In Step with the Spirit

In Step with the Spirit

Lent is an excellent time to take time and recalculate whether you are in step with the Spirit of God. The reality is that we as humans can, and often do find ourselves in the weeds of life. Sometimes knowingly, and other times unknowingly, but either way, taking a self-assessment to determine where you are is always a good idea; and what better time to do it than Lent. The period in which we look to the cross, the final sacrifice, the one that tore the veil into the Holy of Holies. Granting us access to the Father, the Alpha, and the Omega, the very Creator of the Universe, which includes you and me.

We know that there is a spiritual battle going on around us and actually in us. The struggle in us is that of the flesh versus the spirit. Paul writes to the Church in Galatia about this struggle.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Galatians 5:16-17 ESV

In the letter to the Romans we read:

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.” Romans 7:21-25 ESV

It is because of this war that we must remain vigilant to the schemes of the enemy. We know that the devil is prowling around like a lion, looking for someone to devour, waiting for that opportune time to strike! (1 Peter 5:8) Therefore, take heed, and some personal responsibility, to remain accountable to the Spirit of God. Here are some practical ways to stay vigilant in your journey with Jesus.

  1. Study the Word! Be in it, meditate on the Word, day and night! (Psalm 1:2) And, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
  2. Pray! Jesus’ example to us on the importance of getting away to pray is written throughout the Gospels. We are also instructed to “pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  3. Journal. We are told to “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart” Proverbs 3:3, In fact, we are told several times to write them on our hearts, and hands, and our very souls.
  4. Accountability! It is important to have trusted friends around you. To share your struggles with and to confess your sins to in order to be held accountable; to help keep you on the right path. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) Also, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16

This short list isn’t a complete one, we could talk about the importance of a Church family or small group, the list continues. However, the above list will definitely help one stay vigilant on their Journey with Jesus. Let me close with a simple way to take your temperature to find out where you are:

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:18-25

As you look at yourself, do you see more flesh or more Spirit? If more flesh, confess, pray, get in the Word, journal, and get accountable. If more of the Spirit, do not slack! Weed out what flesh is there, confess, pray, get in the Word, journal, and get accountable.

You are loved,

cj

​Mawidge, the bwessed awwangment. . .

​Mawidge, the bwessed awwangment. . .

Mawidge . . . mawidge is what bwings us togewer today . . . Mawidge, the bwessed awwangment, that dweam wiffima dweam . . .

If you haven’t seen the movie Princess Bride from 1987 yet, you should go rent it ASAP when you are done reading here of course. For those who need a translation of the line above, here you go. “Marriage . . . marriage is what brings us together today. Marriage, the blessed arrangement, that dream within a dream. . .” Today, i want to tackle a passage that i have been looking at for over a year now in depth, in a practical, ‘how does this look in day to day life?’ sort of way. Here is the passage in question.

John 5:25-27

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

We men enjoy reading the previous verses in this chapter, it begins with, “Wives, submit to your husbands.” That is a good one right? i saw a clip on Facebook where a preacher was talking about this passage. It was probably a poorly edited clip intended to make him look bad, it succeeded. Sure that is where Paul starts this section of his letter but that is not the emphasis. No, indeed it is not. It is, however, on the husbands. Let’s just take a minute and look at this directly.

“…As Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” Now, husbands i don’t think this is calling on us to sacrifice our lives, but it is calling us to lay it down. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, the church. He also, calmed them when they were fearful. He ensured they had food to eat, He wept over them, with them and took time to be with them. He listened to them and was available to them. He did this to sanctify them, set them apart, they were not just like everyone else, they were more than that. This is how Paul chooses to discribe the relationship between a husband and a wife, this is marriage.

“…Having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,” Husband, do you read the word with your wife? Do you pray with her and for her? Do you meditate on the Word together as one? In verse 31 it states, “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This relationship is a mirror of the relationship Jesus has with us, His Church, His Bride. The mystery of us becoming one with Christ Jesus, as Jesus is one with the Father. We too are one with our wives.

The more we husbands love our wife like this the easier it is for our wife to respect us. Now let me end here with a word of caution for you wives, as you accepted Christ (as we all did) and died to ourselves in order to live for Him. As we respect the law of Christ, to love God and to love others, so too you must respect your husbands. Remember, love is a choice. The two of you, husband and wife, made a commitment to love one another in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in plenty and in want, for better or worse . . . etc. If we, in our marriages began to live out God’s plan for us, as we reach together toward Christ, we would naturally be drawn closer together. This is marriage.

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

More than mere words…part two

More than mere words…part two

There is a point within the greaving process where one earns the right to speak life into a situation. However, even with that permission, there are a few do’s and don’ts to the process you should know about. Now before we enter the list of do’s and don’ts let me also say that there are exceptions, here are a few of them; 1, You are a trained professional and they have come to you seeking help. 2, You are a trusted close friend whom they have confided in and they have specifically asked you for your thoughts. 3, They have asked you for your thoughts. 4, They have come to you asking you for advice. 5, They sought you out and asked you for your input. 6, Are you catching the theme? Rule number 1, do not cross the greaving line if you haven’t been asked or given an opening through conversation.

Now for our do’s when speaking life into a greaving heart. First, be absolutely certain they are ready to receive whatever you are about to say if you aren’t absolutely certain, hold your tongue. If all the lights are green proceed with caution, be gentle, remain sympathetic and empathetic. Listen more than you speak. It is ok to use some Scripture, here is a good one, Deuteronomy 31:8; “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Use real life, personal stories, they do not have to be yours just besure you have permission to share or change the names and places. Be optimistic but do not make promises or guarantees, with the exception of Jesus not abandoning them. Pray with and for them, at the moment.

Here are the don’ts. This list can really be a long one but i am going to try to keep it simple. Don’t overuse Scripture, i know you are going to want too and you are going to justify it in your mind…don’t do it.  Some is good, but too much is a bad thing. Encourage them to read the Word, and pray about it but just don’t quote Scripture. If they wanted a preacher they’d go to the pastor, (you could encourage them to talk to a pastor).  Don’t say, “I will pray for you.” (As written up in the do’s, pray for them on the spot, let them hear you!) DO NOT be like these guys, Jobs friends, because in the end, God said this to them, “I am angry with you [Eliphaz] and your two friends because you have not spoken the truth about me.” Job 42:7. Do not speak in cliche’s because most of them although said to be biblical are NOT!

When i have gone through difficult times i have needed empathy first, encouragement second and advice last. Besides, advice, given without request only sounds degrading. You may not use the words but i guarantee it sounds like this, “YOU SHOULD HAVE…” Capped with, “YOU IDIOT!” There may come a time for those words but i assure you, it won’t be early on and it better be coming from my best friend. Being there for someone going through tragedy is hard but it can be a blessing as well, as you show empathy, and encouragement, you will gain wisdom, and i can promise you that!

You are Loved,

cj

 

Come now, and let us reason together

Come now, and let us reason together

Isaiah 1:18-19
18″Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be as wool.
19If you are willing and obedient…”

The Maker of heaven and earth, the One who formed you in your  mothers womb, says to you, “Come now, and let us reason together.” This is truly magnificent, He desires to dialog with you, have a conversation regarding life, love, sin, death, redemption, liberty, justice, forgiveness, hope, joy, heaven and hell. In order to reason one must be aware of truth, aware of life and aware of His voice calling out to you, “Come now, and let us reason together.” How will you respond today?

Take 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes…take some time today to sit quietly, to listen to the Lord calling to you, “Come now, and let us (you and Me [Jesus]) reason together.”

You are loved,

cj

Trees of Righteousness

Trees of Righteousness

When i have writers block…sitting at my computer just staring at the blinking curser, growing ever more frustrated as nothing comes to mind (i know that most of you can understand somewhat of what i am trying to express) anyway, at the point of absolute frustration i put on music. It is usually my favorite album of all time, David Crowders Neon Steeple Deluxe Edition, and grab my “magic” Bible and just flip it open and begin reading.
Today i opened to one of my favorite passages in Isaiah. In chapter 61:1-3 is says this: (NKJ)

61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” 

This passage really speaks for itself but it also speaks for me and my heart, where i am on my journey. So, i wanted to share it with you. Read this passage yourself a few times, asking Jesus to show you through His Holy Spirit insight into your own walk with Him. Where are you in it, are you being called? Are you brokenhearted, mourning, bound? Hear the passage…Hear the Spirit…Listen!  Leave a comment or share a prayer request.

You are loved,

cj