation of how God sees us and bringing our thoughts in line with how He sees us that causes or actions to change.  Our job is to trust the “operation of God”, the master surgeon that has removed everything unlike Him from within us by His Spirit.  We must trust the finished work of Christ in spite of what our five physical senses reveal.  Every time we mess up, sin, miss the mark, etc., we keep trying to reattach that fleshly part of us that has been cut away.  Not only has it been cut away, but according to the scripture it (our old self) was buried with Christ in baptism and we are risen with Him though our faith in the operation of God. Our only job, though a difficult one, is to believe what God says about us in spite of what we or others see.

If we can trust natural doctors and take their word that the surgery performed was successful, how much more should we believe the finished work of Christ in us, the hope of glory!

 

Big Buts in the Bible

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

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

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent. 1Kings 5:4

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Ephes. 2: 4-5

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. Proverbs 10:12

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Romans 5:20

 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  Romans 8:9

Thank God for Buts!

 

 

 

 

Man Of Steel

“For by thee I have run though a troop; by my God have I leaped over a wall.”

2 Samuel 22:30

Superman

“Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s superman!

In the days of black and white television, Superman was one of the best shows around.  Millions enjoyed his heroics week after week, putting themselves in his shoes; imagining the possibilities of what it would be like to be the “man of steel.”

Thousands of years before the then modern-day Action Comic hero took to the airwaves, King David experienced similar feats of supernatural occurrences.  What he realized though, was that it was not his own power, but the power of God working through him causing him to do what he could not do before.  God placed His super on David’s natural abilities and the results were miraculous.  He killed the lion, he killed the bear, he killed Goliath; all because of the power of God and his belief in Him (and all this happened before Jesus!).

David had a relationship with God. Relationship builds trust. His trust and reliance on the Almighty God gave him bold confidence. His lessons learned from God taught him skill, steadiness in battle, and perseverance.  By the time he penned the book of II Samuel, God had delivered him again from yet another peril.  Saul had failed yet again to kill David, and the soon to be King of Israel, wrote a soliloquy lauding the favor God had bestowed upon him.

David knew he was God’s favorite son! Starting at verse 1, He sings the praises of his Rock, his fortress, his deliverer; then describes God’s actions towards anyone who threatens him. He eloquently shows how God’s anger is kindled so He comes down Himself to deliver David.  Who wouldn’t serve a God like that!

And since we are partakers of a better covenant, with better promises, how much more will God deliver us.  In fact, the blood of Jesus put us in an even better position that David.  We are seated with Christ in heavenly places!

Yes you are Superman/Superwoman, from another kingdom, living on Earth with super powers and abilities far beyond those of men without Christ;  Champion of the Gospel of Grace, Truth, and fighter against the forces of evil; walking by faith and not by sight!

Man Down!

Man Down

Being a former Marine (we never say Ex- Marine), one of the tenants of our creed is to never leave another Marine behind in battle.  I’m sure you may have heard that before, and usually it’s in the context of “men” in the heat of battle. There is a camaraderie and respect level between two soldiers that goes beyond race, creed, orientation, religion or other category.  It doesn’t even matter if you don’t particularly like the person in the foxhole with you.  Your life depends on them and their life depends on you. You protect each other, fight for one another, and as in many cases are prepared to give your life for your fellow comrades. What makes a man on instinct, throw his body on a grenade to protect his men, or face enemy fire to rescue a fellow soldier?

An even greater question is this….In the context of marriage, why is it so difficult for a man to go and rescue his wife when she is “down”?  You have been through so much together, but in moments of anger and frustration (fighting the enemy) he listens to the enemy and just leaves the weaker vessel out there.  I know his thought process. “Her mouth is not weak at all.  She knows just how to push my buttons and doesn’t really care what she says to me. If anything, I am the weak one because I will never win a war of words with her.”  So, his answer is to leave her alone, thinking that is what she wants.   Plus, it lets him off the hook and he waits until it’s safe to come out of his cocoon again.

I imagine many marriages have ended this way… In frustration and defeat. I imagine that there are many men who lost “the best thing that ever happened to them since Jesus” and now wonder how it happened.  She felt like he didn’t care and he felt like she didn’t understand his point of view.

God spoke four words to me a couple months ago and they have continued to resonate in my Spirit…. “Marriage is For Grown-ups!”…… Really Lord?  Duh!!  But it’s so true.  Men, I have some tough news for us…news that I didn’t want to face or acknowledge.  It lies within this verse….

 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.  Ephesians 5:25

I know, I know.  We’ve seen this verse many times.  But let’s look deeper.  We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church.  Well how did he prove his love?  He paid the ultimate price.  Jesus suffered ridicule, disdain, mistrust, harsh words, beatings, and ultimately death for his bride.  He’s not asking us to die literally, but we must be willing to go through enemy fire and not leave our best friend, comrade, lover, spouse, behind. She may tell you that she doesn’t need you, but if she didn’t you wouldn’t be there.  Man up!

Holy Communion

Growing up in the Baptist church, I remember the practice of Holy Communion.  I remember the Deacons dressed in black with white gloves and the Deaconesses (Deacons Wives) dressed in white. The  table containing the communion elements was covered by a white tablecloth meticulously prepared by those ladies in white. The congregation intrigued by what lied beneath or behind the table cloth once the preacher went behind the table to begin distributing the elements to be served by the deacons.  Holy Communion was and is held in high regard as a church ordinance, in as much as the table itself was set apart and reverenced.  You couldn’t lean on it, sit something on it, or anything.

I also remember the droves of people that came to church late on the first Sunday of each month, the traditional time set aside for Holy Communion, or stayed outside until after it was over because of this verse:

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

1Cor 11:27-30

This is probably one of the most misinterpreted passages in the Bible. On the surface, it seems to suggest that whoever participates in communion unworthy, or as we thought, with sin in their life, would be damned.  Nobody wants to be sick or die prematurely if they can prevent it.  Now, when one rightly divides the Word of Truth” and use a little common sense, the aforementioned application cannot be true. “For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God”.   Well, that disqualifies everybody, so it can’t mean that.

Paul was speaking to the mega church at Corinth who had turned Holy Communion into Sunday dinner at big Mama’s house.  They were not “properly discerning the Lord’s body”.  Think of it, all that Jesus went through, and they were using communion as a social event.  He said “This do in remembrance of me.”  Holy Communion is about re-connecting to what Jesus accomplished for us through his death, burial, and resurrection.  It’s remembering who we are in Him and recognizing the rights and privileges of being a believer. It’s about recognizing that “in Him” we live, move, and have our being. Examining yourself has nothing to do with looking at your behavior, but making sure you have the proper mindset and focus on the one who paid the price for all sin.

The ordinance of communion was never supposed to be about you.  That’s why it doesn’t matter what you have done.  It’s all about Jesus.  A revelation of who Jesus is, and who you are in Him, will change your behavior to conform to his image.

The Stuff That’s In You

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Romans 12: 2 KJV

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is so amazing.  How can something so plain, ugly, mundane, and unsightly as a caterpillar turn into such a beautiful creature as a butterfly?  All a caterpillar does is eat and eat and eat, until one day it just stops. Then it hangs itself upside down and spins itself into a cocoon.  No one can see what is going on inside that crystallized outer shell lined with silk, but transformation is taking place. Here’s brief overview of what is taking place inside the cocoon:

First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly or moth—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on. In some species, these imaginal discs remain dormant throughout the caterpillar’s life; in other species, the discs begin to take the shape of adult body parts even before the caterpillar forms a chrysalis or cocoon. Some caterpillars walk around with tiny rudimentary wings tucked inside their bodies, though you would never know it by looking at them.    

From the article “How Does a Caterpillar Turn into a Butterfly?   August 10, 2012|By Ferris Jabr< Scientific American Magazine

When we were born again, we were caterpillars that consumed everything in sight, until one day the Holy Spirit changed our hearts and we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  That moment, how ever amazingly significant in our lives, was not the apex of our existence, but actually marked the beginning. One of the things that stood out in the passage above is the  phrase “imaginal discs”.  The root word I immediately recognize is “image”.  We are created in the image and likeness of God and he put in us what He imagined for us to become.  Your purpose and destiny lies within you.  Satan wants to disrupt the growth process but He cannot as long as we remain in the precious silk  lined  cocoon (protection) of the Word of God.  For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you, He says (Jeremiah 29:11) ; thoughts of good and not of evil…

Others may not know it by looking at you. But just let them keep on looking. Let them watch God change you by his word from the inside out. Let them see what’s He placed in you before the foundation of the world. God will even use the mistakes you’ve made in the past for your good.  He knows all things so nothing you do surprises Him. What a mighty God we serve!  He can take the mess that is your life and transform it into the miracle of a butterfly!