Jesus Two-Step

Matthew, Chapter 9; Mark, Chapter 2; and Luke, Chapter 5, all convey Jesus’ teaching about “the old wine versus the new wine.”  The context of the teaching is that the people were asking Jesus why his disciples didn’t fast and pray as did John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees.  

Jesus answered that his disciples could not fast while he was with them.  We can learn from this that fasting and praying were designed to prepare us to be blessed, while Jesus’ disciples were already blessed just having him with them, so they didn’t need to fast and pray for blessings.

Jesus continued, explaining that the “new wine” of abiding in Christ’s presence was singularly distinct from the “old wine” of religious rituals and traditions, and that the two traditions were incompatible.

The account in Luke’s gospel adds a warning that those who get accustomed to drinking the old wine will prefer it to the new wine and will say “The old is better.”  The New Testament is filled with the principles of abiding in the Lord’s presence, but conspicuously absent are any rituals or traditions that we need to observe in order to have his presence with us.

This new way of life in Christ is best summed up in his first message as he walked along calling his disciples: “Repent and believe, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” We might call it the “Jesus Two Step.” We see that he has made things very simple for us, even if things are not always easy for us.

If we are holding on to anything but the saving power of Christ himself for our salvation, we need to repent of it and place our trust exclusively in Christ himself for our salvation.

This has far reaching implications, but, if followed, it will always lead to fellowship with Christ himself.

— Brad Heilhecker

The Word Of God

The Gospel of John speaks of Jesus like this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  

The Greek for Word is logos.  One definition of logos is “The principle of divine reason and creative order.”  This is a mouthful, but it basically says that anything that we need to know about God and creation can be found in the Bible and in Christ.

This is important because we need to know how God thinks and how he creates, if we are going to be conformed to the image of his Son, The Word.

One of the things about God and Christ that we know from the Bible is that God and Jesus both created this world and currently control this world just by speaking.  It requires faith to grasp this concept because we are so accustomed to thinking that physical exertion is needed to create or improve a situation.  This concept of speaking instead of acting was something that God was trying to teach Moses years ago when he asked Moses to speak to a rock to produce water for the thirsty Israelites in the desert.  

Moses disobeyed and chose instead to strike the rock, simultaneously rebuking the people for their lack of faith.  This single act of disobedience by Moses kept him out of the promised land.

Like with Moses, God is teaching us to speak to the rock when we need something.  This requires discipline, for, like Moses, we are inclined to let our emotions and our unbelief get the best of us.  We may strike out at obstacles in our way, and we may use our tongues to harangue men for their faults when we should be imploring Our Father and Our Lord to intervene on our behalf.  

This may be the final lesson of the life of faith: praying fervently to God on behalf of men and speaking softly to men when reproof is needed.  Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Let your gentleness be evident to all; the Lord is near.  And do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your needs be known to God, and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

— Brad Heilhecker

Priceless You Are To Me

I want to walk worthy of the 

Call on my life

I want to be so hidden in You

That no one sees me, but only You

I want to be sold out to You

My dreams on the shelf

Till I am no more

And it’s all about You

I am just a vessel

Transformed by the Potter

I want to resemble Jesus 

through everything I do

May my life be a song of 

pursuing You

Every angle of Your heart

I want to explore

Dying daily, till I resemble You

My life just a vapour, but in You 

I am new

May the sound I release declare Your glory

Everywhere I tread I want to 

leave footprints of Your heart

Stripped of my selfishness

Stripped of my ways

Stripped of my old nature

Till I am transformed by You 

Jesus my undeserved reward

My holy treasure 

The lover of my heart

I cannot boast of silver and gold

Of success and prestige

I can only boast that I have You

You are my life

My everything

There’s no price tag that I can 

place on You

Priceless You are to me Jesus

Thank you for pursuing me

Loving and healing me.

— Ebigale Wilson

Priceless You Are To Me

Waiting On The Lord

Life is a waiting game – waiting to grow up, waiting to get married, waiting on our next job, waiting to retire.  Waiting on The Lord is a little bit different.  We don’t have to wait on his presence; he is already with us.  We don’t have to wait on his blessing; he has already blessed us.

We do, however, have to wait on him to fulfill his good pleasure in us. Someone wrote: “If nothing else, life is daily.”  Each day, we must wait to receive our assignment from God.

Each day, we must wait for the mercy and the grace that will see us through each day.  Jude, the brother of Jesus, said “We wait for the mercy of the Lord to bring us to eternal life.”  If eternal life is “knowing God”, as Jesus said, then maybe each day we have to be patient and wait for God to reveal himself to us.  As the prophet Isaiah wrote, revelation is progressive, “line upon line, precept upon precept.”

Because of our human frailty, we cannot receive instantaneously the full revelation of his perfect will; it takes time, a lifetime.

It is not as if we have nothing to do while we wait.  We have our work, our families, and our friends that keep us busy.  We need to be actively studying God’s Word, we need to be constantly praying, and we need to be seeking God’s grace and his “Spiritual gifts” (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12) that he so freely bestows on his children.  The only danger that we face is the ever present temptation to take our eyes off of Christ and his indwelling presence and put them on a decaying world.  

This world is not waiting on us, anxious to bless us; only God is.

This world has no plan for our glorious future; only God does.  This world doesn’t love us; only God does.  Waiting on God is the essence of faith.  Moving ahead of God’s plan and timing for our life is the essence of unbelief.

 “Emergencies” will always appear, demanding our attention, tempting us to acquiesce to their demands instead of committing them to our Father’s good will.

You may have heard the expression, “Hurry up and wait,” which kind of sums up life here on earth.  Some things must be done in a hurry, like preparing for the day ahead, or “putting out the fires” of life that spring up.  However, when the fires of life have been put out, and when we have prepared ourselves to meet the day, we can take time to stop, remember Our Creator, thank him for what he has done for us, and ask him for his guidance for the day’s journey.  He has no higher priority than directing the affairs of his faithful children.  

We are his life.  We are his “inheritance.” – Ephesians 1:18.  He “watches over us” – Psalm 32:8; he “sings over us” – Zephaniah 3:17, and he “delights in us” – Psalm 149:4.  He waits for us to learn to watch for him, sing to him, and delight ourselves in him.  For when we do, we are unstoppable; we are a force to be reckoned with.

— Brad Heilhecker

Laughter

I don’t want to be depressing, but there are days that life is hard. We have all faced them, and in these interesting times we live in, we probably have had them more. So, when the word “laughter” came to my mind, I kind of had to laugh! And then I saw this verse…

Proverbs 14:13 Even in laughter the heart can be sad,and joy may end in sorrow.

Not exactly the most pleasant verse I was looking for. The book of Ecclesiastes had some as well that were not too exciting. They were about how laughter is meaningless.

Then this verse is also there:

Psalm 37:12-13 The wicked plots against the righteous and grinds his teeth at him;but Adonai laughs at the wicked,knowing his day will come.

There are so many things going crazy in the world. The wicked are out to discourage, kill and destroy all that is positive. They might have their plots, but at some point Adonai actually laughs. He, as the Judge and King over all the earth will remove the evil.

Matthew 9:24 he said, “Everybody out! The girl isn’t dead, she’s only sleeping!” And they jeered at him.

Some versions use the word “laughed” instead of “jeered.” Jesus was laughed at.

Laughter is obviously not always the most uplifting word. The verses above are almost depressing. I think we need to understand them in order to truly get back to a GOOD laugh.

We are told that laughing is healthy. We are told that when we laugh it brings healing to our soul. I know that when I can laugh with a good belly laugh, almost to tears, I usually feel really well.

So, during these trying and difficult times, laughter can be sad and bring sorrow. We can remind ourselves that Adonai is “laughing” at what is happening and that He is in FULL control. We can know that Jesus was laughed at as well.

And then, we can learn how to bring healthy and positive laughter to our situation.

I believe that one thing we need to learn to do is laugh at ourselves. I used to hate that and thought it was not right. But, now that I have teenagers and they LOVE to laugh at me, I have learned that when I can laugh WITH them it is so much more enjoyable! They can make fun of my roots and gray hair as it grows, then we enjoy the “younger” look when I get it done again. They can laugh when I can’t keep up, but then we enjoy the water park and slides together, laughing as we bounce and get wet.

When we can truly STOP and know that God is in control, that He faced trying and difficult times, and that yes, sorrow will be there… THEN we can learn to LAUGH at ourselves. We can laugh with those around us. We can ENJOY the difficult and trying times.

I’m learning this. It isn’t easy. Life isn’t always easy. Laughing along the way will make it easier. I pray that you can find someone to laugh with this weekend. That you will find a peaceful and JOYFUL rest for your soul.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by Sarah Noltner on Unsplash

Time To Occupy!

Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.. – Deuteronomy 1:8

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” – Numbers 13:30

Yesterday, a word dropped into my Spirit during my morning prayer: OCCUPY.


Now being the nerd that I am, I quickly took to Google to get a definition of the word. Google defines “occupy” as two things:

  1. To fill
  2. To exist (within a space)

The Cambridge dictionary’s three definitions utterly blew me away!  I know that you will love the first one as much as I did:

  1. An army or group of people who move into and take possession of a place and refuse to leave
  2. To have a particular job or role or assignment
  3. To keep thoughts busy

Wow….a group of people who move into a place, take possession, and REFUSE TO LEAVE.  Sounds like a feisty, faith-filled kingdom group of people to me!

I heard the Lord say that it is TIME TO OCCUPY THE LAND THAT HE HAS GIVEN YOU.  Whether your nation, your home, your sphere of influence, or just simply a promise that God has given you – it is time to fill that space and REFUSE TO LEAVE.  It’s not time to hunker down and wait it out.  There is such an invitation to take a hold of your territory, whatever that may be, and OCCUPY!

Next, He said that it is TIME TO FILL YOUR ASSIGNMENT!  Regardless of whether you are a parent at home with your children, or a doctor, teacher, barista, insurance agent – OCCUPY YOUR SPACE!  If you are a prophet, teacher, intercessor, evangelist….IT’S TIME TO OCCUPY YOUR ASSIGNMENT!  

It’s time to rise up.  It’s time to take possession of what He has promised you, and refuse anything less.

Lastly, the Lord said that it is time that we OCCUPY OUR THOUGHTS WITH GOOD THINGS. It’s time that we start putting ONLY the truth of what the LORD says about situations into our thinking. It’s time to start seeing, hearing, and meditating on Kingdom realities that feed the truth into our minds that GOD IS VICTORIOUS! And through Jesus, WE ARE VICTORIOUS.

It’s time to occupy. Just as Caleb says in Numbers 13, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

The time is gone for the Bride to just maintain a normal existence.  The time is here to OCCUPY THE LAND!

And through Christ, all things are possible.
 

— Mandy Woodhouse

Fear Of God

“The fear of the Lord is the teaching of wisdom.  And humility comes before honor” – Proverbs 15:33.

There is a lot more written about the fear of the Lord in Psalms, Proverbs, and the New Testament.  This “fear” is a lot more than being afraid; it is the essence of worship itself.

However, it is an undeniable truth that there will always be an element of being afraid in whatever we worship.  For example, if we worship people, we will be afraid of displeasing them; if we worship money, we will be afraid of losing it.

Likewise, when we worship God, there will be a fear of being displeasing to him.  However, Psalm 19:9 says that the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.  Isaiah 11:2,3 says that Spirit of Christ delights in the fear of the Lord.  The fear of the Lord is unlike any fear that we have ever known.  It is the fear that drives out all other fears.

The fear of God that Our Heavenly Father desires for us is not unlike the reverent fear that our earthly fathers desired for us to have toward them.  Both fears just plead for us to have the wisdom and the good sense to know that obedience to authority is in our best interest.  It is written: “Because there is forgiveness with you, you are to be feared” – Psalm 130:4.  It is unnecessary to fear the wicked, because they neither love us or are able to forgive us.  However, God, as a loving parent, is infinitely forgiving and loving.  He will never reject those that trust in him.  

While time remains, his offer of forgiveness is always available and given freely and without regret.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” – Proverbs 9:10.

The love of The Lord is the desired end result of wisdom and understanding.  In this war zone called Planet Earth, we can forget that a Utopian Paradise is our final destination.  Here, we often have to fight for every glimpse of heaven; there, we will come face to face with The Lord in all his glory.  Here, we may have to imagine his embrace; in heaven, a physical embrace will be just the beginning of an eternity enjoying an intimate, passionate love affair with God The Father, Jesus The Son, The Holy Spirit, and all of God’s children.  

It will be well worth the wait!

— Brad Heilhecker

Pure Heart

“The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith” – Paul the Apostle.  “Blessed are the pure in heart” – Jesus.  “When we see him, we will be like him for we will see him as he is.  He who has this hope purifies himself just as he himself is pure” – John, The Beloved Disciple.  

Three testimonies from three separate sources promoting a pure heart as a worthy ambition.  It behooves us to ask ourselves just how closely we can approximate this high ideal of a pure heart.

Our natural reaction to such a lofty ideal is to dismiss it as just a super spiritual utopian ideal.  What if it is not?  What if it is an attainable, practical ambition of any reasonable man, woman, or child?

To put this issue in sharp relief, let us contrast it with the alternative.

What if a friend or family member of ours decided that he was going to settle for a heart or life that was 90% pure?  Wouldn’t we naturally wonder why they didn’t muster a little more courage, and go all the way and aim for a perfect heart?

We might concede from the outset that absolute perfection in thought, word, and deed for all of time is not a real possibility.  We must allow that somehow, some way, some day we may stumble in life.  So, maybe a pure heart does not mean moral, spiritual, or physical perfection.

Maybe it means that we do our best to worship God alone and that we are vigilant to guard against the encroachment of idolatry in our often fickle hearts.  Without falling prey to perfectionism, we can aim at whole hearted, pure worship of Our Heavenly Father and be sure we are on solid ground.

— Brad Heilhecker