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2023-02-03 | Matthew 10 | Practicum

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2023-02-03 | Matthew 10 | Practicum“Let My people go!” Those words were made famous when Moses echoed the heart of God in the presence of an obstinate king. At first, Moses was resistant; He was not an eloquent man. “What could I say? I don’t speak well. The best I can do is mutter and stutter a few words, certainly nothing a king would take seriously.” It would seem Moses was somewhat correct, as seven times he made that demand, each falling on deaf ears. But in the end, God did release His people to go, and the journey began for those who would soon become His bride at Mt. Sinai.

Everything that led up to the moment of their release is recorded in the catalogue of miracles, signs and wonders. God’s supernatural involvement continued as they headed toward the sea and then across. And His supernatural intervention kept coming as they wandered. In a sense, Israel was conditioned by supernatural encounters. They had witnessed ten plagues and the protection of a lamb’s blood. They watched a wall of darkness rise to hold back the most powerful military in the world, while the same cloud gave them light. They stood still to observe a small stick held over an ocean—powerful enough to part the waters, leaving a dry ocean bed. Yes, you could say they had become conditioned by the supernatural. And it didn’t end there. They drank water from a rock, ate bread from heaven, and wore shoes that never got old. And that strange cloud that protected them by the sea guided them on their journey, both day and night, its fiery glow lighting their way in the darkness. And it all began with four words, “Let My people go!”

Many generations later, our blessed Savior gathered His original twelve disciples, who had also been conditioned by witnessing the supernatural, and He conferred on them an apostleship; “Be My sent ones!” But, instead of making demands of an obstinate king to “Let My people go!” He now was the King making demands of His people; “Let’s go My people!” Maybe He was even more direct; “Go My People!” Perhaps He took a more informative approach, “I let my people go.” Or possibly He chose to be more instructive, “My people are let go.” Regardless of which technique He implored, we know this… He was not demanding something from a king; He was the King demanding something from His people.

This was His sentiment… “You were introduced to the Kingdom of Heaven; you learned the truth about what your faith was always meant to be in My lengthy sermon on the mountain; and then you witnessed the supernatural in action—now it’s your turn to go and do. I am commissioning you, giving you the authority to perform all the miracles you’ve witnessed in Me. And I am certain you will feel just as Moses did, completely ill-equipped to speak on My behalf. But, don’t concern yourself one bit. You are not there to speak your own words anyway. My words will fill your mouth at the moment you need them.”

“And I am certain you are wondering if you will face pushback, rejection and persecution in the company of your own people, your own family, and also when you face secular leaders. Let Me put a rest to your wondering—you will! But, don’t worry; if someone could steal your soul, then I’d say you should be concerned, but it’s only your body they can harm, and for that you need not fear. And I am certain you are concerned about provision—food, clothing, shelter and money—don’t be. “Don’t worry; pagans worry about such things. And your heavenly Father knows what you need.” Just go, build your faith muscle; it’s time to transition from witness to participant, from taker to giver, from someone who sees and hears, to someone who does!”

2023-01-27 | Matthew 8-9 | Let the Dead Bury the Dead

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Water finds the path of least resistance. Want proof? Just place a barrier into any stream, and the water will simply find the easy way around it. It won’t first choose to climb over the barrier. It would only do that if its path is blocked completely, otherwise it takes the way of least opposition. Pour water on any flat surface and it seeks to descend into every crack and indentation. Water would rather go lower than sit on top.

Disciples, unfortunately, cannot take the same easy way around as does water. When obstacles block their progress, disciples must choose to stay on top, to take the high ground; they must opt for the hard road. In fact, Y’shua often separated Himself and moved to higher ground, or to the other side of the sea, or He delivered an impossible message, just to separate who would follow from those who would take the path of least resistance. The journey of a disciple begins with some miraculous encounter with the Lord and then moves to this phase; “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” And then Y’shua challenges your offer with some version of this; “Okay, let’s get started! Here is what you can expect as one of My followers; it will be a life of zero possessions, zero comfort, zero security and zero certainty. Still want to follow?”

And, as soon as it does not appear to be all sunshine and rainbows, too often the would-be follower reacts with some form of excuse: I’m coming, but let me go check my work schedule first; or let me get the approval of my wife; or let me calculate the current valuation of my stock portfolio; or let me evaluate the condition of my business ventures, so I can determine if it’s a good time for me.

Note to self: it’s NEVER a good time!

Other times the disciple-to-be bypasses the “I’ll get back to you phase” altogether, and just fast-tracks his excuse, conceding quickly to his wind-blown thinking, “Thank you, but no thank you; I changed my mind.” It’s a life of excuses that fuels the easy way around, rather than a life of reasons; reasons to energize a leap over the barrier; or reasons to empower knocking it down; or reasons to simply exercise the patience necessary to wait in front of it, until it crumbles before your faith.

Then there are those who do jump right in, but when it gets challenging, that is when they change their minds; their past life starts to look so good again. As such, they return to their old ways and never look back. Others have even convinced themselves that they really did choose to follow, only to realize when pressed that they never actually joined in the first place. They are easily exposed as being completely unprepared when asked, “Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?” Such a question leaves them speechless. If that is you, things will end very badly.

I guess the question remains, “Which type of ‘disciple’ are you?” When He says, “Follow Me into a life of zero possessions, zero comfort, zero security and zero certainty!” do you tell Him you will get back to Him after you check your schedule; that you might have some dead bodies to bury. Or do you say, “Lord, to whom else shall I go? You are the only One with the words of eternal life.” And for good doctrine’s sake, let’s make this clear; the only true disciple is the one who sees “zero” as a perfectly acceptable option!

2023-01-20 | Matthew 7 | Six Degrees of Separation

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2023-01-20 | Matthew 7 | Six Degrees of SeparationI don’t decide what is true; I just report it. And quite frankly, it does not matter if you like it or not. Truth does not bias itself; and it has no allegiance to anything, other than itself. And maybe the worst part about the truth is that it hurts sometimes. You’ve heard that phrase, haven’t you? Here’s why it hurts. The truth exposes pretense, everything that isn’t right, real and authentic; and unfortunately for many of us, gentle Jesus is a specialist in truth.

“Truly, truly I say to you…” Y’shua said that twenty five times in John’s Gospel. And that leading phrase with a single “truly” appears fifty additional times in the other three Gospels. “Truly” is the word translated as Amen, from both the Greek and the Hebrew, and when it inaugurates an idea, it claims something about the nature of the truth that follows. It asserts that the claimant has intimate, personal, and firsthand knowledge about, and authority over the subject matter. When repeated, as in “truly, truly,” it is an almost audacious claim from Y’shua that the truth that follows is His own original idea. Y’shua is saying that He is not merely aware of these truths, He is the originator and author of them. That itself was revolutionary! Why?

What is so rattling about Y’shua staking claim to those original ideas? Sure, claiming that an idea is original is both radical and presumptuous. But, it becomes even more tortuous when we overlay Y’shua’s assertion that He also said nothing, other than what His Father told Him to say. Think about the implications of His claim; “This truth originates from Me, and I only echo My Father’s words.” So, how could all those ideas have originated from Him, unless… unless He was also boldly proclaiming that He and His Father are ONE? This too is a radical paradigm-shifting revelation, truth worthy of, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM; and He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

It’s time to grab the shovel! Dust off the archeologist’s pick. Sharpen the scalpel; we are about to do some exploratory truth surgery! We are going to unpack the truths that literally separate God’s people from everyone else. Are you willing to square off with reality; to become completely vulnerable to truth? If you dare submit yourself to this experimental procedure, first sign off on the release of liability—because someone is going to get hurt. Yes, too often the truth hurts.

Let’s get started, but to participate you must be willing to measure your temperature by each of these six degrees of separation. Truly, truly… (1) submit yourself to an intense sober self examination; (2) expose your deepest inner desires; (3) pick the gate that leads to either the wide or narrow road; (4) let others taste the fruit that grows on your tree; (5) look into the mirror and face your real identity; (6) and choose the foundation on which to build your life. Oh, and if you think you can fake any of it, know this: “Truly, truly, no one can hide from the Originator of truth; all things are naked and exposed to Him, and you will be held accountable to everything He sees, which is, well, everything—truly, truly.

2023-01-13 | Matthew 6 | Tomorrow Never Comes

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2023-01-13 | Matthew 6 | Tomorrow Never ComesReckless Abandon… that’s what comes to mind. If you knew this was all you had, this one last day, twenty-four hours, how would you live? What would you do? Would you check tomorrow’s weather? Would you be obsessed with your 401K or your long-term investments? Would you be focused on the security of your retirement? “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be?” That is what Y’shua thought of such concerns.

Reckless Abandon… without care or regard for consequences, living with a rash, unrestrained impulsiveness, enthusiasm, or zeal. It combines the sense of carelessness with the idea of yielding oneself to an action or impulse without restraint. Jump in wholeheartedly, perhaps impulsively, and with no concern for consequences or danger; that’s reckless abandon.

Okay, that sounds a bit, well, reckless! So, let’s add wise biblical guide-rails before anyone listening skydives without a parachute or decides to skinny dip with piranhas. Temper the concept of living with reckless abandon by removing certain negative thoughts that display a lack of wisdom. Remove rash, impulsive, careless and without restraint from the life we ought to live. And then reframe consequences and danger as permitted only if the cause is for God. Taking unnecessary risks, those that could not possibly produce fruit for the Kingdom, is both senseless and foolish. And then reinsert restraint by qualifying every choice with first seeking God’s heart on the matter—if He approves, then go for it without restraint. What remains is a life of unrestrained enthusiasm and zeal for the things that matter most to God. It’s a life yielded wholeheartedly in service to God and others, with no concern for the consequences or danger, as long as you are advancing His Kingdom.

Now, design your life of reckless abandon for God. It would look something like this. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow can worry about itself. Sufficient for today is what today brings.” Today is all you have; you don’t need to worry about tomorrow today; tomorrow’s worries can irritate you and occupy your thoughts tomorrow. And the greatest benefit about putting off your worries until tomorrow is that… tomorrow never comes.

It’s time to face the dominant source of your preoccupation. It’s obvious if you’ll be honest with yourself, although it might be painful to admit. And if you overthink this exercise, you’re at high risk of catching what’s going around in the rationalization and self-deception pandemic, and the truth will remain elusive.

Here’s the assignment. There are only two options: things of the world and things of God. To which do you dedicate most of your efforts—your time, resources, thoughts, and energy? Is your major concern for the provisions of the world and that is what dominates your efforts? That, according to Christ, is the pagan way of life. Or, is your main focus on the priorities of God, the things of the Kingdom of Heaven? If your rationalization and self-deception immune system defense was triggered, you already know the answer. There is no treatment for this disease if you ignore the proper diagnosis.

We learn from Christ that assessing one’s accomplishments in life should never be measured by the abundance of the things he possesses. Why? Because he who accumulates earthly treasures as a measure of success and security, is not rich toward God. And in the end, concern about such worldly things should be designated to the proper time—never!

2023-01-06 | Matthew 5 | On Collision Course

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2023-01-06 | Matthew 5 | On Collision CourseIf I say “Law,” you most likely recoil. Humans don’t really like rules and regulations and laws. Let’s be honest, it’s much more instinctual to do what we want, to satisfy our own thoughts and desires, without being restricted and constricted by a set of parameters. Nobody wants to be told what to do, at least not naturally. It’s something we must grow into, before we can become good at it, if ever.

And to further complicate the matter, as Christians, we have been taught, for the better part of two thousand years, that Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Law, thus relieving us of our obligation to be bothered with such legalism. In other words, the burden of obeying rules and regulations is covered by the blood of Jesus, and we are freed from any concern we might have about adhering to those outdated laws.

Furthermore, as a free religious people, we have engaged in every type of mental gymnastics to reconcile a few dozen verses in the Bible, to insure this “freed from the Law” theology would be propagated all throughout Christian history, and its now tens of thousands of denominations. Here is the slogan which best unites nearly all Christian brands: “Grace good; Law bad!”

And yet, if we peek just below the surface of this religion-wide theological treatise, we find it is built on very shaky ground, loose soil at best, and quicksand at worst. Disturb the ground a little and the whole house of cards crumbles, and fairly easily at that! Keep fighting and struggling to defend it, and you will be swallowed up in the soupy sand all around you. And still, Christians everywhere argue passionately to find loopholes to God’s commands, at every turn. I call it “Loophole Christianity.”

I often ask, “Why are you so intent on finding creative ways to not obey God? Why are you wrestling to figure out reasons to avoid doing what God requires? Was not Y’shua’s sacrifice enough to make you want to obey God, no matter what He asks of you? Why do you believe God’s desire was to free you from the requirement to obey a handful of Biblical laws after you were born-again, when every other law in the universe that God created still applies to you?” If you don’t think so, just toss yourself off a cliff and see what happens!

It’s really nuts; the one people group on the planet who should be racing to do whatever God asks, no matter what, is the same people group who fight and argue and search for every excuse to avoid doing so. Oh, we are very happy to comply with all sorts of other requirements, the ones our man-made denominations uploaded to the new-and-improved version of Christianity, But, obey the Laws of God, that’s legalism!

We are not going to dismantle every poorly parsed verse in the New Testament in this study, no. What we will do is recognize this. Y’shua made the standards much harder than any set of Laws written down by Moses. He has set our human nature on a collision course with the Kingdom of Heaven. Another way to look at it is this; He requires us to do every sort of thing that is the exact opposite of our human instincts. No, He did not, could not, change His Father’s commands; but He did do two things. He revealed what were the deeper and even more difficult requirements of His Father’s Laws, and then He empowered us to obey them! In other words, the cliff is much higher than you ever imagined, and when you fall off, He provides wings, and if your wings fail, a parachute. Oh, and it does not end there. After you hit bottom, you get free transport back to the top of the cliff, so you can try, try again.

2022-12-30 | Matthew 3-4 | Time Never Fails

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2022-12-30 | Matthew 3-4 | Time Never Fails“Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” There are so many critical prophetic ideas stirring, as we are introduced to the essential ministry of John the Baptist, and as we witness him baptize the Son of God. It’s a moment in time that will change everything. We simply must take pause to appreciate how this event amalgamates so many prophetic concepts. If you try to integrate them all at once in your brain, it will likely make your head spin. But let’s try it anyway.

It’s an inflection point in history, let’s call it a prophetic moment, when time folds in on itself and we are permitted to see the past, present and future together in an instant. John doesn’t have a clue, although you would think he would; he’s well-aware of the prophecies about his life. He came in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way, and to turn hearts. But, he doesn’t really grasp it. He takes one look at the Christ, the lamb of God, the savior of the world, and immediately he feels to shrink away. “I can’t baptize You; I’m not even worthy to touch Your sweaty feet and Your filthy sandals.”

Time stands still in that moment; Y’shua pauses to correct John, and you. You? Yes, because you would have made the same error. He must reset the prophetic clock, because time never fails, like love never fails. To John, and to all who will ever read these words: “Permit it to be so NOW, for thus IT is fitting for US to fulfill all righteousness.” Permit “it,” permit it “now,” and permit it for “us,” because time never fails and because if you don’t, all the prophecies, past, present, and future crumble into dust. What is “it”? It is time to baptize the Christ, so the Father might affirm from heaven, “This is My Son…He is the One.” And why “now”?

Because it is time to punctuate Y’shua’s ministry. It’s time to congeal all the prophecies concerning the coming kingdom into one concise moment. And why “us”? Because John is not the only one who comes in the spirit and power of Elijah.

Y’shua opens John’s eyes, and ours; John, you are here to prepare the way in the wilderness, and I am about to go there for My preparation test. You started it when you said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” And I am going to finish it the same way. But, this time the whole world will know what that Kingdom is, because I will be staring at them right in the face! To John, and to everyone in the future who reads these words: “It is time, and time never fails.”

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