Blood in the Water

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It’s a fact. Biologists tell us that sharks can smell blood from 2-3 miles away. They follow their noses to the place where they sense it. They have an ‘attack mechanism’ to anything that is vulnerable. Blood acts as a trigger inside their brains. Occasionally dozens of sharks attack in a feeding frenzy that is pretty horrific.

Almost 40 years in the Church has taught me that sharks aren’t the only ones that turn on the wounded.

The Church was supposed to be a safe and a healing place. This is what the Holy Spirit wants. That isn’t always the case. As believers in Jrsus we should of done better.

Someone fails, another falters. Sin is uncovered and everyone takes cover. Many people who could have been restored are instead trampled down.   There are many who would rather ‘kick’ than pray. Unfortunately there is always a sharp escalation and personal attack  that often creates even more blood in the water.

There are many who bleed. Those with a mental illness, or confined to a wheelchair, or with Downs Syndrome are the first that come to mind. The developmentally disabled, the drunk, the addict, the divorced, the adulterer, the homosexual, and the poor, the ex-con are just several kinds of people that regularly get hurt in our churches.

“God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.”

Matthew 5:7, NLT

Mercy is what God extends to people who don’t deserve any. Failure to understand God’s deep penchant for mercy is the first step into religious confusion. Keep in mind that the Prodigal’s older brother refused to party with the forgiven son. How terribly sad.

In theory, we agree. We find tremendous inspiration when this verse is read. But the noble feelings do not always translate well into dedicated action. I have come to see that I must consciously press this into action. I must actively show mercy for the healing of others– and to protect my own heart.

The Kingdom of God is specifically designed for losers; it exists for the sick, the stumbler and the sinner.

The Great Physician has come for the sick– and not so much for the healthy. He loves each of us, but cares in different ways. He tailors His grace to fit our sin.

If there is blood in the water, let’s turn it up a notch, and show special mercy for those who are struggling. Let us be kinder than we have to be. If we err— let us always err on the side of mercy and kindness.

Father, please help me be full of mercy as I touch those who are in pain. I ask that you would make me sensitive and alert to each one on this path. –Amen.

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Nothing But the Blood

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“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7, NIV

At first glance the Old Testament is a collection of extremely bloody books. So many sacrifices were made that the Levitical priesthood had to sacrifice lambs 24 hours a day. People had this desperate need to cover their sins with an offering. This was instilled in them by the Law and their conscience.

Today, not so much. The Jewish people no longer sacrifice lambs, and the Gentiles have never caught on anyway. But sin has never gone out-of-style. Perhaps this is a result of the New Testament teaching that Jesus (the God/man) offered His blood as the payment of every sin committed. His death wiped our slates clean, forever.

Yet, we are still a people of ‘limited options.’ As our sins mount up (and they will) we have an innate need to cover them up. Sin is almost never hidden, and never exalted as a virtue. And yet we try to skate though our accumulation of many sins. We forget many, and try to excuse the more heinous.

The New Testament is obvious on this. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ had enough sufficiency to cover everyone, once, and for everything. It all seems astonishing, beyond belief and possibility. The blood it seems, has never lost its power. This may be why Christians can’t seem to ‘shut-up’ about their faith. They ‘see’ something!

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.”

Hebrews 10:19

Simply put, you now have ‘backstage passes,’ because of His death. The cross is far, far beyond a nice religious medallion. The cross of Christ, and more precisely His ‘leaking’ blood is regarded as complete righteousness for anyone (who by faith) receives it as his/her own. A brand-new confidence takes hold. “God loves me, and He forgives me.” The heart expands at this new-found knowledge.

Our sins and our weaknesses, whether they be from our fallenness, or genetic or environmental, are now slathered in the blood of Jesus. That blood makes us ‘white as snow.’ ‘Brokenbelievers’ everywhere are cheering. We know we aren’t quite right, and we understand our sin, but we have become fans of Jesus Christ. After all, His death has brought us eternal life.

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The Blood of Jesus, [Tenacity]

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“For I will never leave you, or forsake you.”

 Hebrews 13:5

It’s funny, but it seems that our civilization claim to fame revolves around this grand idea of inventing good adhesives. Chemists and manufacturers have astutely given us wonderful glues and epoxies. One of the more recent on the market is a compound known as cyanoacrylate or “Superglue”. Perhaps you have seen their ads? A man wearing a hard hat is lifted off the ground by a crane after a drop is applied to the hat.

Now that is the ultimate stickability! He wiggles, and strains but he is stuck (literally). It seems to be a swell product, and marketed quite well. Everyone should have on hand a tube or two. You never know when you might need it.

The Lord Jesus has created that powerful bond between us. His blood is sticky, and once applied there is a permanence and a connection between Him and us. I think it was Dostoevsky who said, “Those who have been infected by Jesus Christ will never, ever be the same again.” Even with the strange metaphor, the principle is very true.

The blood of Jesus is a tenacious thing. We are cemented to the Lord, locked by His determined love. Some will try to escape this determined relationship, but experience teaches us that it is highly unlikely this can be done. Romans 8 is directly involved,

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[p] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39, NLT

Dear saint, God is determined to bring you home to Him. You and He are bonded together, and God’s tenacious love will never let you alone. People who apostatize are still being pursued, and those of us who are struggling along, are also being pursued. And those of us who are managing, are also being pursued. That is the nature of the love God has for you. Don’t ask me why, but He truly loves you!

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Living Incandescently, [Light]

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“7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7, NLT

Sometimes my mental illness interferes with “living in the light.” I can get surly and sullen. I avoid people and I think I complain a lot. I’ve also become the master of manic highs and ‘snake belly’ lows, and I’m not fun to be around. But I do wish to be different, I really do want to live in the light.

1) When I do so, I have a special connection with the Lord (He is in the light) and that is the ultimate goal. But light is the vital common denominator. I can’t continue in darkness and fellowship with Him while I entertain any darkness. He doesn’t work that way. I’m supposed to live in the same lighr as He.

“For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”

Psalm 56:13

2) When I walk in the light, I will have be able to have open fellowship with my brothers and sisters. This is to me almost as precious as having fellowship with Lord. That “fellowship” (trans. koinonia) describes a mutual sharing, or harmonizing with each other. Almost like a concert with the musical instruments making a pleasant melody with each other. Some are pianos, some are oboes, flutes, trumpets or tubas, etc. We are His orchestra.

We come together in koinonia and beautiful things happen.There is a special sound I hear when I’m in koinonia with my brothers and sisters who love Jesus. It’s a healing sound, and very real to me. I hear it especially when they fellowship with each other.

3) When I’m living in the light I am cleansed from my sin by Jesus’ blood. The cleansing is certain by faith, The word “cleanses’ is present tense, He is always cleaning me up. “All sin” reveal the entire scope of His work. I rejoice in this and it gives me confidence in the Lord.

This verse, 1 John 1:7 clarifies things for us, and gives us insight into God’s us the importance of walking in the light of the Lord. It reinforces the fellowship of the saints. And to top it all off, it describes the blood of Jesus being actively applied to my many sins.

“Father, I so desperately want to take possession of this Word. Enable me by your Holy Spirit to do this for your glory. Amen.”

 

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