As I watch Orpheus, my Italian Greyhound eat his food I notice that he meticulously picks over the bits in order to eat the kibbles. I wonder if all dogs do this. He eventually goes back to eat the bits I suppose because he is either still hungry and realizes he’s not getting anything else until the bowl is empty, or he figures he may as well eat them since they are just sitting there. He doesn’t have the capacity to throw them out although on occasion he has spit the bits out onto the floor to which he later returns to eat. Now I don’t know which are the kibbles and which are the bits, but it’s the soft chewy ones that occasionally end up on the floor. Sometimes we treat life exactly like Orpheus treats his food. The things in life that we like we keep and other things in life we wish we could get rid of we often just toss aside and hope they just go away but they never do. Sooner or later we have to deal with it because somehow or another it is part of what sustain us. I suppose it’s important to remember that what God gives is always good. Sometimes it’s kibbles and other times it’s bits. Either way by God’s grace all of it has one purpose; God’s purpose. So, blessings to all and enjoy the weekend! Remember to go forth into the world thanking God for the kibbles and the bits, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee…He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. Luke 4:14-30
Even with our eyes wide open temptation has no beginning and no end in this world. Who among us has not wanted to give up, and surrender? The key is knowing to what you are giving up and surrendering. WWJD? Give up, the physical, and surrender to God. Captive, blind, and oppressed no more unless we choose to be. Boldly we must continue to chip away at the things which incarcerate our surroundings, cover our eyes and prevent us from moving in the direction God intends us to go. When Jesus left the wilderness, he went to the synagogue and claimed his purpose for the benefit of anyone who had ears to listen. To the glory of God, speak the Word and claim your purpose today. Don’t worry that some may want to “throw you off a cliff.” do your part and God will surely do his.
‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21
Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness…
Jesus first wilderness experience wasn’t his last. Every time he confronted the Pharisees in his journey to the cross he was physically and spiritually tested. Our journey will me much the same way. With that being said, how very important it is to know the Word of God in our lives. If Jesus hadn’t known do you think he would have jumped off that cliff? Occasionally in my physical youth I sometimes found myself following a destructive path and every single time my mother would say “If your friends told you to jump off a bridge would you do that too?” “Act like you know!” Well even in my spiritual youth, sometimes I acted like I didn’t know. Although I no longer have my mother’s voice, the same Spirit that guided her in my life is the same Spirit that leads me today. I hear it loud and clear. Whether we do something wrong or simply doesn’t make sense, when we make the choice to follow Christ, we have to learn to respond like we know, or we will jump off that cliff every single time. While in this journey we wont escape the testing but when we use God’s Word to guide us we don’t have to allow ourselves to fail.
Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Luke describes Jesus’ baptism as the Holy Spirit descending upon him in bodily form like a dove. In remembering my own baptism, while quite exhilarating, the only thing I felt was cool water rushing away from my body as I was pulled up out of the water. I could however, imagine what it was like for the many who came to John to be baptized. However, John himself admitted that this was just a physical outward experience representing the initiation of what will happen later on the inside, a change in how we understand ourselves as God’s own. As our thoughts begin to change, so will our actions. Although some of those actions have caused “Mountain top” as well as “Damascus” events in my life, I now realize that they were all part of the journey that I’ve taken since that “dip” in the water. Back then, I may not have seen the heavens open up or felt the Holy Spirit embrace me like the giant wings of a dove but what did open up was my heart making room for what John the Baptist promised would happen; the discerning of the Holy Spirit. To the glory of God, I’ve been changing ever since.
Luke 3:16 ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Born six months before his cousin, he seemed to come out of nowhere and yet had been everywhere. In fact he was all over the region for his time was now because soon, the one to come after him would be on the scene and his fifteen minutes of fame would be over. By all accounts his calling was worth the fifteen minutes and somebody had to do it. Somebody had to get this thing started. Salvation was at stake! There are times when the kind of passion in John the Baptist needs to be in us. If we choose to be silent when a voice needs to cry out, it doesn’t mean that God’s purpose wont manifest. It does mean that it might not manifest through us, an opportunity lost. Where is your wilderness? What’s really at stake in your life today? Remember the physical eventually passes away, but a spiritual legacy remains forever. So go ahead and speak out, for in Christ, even the smallest of voices plants a gospel seed.
Esther 4:4-17 “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”
Luke 3:1-14 Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
Mark 9:37 ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
In Jesus’ Palestine children were marginalized in that they had no power and certainly no authority. While the disciples are arguing about who is the greatest, Jesus is pretty much walking the green mile. He knows he is about to be put to death, essentially leaving the disciples behind to fend for themselves in this physical life. It is important for the disciples to understand that any power or authority they hope to receive will be tied to their relationships with the marginalized. Physically all of the disciples were that child at one time and now as disciples of Christ they must become that child again. Jesus became that child for us and now we must become that child for one another and for others and at all times be ready to serve because while on this earth, the power is in the service.
Mark 9:35 ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’
Proverbs 31:8-9 Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Acts 16:25-40 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
While in South Africa I met a man who had been a guard at Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years. While he was there he had gotten to know President Mandela and it was because of this relationship that the guard realized that he too was a prisoner of the apartheid system. Being an uneducated man, prison security was the only job he could get. He realized that this political prisoner wanted the same things and valued the same ideals for his country that he wanted for himself and his family. But, It was only in prison that he was even allowed to have any kind of relationship with a person of African descent. Outside of prison, the guard couldn’t risk defying the system because he had a family to feed. Some time after Mandela was released from prison the guard had an opportunity to meet with Mandela, and to his surprise remembered him with no disdain or bitterness and greeted him with a hug.
It was clear to Paul that when the prison doors opened and the chains were unfastened, Paul didn’t need to escape because he was already free. The jailer, on the other hand, was captive to a system that would have accepted his suicide as retribution for something of which he had no control. Paul being a Roman citizen knew this as well. Both Mandela’s and Paul’s actions helps us to understand that to be a prisoner of Christ is to be free to love.
John 12:20-26 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
It’s no mystery that there are times when something has to die in order for something different to emerge. By the same token, whether we like it or not, our birth creates change for someone or some situation. Yet throughout life we resist change for various reasons, but they all fall under one category, fear. We are afraid that we are going to lose something or that we will inherit something of which we are uncertain that we want. Of course I am not solely referring to physical death, but also things that simply need to end. This includes the things we want in our relationships. Jesus knew that his (physical) end was inevitable. He understood that with the separation of his body from the relationship he had with his disciples, was the expectation of the glorification of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit for all who believed. What might we be holding on to in our relationships that is keeping us or the other person from blossoming into the person God has called us to be or simply experiencing something greater that God has intended? How do we know when it is time to change? Perhaps when we begin to ask these questions is the beginning of knowing when change needs to take place.
Job 42:1-2 Then Job answered the Lord: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Acts 16:6-7 …having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them…
Don’t be discouraged when the direction in which you are trying to go is either interrupted or changed. Everyone is not going to be ready for what you have to offer. The spirit of Christ will reveal the direction in which you need to follow. The challenge is having the patience to listen so that we can hear what the spirit is saying. The Apostle Paul tried several times to preach in the province of Asia but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let him. While he rested it was revealed to Paul that the people of Macedonia were crying out for him and his disciples to come to them. Paul changed his course and it was this journey that led him to a group of women at the river eager to listen and become disciples of the risen Lord. In the same way that God opened the mind of Paul and the heart of Lydia and the other women at the river, he will open our heart and mind to hear him so that we will always know the way to go. We may not always know God’s vision but God always knows ours.
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ John 12:1-8
What might Judas have said had he been there when Abraham was ready to sacrifice his own son? This passage in John will throw you for a loop if you are not careful. Living is not always about the money and what we can and can not do with it. What is most important in our faith journey is where our heart lies. Money represents the physical world and although it carries with it external power and reward, it is useless in strengthening the spirit that desires to seek after God and be reconciled with him. There is a distinct difference in giving because we think that we will get something out of it as opposed to giving for the purpose of glorifying God. By all accounts, Judas was a desperate individual. We must take our cue from Mary and know that there is nothing more valuable than our relationship with Christ and learn to be willing to let go of our perceived needs and allow God to provide.
Matthew 6:25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
Genesis 22:13-14 ‘Abraham, Abraham!’…‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him;… And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’