Meet Jesus : Life’s Flavoring Matthew 5:13

meetjesussaltyMatthew 5: 13: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.15: Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Be Salty: Jesus is a challenge to my life. Meeting Him in the early morning hours means letting Him prod into parts of my life that sometimes I would rather hide. But I know His salt is good and will flavor my life. I know His light is kind and will dispel darkness in my life. Then I become the salt. Then I become the light of Jesus.a

Calling someone salty is not always a compliment.  It is a term used to describe a somewhat irritating person with a lean toward sarcasm.  That is not the saltiness for us.  We need savory salt.  The kind that makes a person want more not less.

Shiny Shoes: As I shined my shoes for tomorrow, it reminded me of an encounter on the streets of Chicago.  A street vendor came up and buffed my shoes with some concoction.  None of that mattered.  It just mattered to me to look into his eyes and challenge him to a life more fully lived in Christ.  He talked about his upbringing and challenges of living on the streets with a yearning for more.  It was a simple conversation and his decisions are his to make.  Another vendor had attempted the same in New Orleans some time back, but I had no thought of challenging him at the time.  Sometimes, I wonder, “What is the difference?”  Why do I speak at one time and hold at another?  I’d like to think it is sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, but most times when I don’t speak it is sensitivity to the people around me.  My candle gets a bushel plopped on top.

ACT! Spread a little salt today. Talk about Jesus.  First, think about Him.  What is it that challenges your life that exists in His life?

PRAY! Holy Father of love and light. Flavor my life with Jesus today so that I might flavor the lives of others with Jesus. He is so precious, so kind, so alive.  So many times, I fail to acknowledge You to others.  So many times I put the bushel over the light.  Pierce through me so that salt can’t be masked.  Flow through me so that the light comes out through the cracks in my fearful bushel.  Teach me, Lord.  Let the salt of Your word embed in my makeup.

Meet Jesus: Mercied Matthew 5:7

Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, ….. 7: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

 Mercy interests me.  I need a lot of mercy.  All of us do.  So what is mercy?

Mercy is acceptance in spite of my pain and problems and persistent pressures.

Mercy is being received by others regardless.

Mercy is not receiving bad results from bad actions.

Mercy is having a friend I just offended do an act of kindness for me.

Mercy is having my punishment revoked and let go free.

Mercy is someone loving me even when I continually hurt them.

Mercy is good.  It is kind.  It is abundant in Jesus.  He is full of mercy.

When mercy comes to us through others around us, we want to give it back to them.   A merciful person receives mercy from others.

When mercy is held back in a needful situation, we are deeply wounded.  We can decide to respond with mercy and protect our soul.

A really painful act with no mercy was dumped on me last year.  Really, it has taken me many months of pain and speaking blessing and forgiveness over the offenders to even have a day with rest.  The pain of a merciless act can dig deep into our soul.  This one did.  I won’t recant the actions.  They were disloyal, unfaithful, dishonest, and lacked any small amount of mercy.

Yet, I can apply mercy.  It has taken much of my emotional investment and trust in God’s protection for the future of my family, but He is giving me the smile of mercy for these that were unmerciful.  My joy is more certain and more consistent.  The wound of a friend goes deep.  These were friends.  Really, they were friends turned sour.  An unmerciful act of an enemy is expected.  But, a friend of over a decade is not expected to act such a way.

The great news is that we can take from our storehouse of mercy received over life and apply to the ugliest of situations and offenses.  We can dispense mercy in the face of evil and keep the light in our countenance.  Mercy has power.  Mercy received or mercy given  is healing.

ACT!  Mercy is learned by example.  Who around you is always taking care of others even when others take advantage of them?  You think about it and wonder if the person is all connected upstairs.  Why do they keep putting themselves at such risk?  Go spend some time with that person.  Learn from them. 

PRAY!   Father, I hunger for my family to be complete in You.  That is my hunger.  I wish to see all my friends connected to Christ.  There will never be a total satisfaction in me, Father, until I see my community committed to living fully in You and by character and moral principles revealed in Your word.  Satisfy my soul, Lord.  Show me a way to advance the righteousness of the kingdom in my family and friends and community this week.  Don’t let me sit on the sidelines.  Launch me into action.

Meet Jesus: Inherit The Earth Matthew 5:5

What?  Inherit the earth?

“Meekness represents confident power self-controlled.  It does not put others down.  It considers the plight of all.”

Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, ….. 5: Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

 Inherit The Earth: What does it mean to inherit the earth?  The meek get to do it.  We can inherit money.  We can inherit a business.  We can inherit land.  What does it mean to inherit the earth?  Must we wait for someone to die?  What does it mean?

Meek Meek: Jesus was meek among meek.  Moses was declared the meekest man.  Both of these men were bold beyond measure.  Both were powerful with miracles and conflict surrounding them.  Both were directive and unashamed of their message.  Is that meek?  Yes.  Both allowed God to be their defender.  Both protected the dignity of the individual.  Both were full of kindness.  Meekness represents confident power self-controlled.  It does not put others down.  It considers the plight of all.  It demands correct response.  Meekness never puts the person above others in order to achieve a goal.  The meek rightly know who they are and act confidently and considerately to achieve Godly goals with compassion.

In This Life: These meek inherit the earth in this life.  There is no need for the death of anyone to inherit this earth.  When we meet Jesus, we receive great authority and power and call to task.  To move in meekness means to proceed to get our assignment done with all resources supplied.   The earth, the world system, submits to the meek.  The earth will comply for the meek.  Others move out of the way for a person of confidence on a mission.  Many will quickly give resources to them to steward, understanding a good return will be had.  They inherit the earth and all it has to give.

Head Scratcher: Blake scratched his head.  For the sixth time this week, someone called and offered him what he needed to arrange his meeting.  First a caterer called and asked if he had any needs.  They had a few dates open in April and would like to give him a discount to try them out.  The first date was the date of his meeting.  Second, he was at lunch and overhead a person waiting to be seated talking about their business of supplying meeting rooms.  He arranged with them for the date for half of his budget.  Then his sales assistant informed him she was starting a part-time personal printing service from home.  She agreed to help him design all the invitations and handouts in exchange for using the business name as a reference.  This was too easy.  He was confident from day one this was the right thing to do, but it seemed everyone was cheerfully willing to embrace the idea with him and help.

ACT!  Meek?  Do you know your own strength?  Do you know the strength of God that is with you? Are you submissively confident so that others can see?  The next time you approach someone about a decision you want them to make, believe in yourself and God’s ability to bring it to pass.  Then talk to them.  See what happens.

 PRAY!   Father, teach me the truth that it is not by my power or my might, but by Your Spirit that the task is accomplished.  Teach me that You own and the fruitfulness of the earth.  Teach me that You have equipped and accepted me to do what is ahead of me in the day.  Teach me that I don’t have to put myself forward, put others down, or force anything to happen.  Instill in me confident power exhibited with meekness.  Let me see this earth submit to Your will even as the angels in heaven respond to Your commands.  Thank You for being You.

Meet Jesus: Poor in Spirit Matthew 5:1

Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

 Poor by Choice: For Jesus, there is a route to blessing that is markedly different than our thoughts.  The poor in spirit are those who purposefully humble themselves in relation to God.  These are those that rightly discern their poverty in relation to a great God over all the earth.  They do not pursue arguing with God, because they acknowledge Him as above and themselves as below.  Jesus is that way.  He confirmed that He only said what His Father told Him and only did what His Father instructed in the gospel of John.  He was one that did not consider it something to grab hold and keep to be equal with God, but humbled Himself in relation to the Father and became a man.  He exampled poor in spirit for us to see.

 One Family’s Test:  A situation comes to mind as I ponder this scripture.  One family came to me rocked with enigmas. Questions about life and death and healing and answers to prayer were coming with forcefulness.  Like all of us they faced a reality they did not want to face. The person had died.  This mother of four had her life cut short.  How could God allow such a thing?   Why did He not do as we imagined and simply grant a request for healing here on earth?  Did the scripture not say we could have whatever we willed?  Surely God must do what we ask?

These are all valid questions that seem to have no answers.

 The second question posed stronger.  What did God want us to do today?  Regardless of our understanding or lack of understanding of the situation at hand, what did He want us to do now?  Now that this mother and grandmother was gone, what was to be our walk in the kingdom of heaven this day?   Do we quit praying and believing?  Do we continue in prayer?  If He did not heal here and now would He hear our prayers for peace of mind and acceptance of a life without our lifelong friend? On the flip side of the coin, could we experience more of His kingdom by giving Him the benefit of our doubt or by doubting His benefit?

 Answers: It is tough stuff, but the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit. Life requires us to relinquish our rights and demands and allow the wisdom and the hand of God to play out.  A heart of Jesus leads us to absorb the pains and confusions and admit we just don’t know all the answers, yet we will trust Him.  In the beginning of the new life with a loved one gone, this family chose to continue in trust with questions unanswered.  Sometimes that is all we can do.  It requires making a choice to be poor in spirit and large in faith.

 ACT!  Can you lay down your understanding and demands to find the newer will of God for your walk in the kingdom?  What does it take to become one poor in spirit and committed to His will being done on earth as it is in heaven, unquestioningly?  Test Him out.  Volunteer your ideas for His.

PRAY! God, You are God.  Me, I’m just me.  You are the greatest God of life and living.  The answers I don’t understand, You create.  Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts.  When I just about figure out life, You are bigger and greater than my wisdoms.   Teach me to obey.  Teach me to walk close to Your breathing.  Teach me to walk in Your ways even when I do not understand.  Then You will open new wisdoms for me.  Then You will open the windows of understanding on the other side of obedience.

Meet Jesus: Influencer Matthew 4:25

meetjesusinfluencerMatthew 4: 25: And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan

Today’s writers, students, and speakers on influence will tell you to work on your immediate circle of people.  From that, your circle will begin to grow.  Jesus’ circle moved with lightning speed.  In short time people were coming from miles away in every direction.  North, East, South, and West they came.  From outside Israel they came.  From inside Israel they came.  They came by foot mostly.  They crossed rivers.  They came.

Babs really did not know what to think of this day.  She started out at the coffee shop and met a pastor, who wanted to know what she thought about the recent changes in city government.  Then she bumped into a woman from a sister congregation that asked her to tell her friends about an upcoming seminar.  Later, some business associates asked her to join them for a round of golf.  The same day, the waitress at the restaurant just opened up and began to tell her about her needs at home and her stress in her marriage.  All of this seemed too much like a God day.  How interesting that He could give acceptance and influence among so many types of people.

ACT!  What boundary of thought will you cross today to meet Jesus?  Do it!

PRAY!  Father, people are willing to cross any boundary to get to Jesus.  His influence moves quickly when we expose Him and His love and His power.  Help me to show Jesus to my circle of friends today so that others will come.  Help me to just stretch out to those around me so that others will cross boundaries to get to the Jesus I have to offer them. 

Meet Jesus: Healer Matthew 4:23

meetjesushealerMatthew 4: 23: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

 If anything, Jesus is a healer.  When you connect with Him, you connect with solutions for sickness, peace for pain, and elimination of disease.  All of that stuff is decidedly a curse on us due to our sin condition.  Jesus came to remove the curse.  All descriptions, forms, and expressions of destruction flee in His presence.

Last year was another learning experience for me.  After six months of sickness, the Healer appeared.   Really, I was looking for Him not healing, when He came.

For six months, I had suffered acid reflux.  For six months, I had not slept a full night.  For six months, I had altered eating, resting, and other habits.  For six months, I had followed the doctor’s orders and taken my pills.  Nothing worked.

While going through scripture in my personal study, I noticed the condition was gone.  For four days, I had slept with no problems.  While looking for Him in the scripture instead of looking for healing, I had found both.  He removed my curse while looking to Him the author and finisher of my faith.

ACT!  What dis-ease has attached itself to you?  Name it.  Don’t be afraid.  He is present to heal. Give it to Him for solution.

 PRAY!  Father, all descriptions, forms, and expressions of destruction must flee in the presence of Your Incredible Son, Jesus.  Jesus, You are here.  You are my master, my Lord, my Savior, my soon coming King.  I submit myself and my dis-eases to the healing of Your presence.  Jesus, meet me in the chamber of healing.  Friend and brother, release me from my pain.

Meet Jesus: Sorting Matthew 4:12

meetjesussortMatthew 4: 12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali

Bad news can put a hard spin on life.  Each of us has places to go and things to do.  Jesus is no different.

John was Jesus’ cousin.  He was the first recorded to rejoice at the coming King.  He leapt in his mother’s womb when Mary approached for a visit.  No one knew Jesus was coming.  John knew.  That is an early praise.

John prepared people for the coming of Jesus.  He was ahead of Him getting the people ready.

News about John in prison was not good for Jesus.  Scripture doesn’t say why he went to Galilee.  Knowing the affinity Jesus had for John and the respect He had for him, it seems he needed time away to sort it out.  He went where it was quiet and familiar.  He went away.  He did not despair.  He did not become discouraged.  He met the news with an action plan.  He kept His confidence and went to people He knew.

This scripture coming up today is interesting.  All week I have been taking in good news in multiple areas.  Sometimes much good news can be as stressful as bad news.  Family, friends, work, community, and other areas have been full of blessed news.  The consulting business is prospering.  The work on fathering is prospering.  Many people want to meet and talk.  At the same time, this coming week, I have some time away to write and reflect.  I’ll be in my quiet spot at the lake.  It is timely to go sort out the news and make plans.  God is faithful.  He gives us space.

ACT!  Bad news?  Much good news?  How did you respond?  Did you respond with faith and joy in Christ?  Do you need time to sort out the next steps?  Let Him give you a respite.  He is faithful.  It may only be a few minutes or a few hours, but He is faithful.  He will not push you beyond His ability in you.

 PRAY!  Father, it is comforting to know You care so much for me.  In the middle of the tempest, You cover.  In the face of bad news, You allow a breath to come to take it in.  How can I thank You enough?  Help me to face every bad news with joy and confidence in Your provision.  Help me to absorb the punches of life with joy and family and friends.

 

Meet Jesus: Lord of Take Back Matthew 4:6

meetjesustakebackMatthew 4:6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. :7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 

Satan had trouble with meeting Jesus. His intent was to trick him and cause Him to slip. He met his match. He met the Lord, God.

Meeting Jesus means meeting the Lord, God. His is able and willing to deal with any situation. He is Lord.

Stuff trys to put us down.  Stuff trys to break our spirit.  Stuff trys to rob our joy.  Jesus is joy.   His kingdom is righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit.

With success after success, lately, Prince had defeat after defeat.  No one wanted to work with him.  They were envious and defeatist.  Somewhere from deep inside, he summoned up some joy.  “Good gracious”, he declared aloud.  “If no one will walk with me, then I will walk alone.  They can follow, can’t they?”  Those thoughts seemed good.  His smile came back.  He took charge of his life again.  He began to work out issues and others joined with him.  Sometimes you just have to rob the joy back to get going again.

ACT! Bow to the Lord. Give up. Meet Him on terms of surrender.

PRAY! Father, I give myself to the Lord, Jesus. He is Lord. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. I surrender to His love and mercy and Lordship.  I surrender to His joy that is unspeakable and full of glory.

Phil’s Other Home

Meet Jesus: Taken Matthew 4:5

meetjesustakenMatthew 4:Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

The fact that Jesus would allow himself to be taken anywhere by the devil astounds me.  What was going through His mind at those moments?  Here he was, led by His own Holy Spirit, to spend time with evil.   Here he was entering the beginning of His public ministry dealing with a defeatist devil.  Our present thinkers tell us to feel good and be happy and then minister.  Our present ideologies point to pleasure as the entry to ministry.  Jesus allowed himself to be taken into the presence of evil itself.  This was His entry point into public ministry.  He allowed testing.  He presented himself for inspection.  He was taken.

Pushed to the max, Jim was about to pop.  This was supposed to be his year to get the big promotion.  It began with pain.  Employees were livid with some decisions he had made.  Every emotion in him was twisted.  He had worked night and day and given himself totally on behalf of these.  They turned on him.  The year before, he had handled the torrents of accusations from a disturbed man.  The threats had been against these very employees that now turned on him.  For defending them, he now stood their accusations of being unfair and inequitable.  Was this how to start his big year?

He resigned himself to stand through the accusations.  He remembered that the name, Satan, really meant Accuser.  He remembered, Jesus had stood testing before His big year.  Surely, he could allow the Healer to live in and through him in this critical time.  “Father, forgive them”, he whispered, “They don’t know what they are doing.”

ACT! Testing is never fun.  When God has something big, He can allow life and, yes, even the devil a place to sort out our intentions and grace living.  Is there a place of testing in your life?  Is God preparing you, stabilizing you for the next big thing?  Submit to the test.  Let it prove you out.  Don’t fight.  Let God fight for you.  Take time to pray Psalm 35 and see what happens.

PRAY! Father, I am not my own defense.  When life and the enemy rise against me as a flood, You be the boat of my salvation.  Carry me away from that which is too strong for me.  Deliver me from the hand of my enemies.  Cause in me conviction to repent of those weaknesses in me that could have led to this situation.  Cause holiness to well up in me.  Cause me to crucify any flesh that needs changed.  Let these troubles be a directional that causes me to become closer to You in thought and word and deed.  Cause me to be more like You than ever before.  Then, in the next big thing, I will be able.  I will be founded.  I will be strengthened to do that to which You have called me.  I surrender myself to be taken.

Meet Jesus: Led of the Spirit Matthew 4:1

meetjesusfireMatthew 4: 1: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Interesting that Jesus, the Son of God, would be led by His own Spirit.  A man’s spirit is an incredibly powerful guiding force.  When we meet with Jesus, we meet with His Holy Spirit.  His Spirit becomes available to us to lead us and guide us.  His Spirit communes with our spirit to build us in the right direction.

The consistency of those led of the Spirit is born of the Spirit, Himself.  So often we can encounter like-hearted men and women, who seem to be thinking the same thoughts at the same time we do.  They are.  It is a connection born of God.  He brings us to the same place to make life move forward in His plan more rapidly.

A friend asked for prayer for Godly relationships and connections.  That strengthened me.  He has been struggling to step away from those that want him to go out and party and dance like he did before he met Christ.  He wants good, God connections.  That is an easy prayer for me.  To ask God to connect us with the right people is to ask God to be God.  His Spirit yearns to connect us that way.

ACT!  God is Spirit.  The separating force in us that distinguishes us from animals is our spirit created in His image.  Think on that for a minute.  Write down five aspects of you as a human that separates you from other forms of life.  Note that they are spiritual in nature.

 PRAY!  Father, let Your Holy Spirit of Jesus instruct me in the way I should go.  You showed me in Jesus that it is Your Holy Spirit that can guide me even in the hard times.  You showed me that it is Your Holy Spirit that will even ask me to do what I am unable to do without Him.  Keep me connected.