Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 23 Philippians 2:22-24

Poli Sana! That's Swahili for "very sorry!" I've been reading but have not been waking up early enough to post before the ruckus starts! So....here we go

"...But Timothy's actions in all manner of life have proved his devotion and dedication to Jesus. He is so devoted to him because he understands Jesus' devotion to himself! See, he's acted like a bond-servant to us both; Jesus and me for the work of the Good News! I know he will bless you and if it is the Lords will I will send him to you to as soon as I can. I really believe God can take care of all this so that I will see you myself soon!"

Our lives are proof. It's not a sense of works righteous that says "you must do this for me!". But if someone honestly, gut-deep believes and has even a slight grasp on the message of the Cross, their lives are going to look radically different than the world.

I had a professor in Seminary say all the time "our salvation plays it's self out in the day-to-day tasks of the world; changing diapers, shopping, cleaning". Isn't this what Paul said in the beginning of this letter? Do everything without grumbling? So here we see Timmy whose life is proof that the Cross has penetrated his life.

The word used for his actions in serving Paul means that is once and for all a bonded slave to him, that he has been given his chance at freedom at the year of Jubilee and he said "No, I love my master I will not leave"

This is the dedication that the Lord needs, it's the one that was shown by the disciples who did not leave in the Upper Room (John 6:68), it was in the hearts of the women at the cross (Jn 19:25).

It is the dedication of the Lord Himself (Deut 31:6, Jos 1:5) This is the God who told us He is with us always even until the end of the age (Matt 28:20)

So, do you live out your day-to-day life as if God is in the midst of every action, or does the world bug you? Do you live it out as if the Lord has you there for a reason, or if it's just a pain. Are you bonded?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 20 Philippians 2:21...wanting nothing else!

"...everyone else is passionately driven and seriously strives for their own interests and advantage, not the desires of Jesus Christ in their lives or the lives of others!"

Paul uses very strong and concrete language throughout his letters. Very early on in my faith. I got the image of a little guy excitedly jumping up and down yelling "be like me, be like me!". Then someone would walk up to Paul, pat him on the shoulder and say, It's OK, calm down buddy! I've come to understand Paul's passion and zeal more and more....and this study has let me look at it afresh. Paul uniquely understands the Judgment and the Mercy. He was the pre-eminent Jew who encountered the resurrected Jesus. He met Mercy face to face and He told him to preach to the Gentiles.

"....everyone else is passionately driven and seriously strives"...here Paul is using concrete language like my two year old daughter does. Paul is speaking about all the teachers of the Law he had encountered. Remember he held a high position in the courts and had been given clearance to wipe out followers of The Way. He studied under the best of teachers, he knew the Meta-Narrative of God's people and he sat in the position of power. He was accusing himself and those who taught him. He's pointing the finger literally back at himself before his conversion.

"...passionately driven and seriously strives for..." the form of the Greek word used here is found in a number of places; Herod, after he heard that a King was born was filled with this level of self-interest. It led him to murder all male children born around the predicted time of his birth. Jesus tells His followers that they must seek after His kingdom and His righteous with this level of passion. They must forsake all other things, put down their lives and take up His cross. It is a call to a deep level of conviction, of pressing on and forsaking. How can this come about?

"...not those of Jesus Christ"... have you ever heard it said that God "cares more about our character than our comfort?" This is true in this world, but not in the next! God cares so much about our eternal comfort that He sent His only begotten Son to die in our stead! In this world there will be difficulties and trials and many of them will test our faith. Not test in the sense that God does nasty things to us to see if we hold on! That is the type of testing that Satan tried with Job. The testing of God strengthens our faith much like steel when it is heated. The interest of Jesus in our lives is that we should come to understand the faithful, loving mercy of the Father. As Jesus prayed in the garden "not my will, but yours" so we are to pray.

Do your prayers sound like that, or do your prayers sound like they are trying to manipulate the things that cause you grief in the outside world? Are you asking the Lord what it is you are to learn, for the patience to endure under the weight? Yes, the Father desires good things for Children, but are we the ones who determine what is good? Ask for the Lord to help and give the bread when you ask for it, not the stone!

How can we pray for the things we are ought to? By praying in the Spirit of God. Verse 2:20 uses one of the very first Greek words that ever captured my attention. The word is also used in 1 John 1:5. The word sounds like "ew-do-mia" and it means that there is not even the possibility of something to happen. It means there is absolutely no way, like light escaping a black hole. 1 John 1:5 reads then "In Jesus there is not even the possibility of Darkness to be"...this is the resurrected Jesus that has born and been purged of all sin. The resurrected mind that thinks only of the One sitting next to Him whom all the company of Heaven are worshiping. Now, we can't in this life obtain this level of single-mindedness but we are called to try. And when we blow it, the Loving God picks us up and fills our cup again because He is kind and merciful!

So...check your motivation...have you ever felt like a church hasn't been "feeding you?" ... are really saying "I want my God to fit my agenda" rather than "I want my God to assist me to fit His agenda?"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 21 Philippians 2:20

"...I have nobody else with me working for the Gospel who has the same heart and soul for you in Philippi. He is sincerely as concerned and interested for your spiritual and earthly needs as you are yourself!"

It's all about replication, do you see? This chapter focuses on how Jesus, by living a humble life under His Father is the example and power for Paul, who is the example and power to Timothy, who is to go to the fledgling church in Phillipi and be their example!

But in order to trust, to follow their lead, we need proof that the ones we are following has our best interest in mind, don't we? The leader needs to be completely devoid of any personal agenda or gain. Jesus proved his genuineness with the Cross. Moses did when he still led the people to the promised land after he was told he could not enter it (Duet 4:22). After he had been left for dead and had nothing to gain Joseph healed his families starving bodies and sin-sick souls (Gen 45 ff.)

Where are these leaders today? Where are the ones who have grasped the Servant Model of Leadership that Jesus calls us to? Has God stopped caring for His people? Has He stopped sending people to lead others back to Him?

Have we forgotten how much He cares for us? Have we forgotten how He provides everything for us? Have we put too much trust in our own abilities?

Timothy is said here to have the same concern for them as Paul did. The Greek understanding behind this word for concern is used throughout Scripture to point people away from their situation and to rely on God....don't worry about what you will eat (Matt. 6ff), don't worry about how you will defend yourself (Lk 12ff).

Do you have the same selfless love for others, more so than yourself? Now, don't go and sell all you have and give to the poor! Wait, didn't Jesus say to do that?! Yes, he did to a man who wanted to justify himself! He lacked one thing, and that was trust that God was his portion and provision!

Do you trust....have you really asked God to reveal His dedication to you in the Cross? Have you used God's dedication to you for personal gain, or has it released you from yourself to live for others?

...are you leading? Do you trust the scandal of the cross?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 20 Philippians 2:19...strength from strength

"...I continually and fully trust and ask the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One of God, to send Timothy to you quickly! He is a trusted ambassador to the faith that has been handed down to you and he will be able to test and prove your living out the call of God on your life. I pray that the Lord will answer this so that my urning to hear of your faith will cheer me as I suffer my trials and persecutions for the Gospel as well! My faith will be lifted by yours!"

Have you ever met someone whose faith caused you to desire to seek the Lord deeper? Have you ever met someone face-to-face with a trust and unwavering faith in the goodness and mercy of Jesus that they would put their all out for the Gospel?

We are supposed to live lives so that we will encourage each other on to run the race with strength and courage. Meet Anthony and his family. He is a lay-evangelist in the Tura region of Tabora, Tanzania. They are standing in front of their house which is in the middle of a dirt lot on the grounds of a cement factory. They are there to plant a church and reach the workers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Two weeks before I met these beautiful people they had been given an emergency food drop from the diocese because the crops had failed. They don't want to leave, they don't want it easy. All they want is Jesus...and for all those around them to experience His love and grace.

It's because of people like these that allow me to look at my life in perspective. If they trust the Lord and continue to follow Him in conditions like this, well I can press on a bit more!

Have you ever introduced someone to Jesus and run into them years later? What does it do to you when you see that they are chasing Jesus just as passionately?

Our lives are connected, we are one body. So run the race so as to encourage one another. If the person who first told you about the grace and mercy of God would come to your house today, would they be encouraged?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 19 Philippians 2:18

...just like me, you need to be pleased to do the same for the Gospel!

I woke up way to early this morning and couldn't get back to sleep, that is my excuse I guess for the video. Actually, I guess it's because I've got a group of friends that are trying to hash out what the Gospel is and to be honest it's kind of driving me nuts.

This is the Gospel and our response in dominos...Jesus fell to bring many of us back to the center with God. Then we go back out to do the same. If we hadn't been hit by the Jesus domino, we'd all be standing in the same place unable to get to the center.

This is why Paul is rejoicing today...happy falling people!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 18/19 Philippians 2:16/17

Hope you folks don't mind that I do a double post on Monday. I get up to read on Sunday morning but it's a bit of a rush to get the three and a half of us out the door by 8am!

(shine so that you may be seen as a rescued one of Christ! Why? )

...so that when Jesus returns to bring justice and judgement of the Day of the Lord I may make my Master proud that I have born fruit for His glory! Your holding firm to the Gospel you will have heard from me will be the proof! Even if I am called to so spend myself for the sake of your glory that it is if my lifes blood is poured out upon the sacrificial alter just like the bulls, rams, goats and birds were in the Temple, so be it! I will be glad and rejoice with all of you in the Kingdom after that! Philippians 2:16-17

I subscribe to a Christian magazine called Relevent. It's rather cutting edge and current, but I wouldn't call it trendy. It does a great job of looking at Christ in Culture, and I encourage all folks to at leaset look at it once. There is a small piece in it this month featuring a discussion with a man who used to play in a band called Korn. He looks like the kind of person you would run away from in an alley; long braided hair, body piercings, tatoos covering his body. He used to play in a band and live the lifstyle of those in The Darkness, now He is a Child of Light and is a Christian.

In the piece he talks about about being involved with a campain in Texas called "I am second". It focuses on proclaiming and living the reality that if we are God's, we are called to live selfless lives for others (does this theme seem familiar yet?) This guy litterally had to walk away from everything he ever knew. Sure, you might say he should have and horay for him and that would be true. But he left every bit of security he knew, everything that was familiar, all of the things that defined his identity. He left them all for the new one, the Risen One. It cost him his life.

Have you gotten to the point where you could look in the eyes of Jesus and say you would do the same?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 18 Philippians 2:15

(so live out the life in unity that you have been empowered to do through the sacrifice of Jesus)

2:15...in order that your outward appearance may be lived out like your inward reality; blameless and guiltless as far as evil is concerned in the eyes of God. You are adopted children of God, without any spot or blemish in the midst of countless people who are covered in blemishes. You shine like a man without pigment in the midst of a race of dark-skinned people!

This is why God saves and empowers His people. He loves all of His created and uses a type of "domino effect" to reach them all. This is in fact the understanding behind the verse "you shall do greater things than these!" As we die to ourselves and live for the Master we are like Jesus when he said a seed must die and fall to the earth...so that it will happen all over again.

The generation of eyewitness to Jesus as He walked physically on the earth is long past, we are to take up the mantle in a very real sense! We are new creations, temples of the Holy Spirit! Washed clean and made whiter than snow! When we live out this position we are seen as counter to the rest of society as a day-glow object in a darkroom where there is not even a hint of light!

And, just like that that day-glo object we have no light in and of ourselves. We are mearly radiating the light we have been exposed to. This is the Greek behind the word used for "shine". It is a passive shine, like the moon. The moon does not generate any light, it simply reflects the light from the sun. It shines only in the darkness when we cannot see the sun, but my how bright it is! I've love to be outside on huge full moon nights! I've actually climbed rocks and surfed during full moons! You can seen clearly in the darkness, so that even in the dark the Sun's glory is seen!

One last image; Have you ever heard of bio-luminescent algae? There is a natural chemical in them, like fireflies. When they are ruptured, they release their luminance. When you surf through a mass of these on a full moon night you can actually see a light trail of where you have been. It is amazing!

This is the thrust behind the passage today. We are illuminated by Jesus, no light of our own. As we live it out and offer up our lives in the darkness, they will see the light and where we have been. And, just like a moth will naturally seek out the light. The dark can see that we are not like them.

are you bright in the dark places or keeping the light to yourselves? What's keeping you dark?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 17 Philippians 2:14 (I don't wanna, but ya gotta!)

(so, try and live a life in accord with the Father as Jesus did. It will be impossible to do it to the same degree, but try! Life it out among yourselves. You are the pointers to what a life in community with the Lord is like!)
...so, in everything you do in life (yes folks, EVERYTHING!) you must do it completely divorced from petty behind-the-scenes-water-cooler-type-complaining or clever reasoning as to why you shouldn't do what you are being called to!

Back in seminary I had a friend named Claudia. She's an awesome woman of God with a gift of expressing the joy of Christ by her presence, even when she's having a tough day. We were in a preaching class together and our small group was working on how to preach the parables. We each took turns preaching to each other to gain feedback on how effectively we could communicate the truths in Scripture. She got up in front of us one night and began to preach on a passage calling the hearer to abandon everything to God...."and everything means EVERYTHING people! I looked it up in the Greek!" she exclaimed with her characteristic bright eyes and ear-to-ear-grin. There was no hint of anything but joy in her voice as she told us to leave it all behind.

And so Paul is doing the same to us in this passage. He's finished showing us the reason behind being humble: the newly defined way of discipleship as revealed through the actions of Jesus so as to prove to all corners of the universe that God has the final control. Now we are told to live it out and why. Our lives are to be an example to the rest of the world. Many times Christians will be the "only Jesus people will ever see". This can be frustrating! Often folks complain "I'm only human" or "I hate living life under a microscope!" but that's what's going to happen. Just as Paul says look at Jesus, Jesus says look at my people.

So Paul tells the Church to live out their salvation without complaining behind each others backs or petty reasoning. No compromise folks. We can't complain about the job, the driver in front of us, the government. AHHHHHHHH! Why? Because we are called to submit to the Father's will just like Jesus had. What happens in this world that is not under His will?

But Bryan, I hope some might say, aren't we called to test the spirits, help each other live accountable lives and beware of false prophets? Yes, we are. But we need to check out motivations at the door! Most times, if we are honest, we engage in self-justifying behavior just as the young man did in the parable of the Good Samaritan. We, life he did, want to justify ourselves, to prove our actions.

This passage clearly tells us that we can't but not to worry or try to justify ourselves. Can't. Cross did. So we can live it out without arguing or grumbling because God isn't justifying the world, He's redeeming it. So in the midst of it all, let God be God. Be still the Psalmist wrote. Be joyful in surrendering everything my friend pointed out, because Jesus did just that for us.

A final say here people: be merciful to yourself and full of grace on this one. Don't beat yourself up, but try your best. God's Word is a book about God being kind to the complainers! If you mess up go to the person and ask forgiveness of them and God. If you find yourself talking about people all the time go and reconcile to them or dig deep in yourself and ask if the problem isn't really with you. (most times it is)

Are there things you are talking about at the water cooler? Do people see you as a complainer or a truster? Are you really trusting or trying to appear like you are?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 16 Philippians 2:13 (Tootsie Pops and Sanctification)

(Every one will confess the Truth because of the Cross. So work out your salvation with fear and trembling when you are in the alone places of your life)

...Why? Because all that is happening to you and around you is under the control of God, remember? God is continuously working in you through the implanted Spirit. This is so you will be given the grace and power to desire and really want the things that are His will and purpose. These things are to to bring your salvation to completion! Don't fight it, it's His will!

I was sitting in a math class a half a billion years ago when the teacher (I don't even recall what grade it was) explained this theory of Greek thought called an asymptote. It suggests that if you travel toward a fixed point and continuously half the distance, you will never arrive at it...it's quite maddening really, especially to a young boy sitting in a math class.

There are few "problems" with the logic primarily that you have to never allow yourself to cheat in your imaginary walk over the next allotted "half distance". ..you walk five feet to an object ten feet away, then 2.5...and so on. Of course when total boredom sets in you just want to jump to the line and be done with it! Like with the old tootsie pop ad with the wise old owl.

This is what is happening to humans in this verse actually. God has implanted in us the Holy Spirit so that we would have the will and desire to continue to follow God's will in our lives. The ultimate goal is our sanctification, or becoming like the image of Christ. Since this image is ultimately unattainable (we can never be fully like Christ) we in effect are "halving the distance" to an point that is infinitely away! Ahhhhh! Since we have free will, we get bored and will never allow the God's desire and will to have it's way in and with us. We cheat and bite the Tootsie Pop...
God's desire is that we remain steadfast and under His will, just as Jesus did and not fight it (Romans 7:15). The mercy and grace is that He forgives us even when we cheat. His desire for us is that we finish the race and get to goal of sitting at the Throne of Grace forever enjoying the Father. Far better than the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, eh?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 15 Philippians 2:12

.....Now beloved children, rescued ones, live like rescued ones even when I'm not here! This is genuine faith! You are free, so live it with reverence and awe under the one who set you free!

This verse tends to upset, no, freak most evangelical Christians out. Why? They misundertand what the "work it out means". The theology is simple "your theological indicative (the position of being adopted and ingrafted to God through Jesus by His work and grace) demand an ethical emperative (now, you MUST live like the free adopted children of God!) We obey our parents, right? So why do people get so nuts when God askes you to do the same, right? It's not a "if you love me you will do this" but rather "because I love you will you do this". It's not "if you love you you would do this" but a "I see how much you love me i want to do this!"
This friends, is the whole power behind the cross. Watch the video. It nails it. For those who are new to blogs and videos, please turn your sound on and simply click the arrow in the center of the picture. And may the Holy Spirit convict you too of His mercy and grace

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 14 Philippians 2:11

(Jesus subjected Himself to humility under created order so that He would be exalted. By this action God's power has been revealed so that all powers of the heavens, earth and under earth will bow in submission...)

..and also every single created being (angels, demons, humans) will use their respective languages to openly declare and profess that this action has proven that Jesus is indeed the Savior, the Anointed One of God. This declaration is the final judgement and is the Goal of God the Father.

This verse expands upon the reason for the humility of Christ; to bring judgment and salvation, and to reveal God's position as King of All. The fact that every tongue will confess that Jesus is indeed God does not point to universal salvation but rather to ultimate judgement.

Judgment is a loaded word for humans. We see and feel behind it all of our perceived failings we have placed upon ourselves. We hear in it the biting words of those who have tried to elevate themselves by bringing us lower. We hear self-righteousness by those trying to gain their own sense of worth. It is used as a weapon in the hands of most humans, but in the hands of God it is meant for Glory.

How can this be? The judgment of God (Day of the Lord) will pronounce guilty the things that warred against His people as well as declare innocent those whom He has saved. The humility of Jesus proves that nothing can judge nor control Him. God and God alone has the power and say over all creation from the heavenly realms to the realm under the earth. As far as East is from West.

This is what was revealed to John when He was caught up in Heaven and given his revelation:
Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation..." This is the song sung by the four living creatures and the elders seated around Jesus in the Throne Room (see Revelation 5). These are the tongues of the Heavenly Beings indeed agreeing that Judgement has come through the cross, and that it brought both victory and defeat proving God's rightful position.

This Judgment which is indeed the Good News (we have been saved and can have access to the Father) is not just for the Second Coming but for today! This confession occurred even before the Resurrection in the river water with John the Baptizer when the Holy Spirit convicted of sin and righteousness. It fell upon the people after the Resurrection in Acts 19:18 when many confessed and repented of their evil deeds. It happens daily around the world and it should happen daily in our lives. This is what it means to die daily and take up our crosses.

After John the Baptizer pulled the confessing people from the cleansing waters, he admonished those on the banks to live lives (bear fruit) worthy of repentance. This was a call to jump in the water and claim the cleansing of Jesus.

Every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord. Some for good, some for not. If you are following Christ today, I beg you to take the time today and thank Him for defeating all of the forces that competed with Him against you. Thank Him for your freedom and salvation. Thank Him for giving you the good profession in your soul, for no one could have called Him Lord, Lord without the sacrifice of the One Holy Offering.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Board Meeting, in Bushnell Park

I would like to introduce you to a few of the Board Members of Restless Heart Ministries as well as some folks who assist with sorting of clothes in my basement, driving to peoples houses to offer prayers hope and furniture or raise money to buy nets in Tanzania;
In the red hood is Geri, our secretary who is a para for special need kids. The mitten around her shoulder belongs to her husband Moe who is a go-to-guy for pick ups and drop offs. The no-hat-crazy-man is Kevin. (it was 12 degrees F that day) He is a parishoner from New Hope Anglican Church and is using the time while he is looking for work after being laid off to serve the Lord. The guy in the center back is my dad, Tom. He's retired and in the past few months has gotten a broken heart for Jesus. He says it was the day that he helped pick up Angel Food and saw so many people struggling that God grabbed his heart. He and my mom (front right) are at my house every other week sorting or making drop offs. The tall guy in the back right is Hap. He handles or computer stuff and is great to bring along becuase he loves Jesus and is really big. That's his wife Nancy in the middle with the green scarf. She is really gifted at administration and like the rest of the members, is committed to loving Jesus and bringing His love to the ones who have fallen through the cracks. Bill, another board member was with us that day but left just before the pictures because he has really bad knees and the cold had brought a lot of pain. But he was there out of love for God.
We helped a friend in her ministry in Hartford that day make and distribute sandwiches to the homless guys in Bushnell Park. See, these people don't just sit on the board, they are always asking how they can serve, how they can get into the mix, how the Master could use thier hands. They are the hope that is poured out on the poor and broken, the healing Balm of Jesus, the one leper who returned to say thanks. And so is Pat, Barry and Ingrid (other board members) who could not make it that day.
So, as you pray for our ministry, pray for them.

Day 13 Philippians 2:10 all things are in judgment under Christ

(God exalted Him so that...)
when the title of Jesus is mentioned in the heavenly realms all the transcendent beings will assume a bowed posture in reverence and submission and when the title of Jesus in mentioned on the earth, all those beings that are opposite to the transcendent beings will assume a bowed posture as well, and even those who are apart from them both will do it too!

It is reversed, all of it, at least what we can see and understand in human terms. Jesus, the Anointed One of the Most High God redefined the way of discipleship as to "come and die" and so live. By following this trail to it's penultimate, Jesus placed His full trust and obedience to the Father. He cut the lifelines.

And God proved Himself to be faithful to His covenant to never leave. (Romans 14:11) As Jesus rose from the dead as the first fruit for those to come afterward judgment was passed so that all the powers that raged against God were proven defeated and they bowed in submission to the vanquishing King.

God's sovereignty reaches to every corner of the earth (Ps. 139), and with it He brings pardon and judgment. The grace and mercy we have received is that we are able to be in the heavenly realms with those bowed around the throne, as opposed to the defeated who bow not in humble adoration but in defeat.

What does this do to you? Do you understand the mercy and judgment? What has God's mercy and judgment done in your life?

Spend some time repeating this verse and ask the Lord to give you an understanding. Say it out loud to yourself, or at least move your lips. Actively seek God's will and word.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 12 Philippians 2:9

Because Jesus was able to selflessly make Himself void of all His glory by humbling Himself in such a way, God gave Him praise and commendation, not earthly praise, but Heavenly praise from beyond our realm, and gave Him the position and status above all things! And He signed this declaration by giving Him the name which is above all names!

Jesus alone could reduce Himself to the point of the lowest of lows. Why? Because He was in communion with the Triune God-Head in totality. This allowed Him to be able to fully make Himself void of any type of glory for He understood it was not His (something to be grasped), He could not hold onto it (it was given to Him) and that it was out of His control (all things had been given to Him by His Father).

When we try to follow we have so many barriers, don't we? We fall prey to low self-esteem. We pretend to be humble but then either use it as a club to beat the other person over the head with or use it as a badge of courage. We can't lower ourselves to the point we are called to simple because we are not Jesus.

But we are still called to try. Why do we do it? Because Jesus did and showed us we are to do it as well. And we follow because we are in love with Him and what He has done for us....and when trials come, and frustration and anger, the Holy Spirit is sent to aid our feeble attempts. And at the end our attempts we shall hear "well done, good and faithful servant"...not perfect and successful!

The lowly way, the way of the cross, this is the way of Jesus. There's a seminary in Kentucky that has a statue of Jesus in the garden that is looking down at an angle. The only way to see His face is to contort yourself in such a way that you are on your knees looking up.

This is the way of the cross. This is the only way to see Jesus. This is how we are to gain a piece of the exaltation and name.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 11 Philippians 2:8

Because He, Jesus, was able to selflessly put Himself in the position furthest from His nature (God/King to slave/servant) God the Father once and for all raised Him to the loftiest height that exists and freely gave Him commendation and honor for the great work that was accomplished. He defined Him, Jesus, the greatest created of all created...

I have been waking up most mornings to meditate, study and journal on this devotional reading through Philippians around four am. It's had a tremendous impact on my life, this simple act of putting aside rest to come into the presence of the Living God. I have a toddler in the house, and another one on the way, so part of this act is due to time, but I adore this early morning time. It reminds me of my days in seminary when I would wake up early and have a quite time before chapel and class. I made sure I did that so that my devotional time would never become a time of study, but time would remain time with the Author and Perfecter of my salvation.

As I sat this morning, the Spirit brought to mind the story of the first miracle Jesus performed at the wedding in Cana in John 2. The wine steward, the keeper of the treasure as it were, bore witness to what we read today in Philippians 2:8. As Jesus made water into the wine (furtherest from wine to wine it's self) God makes the lowest (Jesus in human form) into the highest (exalted one). This is what He does when we (sinners/haters of God) are made righteous through faith and profession in Jesus. The dead are made alive via adoption.

It's this great reversal that is the stumbling block for so many: lowest to highest, first to last, death to life. All this is from God to prove that it could come from no where else. In this verse God is telling us that because Jesus was so able to separate Himself for all "earthly desires", as He first did in resisting temptation after His baptism, and was able to be so fully obedient to the point of death, God raised this God-man to the highest of highs and made Him the first-fruit. He was the once-for-all-sacrifice needed.

Can we? If we could there would have been no need for Jesus to die. Can we now after His death through the indwelling power of the Spirit? No, for then we would be equal to Christ, not like Him. But we are given the ultimate example we are to follow.

This my friends, is the true depth of "giving up" we are called to in Lent. Jesus didn't give up His favorite food, smoking, TV....He laid down it all and never picked it back up again.

Are you prepared to do the same? Why not? Are you clinging to the glory you have on earth? Don't you see, this is our cross...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 10 Philippians 2:8

Years ago while studying I came across this image in a textbook. The irony of it took me back and sent me reeling. I have yet to recover. This is a piece of graffiti from a wall of a Roman School. It shows the image of a man with a donkey’s head on a cross and under it is scrawled the commentary "Alexamenos worships God." And there I was a few thousand years later worshiping the (pardon me, but you need the effect) the One whom many deemed a “jack-ass” as my living, saving, powerful Lord.

And this is what we read today:
…but He fully made Himself void of His glory, and received the appearance of a bonded-slave and birthed Himself into the lineage of fallen men. And being found in that appearance, He reversed His status; the Master of all things created placed himself under it’s power and became obedient even to death (which He had crushed), even a humiliating death on a cross.

This is the ultimate example of “humility”. Death, the conquered foe, appears to be given the upper hand. Christ, the victor, placed Himself under its weight upon the cross in obedience to His Father’s will so that those who could not bear the weight of death could gain the fruits victory.

…and He did so in full view of the world in a manner reserved for the lowest of lows. Most times when theologians and pastors try to explain the cross they tell of the whips, the scourging, the blood, death by asphyxiation but they never talk about how ridiculous and ironic it was. Here was the Creator being manipulated by those whom He created (or so it seems. That is a HUGE discussion). The crowd at His feet understood how audacious His claims to Kingship were when they cried out “you saved others, now save yourself!”. Some powerful God! What an idiot! He could have gotten out of this! He didn’t even die like a semi-important man! He gets a slave death! Ha!

Why did He stay there? Well, many songs sing that “love held Him there” but the truth is it was His obedience to the Father and His covenant to us. We call it “love” but God called it His promise when He spoke to Abram. It was the ultimate act of humility, of being obedient to the Father’s will.

Are you willing to “die” to bring others to glory as well, or are you afraid that someone will call you a jack-ass too. Is your pride in the way? Are your plans in the way? How else will the world see the Truth of Christ’s victory unless we live into it?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day Nine..Philippians 2:7

(so if He was equal with God and didn't hang onto that, what did He do?)
...but he decided that it would be robbery keep hold of the pre-existant glory He had with the Father and Holy Spirit. Instead He deliberately grasped onto the form of what he knew was the polar opposite. He let go of the Throne and walked into darkness. He clothed himself in appearance of a human, sinful, mortal, a slave to sin and death. He chose to walk in the form of the fallen.

If you have spent any amount of time around me you will have undoubtedly heard one of my "can I ask you a question" stories. This is my favorite string of six words, even better than "you have free pizza for life" or "the surf is really big today". I hear these words after the Holy Spirit has fallen upon a heart of flesh and the person wants to hear the Name of Jesus pronounced out loud.

Today's verse is the best way to describe the Love of God. It's selfless love and sacrifice, it's choosing to take the shoddy and give away the shinny, it takes the coal and gives the gold.

It's an action that selfish human hearts can understand: firefighters who run into burning buildings to save a helpless baby caught in the flames. It's a person running to a burning car on the side of the highway instead of away from it. It's a soldier carrying in his buddy who is "hurt worse" only to die outside the OR waiting for his buddy to come out. It's a mother saying "take my life, but save my baby".

The "hero story" stirs every soul, it's an echo of the image of God lost deep within us. God reminded us of it through Jesus. He could have grasped the brass ring, but he chose to pay the debt for the next ride and give the free one away.

There are two people on Scripture other than Jesus and one in my life that I have seen this lived out.
Moses, after he was told that he personally would not enter the promised land continued to love those whose disobedience cost him his own glory. Paul said he would give up his own salvation so that others would be saved. The one who I watched in my life live it out has forever changed my selfish heart.

That's what is supposed to happen. Has it? Do you really understand what Jesus did for you? Has His example led you to run into danger to save others? Why not? Do you think you saved yourself? Do you think you really weren't in danger? See, Jesus really did it friends, and we are to be as bold in our lives.
blessings friends,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day Seven/Eight Philippians 2:5-6

(Now I have asked to lead of unity as a church through being humility to God and each other. We can’t follow human examples, look at the life of humility Jesus led…)

You followers of Jesus must let the same kind of thinking dominate you that dominated Christ Jesus: whose outward appearance belied the fact that He was the pre-existent Triune God. He had never in the pre-creation “world”, nor does He in this tangible present, nor will He ever until the end of ages consider the fact that he was in ALL ways equal to God something that he could claim as His own right or even hang onto! He would have thought that robbery!

This my friends is what a real “Amplified Bible” looks like. The popular one for sale expands certain words that have multiple meanings in Scripture. They are honest and true translations of the word used. How can it have so many meanings? Koine Greek, the guttural, colloquial language of the common person used to write the Greek New Testament from which all modern translations derived was a highly reflective language. That sounds more impressive than it really is! What that means is that words had different meanings in different contexts. A modern equivalent is the use of “bad” a number of years ago. Depending on the context of use, “bad” could be either awful, good, or even the greatest! Inflection and tone of voice aided as well. American Sign Language has some similarities in that some hand shapes may have the same shape but different meaning in context and the “degree” of meaning varies in how they are expressed.

Today’s passage is a prime example. If you read and Amplified Bible, you would find a number of different meanings for the word. But when you look at the word used in context throughout the Bible, it becomes clear that it has (as it only can) one very clear meaning (although interpretation may vary on what that is). When this is done, you see a power in the words that are “lost in translation”.

These two short verses tell us a number of the greatest truths in all of Holy Scripture as well as our reaction to them.
Our lives are to be an expression of our relationship with Jesus. The NEB translation states: “Let your bearing towards one another arise out of you life in Jesus Christ.” We are called to focus on personal holiness, to worry less about others sanctification and more about ours.
Jesus is in very nature God in a 1:1 relationship. Yet He chose to limit His glory to bring about the plan the Redemptive Salvation History
This glory was nothing He could steal
We are called to do the same with the aid of the Holy Spirit
What do you say, care to come along?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Day Five/Six Philippians 2:4

Unity through humility

Now, since you are modeling your unity after Jesus’ love for you and in the power he has bestowed upon you, each and everyone one of you should not pay careful attention to your own lives, interests, or even take notice of what you think you need. All of your thoughts, actions and attention should be completely on others without even a hint of regarding yourself! Philippians 2:4

Paul concludes this section by underscoring the fact that the only way to obtain the unity Jesus prayed for His disciples to receive (John 17), was through a chain of humility, which brings unification.

They needed to first place themselves under the lordship of Jesus. This is what humility means. Being allowed to do so is a gift as it takes a regenerated heart to love God. Since Jesus was fully humble to the Father’s will, we are then vicariously as well through him. Only when this occurs can humans who by sin-nature are self-serving and inward focused turn to live lives completely focused on interests other than their own. This does not mean we are incapable of “sliding out” from under His will, but rather that we are able to love and do these things at all.

How can we let go of our control of trying to meet our needs? Trust.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Matthew 6:25 ff.

Are we called to lives of abject poverty? Some are, most aren’t. Look at your lives; check book, furnishings, vacations, leisure time, what you do at church, even food. Are you taking care of yourself or others? Be as honest as you can and compare your life to Christ and to the saints. Feel convicted? Welcome to Lent…ask for forgiveness and the power to change and it will be given.