Spiritual facelift

Spiritual facelift

For as he thinks within himself, so he is. – Proverbs 23:7

2 Corinthians 3:18 So all of us with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon and a psychologist. He discovered that when he changed a person’s face, it often resulted in a changed personality and life. For some reason, a new face, gave many people, but not all, a whole new life. In some cases, a new face resulted in no changes in that individual’s life. Maltz was fascinated and wanted to understand why.

Why do people get facelifts? Often it is because they are not pleased with their appearance. They feel badly about themselves. They have what is now called a “poor self-image.”

He began to focus on the spiritual and psychological component of the individuals he treated. Your self-image is tied to your self-worth. Maltz helped popularize the term “self-image.” Our self-image and patterns of thinking impact what we do. Apparently our self-image or self-concept provides our mind with direction. It provides targets, goals, and aspirations.

Cybernetics is derived from the Greek term kybernetes. Kybernetes comes from the Greek verb kybernao which means to steer. Kybernetes refers to a helmsman, steersman, governor, pilot, or rudder.

One’s mind automatically pursues goals based upon your self-concept. Maltz coined the term, Psycho-Cybernetics, to describe this phenomenon.

The conclusion is fairly simple. Your self-image is not automatically transformed by changing your outward appearance. A psychological or spiritual facelift is frequently also required.

Dr. Maltz’s efforts in Psycho-Cybernetics helped launch a whole new genre: the self-help movement.

In modern times, Psycho-Cybernetics was only discovered in the 1950s and 1960s. But Solomon had it figured out three millennial ago. He wrote about it in the book of Proverbs circa 1000 BC.

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is.

The Hebrew word translated thinks is shaar. Shaar means “to arrange.” For example a scale of balancesor thoughts (Ross). Shaar has the sense of calculated, literally “as he calculated in his soul.” Hence, our inner thinking, reveals our true self-identity. “Johns Hopkins noted that one’s ‘inscape’ determines his landscape” (Waltke).

Many “modern discoveries” derived from experience, thought, imagination, and reflection are no more than rediscoveries of what the Father said in His word thousands of years ago. Revelation precedes and often outpaces the discoveries of modern rationalism and empiricism. It’s really fantastic to have a Father God that knows everything all the time.

REFLECT & PRAY

Our inner thinking, reveals our true self-identity “God is after transformed lives, not merely reformed ones” (Stanley).

Father how well I know that my inner-self is a very poor reflection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Encourage me daily to allow the Holy Spirit to change me from one degree of glory to another.

INSIGHT                               

Not only do the Scriptures indicate that we act out what we think, they also describe how to go about transforming our inner-self. It requires “personal training” in an entirely different sense of the term. We invite the Holy Spirit to become our “personal trainer.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 So all of us with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is at work in the life of each child of the King. He is transforming us over time from what we have been to what we will be. This makeover is a lifelong process. It is not an instantaneous change. It is not one and done. It requires spending a lot of time in the word of God. “As we train our minds to focus on the person of Jesus, as we meditate on Him, the Spirit begins molding us into His image” (Stanley).

We are enabled to see the Father’s glory in and through His word. His glory is revealed in His word. “The image of God that we see in the Word accurately reflects God though we do not yet see God Himself. What we see in the mirror of God’s Word is the Lord, not ourselves. We experience gradual transformation. As we observe Christ’s glory we advance in Christlikeness and reflect His glory, not in our faces but in our characters” (Constable).

Every day we probably look into a mirror. We always see the same thing, our own face. Paul is saying that the image in the mirror begins to change over time from our face, to the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. The more time we spend in Father’s word and see His glory and the glory of His son the Lord Jesus Christ, the more Christlike we become.

The Father is an expert at performing spiritual facelifts. He never earned a MD degree. He has something far greater, a GOD “degree.”

The word translated changed is metamorphoo in Greek. The English word metamorphosis comes from this verb. Metamorphoo describes the process that changes something from the inside out. We commonly use it when we describe the transformation of insects from larva, to pupa, and finally into an adult.

2 Corinthians 3:18 “presents a truth so exciting that I marvel so many believers have missed it – or ignored it. You and I can share the image of Jesus Christ and go ‘from glory to glory’ through the ministry of the Spirit of God” (Wiersbe)!

The transformation occurs in our minds. It is a process of renewal, remodeling, and reconstruction.

Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

There is a natural principal at work. We begin to take on the characteristics of people we spend our time with.

Psalms 1:1-2

 1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.

 2 But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

With whom or what do you spend most of your time? Do you desire to become more like the Lord Jesus Christ, then spend more time with Him in the Word. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

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Preoccupation limits seeing

Preoccupation limits seeing

She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. – John 20:14

John 20:13-16

13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

 14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him.

 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

 16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

“From ancient times, the core idea of the soul is the soul is the capacity to integrate different functions into a single being or into a single person. The soul is what holds us all together: what connects our will and our minds and our bodies and c him him onnects us to God.”

A healthy soul is whole and integrated. It is connected to God. A person with a healthy soul is at peace with God, with himself, and with other people. When the soul is understood and attended to, we can be liberated from hurry, preoccupation, unsatisfied desires, and chronic discontent” (John Ortberg).


So often our ability to see is clouded because of our preoccupation and inward self-reflection. Mary failed to see and recognize Jesus due to her grief, self-reflection, and preoccupation. We see only that which we have the inward power of seeing (Westcott).
 
After Jesus’s death, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning and found the stone rolled away and His body gone (John 20:1-2). She ran to get Peter and John, who returned with her to find the tomb empty (John 20:3-10). But Mary lingered outside in her grief (John 20:11). When Jesus appeared there, “she did not realize that it was Jesus” (John 20:14), thinking He was the gardener (John 20:15) (Elisa Morgan).

How is it even possible that Mary could not recognize the Lord Jesus Christ after spending so much time with Him? Perhaps, she simply was unable to see what she was not expecting to see. She anticipated that she would find a tomb with the stone covering the entrance. Behind the stone would be a dead body. Yet, He was alive! He was standing right in front of her.

How was she able to finally recognize Him? The moment she heard the Lord Jesus Christ speak her name, “Mary,” she knew it was Him. Somehow or another, down through the ages, once someone hears their name spoken by the Father or the Lord Jesus Christ, they remember Their voice. I remember exactly how it sounds when my mother my name or my wife calls my name.

REFLECT & PRAY

How often do we only see what we only want to see? Daily events, preoccupation, and the vicissitudes of life often obscure what the Father is trying to reveal to us.

Father give me discernment to see the Lord Jesus Christ with the eyes of my heart. Enable me to discern Your guidance and to recognize whatever You desire to teach me.

INSIGHT


How do treasury agents learn to detect counterfeit money? You would think the answer is simple, study counterfeit money to become aware of its characteristics. But in fact, it is just the opposite.

Treasury agents become very, very familiar with the characteristics of real money. One treasury agent summarizes the approach with the phrase, “touch, tilt, look at, look through.”

And so it is with the children of the King. The more we get to know the real thing, the real Lord Jesus Christ, the more we develop protective discernment against counterfeits.

This does not happen overnight. It takes practice, determination, and experience.

Hebrews 5:14 Those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

As we walk through life, we should expect to see the Lord Jesus Christ and hear His voice. The more familiar and acquainted we become with Him, the more we see Him.

In the Gospel of John, some outsiders, probably Gentiles, came to worship. They had undoubtedly heard the stories about the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were excited to meet and spend time with Him. They came to Philip.

John 12:21 “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

If you wish to see the Lord Jesus Christ, pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened to be enabled to do so. This is Paul’s prayer for all the Father’s children.

Ephesians 1:18-19

 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

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You are never too old to live your dream

You are never too old to live your dream

He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt. – Genesis 41:46

Genesis 41:8-43

 8 Pharaoh was very disturbed by the dreams. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. When Pharaoh told them his dreams, not one of them could tell him what they meant.

 14 Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once . . .

 15 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.”

 16 “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”

 17 So Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams . . .

 25 Joseph responded, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do.

 29 The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt.

 30 But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land.

 33 “Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt.

 34 Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years.

 37 Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials.

 38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?”

 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are.

 40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”

 41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.”

 42 Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck.

 43 Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command. And wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, “Kneel down!” So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt.

When David Ayres had a kidney transplant 15 years ago, the Ontario native was sure his days playing competitive hockey were over. But on February 22, 2020, at the age of 42, the Zamboni driver made his NHL debut. He was in the stands over Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, watching the Maple Leafs play the Carolina hurricanes, when Carolina’s two goalies, James Reimer and Petr Mrazek, were injured during a game. As the Maple Leaf’s designated emergency goalie, Ayres put on a Hurricanes uniform and hit the ice.

He became the oldest goaltender (at 42 years, 194 days) to win his NHL regular-season debut, and for this. David Ayres’ game-winning stick is now on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He gave up 2 goals but then stopped 8 shots, helping the Hurricanes when 6-3. Ayres said, “I was absolutely nervous!” But “it was awesome.”

Obviously, Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams brought about a tremendous positive change in his life. From the dungeon to the throne room in day! But earlier in his life when he was young, he was the one having dreams. And as for our interpretations caused him nothing but trouble.

He was one of 12 brothers. He dreamed that his brothers would one day bow down and serve him. He made the rather huge mistake of telling them. They were already jealous, and now they were furious. And finally another dream came in which even his own parents bow down before him. Foolishly, once again he mistakenly told his brothers. (Genesis 37:4-11). They determined to make plans to kill him out of pure malice, spite, and envy. Fratricide loomed on the horizon (Genesis 37:18).

But Reuben interceded, and Joseph’s life was spared. He was thrown into a cistern and left there. Now Judah steps Up, and suggests they sell him as a slave. And so Joseph at age 17, was sold as a slave and was taken to Egypt. In Egypt, Joseph was bought by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.

Genesis 39:2 The LORD was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.

Potiphar put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and sentenced to prison. Joseph was a prisoner for just a little over 12 years. What chance was there now that his dreams would ever be fulfilled?

This is called, “the death of a vision.” The Father takes many of His children through this experience as a part of their preparation for service down the road. He uses setbacks, disappointments, and even disillusionment. His goal is to teach us to trust Him and depend upon Him solely for success.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father often works in totally unexpected ways to fulfill His personal promises that once began only with the vision for the future.

Father thank you it is never too late and that we are never too old to live our dreams. We recognize our lives are in your hands and we trust You for the future.

INSIGHT

When the famine hits, the entire geographical area is affected. Only Egypt has grain. As a result, Joseph’s 11 brothers and father find themselves in Egypt. And they all bow down before him. His mother Rachel had already died.

“Faced with the death of a vision, a person must hold on to hope, anticipating and expecting God to work out His revealed will in one’s life, even when it seems impossible. This ‘season’ of waiting provides us with the opportunity to develop Christlike character, to realize our shortcomings and inadequacies, and to trust God to demonstrate His power and bring the vision to fulfillment” (Gothard).

You are never too old to live your dream. It took Joseph around 25 years to realize his. In the valleys are often very low, filled with disappointment, unmet expectations, betrayal, and ultimately fulfillment beyond his wildest imagination.

Often, the death of a vision is a prerequisite, a steppingstone, to its fulfillment. The hardest part is waiting and maintaining faith and trust.

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The enemy of my enemy is my friend

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.” – Isaiah 28:15

Isaiah 28:16-18

 16 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Zion, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.”

 17 “I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away.”

 18 “I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground.”

There is a lesson to be learned for America in general, and the Father’s children in particular. Sometimes it is necessary to lay down our disagreements and form coalitions for the greater good. In 2020, with the outbreak of COVID-19, is it such a time?

Beginning in 2019, after intense political mudslinging and “fake news,” and three subsequent elections, none of the candidates were able to form a needed majority coalition to become prime minister of Israel. Suddenly everything changed. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s current prime minister, and Benny Gantz, his major opponent, compromised. Why?

Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White party stated, “I chose the only path possible at this time, a national emergency government!” Why?

Gantz explained as follows, “We are facing one of the most serious challenges in the history of our country. It is a global challenge of exceptional magnitude, and it has hit Israel at a time of crippling political deadlock and unbearable divisions – a lethal combination. Leadership has never been more necessary. Leading has never been more difficult.”

“As a soldier who has dedicated my life to protecting the State of Israel, I have vowed to carry my commitment to the country forward and inform my decisions as a political leader. At this time of crisis, I had no choice but to put politics aside and choose the only path that allows us to avoid a fourth election. Because at a time like this, pulling people out to the polls again – many of whom have lost their livelihoods and are riddled with anxiety about the future – is inconceivable. I chose the only path which positions Israel to effectively fight this horrific pandemic: the path of a national emergency government.”

“More than ever, Israel needs unity. Israel needs strong and capable leadership, able to relentlessly fight the coronavirus, while protecting Israel’s democracy.”

“And let me state clearly: No matter how fierce the battle, I will never compromise on democracy. I will never compromise on the principles underpinning the votes of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White.”

If there was ever a balancing act that required wisdom, discernment, and direction from the Father, it is dealing with enemies.

On the one hand we are to trust the Father with all of our hearts in every and all situations. We are to depend upon Him, and Him alone. Before the children of Israel entered the promised land, they were sternly warned. And the Father told them why. The Father provided sufficient reason for caution and the need to obey Him.

Exodus 23:32-33

 32 Make no treaties with them or their gods.

 33 . . . they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.

But they did not listen and did the exact opposite and eventually began to worship idols and false gods.

There were to eschew foreign alliances and depend upon the Father alone for their safety. But again they did not listen.

Isaiah 30:2-5

 2 For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt for help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection. You have tried to hide in his shade.

 3 But by trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated, and by depending on him, you will be disgraced.

 5 all who trust in him will be ashamed. He will not help you. Instead, he will disgrace you.”

Isaiah 28:15 You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.”

In each and every case, the results were disastrous. We as the Father’s children should take His advice and obey His commands for our own well-being and protection. And regrettably we do the same thing, do we not? The Old Testament is replete with remarkable miraculous intervention by the Father on behalf of those He loves (Joshua 10:11-14).

But this is a double-edged conundrum.

REFLECT & PRAY

Too often we think we have a “better idea” than the Father. Really?

Father thank You that You have provided a firm foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, upon which I can stand and never be shaken. I have only to believe and trust You and the Lord Jesus Christ Your perfect provision. I need not panic nor be disturbed.

INSIGHT

Sometimes there is wisdom in and necessity for forming alliances with our enemies, when we face a threat from an even greater enemy.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, is an ancient proverb. Perhaps it is derived from principles set forth in the Art of War, by Sun Tsu. It suggests that two opposing parties can or should work together against a common enemy.

Winston Churchill made reference to this principal during World War II when America and Great Britain became allied with Russia to defeat Hitler. Churchill said, “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

There is an old story told of the Father’s children being inside of a fort. An enemy attacked them, and the soldiers threw stones over the wall at them. And what did the children of the King do? They picked up the stones and began to throw them at one another. It is so easy to be a stone thrower, is it not?

All the children of the King face far greater enemies than each other: the world, the devil, and the flesh to name but a few. Should we not lay aside our often-petty differences regarding practices or beliefs? Should we not stop acting like infantile 5-year-olds in a sandbox fighting over toys? Is it time to put on our grown-up clothes?

In 2020, entirely new practices were put into place for people’s safety worldwide: social distancing, stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, lockdown, working from home, and telemedicine.

How often do we bicker over silly things with those we love? Is this the time to lay down our stones and work to enhance our family relationships? Perhaps it is a marvelous God-given opportunity to renew our vows, fall in love again or grow deeper in love for one another and once again become best friends.

What is the alternative?

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Do good to all people

Do good to all people

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. – Proverbs 3:27

Galatians 6:9-10

 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

David Nott has seen humanity at its worse. As a humanitarian war zone surgeon for nearly 30 years, the British doctor has treated the victims of barrel bombs in Syria, snipers in Bosnia, child abuse in Sudan. He once removed a detonator from a woman’s leg; another time the nurse standing next to him was killed by a bullet.

“Conflict work was the only thing that made me feel alive,” he says, describing the experience as “joyous.” The key to staying safe in the middle of a war zone, says the doctor known as “the Indiana Jones of Surgery,” is developing ties to the embattled people in these communities. You can’t stop human bullets or bombs,” he says, “but you can develop relationships with people whereby they don’t want you to die” or “be in a situation whereby your life is at risk.”

He has treated the consequences of human beings at their monstrous worse but says he has also witnessed extraordinary kindness, loyalty, and honor. “There are some people who use their power to make things better and have a positive effect on people’s lives,” he says and “there are others who use power to destroy everything around them.” But he still believes “the majority of humans are good” (Staying Alive in a War Zone, The Week March 13, 2020).

What is good? The dictionary defines it as something which is morally excellent, virtuous, righteous, of high quality or excellent There is a goodness which is good in and of itself. It is a quality. This would include the quality of excellence, being exceptional, appealing, delightful, enjoyable, nice, or pleasant.

There is a kind of good that looks at the outcome or consequences of an action. Does the action provide benefits or well-being? Synonyms for good are advantageous, beneficial, constructive, profitable, suitable, helpful, appropriate, desirable, fitting, effective, or fruitful.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Instead of looking for a place to quit, we should be looking for another place to start!” (Boles)

Father I confess and affirm that it is right to do good and eschew evil. In coming alongside of others, I seek not merely to serve, but to do it joyfully. I do not want to do it begrudgingly. But rather, may it be an invigorating, uplifting spiritual and physical experience. Please work out what You have placed within.  

INSIGHT

The Father has given the responsibility of doing good to others to all of His children. This is the heart of practical Christian living and ethics. The ethics of the Father’s children have a dual focus: one is universal and all-embracing, “Let us do good to all people;” the other is particular and specific, “especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Timothy George).

On one hand, the Father shows no partiality, so neither should His children. But on the other hand, doing good for others is a family affair. The larger family is the family of mankind which includes all people on planet Earth. The much smaller family, the family of God, the Father’s children.

Whenever or wherever the children of the King have forgotten this prime directive, they often become filled with blind prejudice and bigotry. For one reason or another, people tend to be tribal. And of course, “their tribe” is better than all of the other tribes. The Father’s children are required to do good to all persons whether or not they are Christians. But we have a particular obligation to do good especially to those already in the Father’s family. There is a bit of tension here that each of us has to work through. We are to be ready to do good to all people, but we have a more compelling demand to care for the fellow members of our Forever Family.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are all part of the same Forever Family. There is a much greater bond between them than exists with mankind in general. We share common interest and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior. We will be together for all eternity with Him.

The Greek language contains two different words that are both often translated into English as good. One is used in Galatians 6:9, the other in Galatians 6:10.

The first Greek word is kalos  found in the phrase kalon poiountes which is literally “well-being.” Kalos has the sense of noble, praiseworthy, beautiful, admirable, healthy, fit, well, or moral excellence (Galatians 6:9).

The second Greek term is agathos. Agathos  has to do with doing good for the benefit of others. It has the sense of being useful, upright, and honorable (Galatians 6:10).

If we choose not to do good or commit to being good what are the consequences? Often, we develop a negative attitude and become cynical. For such people most everything is “sour grapes.” Sadly, “Many of God’s people die bitter, old people. They have allowed life to sour them. They permit criticism to defeat them. This plays right into the Devil’s hands” (Richison). Such folks become suspicious, contemptuous, fearful, and disapproving.

The Father has laid down a high standard for all of His children.

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

How is this possible for us as mere human beings with flaws and a strong streak of self-centeredness? The Father offers a simple solution. It involves a change of focus and a significant paradigm shift.

Hebrews 12:2,3

 2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

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We’ve all been shot

We’ve all been shot

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one” – Romans 3:10

Romans 3:10-12

 10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous– not even one.

 11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.

 12 All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”

Black Hawk Down is a 2001 war film produced and directed by Ridley Scott. It is based on the 1999 book of the same name written by Mark Bowden. The movie won two Academy Awards for Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing in 2002. In 1993, 160 elite U.S. soldiers made up of Delta Force, Army Rangers, and Special Operations Aviation Regiment dropped into Somalia. Their goal was to capture two top lieutenants of a warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid.

Led by Major General William F. Garrison, the raid is intended to be fast and take no more than half an hour. The extraction by the Delta team was successful, but remaining forces were soon are involved with in a life or death battle with heavily-armed Somali militia. Using RPGs, they shot down two Black Hawk helicopters, and the resulting rescue extended the mission to over 18 hours.

Tom Sizemore plays a colonel. His objective is to get a convoy of trucks out of the battle zone. Regrettably, the trucks were under siege by the enemy. The American forces suffered numerous wounds and many deaths. The driver of the lead truck had been killed. Sizemore pulled the body out. He then gives orders to a sergeant to drive the truck out of the killing zone.

The sergeant responded that he had been shot. To which Sizemore replied, “We’ve all been shot! Now drive the truck.”

As fallen people, “We’ve all been shot.” That is, we are all born sinners and alienated from the Father. We are dreadfully needy. The Father out of love and kindness, offers us His grace and mercy.

REFLECT & PRAY

What person has escaped, untainted by human sin? The answer is bleak and all-inclusive, no one! The only exception was the virgin born Lord Jesus Christ.

Father I am so aware of falling short. It is as though my sin is always before me. Thank you that You have declared me righteous.

INSIGHT

How did the Father resolve this dreadful, overwhelming set of circumstances? Fallen humanity, have all been shot? One of the more familiar verses of Scripture answers that question.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

The apostle Paul expands the idea. He categorically states that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Then he adds the magnificent and awesome truth that flows directly from the Father’s heart. Each of the Father’s children is given a marvelous gift. Every single one of them has been justified as a free gift of His grace. Because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross dying for our sins, all who believe in Him are redeemed and reconciled the Father. – Romans 3:24

Romans 3:21-24

 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction.

 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

What is the righteousness of God? The righteousness of God in Greek is simply two words dikaiosyne theou. Dikaiosyne theou connotes right standing before God. To possess the righteousness of God means that the Father has granted a legal verdict in favor of each of His children. Every one of the Father’s children has been justified! What does that mean?

Justified in the Greek is dikaioo. Dikaioo is a legal term and indicates that to be declared to be righteous by the Father. We are truly guilty and unrighteous before we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. But because of His death on the cross, we are redeemed and justified. We are declared righteous, just as He is righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).

A similar concept is found in modern culture in the form of a judicial pardon. An individual is found guilty of a crime according to the law and sentenced. But before they finished serving their time, they are pardoned. Their sentence rescinded, and they are freed from the consequences of their crime.

Adam and Eve committed the original crime of disobeying the Father and choosing to sin. Consequently, all of their descendants are born in sin. It is as though sinfulness is part of our human DNA.

When the Father justifies us, it is though He replicates our DNA, by replacing the old strand with two new strands free from sin.

We are once and for all forgiven, exonerated, and our guilt is forever expunged (Colossians 2:13).

Indeed, we are all shot. But now through the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been totally healed and restored.

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Being invisible

Being invisible

Set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Do it with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15

1 Peter 3:10-14

 10 If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.

 11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

 12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.

 13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?

 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.

Samin Nosrat, renowned chef, is best known for her best-selling cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and her Netflix original documentary series based on her book. Nosrat’s book, is a focused, folksy, often humorous account of the tasty cooking techniques. It offers basic how-to’s of good cooking. The book reflects her many years as a cooking instructor and professional chef. First published in 2017, it was named one of the 10 best cookbooks of the 21st century in 2019. She maintains that, “good food around the world is more similar than it is different, and that we, as humans, are more similar than we are different” (The New Yorker).

Her writing and Netflix series exude a kind of warmth, friendship, and camaraderie that draws people to her. Why is that so?

Samin Nosrat is an American born child of Iranian immigrants. They fled Iran in 1976 because of religious persecution. Her father’s family is Baha’i. But what most people don’t know, is that she spent most of her life being “invisible.” She felt socially isolated and different. She was always an outsider and never really fit in. How did she react? She decided to become the nicest, smartest, most polite person around. She was determined to please others.

How are we to react when we are mistreated, neglected, ridiculed, left out, or worse?                                                                 

1 Peter 3:11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

REFLECT & PRAY

Instead of being victimized by people, becoming fearful and withdrawing behind imagined walls and barriers, we are to reverence Christ.

Father thank You that You have set us free from our natural and expected human responses to hurtful and painful experiences. We can choose to love life, do good, seek peace, turn away from evil, anger, and isolation. We no longer have to be invisible. We no longer have to be invisible. In place of isolation, You offer peaceful solitude.

INSIGHT

How can we live out this lofty goal which the apostle Peter sets before us? We are to desire to love life and see good days (1 Peter 3:10). Do you love life, or do you despise life and wish for death? This is not some kind of pie-in-the-sky, Pollyanna-like outlook of being excessively or blindly optimistic and overlooking the unpleasant and difficult things in life. Rather, Peter is urging each of the Father’s children to approach life in a positive way, exercising faith in every situation.

Set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Do it with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15

The Greek word translated sanctify, set apart, or reverence is hagiazo. Hagiazo normally has the connotation of making holy or to sanctify something. “But here seems to have the sense, ‘treat as holy, regard reverently’ (it has a similar sense in Matthew 6:9, ‘hallowed be thy name’, or ‘may your name be reverenced’” (Grudem).

Simply stated, we are to give the Lord Jesus Christ first place in our lives. We are to sanctify Him, that is, set apart a special place for Him and acknowledge Him as holy. We are to honor and worship Him from our heart, the deepest part, the center of our being. We are to do it completely and unreservedly.

Each of the Father’s children are to make the Father and His son Lord Jesus Christ of prime importance in their life. When we give the Lord Jesus Christ a special, unique place in our lives, He is to become the most precious thing to us. We are no longer easily hurt or discouraged. We can literally put others before ourselves and become fountains of kindness, goodness, generosity, and light in a very dark place.

Taking the high road creates a beautiful, almost irresistible, sense of hope. Others become curious as to what makes us different. As a result, we are to be prepared, ready, to explain our hope with gentleness and deference.

If no one is asking, there is probably something missing from our lives that should set us aside from everyone else. What is missing? Hope!

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Touched by an Angel

Touched by an Angel

Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. – Daniel 10:10

Daniel 10:17-19

 17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”

 18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.

 19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”

Touched by an Angel was a somewhat idealistic, and uplifting American fantasy television series. It ran for 9 seasons, with a total of 211 episodes, between 1994 and 2003. The two main characters were Monica and her supervisor Tess. Angels were dispatched from heaven to encourage people who were at difficult places in their lives. The angels did not bring answers to every problem, but they always delivered a message of hope. They always displayed the Father’s love and frequently helped people turn their lives around. One curiosity regarding the series, rather than riding about in a fiery chariot, Tess drove a 1972 Cadillac Eldorado Fleetwood for most of the show.

What is it really like to be touched by an angel? The Old Testament Scriptures, contain several instances of angelic manifestations in bodily form along with those of the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ.

The prophet Daniel had been given mysterious and baffling prophecies by the angel Gabriel. They concerned the future of his people and the coming of the Messiah. What Daniel heard was far beyond his human comprehension. He began to pray and fast earnestly, seeking understanding.

His prayer was interrupted by a most wonderful sight. Daniel hears a voice speaking to him. The figure appeared partly as a man and partly as an angel, only more radiant and brilliant than Gabriel.

Daniel 10:12 “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard. I have come in answer to your prayer.

What exactly, or perhaps Whom exactly did Daniel see?

Daniel 10:5-6

 5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist.

 6 His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.

This description is remarkably similar to that which John saw and recorded (Revelation 1:10-16). Was it the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ? Or was it an angelic messenger such as Gabriel? Perhaps the best answer is both! But a fuller explanation is for another day. What matters here is what happens next.

Daniel was overwhelmed and simply collapsed. Daniel’s strength left him, and he became deathly pale, and was very weak. He fainted, and lay prostrate with his face to the ground (Daniel 10:8-9). Collapsing or falling prostrate is a very normal response to visitations from the Father’s angels. The same is true of appearances of pre-incarnate and post-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ.

Daniel 10:10 Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees.

He was indeed touched by an angel or perhaps even more.

Daniel 10:11-14

 11 And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.

 12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer”.

 14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.

Daniel was still overwhelmed and in awe, he had difficulty breathing. Perhaps he stood there weak and trembling. But then Daniel shows his humility and submissive spirit. Daniel gives us a glimpse into his heart.

Daniel 10:17-19

 17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”

 18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.

 19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”

Daniel is touched a second time, and his strength returned. He was more curious than ever.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father encourages us through both His written and awe-inspiring messengers often in dreams, visions, and on very rare occasions, personal visitations.

Father thank You for reaching out and touching us and inviting us to experience You.

INSIGHT

The figure appearing before Daniel was unlike anything he had ever seen before with one possible exception. The visitor had the appearance of a man but also an angel. Daniel was not sure whether he was seeing a vision or a real man. No doubt he was floating in and out of consciousness. Something seemed familiar. He looked like the Son of Man, Whom he had seen earlier in a dream and visions when the Son of Man appeared before the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13).

Daniel’s mind was now clear. Something marvelous and remarkable had occurred. For a brief moment, Daniel felt as though he was in the very presence of the Most High, feeding off the life and light radiating from Him. In that instant, he become aware of the existence of knowledge on a level so much higher than his aging mind could comprehend. It transcended mere knowledge. It was a special place where truth, knowledge, and experience kiss.

Somehow, Daniel in his feeble humanity, for a brief moment, supernaturally melded with the mind of the Eternal. He had a brief, close encounter with the very thoughts of the living God. He became aware of the wonderful, special wisdom and intelligence that spoke all things into existence. But this experience was about more than mere information.

Why had the Father given him such a glimpse into His thoughts and mind? It whet his appetite for more. He wanted Daniel to have more than a brief taste. Surely, He was inviting Daniel to experience daily the reality of the Father’s Kingdom. He was inviting him to live on a higher plain where sinful thoughts are extinguished by the Father’s all-encompassing purity. In this wonderful place his worldly concerns were replaced by the Father’s perspective and desires. The Father wanted Daniel to see things through His eyes. The Father was not merely inviting him to experience His Kingdom. He was inviting Daniel to experience Him!

And so it is for each of His children!

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