Falling, and Dying?

“I tell you the truth, a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die to make many seeds. But if it never dies, it remains only a single seed.25 Those who love their lives will lose them, but those who hate their lives in this world will keep true life forever.”

John 12:24-25, NCV

 

Often believers are attempting to ‘hear God’ only to bolster their position, reputation, ‘connections’ and prestige.  There’s no talk about falling down and dying as Jesus revealed in John 12.  If I’m extremely occupied with knowing God’s will it will maneuver me into a completely wrong position.  Discipleship was never meant to be a celestial self-improvement plan.

When I get over-concerned about ‘my’ discipleship, acquiring the praise of men and achieving a modicum of honor, I end up ‘missing the boat’.  Life was not meant to profit from, but ‘to fall and die.’  There is a deadly danger of becoming self-aware and self-absorbed.  And this is ‘the spirit of the age’.

Nothing will ever go right if we try to hear the Lord while we avoid falling and dying.  To put it another way.  There can be no resurrection without a crucifixion first.  We must die if we are going to live.  We must become weak before we can understand power.

Will you realign your life to include ‘falling and dying?’ 

Do you really want to hear Him?  Will you realign your life to include ‘falling and dying?’  Will you begin to readjust the way you approach yourself and others?Modern popular versions of our faith will almost always lack this ‘death-life’ component.  These versions are often designed to reflect our society.  And we are terribly self-centered.  We will not ever grow and mature unless we consent to ‘falling and dying’.

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p style=”text-align:center;”>Beware of the church whose leaders do not ‘limp.’

 

Beware of the church whose leaders do not ‘limp.’ Dying to self is a challenging and vital component to our faith that will bring us into an astonishing fruitfulness.  That is what happens to those who die–they bring life to others.

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The Voice

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“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27, NLT

Do you hear him? He is always speaking to his own; with many things, some pertaining to guidance, and other issues. He delights in teaching us– through words of wisdom that encourage us to follow, or how to really love your neighbor.

He desires to point out things as we encounter them; your curiosity in the natural is meant to be spiritual as well. His soul is that of a teaching shepherd, and he delights in his ministry to us. And we need his instruction.

Regular time with him can not be separated from our daily routine. I have learned that he accommodates himself to us, the ‘grist’ of life is his blackboard. The events that I encounter are his ‘lessons.’ As I move through my life I ‘hear’ his voice. I begin to sense the need of those who I encounter.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Matthew 9:36

I have learned the joy of praying in the moment with 10 second prayers. Praying continually as I see the needs. I pray for the man who bags my groceries; and lift up the young mother pushing a stroller. I believe his voice prompts me to lift each need I encounter. When the Bible tells us to ‘pray continually’ this is what Paul has in mind.

He becomes my teacher– compassionate and kind to those I meet.

He ‘tunes me’ to see people from his viewpoint. He shows me of their struggles, hopes, and aspirations. I try to never judge what I’m shown; actually the opposite is true– I’m learning to love like he loves. I’m seeing what he sees.

I’m a work in progress. Very often my cares, sins, and disobedience nullify the voice of Jesus, Sometimes my personal issues hijack me and I swirl down into depression or paranoia. I am intensely flawed, but the Holy Spirit is gracious. He always meets me where I am. Slowly, I’m learning to hear his voice.

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Mundane Atrocities

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“Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

We often carry in our hearts the woundings from other’s actions and sins. We will typically respond in different ways. Some insulate themselves, others get quirky; quite a few turn on to drugs and alcohol to ease the pain. Very few handle these wounds properly without God’s intervention.

We can get quite innovative building and maintaining these deceptions and protections. If you’ve been ‘wounded’ you know what I mean. I struggled for the longest time over something spoken in jest– harmless banter that became poisonous over time. We can hurt from just simple trifles.

There is something I call, ‘mundane atrocities.’ They are casual encounters that are woven over time to produce nasty results. They can often be the raw material for the deceptions that shape us.

The story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis 39-50 provides us insight into the life of one man who sincerely follows the Lord, through outrageous ‘twists & turns.’ He navigates as a dreamer and a loved son, to slave and then prison. Over the years Joseph is hurt by the brokenness of those around him, yet he moves through these without becoming derailed.

Joseph says something toward the end that is quite perceptive. In Genesis we read of his heart in these mundane atrocities. These are the words of a broken man, from a broken family

“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (45:5)

 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (50:20)

Mind you, this is after years of false imprisonment and vicious misunderstanding. Joseph sees God’s hand in deep injustice. He keeps his spirit clean through it all. He could’ve reacted and insisted on vengeance, but that would not happen.

I believe there exists a “Holy Order of the Josephites.”

Joseph is a prototype, a real example for us who must navigate through the tangledness of life. I believe there exists a “Holy Order of the Josephites.” It is bestowed on those who have experienced this first-hand and come through with their spirits clean. (We call this Christlikeness.)

Jesus himself walks by your side through all this pain. Fix your eyes on the one who understands intimately your situation. “God means it for good” and intends on bringing you through this, you will stand by His side one day soon.

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Harmless Doves

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cyn·i·cal

sinikəl/adjective

1.believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. Contemptuous; mocking.
     “her cynical attitude”
     “he gave a cynical laugh”

2. concerned only with one’s own interests and typically disregarding accepted or appropriate standards in order to achieve them.

I want to speak from my heart. I woke up this morning intensely cynical about the world. I hate to think I’m becoming critical or judgmental, but whatever it is I must take it in prayer to Jesus. I feel like I’ve been bit by a snake– a venomous one at that.

When I think of our Lord’s example, it helps a great deal. He who knows every man’s heart and motives didn’t discourage him. He knew when he came what each of us had done, and was capable of doing. There was this incident at the Temple:

2Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

John 2:23-25, NIV

People can’t be trusted. Our motives and our desires, although hidden from men, are clear to God. And yet He loves us deeply. And love, “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:5.) In his humanity, Jesus was tempted in every way. Discouragement and despair over the sin of men was resisted.

We can become cynical and jaded over the wrongs of others– it’s easy to do. There can become a ‘coarsening’ and a hardness of heart. That is dangerous. It requires a touch from Jesus. It means its time we get on our knees.

dove_peace_black_white_line_art_christmas_xmas_peace_on_earth-1979pxWhen Jesus sent out his disciples he encouraged them, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16.) He knew the hostile human heart had its own agendas– people would be like wolves. But though they would see first-hand the deceitfulness of many, they were to be wise, and be completely harmless.

The Holy Spirit will keep us close, as we seek his victory in this matter. We will be transformed into the likeness of Christ. Exchange your attitude with His. He will strengthen you. We can renounce the spirit of judgmentalism that is so pervasive. We will love the way he loves.

I know there is much more to say about this. But now the Spirit is prompting me to pray through this issue myself.

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