Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spiritual Symbolism of the Cardinal Numbers*

Dear Reader, I have been “much pushed” on finishing my book and my blogging has suffered. Hence, I hope this little offering will be an encouraging touch at Christmas. Our Lord was a “Perfect 10”! He was born at a perfect time, in a perfect way, in a perfect place to become a Perfect Savior! No one would have guessed it so unless they possessed the Mind of the Father. May our Lord give you a wondrous Christ Christmas. Let us recognize that our greatest gift is to have more of the Mind of Christ. (I Cor. 2:15-16)

It is obvious that numbers … their use, value, symbolism, power and mystery … are rooted in the intensions of our Creator. They are used throughout Scripture, not only as signs of physical quantities, but, even more importantly, as symbols of spiritual reality. Understanding the symbolic message of “God’s numbers” is critical to the Disciple’s growth to most fully live out the meanings and mysteries of their Savior Lord’s revelation. There is a theological danger of making too much of “numbers,” but it is equally risky and arrogant to ignore them.

Books have been written on Biblical numerology and they are fascinating. I have several in my library. Secular numerology is the practice of foretelling the future and/or interpreting history by the study of supposedly meaningful numbers or their combinations based on special factors as determined by the “numerologist.” A Biblical numerologist believes that God has used numbers in His Scriptures and creation to forth-tell His purposes and wisdom!

Every Disciple, to some degree, should be a Biblical numerologist. This is necessary if he or she is to assess and calculate the numbers the Savior has put before us in His Scriptures and our experience of living. His symbols are numerous indeed, and eye-openers as to His wondrous purposes for our daily practical reality. Many are the discoveries that are ours through the numbers of science as they reveal His creative and prophetic intent to bless us! For starters, think of the “two wings” of a great eagle, forty-two months, 666, 144,000, the three angles of Revelation 12-14. What is the message of 14:20 where blood is as high as horse’s backs (around 5 feet) for a distance of 1,600 stadia (about 180 miles)? This is the approximate north-south length of Palestine!

Keeping certain “basic numbers” in mind is essential for the beginner. They will serve as a key which opens our minds to the vast implications of the Godhead’s use of numbers in His revelation of Himself as our Creator-Redeemer-Perfecter. This is no place to argue the pros and cons about number interpretation other than to say extremism and literalism must be guarded against. We should, however, take the numbers seriously and pray for that knowledge. The Lord God is One but expressed as Three is a good place to start our adventure of understanding Biblical numerology.

“He” is One: Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4, “The Lord our God … He is God alone … the only One.” David in Psalm 96:10, “… You alone are God.” Isaiah in 44:6, “I Am the first and the last! Apart from Me there is No God.”

“He” is more than One: In “partial” revelation Jesus “makes Them Two,” “The Father and I are One.” (John 10:30) In “fullest” revelation Jesus “makes Them Three,” “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19)

Welcome to the insightful world of Biblical numerology. The numbers below will not only get you started but carry you a long way toward seeing, enjoying and responding to His Mind for you through His numbers! They are outstanding and essential pointers on how Disciples relate to the realities set before them in the “gardens of earth” in which we are “placed.”

0 – Initialization – Zero is the number unknown. The Lord God made, began, initiated everything “from nothing” … “In the beginning God created…” (Gen. 1:1) As the philosophers put it… ex nihilo = out of nothing. (Heb. 11:1-3)

1– Ultimation – One is the number of God. The Lord our God is One … “I Am” (Deut. 6:4) He is supreme over everything and “… the Only God ….” (I Tim. 1:17)

2– Distribution – Two is the number of division, diversification, separation. He divides and distributes the elements of His creation: land/water, night/day, male/female, sun/moon, animal/mineral, etc. (Gen. 1:2-24)

3– Revelation – Three is the number of Triune intent communicated to man! Let Us make man and tell him what he is to think, be and do to exist in Our Image (Gen. 1:26-30) – Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:19) “These three; faith, hope, love.” (I Cor. 13:13)

4– Application – There are four issues or options for every decision we face. Each should be recognized, comprehended, unified and then applied to our life reality. There are four directions, four seasons, four life stages, four time periods in each 24 hours … sunrise, day, sunset, night… etc. In political and personal decisions there are always the four positions of liberal, radical, conservative, passive.

5– Illumination – By the Holy Spirit and the light of truth to see all things with the eyes of God. Revelation (3) gives division (2) divine meaning so that together (3+2) we see the grace (5) of God’s initiatives. Many see but do not understand what they see without illumination. (Matt. 13:13-17)

6– Fragmentation – Six is the number of our enemy, Satan. He forces his multiplied lied (666) on everyone he can! (Rev. 13:16-18) The “evil” allowed by God will, in the long run, exalt His glory and vindicate His purposes. Satan’s area of power against us is most powerful (6) when we are ignorant of the reality of grace (5) and visionless about our union with the Godhead (7).

7– Redemption – Seven is the number of God (3) and mankind (4) together. All of us who are saved have positionally become One and will become experientially One with the Godhead. We are now a holy people made holy be the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

8– Completion – As there are 8 notes to the musical scale, the Lord’s progress always goes higher or lower with the same sound (notes) fulfilling their purpose for eternities’ score! Every “octave” of our living can be complete in itself (childhood, career, marriage, motherhood, retirement, etc.). When all the octaves are joined together … the bass notes of heaviness and the treble notes of lightness … the full sound of our music and our life are heard.

9– Multiplication – Triune blessing keeps repeating itself in richer fullness and purpose as man fulfills his role as a Triune Thinker. In Galatians 5:22-23 the Fruit of the Spirit is nine fold (3 x 3).

10– Perfection – The babies’ 10 fingers and 10 toes; a man’s full life or rule of 40 years … Saul, David, Solomon … The number of man (4) times God’s perfection (10)… 10x4=40… the perfection and completion of God’s purpose for their lives; 10+2=12, the perfection purpose of uniting creations and mankind’s divisions (2) with ultimate Divine intent (10) , 12 Tribes, 12 Disciples; and He shall rule 1000 years over mankind in a perfect government 10x10x10=1000 year kingdom – The divine mystery and wonder of perfection multiplied! Truly Jesus is Lord… Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. In these perfect (10) titles (4) – He answers mankind’s four greatest needs perfectly – Perception about all things, Power over all things, Patience with all things, and Peace above all things!

*By definition a Cardinal Number is any number used to count values or show quantity. For our purposes, Cardinal Numbers are limited to the whole numbers (integers) 0 through10. All other numbers are derived from these nine (1-9) plus 0 at the front also giving us 10 at the end. As we discuss Spiritual Symbolism, these basic numerals are always before us with both their physical (science, economics) and spiritual (revelation, wisdom) meanings.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’” Romans 11:33-34

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Path to Self-Strength and Self-Significance

I Samuel 30:1-31

I call my sermon on this passage “The Ziklag Zenith.” The lessons are many and life changing. So many of us miss David’s grasp of these simple yet radical truths. We can’t seem to digest the reality of them even if we have heard of them! Ziklag was a small town in southern Judah. Its location is unknown to us, but it matters not. The great issues of life are never determined by where you are or how you got there, but by what God is doing in your life that will change you that will last forever!

These were critical days in the life of David and of God’s people. Times were uncertain; enemies were everywhere; and political tensions were at the highest level. Momentous events were happening almost daily. Sound familiar? David’s band of followers and their families were concerned about King Saul as well as the other pagan tribes that would attack them. Providence had brought David to Ziklag, and it was there that disaster struck.

While David and his men were away, the town had been attacked by the Amalekites. They stole all the goods, took all the wives, women, children, young and old into captivity and burned everything down. When the men returned, they were devastated and emotionally destroyed! As is usual in leadership, David was blamed for this by his rather sorry bunch of followers. (See verse 22.) Their grief was so great they thought of stoning David! It was an impossible situation. Think about your own “upsets” in life … your own Ziklags! Be assured they will come with varying severity and at unexpected times!

David’s answer to it all came from God. He did what true followers of the Master always do. He used truth’s conjunction: “But … David strengthened himself (found strength) in the Lord his God!” (I Sam. 30:6)

There are many directions before us for our own empowerment in the principles David demonstrated. They parallel Paul’s thoughts and actions in Philippians 4:10-13. Here are a few of David’s responses whether he was aware of them all or not.

I. David knew where to “find strength,” not in God in general, but in the Lord his God! He had a personal and vital relationship with Jahweh! With the Lord, David could handle the issue “on his own!” And so can we!

II. David practiced the process of “spiritual finding”:

A. He sought authority (30:7)

B. He inquired of authority (30:8a)

C. He listened to authority (30:8b)

D. He obeyed authority (30:9)

… and continued in the process of “spiritual enduring”

E. He persevered under authority (30:10)

F. He was guided by authority (30:11-16)

G. He risked because of authority (30:17)

H. He was rewarded by authority (30:18-20)

I. He possessed the grace of authority (30:21-24)

J. He left a heritage of authority (30:25)

K. He was generous in his authority (30:26-31)

III. David found his destiny “as a king” when he trusted the authority of God’s truth. The will of God is first a Person to seek and love before it is a duty or commandment to understand and do. “I Am” (love Me) the Lord thy God (obey Me) ….” (Ex. 20:2)

God’s Strength Means Being Significant for God’s Purposes

David soon became King of Israel (his place and time) and ruled in life while leaving one of the greatest heritages of any man who ever walked the earth. His significance for God far outweighed his sins as a man. Don’t make “the disciples biggest mistake” – seeing your sins as greater than the Savior’s sacrifice! Don’t allow your grief with your sin struggle to eclipse your gratitude for the Savior’s sacrificial salvation! The Lord has done far more for you (forgiveness) in the past than you have done against yourself (sinfulness). When you sin, and you will ‘till the day you die, use those sins as pointers to Christ’s Satisfaction for your sin. David was guilty of three of mankind’s greatest sins – adultery, murder and idolatry! (II Sam. 11; I Chron. 21)

The Lord knew all these things would happen in David’s life but chose him anyway as the future king! Amazing and fantastic! He knew the same about each of us but chose us anyway! Truly, a wondrous mystery! Only dense Disciples are more occupied with what they have done than with what the Lord has done! Think of David. He certainly suffered for his part in existing in a fallen world of mankind’s rebellion, but at the same time, he “found the strength” to see the truth and yield to it. He was a great Christ follower, not because he didn’t sin, but because he knew what to do about his sin! (Ps. 51)

Even though he was one of the Scriptures greatest sinners, be was the first one who the Lord called “a man after His own heart”! (I Sam. 13:14) The Disciple who “finds” the authority to see and experience this towering and splendid truth will live with the spiritual energy that overcomes the world! (John 16:33) One’s ultimate strength on earth is to find and possess the mind and heart of our Living Lord about and toward all things!

Wise is the Disciple who will learn David’s heart in the Psalms. Powerful is the Disciple who knows … really knows … that Christ Jesus is his God! These are the Disciples who will “reign in life” because they know how to “find their strength” in their Lord’s grace and righteousness. (Rom. 5:17)

Remember This Quick Triune Formula

We empower ourselves when we:

One Recognize Authority – Only truth is in charge! Seek it! Find it! Yearn for it! “Father, if You think it’s possible …”

Two Consult Authority – Only truth has your answers! Listen to it! Hear it! Yoke with it! “Let this cup pass from me …”

Three — Obey Authority – Only truth will deliver you! Do it! Faith it! Yield to it! “Nevertheless, Your will be done …”

(Matthew 26:39)

God’s Truth = Ultimate Authority

Truth works wonders as it changes you into a person who is adequate to handle every situation, issue or circumstance.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our Hunger for Quick Relief

One of my goals in writing is to bring immediate help to every hungry Disciple who knows they want more and need more of Jesus … fast! It is to those who have the spirit and urgency of David that I write. Listen to his words, “Hasten to save me Lord, come quickly to help me … I am poor and needy.” (Psalm 70:1, 5) There is a depth, release and brilliance to the Christ Life that most of us know we are missing. How often I have prayed the words of David in Psalm 68-71 … these wondrous words and wisdom of his older age. Knowing my own sins and weaknesses, I have great difficulty feeling the same emotion of revenge David felt toward his enemies. Of course some of those actions were more brutal and vicious than I have ever experienced. Nevertheless, I do enter fully into David’s heart and quest to praise and grasp the sweet splendor of our Savior Lord’s intent in my life! His words here bring redemptive energy and hope into my daily existence! The secret is learning how this release of positive power can happen on an almost minute by minute basis!

“Do not hide your Face and empowering Presence from your servant; answer me quickly for I am in big trouble. Come near and rescue me; deliver me and redeem me because of my destructive and depressing foes (other people, demonic deception, exhausting circumstances, cultural lies and my own foolishness).” Psalm 69:17-18 (HDM)

“… I am poor, bewildered, weak and needy; come quickly to me O God as fast as You can! You alone are my only help and my only deliverer. I’m finally seeing that clearly; O Lord, do not delay.” Psalm 70:15 (HDM)

How wondrous was my discovery of these words so many decades ago! How frequently have I prayed them! I should have embraced them more often and more fully! The older I get the more regularly they are on my lips! I only regret I have been so slow to recognize and receive the implications of their power and healing! Space prohibits my plunging into the riches of these four chapters … Psalm 68-71. They are attributed to David although Psalm 71’s authorship is not stated. I suggest David is the author because the essence of four of his other great Psalms (22, 31, 35, 40) are contained in 71. This Psalm’s position between David’s Psalm 70 and Solomon’s Psalm 72 is also evidence of a Davidic summary of his life (see 71:18). All of us experience “the stimulating ups and sickening downs” of life, just as David did. I am strengthened when I see this great man’s desperation and his cries for help. I have felt the weight, despair and panic of similar emotions in my own heart! I’m confident most of my readers are right there with me!

My present testimony is one of increasing praise, calm and contentment! As I “put” more and more of my aging in Christ’s reality, I find a liberating release from what matters least, and I gain fresh excitement about what matters most! I promise you it’s a great relief the older I get! One of the greatest blessings in life is reserved for those who “age Biblically”! We have learned how to get “quick help” from the Lord!

My prayer has so often been, “Lord Jesus, help me quick” or just “Lord, help me!” The reality of this expectation is what I seek to share in my writing. I yearn to help my fellow strugglers find more and deeper Jesus Truth and ingest it more quickly! The key insight about “instant” help is that even “instant” takes time. Instant help is not primarily deliverance “from an issue” but to be exposed to Christ's Mind “about the issue.” It takes time to “learn” the Mind of Christ. But He has promised to teach us and show us His thoughts on His schedule according to our need and our maturity! If we “continue” to follow Him, we will always know “enough” of His Mind to help ourselves “instantly.” Real help that will last and change us comes from no other source. I call this the principle of Rapid Radical Release (see VFC Resource #4: Rapid Radical Release available on request from the Ventures for Christ office).

Even a “tiny bit” of Christ’s Mind on whatever “huge issue” you sense you are facing can radically alter its reality on your life! It’s amazing how a Christ Promise more fully understood can rapidly move you to an attitude of calmness, confidence and contentment! You literally experience a release “from” the unending churn of human frustration, failure and falleness and find entrance “to” the Savior’s present purposes of readying you for Kingdom destiny!

The most thrilling thing is that this can be an almost minute by minute activity and adventure! This kind of daily existence will be as rapid, radical and releasing as our mature yielding hungers for it to be! It is the essence of our Lord’s invitation, “… come after Me!” (Luke 9:23) It is what Paul means when he says, “For me to be most fully alive means I am continually consumed with Christ!” (Phil. 1:21, HDM) Hallelujah! This doesn’t mean there is more religion, more church, more good rules, more prayer or Bible reading, more good deeds, etc. in our life! Nor does it mean not finding more fun, more achievement, more relaxation, more pleasure, more satisfaction, etc. in our minutes. What it means is that we find the Presence of the Messiah in all of our minutes! Once this begins to happen “big time” we find the reality of the new life the Master has invited us to live!

When people see the reality of this Rapid Radical Release in you they will understand what the Lord meant when He said “come after Me!” It is then they might want to “chase Jesus for themselves”! We would do well by asking this penetrating question: “How many people think of chasing Jesus because of my life?” Answering this question is the true measurement of our “witnessing.” We can prove this best by being an example of finding His Presence in our minutes!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Faith: A Precision Definition

Let me offer one more precise working definition of “faith.” Most Christians I have known … including myself … are slow to grasp the inherent power of this word. Faith is used in Scripture as both a verb and noun. Sadly, we use it mostly as a noun to think about. The higher reality is to yield to its intent as a verb that leads to our cross. Faith is not simply what you believe and are … it is also what you do! This is why I use the term of a Be/Do person to emphasize their oneness. Of course what you do is always ignited by what you truly believe and are. Most Christians don’t clearly understand the necessary and urgent precision of what they say they believe (or faith) about being “in Christ.” Hence, their “faith acts” are weak, fragmented and only mildly effective because of their vague “faith thinking.”

Most Disciples have sincere hearts and good intentions. They have “faith” (noun), but that faith is imprecise, poorly informed and aimed erratically. The consequence means their faith (verb) results are hit and miss, ambiguous and poorly purposed. “Noun faith” can be controlled! “Verb faith” controls us! A vague “I guess God has a purpose” or “I hope it will all work out” faith will never deliver and overcome. The “precision Disciple” must learn to ascertain, discern and access the energy source of specific enlightened faith! The closest word to this is obedience, or better put, yielding to the Voice of God! But it is an obedience to be (think) before it is an obedience to do (act). Powerful “faith acts” are executed when they are sharpened by “faith beliefs” in the Cup, Cross and the Commission of the Master! These three become your own story only when there is entranced beholding of Jesus, the radical study of Scripture and a spirit yielding to its truths! Unbelievers read the Bible as “a story.” Children in Christ read it as “Jesus’ story.” The adult Disciple reads Scripture as “our story” … Jesus and His people. The fathers of the faith read the Bible as “my story” of drinking the Cup, carrying the Cross and sharing the Commission.

These are the four levels of reading and delighting in the stimulating truths of the Bible. (Psalm 119:92) They are progressive. As a person matures and experiences high reality moments with the Savior, the Written Word (Scripture) merges into one with the Living Word (Christ) and produces the Martyred Word (you). See my Victory Visual #17: The Graphic of Word3 and VFC Resource #37: Word3: The Living, the Written and the Martyred Word of God! Both are available on request from our Ventures for Christ office.

I have three further faith definitions to offer that expand on Hebrews 11:1-2, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” First, for the Christ Disciple faith is a progressive belief in all the Lord Christ has said and done. Active faith is to increasingly communicate with the Savior through Scripture, the inner Presence of His Spirit and the increasing desire to be His martyr (witness). Second, faith is seeking and learning how to hear “His Voice” so that there will be a minute by minute relentless purifying of our thoughts and actions toward others, toward Him and toward ourselves. The end goal of this threefold faith process is to pleasure the Master in all things, give strong help to everyone we can and be transformed into His image! Third, spiritual faith is a belief/act in what we sense is true, to the degree that it changes the way you think, act and hope. For the “Christ Disciple,” faith is a continuous awakening to the evidence of the Father’s Promises. It is a growing assurance of the sovereignty of the Father’s Power. It is an increasing awareness in every circumstance of the Father’s Presence. Authentic faith in our Lord results in “faith acts” like those recounted in Hebrews 11. It is “doing” based on “believing” by a “being” who is “receiving” the grace of God as he or she is “seeing” the glory of Jesus! The results are always an enduring power, a calm realization and a stunning freedom as you live out your earth walk! The Scripture summarizes it well, “The just (His forgiven) shall live (come alive to reality) by faith (confident praise). (Heb. 10:38)

The Lord gave me the following statement to summarize my vision of faith/action possessed by the be/do Disciple. The essential attitude for an effective follower of Jesus is a life of increasing praise and deepening calm in His promises. Hence, my definition: Persistent Praise is the only Positive Proof that one has Properly Perceived the Powerful Promises of the Prince of Peace!

Ventures for Christ: e-mail:; call: 479-443-9474; mail: P.O. Box 9479, Fayetteville, AR 72703

Thursday, August 26, 2010

All That Mary Found …

The very best of us are exceedingly dense about the truth, wonder, depth, energy and delights that could be ours in Jesus. Even doctrine, effectiveness, honor, brilliance, advancement, adventure, etc. … are all secondary to the reality that comes when we are filled with praise and experiencing the Presence of our Redeemer! This transcendent oneness with Christ will penetrate, dominate and invigorate the spirit, soul, body … the whole heart … of the dumbest, dullest, deficient Disciple! The process of “entering” the Godhead’s colossal Presence is the same for every true believer … veteran or novice, the Baby Believer or the Oldest Saint. We “enter” when we genuinely seek the Words and Face of Jesus.

To hear the Savior’s words for yourself … the same ones that must have electrified those first Disciples almost 2,000 years ago … is to be alive as you have never been alive before. It is to be awakened, aware and alerted to life’s potential as you never imagined possible! It is the supreme moment … the ultimate honor … the highest exaltation … that can touch any man, woman, youth, child or elder on earth. “The Master is here H.D. … and He is calling for you!!” (John 11:28) Yes! The Master is here on earth … in hundreds, thousands, millions of ways … and He is calling for each of us to be with Him and listen to what He has to tell us! “Come to me, H.D., let’s talk about your possibilities!”

These words, spoken by Martha to her sister Mary … “the Master is calling for you” … reveal the epicenter of the Lord’s heart! This thought is an incomparable invitation to the love, compassion, purpose and comfort He has in His Mind for each of us! Walking the path that exposes us to His Presence … as those two Disciples on the Emmaus Road … will excite, energize, stabilize and center our existence! (Luke 24:13-32) We will actually “enter” a new dimension of reality! Or, put another way, we will start to see our old life for what it really is and isn’t. We will also start to see what our new life can become. We start living in two worlds … both the seen and the unseen! (II Cor. 4:18)

The parallels with Mary of Bethany’s experience and our possibilities are compelling. Why not read both passages that concern her with lingering and prayerful thought? (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-12:11)

Mary recognized Jesus as Messiah. (Luke 10:39)

Mary was eager to hear Him as much as possible. (Luke 10:40)

Mary learned only one thing is necessary for living … Jesus. (Luke 10:41-42)

Mary suffered one of life’s most tremendous losses. (John 11:18)

Mary ran to Jesus when realizing He was on the scene! (John 11:29)

Mary learned the Presence of Jesus solves everything. (John 11:32)

Mary’s tears of grief brought Jesus to tears also. (John 11:33-35)

Mary was amazed, even stunned, by the intentions of Jesus. (John 11:38)

Mary heard the world’s greatest invitation for living. (John 11:40)

Mary listened to the heart of Jesus toward the Father. (John 11:41)

Mary was thrilled by the impossible commands of Jesus. (John 11:43)

Mary saw the glory of God in the resurrection liberation of a man Jesus loved! (John 11:44)

Mary endured the stunning stupidity of human leadership (John 11:45-57)

Mary’s loving acts of worship brought praise from Jesus (John 12:3, 7-8)

Mary was surrounded by both joy and evil (John 12:9-11)

Mary’s choice, her priority of the One, was approved and blessed by Jesus. She had found the One Thing on earth that is of most value and that she would never lose. She had a ringside seat … a place on the 50 yard line … the owners box … to not only hear the voice of Messiah … but to also watch the miraculous glory of the Lord of Life at work!

Mary learned that the Master could say “come forth” to everything and everyone in her experience … the best or the worst! He could make anything or anyone come alive with the truth of redemptive release! The tomb is not needed! The stone of darkness is rolled away! The dead are energized! The bonds unloosed! We are freed indeed from the death hooks all around us! Just ask Lazarus! And more of Jesus is our next expectation! To the wise Disciple, He is always our next expectation! And the next … and the next! (John 8:31-32, 11:43; Luke 10:12)

Mary of Bethany found what all of us hunger for … lasting meaning! She found it by seeking out where Jesus was … by sitting at His feet … by absorbing His words … while looking at His face! What a sublime, incredible and awesome picture! My first response is an urgent, earnest prayer, “Lord Jesus, please ‘put’ me there also! Take my breath away with Who You are!”

Yes! Even me! Notice that we have no idea if Mary was thin or heavy. Was she beautiful or more common in looks? Did she have a keen, educated intellect or was she of the more simple, unreflective mindset? Was she betrothed, expected to be or had no future husband in mind? Did she have any handicaps or was her health perfect? Could she have done as well as Martha in the kitchen? We don’t even know how old she was! Was she as young as 14 or had she passed 20? Or was she a spinster of 30 as well as her older sister. Was she rich, poor or average?

And what happened to her? Did she die young due to low life expectancy? Did she marry? Have children? Tell them her Jesus stories? Become a grandmother? Outlive Martha and Lazarus? Who knows except her contemporaries? Who cares? All the details of her life pale into insignificance when compared to that one magnificent act demonstrated at that common meal so long ago! Yet that simple seeking by that simple sister still explodes in our hearts today and echoes into eternity. Millions of the Lord’s people have profited by the brilliance and strength of her humble and teachable example for twenty centuries!

Mary found the “one thing” on earth that dominates all others. It was hers because she sought and sat where she could see the face of Jesus. That “one thing” is to be magnificently obsessed with and possessed byJesus the Messiah!

Are we listening? Let this passion be our daily, hourly and minute by minute habit. We too can find that lasting meaning for our lives that “shall not be taken away”!

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” II Corinthians 4:6

Thursday, July 01, 2010

What Is Authentic Abundant Life, Part II

The Abundance of Jesus in John 17

The “thing” our Lord seems most insistent about concerning His life and ministry was to complete His high mission of revealing the Father to the people of His choosing(17:6). He emphasized giving away “the words” of the Godhead (17:8, 14)! He made it clear that He was sending us to share the truth with others as the Father sent Him (17:18). His passion was to give people significance (glory) as the Father had given Him significance (glory) (17:22)! His heart was set on making the Father powerfully known to those who believed in Him (17:26)!

Once we begin to recognize these exalted realities, we enter Phase Six in the arena of Christ abundance. It is here, in the heart prayer of the Savior, that we dive deepest into knowing Christ. This results in a hunger to seek Jesus in the progressive fivefold way Paul knew from experience and speaks of with passion in Philippians 3:10-11. I will expand on this later, but, for the present, note that Paul wanted: 1) to know Christ more deeply, 2) to have resurrection power in his life, 3) to participate in the fellowship of the Savior’s suffering, 4) to become like Jesus even if carrying the cross meant death and 5) to experience daily resurrection out of all the death he saw around him. This is the fivefold path for each of us to understand and pursue! It is at the heart of what the Lord Jesus prayed in John 17.

The Progressive Abundance of the Cross Disciple

Abundant Life is this: to be abandoned to the Savior in the same way the Lord Jesus abandoned Himself to the Father. The Savior’s heart attitude is obvious: “Father, all I Am I give to You.” The Father’s response is also explosively clear: “Then, My Son, all I Am I give to You!” This should be our own heart cry as we seek our own abundance for His glory! Yes, there it is … Phase Six! Only those who have sought, accepted and endured the cups and the crosses given to us by the Savior will enter into such a transforming, telling and transcendent experience! Let us say it now for ourselves: “Father, all I am I give to You! Help me want to give more! Help me to desire only more of You.” Overwhelming grace comes upon us from discovering, “with our whole heart,” the cost the Lord Jesus must have paid to endure crucifixion on our behalf! (Joshua 14:7-9, 13-14). To know you are worth “that price” and that you are “the recipient” of those consequences is the most awe inspiring “abundance of wellbeing and significance” anyone can ever realize! The Abundant Life of the highest dimension is having the knowledge, compassion, wisdom, power and authenticity to reveal most fully to others the glory and significance of the Godhead as seen in Christ Jesus! It is to be an ambassador of the Words of the Messiah!

“Those who look to Him are radiant” … “If Your Word had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction” (Ps. 34:5 and 119:92). His words are our critical partner in the Jesus Mission of giving away the Abundance of God! “The Words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life!” (John 6:63). Such involvement in sharing “His Words” … His Mind about all things … is the most noble activity of living! This must be what Peter meant when he wrote that we “…might participate in the divine nature of the true and living God!” (II Peter 1:3-4). Please find me anything more abundant than that for a human life! You can’t! What fools we are then to succumb to or even chase so many lesser and trivial ambitions.

Only those who are grasping the significance of “the Jesus kind of abundance” are qualified to explain and witness to the meaning of John 10:10. I don’t know how qualified I am in living it, but at least I know there is a Sixth Phase. I know I have not attained it as fully as I desire, but I am touching it and I often feel the current of Sixth Phase Abundance flowing into me. I am constantly vowing to keep pressing on to attain more and more of such a prize! (Phil. 3:12-15). Here are some of my summary thoughts of John 10:10 Abundance. I pray, as did Paul, that I have the Spirit of Christ as I offer them (I Cor. 7:40).

Some Definitions of Life More Abundant

Mastering each of the following definitions in your experience … and some that you will create on your own … should prepare you for the Phase Seven level of encountering and becoming familiar with the Deepest Abundances of Jesus. Our personal highest abundance is reached when we never have a thought … never speak a word … never initiate an action … never hope an ambition … never make a response … never sow a desire … never utter a despair … etc. … unless … unless such a manifestation is inspired by and sourced in the Mind of Christ! The Disciple who has a passion to live thusly will truly learn how to live abundantly!!! These Phase Six realities provide our foundation to taste the even higher abundance of Phase Seven.

* The purest Abundant Life is not measured by how much you get from God being in you, but by how much of the true God in you that you reveal and give to others! Jesus came to give the Father to others! “I have revealed You, Father, to these You gave Me …” (John 17:6). We must learn that the supreme purpose of our existence is to receive the revelation of Jesus into our hearts and then to share that revelation with as many as we can!

* The most fulfilling and abundant thing we can do on earth is to give His salvation, magnificence and abundance to blind, needy and desperate people. The more wondrous the Lord Jesus is to you, the more wondrous “the Christ” you can give to others. Jesus gave others the Father’s glory (significance). That was His mission and remains our mission. His glory (significance) should influence every aspect of our life … spirit, soul, body … so that our hearts will be transformed. “I have given them your glory Father … and I have sent them into the world for the same purpose You sent Me …” (John 17:22, 18). We are to give the glory and significance of Jesus to others!

* Abundant Life is fully experienced, not only by getting from God, but, most completely, by being qualified to give away His abundance to others! Again, Jesus gave us the Father’s words! “The Words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life!” (John 6:63). When we can speak words of “Spirit and Life” into other people’s hearts we are Disciples of Abundance in fullest measure! What are you and I speaking into the lives of others? We are to be “abundant speakers” of His words to others and to ourselves.

* Abundant Life is possessing the power of sharing the Jesus in you with the Jesus in others! Jesus had the authority to lay His life down for the sheep … and then to take His life back. Or, to use another term, “to find it again!” (Luke 9:24). To die for others as He directs is to be guaranteed resurrection as He decides! The Father loves us most evidently and most powerfully when we sacrifice ourselves for His sheep. His abundance to us will, in His timing, gush forth! “The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life for His sheep by crucifixion, but even then I have the abundant power to come back to life …” (John 10:17-18, HDM). We are to sacrifice for as many people as we can and trust the Master’s promise of restoration.

* The bigger the Lord Jesus is … to you and in you … the bigger your gifts to others of Who He is. The clearer and more precise your giving can be of Messiah to others, the more you help others to also see, seek and taste His abundance. Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away sin … the spiritual drought and emptiness of the world. “I have come into your existence to show you what life, as the Father intended, really is! When you listen to Me you’ll be joyfully overwhelmed by the abundant wonder of His kind of living that you can have right now!” (John 10:10, HDM). “Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). We are to give others fresh hope by demonstrating how “Jesus hope” works and how it will take away their groans and grief!

* The more profoundly … the more often … the more precisely … and the more fragrantly … you give Jesus to others, the more you live your own life “more abundantly”! Jesus gives the living water that never stops flowing from within. “If anyone is thirsty for reality and meaning come to Me and drink … the one who risks his life on what I say will discover abundant streams of living water flowing from within him” (John 7:37-38, HDM). Our own coming to Jesus must be daily, diligent and daring. We are to produce living water for those thirsty around us who are desperate to drink the reality we know is in Jesus.

* Those who most zealously “give Jesus” to others are those who live most authentically as ambassadors of Messiah Love! Their very life preaches and teaches. All who radically pursue the Master’s “grace/truth” ambition (John 1:14-18) will attain and fulfill John 10:10! Jesus enables us to overcome the world by giving us His abundance of grace (love) and truth (messiahship). His words of grace and truth will be our abundance as they transform our minds. Our ignorance of the details of Scripture should shame us! “I have told you these things so that…! Take heart then! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33). As John 1:14 so clearly displays it: We, like Jesus in His Own humanity (flesh), should be reflectors of the glory of grace and truth!

* Seeking and sacrificing to give the truth of Jesus to others is to discover and experience the abundance of eternal life that is already yours, but of which you were mostly unaware! All of us plant seed. If of the flesh, the seed dies and we are diminished! If it is the good seed of Jesus, it grows and we become recipients (treasure holders) of His abundant harvest in others (Mark 4:1-20; II Cor. 9:6-15). Jesus gave eternal life … mankind’s most significant gift! Amazingly, we, too, can give eternal life to others through sharing the progressive precisions of the Gospel. When we do, we will touch the zenith abundance of living! “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, Father, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Who You have sent!” (John 17:3). We will live in the image of our God when we also “so love” that we lay down our lives to give His abundance to the world (John 3:16).

10I want to know Christ (the salvation principle) and the power of his resurrection (the Spirit principle) and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, (the suffering principle) becoming like him in his death, (the self principle) 11and so, somehow, right now, to attain to the out-resurrection from what is dead all around me (the standing principle). Philippians 3:10-11, annotated by HDM

How much we yearn for John 10:10 abundance and yield to the Christ Mind within us will determine our Phase Level. What I have written above should reflect the essence of Phase Six. But one consideration still remains before we mentally grasp the fullest liberation of Phase Seven! We must learn how the abundance of verses like Philippians 3:10-11 can be understood, applied and released in our lives. Phase Seven holds the key to every question asked and every solution sought by the Cross Disciple! This is the reward of the one who has determined to wholeheartedly embrace and endure whatever is necessary to follow Jesus the Messiah.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What Is Authentic Abundant Life, Part I

10"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10, NAS

In John 10:10 the Lord Jesus made a promise that is rarely grasped by most of His followers. We assume we know what the Savior means and use His words often in our sharing, teaching, preaching and thinking. But we still often to miss it … Big Time!

We all know the Master’s familiar words, “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly!” At least we “think” we know them! Somehow it has taken me years to dig into this verse seriously and precisely. I see now that my familiarity bred a blind assumption. I hope all of you reading this are way ahead of me! My guess, however, is that our shared, creeping slowness to comprehend the Lord’s true abundance has most of you in a similar flesh logged spiritual boat! It has also taken me years to accept more desperately and perceptively another inescapable truth … the extreme necessity of my drinking His cups and carrying His cross! This is absolutely essential if I am to discover the magnificence of “Jesus abundance!”

I think I always had “the life” part of the verse on my radar. This was my salvation, wholeness, completeness and deliverance from my emptiness. By faith and confession I experienced eternal life and was born again into the life of the Spirit. Everything on earth changed! I found a “vitality” in my existence that I had never known before. I was alive to the realities of my Creator-Redeemer-Perfecter. I became a Christian, a Believer, a Disciple, a Follower of Jesus as my Savior and Lord! This was Phase One!

The deeper perceptions of the “abundance” part of His kind of life also missed me for many years. At first I thought it referred to “more blessings” on my life in the world as it was. It meant I would find a beautiful wife, we would have healthy children, find a good job and economic freedom, be significant with our peers, experience career advancement, rejoice in fulfilled goals, etc. The Lord’s promise was sort of a “happiness guarantee” for my future! Abundance simply meant I would live the life I was already living, but with Jesus it would get better and better. I moved on to Phase Two.

It didn’t take but a few years to realize that, again, I had still been missing it! Our Lord’s main purpose with me wasn’t to give me a better life “down here,” but to lead me to a life that was focused “up there.” The abundance wasn’t to have more and better of what I already had, but to discover a Christ kind of abundance I had never known before. I began to find more contentment and excitement in the purposes of heaven than the events on earth. Hence, Phase Three.

I increasingly realized that tasting and experiencing daily the life of Jesus living in me was more wonderful than I could ever have imagined. Still something wasn’t complete. I sensed a deeper dimension was lacking. Even though I was thrilled by the gift of Christ in me and with developing an overcoming walk in knowing Him and loving Him, there was yet an abundance I seemed unable to grasp! This Phase Four period helped me see that the truly Abundant Life is not found in receiving the gifts of God, no matter how tremendous they might be. Abundant Life could not be measured by what I was “getting,” even if the “getting” was “good getting,” and the “getting” came from the Father. No! There remained a deeper dimension than that! I began to ask the Lord to help me see it!

At last I entered Phase Five and recognized the open secret! Abundant Life, at its root, is not fully found in what you “get” but in what you “give”! Anyone can be a “human getter,” but it takes the God touch on a person to become a “spiritual giver.”

The Lord Jesus lived the most Abundant Life of anyone who ever walked the earth! Agreed? And He didn’t live “this kind of life” by getting but by giving. Amazingly, He had nothing material to give, only His Truth! In His own words He made it clear. “I have come to give My life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). His Father exemplifies the same characteristic, “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son …” (John 3:16). The abundance of the Godhead consisted not in first “giving things” but in “giving Himself.”

In His last teaching session with His eleven Disciples He made it clear. His mind must have been focused on His crucifixion that was less than fifteen hours away! “…But I Am in your midst as nothing more than a Servant!” (Luke 22:27). He is simply saying My purpose in being on earth is to give … to the Father and to you!

Certainly our Lord taught us in the Sermon on the Mount that He gives us “the things” we need to sustain our earthy life. But the Master also made clear that there is a higher agenda of life than things, events, duties, possessions, achievements, etc. There exists an Abundant Life, according to Jesus, that exceeds all other realities. It is created in having a pure and dynamic love relationship with Him, with the very Being of the Godhead! It is that life He wants us to have. It is that life that gives us experiential access to the abundances of God. It is in finding that life we learn what “more abundantly” really means! It’s that life that “… enables us to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine …” (Eph. 3:20). It is that life that “… makes all grace about toward us, so that in all things, at all times, having all we need, we will abound in all good works!” (II Cor. 9:8).

Yes, the Lord does “get” something for His “giving.” Us! “Father, I have revealed You to those You gave me!” (John 17:6). But the Savior’s abundance is so great that He could “give” before He “got.” And He gave to us whether He got anything back or not! His abundance is so vast that nothing is ever lost! He also “got” the pleasure of the Father! “This is My Son, Who I love, with Whom I Am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Life at its best is to give to others! Abundant Life at its best is to give Jesus to others!

My definition: It seems clear to me that Abundant Life is directly linked to “giving” pleasure to the Father! It also means “giving” others compelling insights into Messiah’s promises! If this is our true ambition, we will begin to smell the fragrance of “life more abundant! (II Cor. 2:14). And in all this there is a hint of Phase Six!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Bullet of Community: Who Packed Your Parachute

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. Philippians 3:7

The following is based on an e-mail I received some time ago. It triggered a deep response of gratitude in my mind and heart for Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:7). I have added my personal reflections as an Air Force pilot at the end of Charles Plumb’s story. Quite often, in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please or thanks to other people, forget to congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, neglect to give a compliment or to just do something nice for a person for no reason except Jesus! Here is a great war story that ought to be fresh every day!

Charles Plumb, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was hit and destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy territory. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. To know the story of the brutality, pain, loneliness and despair these men who were held prisoner by the communists endured will make each of them exalted heroes in every American’s mind. Plumb survived that ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.

Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”

Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If the chute you packed hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man who had packed his chute. Plumb remarked later, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said good morning, how are you or anything else because, you see, I was a fighter pilot, and he was just a sailor.

Plumb thought of the many hours that particular sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the aircraft carrier, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute. Each time that sailor packed a chute he held in his hands the fate of someone he didn’t know. (I shall never forget my trip to the survival section of my Air Force unit. While we watched the “airmen” pack a chute one of us might use, we were briefed on the critical precision necessary if the chute was to work properly.)

At the end of his lectures, Plumb always asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?” This is a great question! Someone always has and always will. We can’t survive our mission in life without help.

Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. It could be an ordinary need or an unsuspected crisis! Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when he ejected from his aircraft over enemy territory – he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports while enduring hunger, isolation and beatings before finally reaching safety. His experience should be a forceful reminder that all of us need to prepare ourselves to weather whatever storms lie ahead. As you go through this week, this month, this year … recognize people who pack your parachute!

This story by Plumb makes a significant and encouraging point! As a former Air Force jet pilot, I never had to use my chute. I came closest to doing so one cold February day over the North Atlantic. Why I came so close to “bailing out” is a moving story I’ll have to postpone until later. But here is what was in my mind. My first thought was that the freezing water would be my second challenge, once I got out of the plane (my first challenge). But I had confidence all along my chute would work. They had for all my fellow flyers whenever they had needed them. The Lord has all of His Cross Disciples on a spiritual mission for His purposes. Reaching the target is often risky and dangerous if we fly the mission right. Some of us will be hit hard and lose much, but we must never forget His vow to save us. Wherever we are, He has packed our chute with the promise of His Presence. Even in our worst emergencies, He is there and He has already worked out His plan! Every one of His chutes is guaranteed to work when needed. Remember, our spiritual parachutes are His promises.

All of us can be like that sailor who packed Plumb’s chute. Whenever we “put” something of the truth of Jesus into another person’s life, we are packing their spiritual parachute. It could be a comment, a word of counsel, a sermon, a Bible study lesson, quoting a verse of Scripture, a written note or e-mail, etc. Every true Disciple should seek to pack his or her own mind as well as the minds of others with “parachute truth” about the Lord Jesus. How are you doing at it?

Having Christ’s truth loaded in your mind, when the whole world hates you enough to fire every lie they can to destroy you, not only makes your mission “rescue possible,” but gives you confidence and peace while you live out your life in the heat of the battle! Thank God for the “truth packers” He has brought into your life! I have made a list of some of mine. As I read their names in gratitude … many of them now in heaven …. I know the Lord used them in significant ways to “pack my chute!”

“Keep in mind that if the world hates you (and tries to shoot you down) know that it hated Me first … but I have chosen you (to fly My mission of truth) … I will send the Holy Spirit to testify to you about Me … so that I can send you also as the Father sent Me … you must be a witness of what it means to be with Me in all I Am intending to do, have done and will do (John 15:18-19, 26-27). The world hates Me because I testify to what it does is evil (John 7:7). Man your planes, My followers, and let’s take off! Don’t worry about what might happen to you. Just be concerned about flying the mission as effectively as possible. Remember … I Myself have packed your chute!”

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Mother’s Day Example

Dr. McCarty and I discussed an appropriate post for this week.  We decided that wishing our readers a meaningful Mother’s Day celebration was perfect.  He asked me to write the following based on Luke 10:38-42Ruth Ann

This beautiful little account tells how Jesus stopped in his travels about the country teaching, preaching and doing miracles to dine at Martha’s house in the village of Bethany.   Martha was the kind of woman who would memorize each issue of Martha Stewart Living if she had been able to subscribe in her day.  She wanted to make her guest not only welcome but very welcome in her home.  Her elaborate preparations were to insure her honored guest was given the very best … and that everyone in the community and on the guest list knew she could throw the best parties in the whole village.  Martha was the very picture of the harried hostess.

Martha had a younger sister, Mary.  As she bustled about, Martha realized her sister was no where to be found.  She wasn’t fetching water or tending the fire.  She wasn’t setting the table or lighting the lamps.  Everywhere she looked, Mary wasn’t there.

Martha stuck her head around the door to check on her guests.  The Lord was talking with the other guests and, much to Martha’s surprise and consternation, there was her absent sister sitting at the Master’s feet.  The sight provoked her … so much work to do to get this meal on the table and there sat her sister doing nothing!  With housewifely zeal she waited for a pause in the conversations.  Then she pounced.

“Lord, do You not care!  My sister has left me to get Your meal on the table all alone.  Send her back to the kitchen to help me finish dinner, won’t You?”

Jesus’ gentle voice rebuked her as he said, “Martha, Martha, you are too house proud, too busy trying to make everything over the top.  You are letting yourself become so stressed out you are missing out on having Me here.  Mary has chosen to sit at My feet and focus on the One Thing that is most important.  I won’t take that away from her nor let anyone else do so.”

No doubt Martha got her meal on the table in good time, but I think she redirected her energy from fussing to fellowship with her Lord.  Mary was doing this already.  I can just see Martha taking the hint and joining in the richer “meal” offered her in having more of Him, the One Thing that is needful.

As we celebrate all the hard work and loving care given us by our mothers this Sunday, we at Ventures for Christ pray that every one of these exceptional women is encouraged to take time for the One Thing Mary found that long ago day.  Whether they are busy Marthas or reflective Marys, all our mothers (and all the rest of us as well) need more of the Savior above all else … may we find Him in abundance!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Passion of Praise: The Seeds of Truth, Part 1

My first quest in life … now that I have accumulated some wisdom from knowing Jesus over 60 years … is not to find more answers and reasons to satisfy my mind! Though I have had many questions answered, I still seek the one thing greater … that one thing I would dare call the greatest! I seek foremost the power of a heart that rapidly and continuously is filled with praise for the Godhead! I have found that all I truly desire, in order to more quickly and fully fulfill all my being yearns for, is praise for all that Jesus is! What He has done, is doing and shall do thrills me with a confidence and contentment beyond words! I ask nothing more for this brief and conflicted life than the request of the Palmist, “Let the high praise of God be in my mouth …” (Ps. 149:6). This is the highest confirmation I seek to prove to others our Lord’s words, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of …” (Matt. 12:34). It is impossible for a heart to be filled with gratitude and unhappiness at the same time! “The Lord sheds joy on the upright in heart …” (Ps. 97:11).

Samuel was told that the God of Israel doesn’t evaluate a person by outside looks or socio-political accomplishments but by the heart alone! The Lord looks for people after His Own Heart! (I Sam. 3:14). The ultimate exalted purpose and climactic satisfaction of being human is to learn the fullness of what it means to be alone with God … one on One … only you and Him … heart to Heart!! All deep and lasting meaning begins there and nowhere else! No human being can last long or last for much if their starting point to find significance doesn’t start with their Creator-Redeemer-Perfecter.

Most Disciples are drifters! They float through life without the power of a spiritual engine to choose the most noble directions (Heb. 2:1-4). They are not disciplined enough or tough enough to meet the Savior daily in a radical, pure, desperate, broken, honest, yielding and praising way. Their time commitment in the Scripture is snatched away! Their true hunger for Him alone as their source of everything is too shallow. Their daily agendas are choked full of “this world” concerns driven by the secondary and the trivial. Few there are who break this pattern. Our Lord knows all this and has lovingly nailed us all. Only those with noble hearts plant His seeds of truth in their minds, master it and produce by endurance a crop that blesses! Check out His words in Matthew 13:1-22 and Luke 8:1-15!

We must put ourselves in as many positions as possible to “receive the seed of God’s truth into the soil of our hearts.” No receiving, no producing. Some receiving, some producing. Much receiving, much producing. Our Lord Himself said what you receive (seek, take, grasp, hold, retain, study, understand, plant, obey, hunger for, yield to, etc.) of My “seed truth” will be multiplied in you by 30, 60 or 100 times! The more one grasps of the “seed truth” of Christ, the more potential he or she has to produce in quantity what has been planted in quality! The richest seed to plant is “praise seed” because it produces the courage to face and outthink everything else. “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Neh. 8:10).

The Disciple whose faith thinking results in supernatural joy and praise will have the power to stand against, endure and overcome anything and everything! “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus … Who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross … and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). If being “there” isn’t praise, what is? True heartfelt praise will seat the Disciple at the Lord’s right hand. It is there we gain a “new consciousness” about everything! As we “see” reality with His eyes we cease to be victims of the fall and become “watchers” of His present and coming Kingdom. This praise position is compelling, energizing and electrifying!

Receiving this “seed truth” as rapidly as we can gives us “The knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of God which has been given to us …” (Luke 8:9). Knowledge about many things is good! But knowledge about the Kingdom is everything! Why? Because the former is knowledge about “what and why”! Kingdom knowledge is about “Who”! We actually “know” this King and begin to build “a vital relationship” with Who He really is and to experience the power, the awe, the brilliance and the nobleness of how He governs His earth and our hearts! The first most powerful sign that a person is experientially connected with Who the Savior really is to them is praise! When the Disciples first encountered the risen Lord they “… couldn’t believe it because of their joy and amazement!” (Luke 24:41). To me, that is the greatest definition of praise in the Scriptures! That Christ Jesus lived, suffered, died and rose again for me so that I could become a part of His eternal family is too much for me to believe and take in. Yet I know it is true. All that is within me of His Spirit tells me so! (Rom. 8:16). I can only respond to Him with praise … in joy and amazement! Everything in me “as a sinner” tells me it can’t be true! All that is within me of His Holy Spirit tells me that it is! “I will praise the Lord Who counsels me!” (Ps. 16:7).