Monday, November 29, 2010

Church Angel?

“The secret of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven gold lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”

Revelation 1:20

Does your church have an angel? If it is like one of the churches in the book of revelation it does. Is the angel symbolic or literal? The lampstands represent literal churches, so why would the stars not represent literal angels? The Holy Spirit through John goes on to address seven churches by addressing each letter to “the Angel” of that church. Incidentally, it is not just the churches that are doing well who have an angel.

Since specifics of what the angel of your church does besides receiving letters from Jesus about the status of the church are not detailed, it is good not to speculate. But the bottom line is simple. There is much more going on spiritually and even cosmically than we have ever imagined. As you move through this day recognize that there is an eternal reality that is focused on your day, your every thought and every action even as your prayers enter the throne room scene of Almighty God!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lose it for Jesus!

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it.”

Mark 8:35

If you lose your life for Jesus then you are a winner. This is one of the paradoxes in the Bible. If you lose your life you will save it, but if we want to save your life you will lose it.

How can that be? It is simple. We were born to eternity. Our existence will go on past this life, but the state and condition of that existence is the question. Without Jesus our life will be one of eternal death. It is unthinkable and truthfully unimaginable. With Jesus our life will be one that is eternally lived in the presence of Jesus. We will be filled with the joy of the Lord at every turn.

You cannot save yourself no matter how hard you try. And you cannot lose your life if you lose it for Jesus.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

God Given Name!

“For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. [I pray] that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit,  and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. [I pray] that you, being rooted and firmly established in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth [of God's love], and to know the Messiah's love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.”

Ephesians 3:14-20

When I meet someone with a unique last name I am always tempted to ask where their name came from. I suppose my interest stems from the fact that my name has Norwegian roots and if I ask someone about their name then I may get an opportunity to declare the origin of “Steensland.” Pride is a very subtle vice isn’t it?

According to Ephesians 3 every family on earth has a name that comes from God Himself. I can’t explain how that works, but I can trust that it is true. There are no questions about who I am in the mind of God. He made me, named me and has orchestrated life itself to draw me to Him. God does not force Himself on me, but woos me with tender love that makes the greatest love story on earth seem small indeed.

Here is a miracle. We are to know the Messiah’s love even though it surpasses knowledge. Stepping into the realm of eternity is to know the unknowable, see the unseen, and hear the sounds that no one else can even perceive and touch the face of God in the mirror of eternity. Then we are only seeing the shadow of Heaven as we wait for His Glorious Return! Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Called to be an Image of God!

“When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, He said this to him:
‘Go and marry a promiscuous wife
and [have] children of promiscuity,
for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity
by abandoning the Lord.’
So he went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”

Hosea 1:2-3

I have always felt sorry for Hosea. Here was a man who obviously wanted to be a faithful man of God. God told him to marry a woman who would bring him great heart ache. Why would God want to ruin the life of Hosea for the sake of making a point? It is difficult enough to be married to someone who has a serious moral flaw, so why would God instruct Hosea to seek out such a wife? The reason can only be understood when you look at it through the eyes of the Lord.

The suffering of Hosea was a reflection of the suffering of God Himself. God was calling Hosea to be an image of Him. The desire of a righteousness man is to be like Jesus in His purity and holiness, but what about His suffering? Sin is the mother of all suffering, and my sin brings pain and suffering to God Himself. When the bride of Christ is unfaithful, oh the pain that shoots through the vast expanse of the cosmos!

My obedience brings great joy to God even as my sin brings grief. So when I am tempted to sin I must think about Hosea and his wife going out for another of her promiscuous encounters. I must not ignore the suffering of God when I sin.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give a Hand not a Crutch!

“Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won't be tempted. Carry one another's burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else. For each person will have to carry his own load.

Galatians 6:1-5

These verses present what appears to be a paradox. They tell us to carry one another’s burdens and to carry our own load. Which is it? We fulfill the law of Christ when we carry another’s burdens, especially when they are caught in wrongdoing and need to be gently and carefully helped out. But there is also a warning about carrying our own load. When you are the recipient of help from a brother there is the “welfare mentality trap” that tempts us to rely on others rather than be responsible for ourselves.

A good father may gently pick up a child who has fallen, but he does not give the child crutches so that he will never stumble again. A good father expects his child to learn to walk on the two legs God gave him!

When you help a brother be sure and give a hand not a crutch!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Ocean of God!

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

Galatians 5:6

I the book of 1 Corinthians Paul declares that the greatest of faith, hope and love is love. In Galatians 5:6 he tells us that faith expresses itself through love.

Some years ago I decided not to carry a card in my pocket that would give a doctor permission to “pull the plug” on me if he thought I was too far gone to recover. The reason I don’t carry such a card is love. I know such a decision may need to be made, but I want the person who decides that to be someone who loves me! If you love me, I can trust you to do the right thing. You see it is not competence but love that must rule in life. Without love even faith and hope are flawed and incomplete.

Perhaps the most mystifying statement in the entire Bible is “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Whenever you see the word “Love” as you read the Bible mentally replace it with “God.” It will help you step into the deeper water of knowing Him. So when you love you are swimming in the ocean of God Himself!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spiritual Appetizers

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

1 Peter 2:1-3

When you taste that the Lord is good you simply whet your appetite for more of Him! Milk is just the beginning of your spiritual appetite fulfillment. There is fruit and bread and meat and there are all kinds of unimaginable delights in craving to know Him. Some folks only eat spiritual appetizers. They never get down to a full portion of the main dish. They sample, taste and nibble on the things of the Lord, but never imbibe deeply of the blessings that are in Him.

I really believe that every physical eating disorder is a mirror of a spiritual eating disorder that keeps us from being healthy as followers of Jesus. We are thin and emaciated and yet believe that we are fat! We eat a big meal and then regurgitate so that we lose any benefit from the food.

Set your mind and heart to feed on Jesus and let His Word be the food that sustains you and gives you strength for every moment of this day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Be There!

Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

Revelation 19:9

It was almost thirty years ago, but I am still embarrassed when I remember it. Our family had been invited to dinner by some folks at our church and we simply forgot to go. It was no small thing because there were seven of us in our family at the time and since it was before the days of cell phones they had no way to contact us to see why we didn’t make it!

Because of the death of Jesus Christ every man, woman and child is invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb. Many people never put on the Robe of Righteousness that Jesus provided by His death. They may have heard the Gospel, but because of so many distractions in this world they never show up before Him to become a disciple of Jesus.

The invitation to the wedding supper of the Lamb is beyond amazing. Never forget that each day is another day of preparation for that feast. Live every day so that when that day comes for the wedding feast of the Lamb you will be there!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Love and Obedience

1 If I speak human or angelic languages
but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have [the gift of] prophecy
and understand all mysteries
and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith
so that I can move mountains
but do not have love, I am nothing.

3 And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,
and if I give my body in order to boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

The greatest thing about my mother was this: My mother loved me more than I could ever know. I was convinced of this as a kid and now as an old man I still know it was true. I never questioned her love for me. Every day as a child I experienced evidences of her love for me. Was she perfect? Of course not, but she was perfect in her love for me.

The greatest thing about God is this: God loves me more than I could ever know. I was first convinced of this as a child and now as an old man I still know it is true. I really have never questioned His love for me. Every day I experience evidences of His love for me. Is He perfect? Of course He is and He is also perfect in His love for me.

These verses simply say that if you “have it all” but don’t have love then you have nothing. But if you have love then you truly “have it all.”

Remember Jesus did not say “Keep God’s commandments.” He said “Love God and keep His commandments.” Never remove love from obedience!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free and Obedient!

Though all the people who came out were circumcised, none of the people born in the wilderness along the way were circumcised after they had come out of Egypt.

Joshua 5:5

Did you come out of the slavery of Egypt or were you born in the wilderness? Even though the people in Egypt were enslaved they were able to circumcise their sons. Even though the people in the wilderness were free they were either not able or simply did not circumcise them.

Freedom can cause you to neglect the commands of God. The constraints of God’s will often slip off when we experience deliverance from the slavery of sin.

Before they could enter the land they had to once again become completely obedient to the Lord. I must examine my life before today’s battle starts and be sure I am an obedient follower of Jesus!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eating Right!

 "Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”

Revelation 22:14-15

My mother always told me that it is important to “eat right.” By that she meant that you must not only eat regularly, but you must also eat the right thing. This may sound a bit silly, but my mother’s sugar cookies and her spaghetti were my favorites.

The beginning and end of mankind’s time on this earth involved eating the wrong thing and eating the right thing. When Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they set in motion the forces Hell to drag us all away from fellowship with God. When Jesus said that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood He was saying that to sustain us in this world and bring us safely home to Heaven we must eat the right thing. Jesus is the right thing!

Eternal life in Heaven will be supported by eating from the Tree of Life! It was in the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve lost the right to eat of it. It will be in Heaven and because Jesus has washed our robes in His blood we will be able to eat of the Tree of Life and live forever!

The next time you pray before a meal remember the eternal significance of eating the right thing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

God Will Be Glorified!

“Rejoice over her, heaven,
and you saints, apostles, and prophets,
because God has executed your judgment on her!”

Revelation 18:20

You can rejoice when God judges the wicked. Never forget though that the judgment of God comes against those He created and those for whom Jesus died on the Cross. That is a very difficult reality. It is the heart of the controversy surrounding the free will of man. Free will seems only appropriate for God Himself. How can created beings be endowed by their Creator with the ability to rebel and reject the one who formed them in the first place? Indeed that is a mystery.

But this is where even rebellion against God reveals His Majestic Glory. God has placed us in a window of choice in the timeline of eternity. We give Him glory and show His majesty even when we sin! It is only by God’s Sovereign choice that we can choose to obey or rebel. Remember that darkness always bears witness to the glory of the light.

God will be glorified by your life. You will either glorify Him because of your obedience or by demonstrating His reality in your rebellion. Either way, He will be glorified!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brainstorming with God!


“None of the good promises the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled.”

Joshua 21:45

An utterly sold out follower of Jesus who lives in a third world country made a statement that keeps reverberating in my head. He said “Every time I pray, my prayer is answered!”

The truth of Almighty God is simple. God keeps all of His promises and answers all of my prayers. Sometimes I find it hard to perceive that what I am seeing is the fulfillment of His promise and sometimes the answer to my prayer is “no” or even “not now.” But the living God always keeps His promises and always answers prayer.

We have defined “answered prayer” by saying it is when God does what I want Him to do. The Bible does say that He will give us what we need, but what loving father gives his child something that is hurtful or even deadly. If the answer to your prayers is always “yes” when you ask God for something, then you are not fellowshipping with Him enough and you are not seeking to know His mind about enough matters in your life.

A number of years ago I was involved in an organization that recognized the value of “brainstorming.” We would meet to discuss an issue and agree that everything was “on the table.” No idea was “stupid.” If we were not rejecting even most of the ideas, then we were not really brainstorming. Out of those sessions came some really important concepts.

When you pray do you agonize to pray exactly the “right thing” so that God will say yes to your prayer? Do you pray as if you are submitting a formal proposal to a foundation from which you are looking for funding? Or do you converse with the Creator of the universe? Do you tell God what you think even when you know He must disagree and do you listen for His input? If you only pray what you know God already believes then why does He need to answer your prayer? Of course, it is a wonderful thing to pray scripture but never be afraid to step into deep water with God. Remember Abraham’s conversation with God about Sodom and Gomorrah and don’t forget when Moses convinced God not to destroy the people in the desert.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What Comes Next?

1 As Jesus left and was going out of the temple complex, His disciples came up and called His attention to the temple buildings.
2 Then He replied to them, "Don't you see all these things? I assure you: Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!"
Matthew 24:1-2
The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem is a fact of history. The Romans destroyed the temple in AD 70. But amazingly they did not finish the job. When Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple he said that not one stone would be left on another. Look at the Wailing Wall! All the stones have not yet been thrown down.
If these words of Jesus are true, then there is much more to come in Jerusalem! The destruction of the temple was not completed because there are obviously a number of stones that have not yet been thrown down.