The Bare Truth

IsaiahWhatever Adam and Eve wore when first entering the garden (Gen. 2:25) or Job wore when exiting his mother’s womb (Job 1:21), Isaiah walked around in Isaiah 20. In other words, God asked Isaiah to literally walk around without clothes and shoes for all to see…for three years!
Crazy, but why? Two reasons were given. One, it was to show what was going to happen to both Egypt and Cush when Assyria attacked them. And two, it exposed the fallacy of trusting those two peoples, rather than God Himself, for one’s physical protection.
People often ask God, “Why is this happening to me?” The answer at times is, “Does it matter?” I know that sounds harsh, but Isaiah might have thought so as well. Sometimes what happens in our lives has nothing to do with us. God could simply be using the life He already owns, ours, to teach others about Him.
If Jesus is truly Lord, does He not have the right to ask anything He wants of us, even if it sounds really crazy? Like Isaiah, Jesus did what He did, not because He deserved to be humiliated, but because God wanted to save others from humiliation.
Will we submit like Jesus did in Gethsemane so that we might live? What Jesus may ask of you might sound crazy, but it could be exactly what others need to find true life in Him.
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Exercising Faith is Scary!

stormy weatherI was thinking about Peter and his water walking experience. He was afraid. He thinks he saw a ghost, but heard Jesus’ voice. He ventures, “If it’s You, tell me to get out of the boat,” which is exactly what happened.
He was doing what Jesus told His disciples then and now to do, “Listen and follow Me.” Will it take faith to get out of our comfort zones, no matter how scary those comfort zones actually are? You bet it will.  Now, here is the crucial question. If you fail in the follow through of what you heard Jesus say, like Peter did, will you get out of the boat next time?
Two chapters later, Peter is out of the boat…again! Peter heard God tell Him who Jesus was, the Messiah (Matt. 16:17). When asked, he blurted it out. He heard God speak and acted on that intel.
You will get better at hearing the voice of God and then at getting out of the boat. Don’t waste time beating yourself up over past failures, no matter how that sinking feeling overwhelms you at times. Walking on water is wonderful. You get to be with Jesus and experience Him in ways the disciples before you did.
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Thankful Friday

cross-106416_1280I just read in Ezekiel where God’s presence left the Temple in Jerusalem, some years after the first group of Israelis were kicked out of the Land. Before God took off, however, King Manasseh put all kinds of garbage “in the temple of the LORD” to foreign gods, even an Asherah pole carved by human hands!
This had to tick God off; and yet, He stayed. Keep in mind, in 1 Samuel 4, God made Dagon, the Philistine god, bow down to Him. And yet, even through Judah’s darkest hours, God hung in there. What a picture of grace! God was being slimmed and He took it.
Now think about the current temple in which God resides, believers in Christ. Think about how much Jesus puts up with our antics. Our junk thoughts. Our purpose based goals and driven actions, even “Christian” ones. Our time fillers that leave no room for Jesus and His Word. (The Temple was so thrashed they had to “find the Book of the Law” buried under lots of junk!)
This perspective on grace should give you something to raise your voice in thanks about this Friday. Give thanks to the Father for the reality of Romans 8:37-39 where nothing, not even the junk in our lives, can separate us from His love. Thank the Spirit for sticking around through the stench of our garbage to remove those junk thoughts, words and actions. Thank Jesus, that despite our junk, He walks and talks with us. What a great God we have indeed. It’s time to thank Him for all He does for us, despite ourselves.
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Church Is Useless Without Christ

JesusDavid makes what looks like contradictory statements in Psalm 51:15-19. On the one hand he writes, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
It appears, at first glance, that animal sacrifices were unnecessary, even though God commanded them in Leviticus 1-6, but only the sacrifice of praise from a broken heart was.
Yet, David goes on to write, “Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will You delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.” Now God’s okay with sacrifices and burnt offerings. What’s going on?
God hates outward religion with no heart involvement! Going through the motions of making any sacrifice simply because it was the thing to do, wasn’t doing David or God any favors. David knew he needed his sins forgiven and religious acts in and of themselves couldn’t cover them. He needed his sins covered and praised God that He provided a way…sacrifice.
Simply put, going to church on Sunday is not earning you any brownie points with Jesus nor is going to weekly Bible studies; unless, you come recognizing that only Jesus can cover your past; and, come with a heart willing to be changed by the Spirit.
When you get sick and tired of playing church, you’re ready to become more like Jesus. Church services without Jesus have little value to either of you.
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yesYes, that’s a great idea. Go for it! We all know people like this. When asked for their opinion, they first think about what they think you want to hear; and then, will give you the answer they think want you want to hear, even if they believe or know it won’t be good for you. They are known by various names, some not so nice, but basically they’re known as yes men/women.
No, Jesus doesn’t need yes men or women. He wants us to be honest and transparent with Him, not because He needs it, but because we need it. Being honest with ourselves is the first step to seeing our lives changed into His image. He’s God. He can take how you honestly feel or think, even if it sounds unchristian to say!
Jesus does want yes men and women, though. He wants them to be real by telling Him what’s really going on in their hearts and minds. And, as He will always tell us what’s good for us, even if we don’t want to hear it, He then wants us to listen to and say “Yes” to follow what He says to do. His way of thinking when combined with a yes choice to follow Him will change your life for the better, even if you don’t think so at the moment.
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