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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Five Minute Friday: Balance/Unbalanced

Photo by Andrew Itaga on Unsplash

Today I am participating in Five Minute Friday, where a group of writers get together and write about a one word prompt for 5 minutes.  Today's word is Balance.

Begin 5 minutes.

There's a lot of clamoring for balance these days, but in my own experience, I don't think balance is possible to even attain anymore. I feel like something always gets more attention that something or someone else. And that is not always a bad thing.

In the Kingdom of God, under the New Covenant, I feel like were are called to be "unbalanced." The Bible says in John 1:17 that the "law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Many people want us to have balance these days, following all of God's commands. But under the New Covenant, the only work we are called to do is to "believe on the one He has sent."

Under the New Covenant, there is definitely an unbalance of GRACE. There is an abundance of GRACE. Balance suggests that things are even, on an even playing field, level. But not so with JESUS. Not so with GRACE.

Repeatedly, over and over, we see an abundance of Grace flowing into the lives of those He ministered to. Story after story tells us of this abundance. It made the religious leaders mad. They were balanced. Jesus was not.

We see Jesus opening people's eyes who had never seen, feeding thousands and thousands of people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, raising people from the dead, filling boats (which were created to float) with fish so much so that they began to sink.

Jesus was never balanced, but always unbalanced, providing an abundance of Grace.

End 5 minutes.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Five Minute Friday: Deep

Today I am participating in Five Minute Friday, where a group of writers get together and write about a one word prompt for 5 minutes.  Today's word is Deep.

Begin 5 minutes.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.-Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)

Paul prayed this prayer over the church at Ephesus.  I had this prayer on my wall for a really long time.  It probably needs to go back up!

In the prayer, he prays that they, they church at Ephesus, along with all the Lord's holy people, that is you and I, if you are a Believer, would grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus.  This is an awesome prayer.  

Deep.  That word means not shallow.  If we look it up in the Greek, I am sure we will get a greater understanding and meaning of what Deep really means.

When I picture Deep, I picture myself in water over my head, where my feet cannot touch the bottom.  I am floating, surrounded by the water.  

Paul prayed that we would know how Deep is the love of Christ.  We are floating in it.  It surrounds us on ever side.  It is over our heads.  Our feet cannot touch the bottom.  We are completely covered in His love with no way of escaping.

In another passage of scripture Paul says nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ.  If you have the same image of being in deep, deep water that is surrounding you, you can see why Paul would say that.

My prayer today is just like Paul's, that we would be able to grasp how deep the love of Jesus is, and just to let ourselves drown in that love.  That love doesn't remove our oxygen, but gives us life, just like a baby floating in the amniotic fluid in the mom's womb.  


End 5 minutes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Foundation of Grace: Grace Gives Big Time

As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret. He saw two boats at the edge of the lake; the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the land. Then He sat down and was teaching the crowds from the boat."

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

“Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.”

When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear.  So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!”  For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they took,  and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners.
“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people!”  Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed Him.-Luke 5:1-11 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

For the last few years, I have started spending more time looking at people and the way they responded to Jesus in the Gospels and the way He responded back to them.  We can learn so much about his character in this way, who he was/is, how he treated people, and this will give us insight into how he is treating us now.  Because a lot of people really don't have an accurate picture of how God is relating to them.

I was reading this story this morning and a few things about Jesus' encounter with Peter stood out to me. 

This was an early meeting of Peter and Jesus.  Peter did not yet really know Jesus based on his actions. He was not traveling with him yet. But he goes through a little transition during this meeting.

The Bible says Jesus saw two boats.  He chose to get into Peter's boat that day.

He asks Peter to push the boat out a little from the edge and then starts teaching the people.  Peter was still in the boat listening to Jesus teach.  After Jesus finishes, he tells Peter to let his nets down for a catch.  Peter doesn't think that is a good idea.  He has just fished all night, caught nothing, and doesn't believe it will do any good.  But because Jesus just told him to, he decides to do it.  He has been teaching in his boat after all. 

What Peter doesn't realize, as many of us don't, is that Grace is sitting in our boat.  Even after an encounter, it takes us a little bit to get it.

So, he lets down the net and they catch so many fish (somebody else is in the boat with Peter, but he's doing all the talking as usual) that they have to call for their partners to help and then both boats began to sink.  That is a lot of fish!!!  How many fish would it take to cause a boat to sink?  They are made to be buoyant.  They were carrying grown men and there were so many fish in the boat it started to sink!!

Peter still didn't get it completely, who Jesus was, and what he was about.  We can tell by his response to Jesus.  I plan on talking about that more later.

But, my oh my, we can learn about Jesus in this passage, and about the Grace He brings with Him.

The Grace Jesus brings gives big time! The Grace He brings is a superabundantly, overflowing, boat-sinking type of giving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Foundation of Grace: (Past Tense) Forgiven

Lots of times we are praying, asking God for things, when He has already given them.  Just like the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears.

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.  And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil,  and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.  Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”  Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.  You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.  Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”-
Luke 7:36-50

Faith is believing in the goodness, mercy and love of God. Faith is believing He loves you ridiculously and has all these good things for you.

The woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears was not sad. She was happy. Those were tears of joy! She believed Jesus was who He said he was. She believed he loved her. She believed she was already (past tense) forgiven. The tears and the oil were an offering out of a heart of love.

The Pharisee couldn't see the goodness of God and who was standing right in front of him. But the woman could. She could see him.

And I believe that is what God wants, more than we even want it.  He wants us to see and know the love God has for us.  Paul prayed in Ephesians that we would know how "wide and high and long and deep is the love of Christ."(Ephesians 3:18)

The same mercy, grace and love present then is present now.  I pray the same prayer as Paul for all of us that we would know that love, and as that knowledge of his love for us fills our hearts, we would have a massive overflow of love for him.