Monday, January 31, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Glory and Splendor

2 Thessalonians 2

1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.

Lord Jesus--Your return is something that no one will miss. It will be clear visible with clear signs that no one can miss. Your return is the hope of the church, not something to be feared. Nor is your return something to be used to either manipulate emotions or behavior. Serving you is not about guilt or being afraid of the future. It is about grace freely given and freely received.

3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Lord Jesus--The reality is that while there may be debate and discussion about your return, we have not reached the place where the man of lawlessness is revealed. The picture is of someone who sets himself up to be worshiped and proclaims himself God. I am sure that the people to whom Paul was writing were aware of the simple fact that kings wanted to be worshiped as if they were gods. Some people in that church may have died refusing to worship someone who called himself a god. But it was local, and not what Paul is referring here. In just a few years Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed it would seem with the ending of the temple worship that the end had come. They may have felt just like we do could things get to this place? This must be when you will return to take us home.

The church has continued to look for your return. Help me to still look with anticipation for your return no matter how long it is, there will come a time when I will see you face to face.

5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way

Lord Jesus--The scholars really don’t know what Paul was referring to here in this passage...what holds in check the man of lawlessness? I am wondering if it isn’t the simple fact that it wasn’t and isn’t time yet. The Father is the One who will say when time will end, and until then it remains for the church to keep to its mission. Remind me Lord Jesus of the time, and of the mission as I seek to serve you today.

8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

There will come a day when the battle will end with a single breath...and evil will find its end. That is what I am looking end to the balance of power that has kept evil at bay. There is coming a day when your people will see an end to the evil one and his lies, twisting and pain.

Lord Jesus--In this coming day, help me to be a person that reflects that same glory which we be visible at your coming. May you be seen in me in the day that awaits me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Notes to the Lord:On Power and Glory

2 Thessalonians 1

10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

Lord Jesus--There is coming a day of glory. There will no missing the fact that judgment and glory have arrived. There will be an end to the systems that have made things work in the world that I am a participant/observer of.

There will be an end for the need for government as I have known it. There will be no need for church as I have known it. Worship absolutely but governing bodies and strategy will no longer be needed. Denominations and lines of authority that seems so necessary right now will fade into the mists of an almost forgotten past. Buildings and boundaries of the past will disappear in a moment at your coming. Style will disappear into the reality of your being with us in power and glory.

Lord Jesus--It will be a day that I will marvel at. What are some of the things that I marvel at now? I marvel at the Grand Canyon, 4 of July fireworks and durative nature of relationships. I marvel at the reality of the hope that is within of Your return. I marvel that I can know and have a relationship with you that time, distance and culture does not interfere with. I marvel as some awesome realities and some pretty silly things all at the same time.

The part I like the best about this is that it includes me! I am a part of this coming celebration. I am not on the outside looking in. My inclusion has nothing to do with anything that I have done, but only I believe and have a relationship with you. I will be a part of the glory. I will be a part of that crowd that praises at your coming.

11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.

Lord Jesus--Paul reminds me that I need to see my present actions and choices in light of that future glory. You continue to be at work within me..molding and shaping who I am to look like you.

Romans 8: 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Paul's prayer request is that every desire for goodness and every deed prompt by faith might be accomplished. That is a request with boldness written all over it. But can not happen except by your power at work, Lord Jesus. Work in power and grace.

12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus--The goal in all of this is so simple and yet it can so easily slip through the cracks of the church pews. The goal is that you might be glorified in my everyday my thoughts, actions emotions and my reactions.

In the day that will begin with the rising of the sun in a few moments, help me to keep in mind that your glory is the point...Lord Jesus--the prayer of my heart is that you will be glorified though me in this day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Notes to the Lord:About His Glory

2 Thessalonians 1
5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

Lord Jesus--The evidence that Paul has identified is that there is an increase in faith and love that the Thessalonian Christians are demonstrating to each other and to the world that surrounds them.

3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for
one another is increasing.

So what about my quotient of faith and love are they increasing, Lord Jesus? You convicted me when I read this quote the other day..."I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least."

Lord Jesus--You remind me again and again it is not about my perception of being right or wrong. Everything is about relationship. First relationship with you and then the people that surround me. I wonder what the reaction of these brothers and sisters to whom Paul was writing when the solders came to take them away. Did they fight? Did they grab the swords? Or, did th
ey see their soon to be captors as people for whom You died?

6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give r
elief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

Lord Jesus-- You knew every tear that these brothers and sisters cried as the experienced the wrath of Rome. You know exactly where I am rig
ht now. You will not have to look for me when you come in power and glory.

8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might

This world that I live in right now is not just. The poor are oppressed and the church is too often silent. But there is coming a day when there will be justice. More than anything else I want to be found obeying and growing my faith and love. In this day that is beginning to dawn, grow my faith and love.

Help me to see your fingerprints on the circumstances of my life and your desire for me to trust you to work...let this be a day to rejoice and be thankful in.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Notes to the Lord - People Are Watching Our Witness

2 Thessalonians 1
1Paul, Silas and Timothy,To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.3 We ought always to t hank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

Lord Jesus--If Paul were writing to me from his latest venture. What would he say to me? Would He be proud of the work that has been done. I am sure that he would not be so concerned about a new sign, or a redone office.

He would want to know about the people who love Jesus now who didn’t before this adventure that I engaged in began. He would want to know about the people challenged to be more than they are now.

He would want to know about the prayer that I had the privilege to have with a friend the other day who was trying to sort out your will for his life. He would want to know about the spiritual battles that have been won, and those that are still being fought. He would want to know about the presence of the Holy Spirit in worship and the grace that has been received and lived out in the everyday.

Lord Jesus--I have a feeling that I know some of what Paul would say. But what do you say? What message do you have for me this morning? Where are the growing edges that I need to encourage? Last week the message was to get thankful, rejoice for everything. Just because that is your will.

Thankfulness for what you have already done, is the key in the lock of hearing with clarity the Holy Spirit’s call on my life.

These good people in this church that Paul had planted were now under the gun...suffering for the faith. They were not in a culture war, they were in a spiritual all out no holds barred life and death struggle for their faith.

I have a feeling that they didn't have many discussions about worship style. Nor were they organizing a voter registration drive. I don't think that they were organizing a drive in the defense of marriage. They were not expecting the world to live any differently than the people that they were, people in need of grace.

They knew the le
sson that the 21st century church is just learning. Political power is not the answer, spiritual power is what will see communities and nations change. Anything else is a waste of time and energy, a shifting of focus that is a trick of the evil one. They were learning their lesson on the point of Roman power.

Paul lik
e the spiritual parent that he was, would shield them if possible from their pain. Deep down he knew that prayer was what could help them in their need. I am sure there were feelings of powerlessness as he watched from a distance.

Lord Jesus--Focus me on the point this morning. That there are people all around me that need to see You lived out in my life. Give me the strength to live for you in this day.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Notes to the Lord : Contined Change

Thessalonians 5

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Lord Jesus--This is one of the great blessings that is given in the Word. Paul is praying very practically for these young believers. He wants the context of prayer that has become breath for them to be coupled with thankfulness that becomes pervasive in their lives. This combination mixed with an openness to the work of the Holy Spirit is life transforming.

The goal is that you will complete a work of grace within them that would be transforming in nature. Everything is pointed toward when you return, that they would be ready.

That continues to be my prayer as I write this. Prepare me for your return...there is work still to be done in my heart. The tell tail signs are found in the growing edges of my thankfulness
and prayer life. The green edges of grace within my life are found in my ability to have faith in those places where I don’t see a reason to be in this area of my life Lord Jesus. It never has been about reasons for is really about faith.

Areas of thanklessness, in a sea of blessings that only have come from you...just doesn't make sense when I think about it. But thankfulness is not a thinking thing, it is a heart attitude that expresses it self in thoughts, feelings and actions.

Thankfulness needs to be my orientation in life not just a word that I use when assessing where I find myself. Thankfulness is not about things, it is about the
reality of my relatedness to You, and coming to the place where everything points back to you. Lord Jesus--You are the One who is at work in this ongoing process of transformation in my life. This is not a self-help project that I am engaged with, it is God at work in my thoughts, my feelings and my actions. Continue your work in my heart today.

In this day that will begin in a few hours help me to see that change continue as I follow you through my day. Be with your people in this day that will dawn all to soon.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Rejoicing and Prayer

Thessalonians 5
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually,

Lord Jesus--Paul is still on the road when he writes this letter of encouragement...he may have been writing from Corinth just after his arrival. In the middle of the work of a new church plant Paul takes time to write, maybe as he is making his latest tent...who knows. It may be in soft lamp light late at night or early in the morning that Paul is writing to these people who are following Jesus and waiting for his return.

Rejoicing is what he writes about...there is so much to be grateful for and thankful many evidences of God’s mercy and love. That is his advice to me? Find something to be thankful for, and in the middle of that remember it is only through your love that I am here.

Pray continually...what does that mean Lord? Does it mean that prayer and talking with you should be like breathing. A reflex that can’t be stopped as long as life last? Teach me to be a man of prayer.

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Lord Jesus--This is one of those verses where your direction is so clear and practical. You want me in the middle of the mix that surrounds me, to give you thanks. This was written to people who in the coming years would find themselves on the wrong end of Roman power. Give thanks in all circumstances, why?

Romans 8:28-29

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

The operating assumption is that You want to use everything that comes into my life to form me into your are in the middle of that re-creative process right now in my heart. That does not imply it is all easy and a cake walk...just waiting to taste the sweets a hands length away.

It means that until I can give thanks for everything that is happening You can not use it to its full impact in my life. The beginning of the integration of all that comes my way is found in thanksgiving.

Lord Jesus--Help me to not waste anything that comes into my life, it can all be used to bring me closer to you even when I can't imagine how it can.

19 Do not quench the Spirit.

Lord Jesus--There are those times when gratefulness and thanksgiving are hard to find inside me...those are the times when I am in danger of dampening the fire of the Holy Spirit within me.

20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

In the middle of thankfulness and gratefulness for what you have done and are is within that context that the Holy Spirit can speak with power and clarity to my heart.

Everything needs to judged by your word. There is no private interaction with you that will contradict what has already been revealed.

Lord Jesus--Help me to start everyday from a posture of
gratefulness and thankfulness.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Tidbits To Mull Over

1 Thessalonians 5

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.

Lord Jesus--The work of leading God’s people is something that is a honor and at the same time a challenge/responsibility. I am sure that Paul is speaking to people who were working a real job and in the time between the cracks attending to the needs of God’s people. It is always a juggling act with little margin either way. Lord Jesus increase the margins and lead your people.

13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Lord Jesus--There are times and places where discipline and teaching need to connect with the issues of life. That is not an easy decision, correction always needs to be done in love and with knowledge that no one is going to get it right all the time. No one is perfect and the goal of correction is for everyone to become more like Jesus, in the process.

In the middle of the mix there are those who need to be encouraged and those who need to be corrected...and patience is need with everyone. The mission is to show people Jesus lived out in everyday. Sometimes the everyday is messy, but that doesn't mean that Jesus is not there in the center of it all calling to a life lived out in the full implications of grace.

15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Lord Jesus--Revenge and getting even is what is the way of the world that surrounds me. You call for something different...something that is beyond and from above.

Teach me to show love that is not “because of” but love that can still work in the “in spite of” situations of life. Further on with learning to love as you did, is always going to be pushing the edges of "in spite of." In fact, a sign that my ability to love is increasing is the presence of more of the "in spite of" situations. Thank you for each of those "in spite of" situations that you have brought into my life...they are gifts from your hand of grace.

In this coming day Lord Jesus, as I follow you help me to react out of love and grace with my focus on you and your example.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Safe in the Middle of the Darkness

1 Thessalonians 5
1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Lord Jesus--The end of this age...I know that you are in control. As I think about the age that I live in, it impresses me that we have such a non-sustainable way of living. Our culture is so move-able and disposable. So little really lasts beyond the expiration date stamped on the carton.

You will return suddenly in the middle of safety and security. In a moment, what was will pass away. There are practical implications of the possibility of that kind of massive change. It says something about the value that I should place on the things that surround me. You are saying to me, “Hold everything lightly, they are not yours anyway. Take care of them until I need them from you.”

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.

Lord Jesus--There are practical implications of being yours in this time of darkness. It requires of me an approach that is a bit like working the night shift. It is dark outside but that does not mean that I am engaged in the activities of the night. You call me to sober actions that are surround by the light, even when the darkness deepens around me. I need to stay awake even when it gets so quiet around me.

7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

Lord Jesus--The situation calls for protection from the forces that surround in the darkness. Faith and Love protect the heart and vital organs. It is when I lead with faith and love that my heart is protected. You are the one the forms the context and the course of the events that shape my life.

I am not alone in this deepening darkness. Faith and love says that in the middle of whatever mess I find myself that you can turn it into a place of blessing and grace. Grace that impacts even the darkness that seems so oppressive at times.

I love that hope is my helmet. It is when hope infuses and infects the thoughts and ruminations of my mind and heart that I can think and plan with effectiveness.

Lord Jesus, inhabit my thoughts and meditations in this day. The darkness does not depend on my limited mental resources to see it beaten back. Hope is my first thought and my last thought before I find myself in your presence. Salvation is your sovereign choice.

9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Lord Jesus--There is coming a day when I will be with you. You have offered salvation freely. As the darkness deepens and my hope in the present safety and security recedes remind me that your grace continues to lead through the course of my life and times.

In this day, be with your people. My walk right now is safe in a way that many of my brothers and sisters have never known. I will be warm and well feed today. Be close to your people who are walking through dark places today. Keep them encouraged and aware that you with them in a way that is beyond explanation.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Notes to the Lord: On Home Comings

1 Thessalonians 4

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

Lord Jesus--The very first people that will know about your return are going to be the people who have died knowing you. Death was not strong enough to hold you in the grave and it will not be strong enough to hold your people.

It reminds me of what Matthew tells of your death...

Matthew 27
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

I am wondering what the people who sentenced you to death thought when they saw their Godly dead walking the streets talking about the resurrection and what God was doing.

Death can not hold back those who seek to follow you. It is merely an interruption in a walk that transcends this world and the constrains of time and space. I will look for some of those who I know are among that number and were my mentors...

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Lord Jesus--There are elements of your return that are beyond clear. It is something that will not be missed. No one will be able to miss the trumpet call of God, or the voice of the archangel...wonder if that will be Gabriel?

No matter, it will not be able to be missed. I wonder if CNN will do a special on the odd trumpet sound that was heard around the world... I wonder what Fox news will say about the voice of the Archangel? Will there be missing person reports filed on us? I won’t need to worry, I have a feeling I will not be needing cable news at that point.

Caught up in the air...and with you forever. No more mortgage payments will make it to the bank...the home that I will be at has already been paid for in full. Lord Jesus, thank you for your death for my sins that make eternity with you possible.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Notes to the Lord: Lesson in Love And Life

1 Thessalonians 4

9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,

Lord Jesus--These early Christians did not get a letter from Paul that focused on the need and the means to love. They had followed the teaching that you had taught them...a little at a time in Paul’s absence. They had grown their love for each other and for the rest of God’s people.

Continue that process in me, Lord a bit at a time. Shaping where it is needed, sanding when necessary...the work needs to get done.

11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Lord Jesus--These brother’s and sister’s separated from me in time and space were going through many of the same issues of growing their faith that I am. Along with the heart work there were the practical issues. Ok, how am I going to support myself in this economic environment?

Yet, through all of the issues that I am sure troubled their lives: wars, repression of civil liberties, and economies based on slave labor, you lead and provided for your people. If you did that then, you can still do that now for this child of God. The goal is a quiet life that is based on a good work ethic and in so doing to win the respect of the watching world.

Lord Jesus, In the day that will begin in just a little while, there will be tasks to complete and goals to reach. In all of the goals and reaching, help me to remember your grace and love which always are reaching out to me. In the middle of the race don't let me miss the grace that surrounds me.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Notes to the Lord: Personal Purity

1 Thessalonians 4

1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to plea
se God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

Lord Jesus--There are no vacations or sick time that we have when it comes to living for you. You call me to live for you no matter where or when I find that walk taking me. You call me to follow no matter how I feel about it, or how my brokenn
ess may be expressing it self in my present life situation.

You have me right where I need to be, right where you can grow your life within me. In the middle of life Paul calls me to continue what has been started in my heart and life. There is no wasted time or wasted effort. You are at work through all the changes that confront and challenge me.

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do
not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.

Lord Jesus--Paul is reminding me of the fact that you call me to a life that is radically different than the world that surrounds me. The world around me uses sex and sexual attraction as a way to sell everything from clothes to cars. You want something more from your people. A place where sexual distinction is not the focus, but your work in our hearts is the f

The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Lord Jesus--The reality is that purity is what you look for from your pe

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart! For they shall see God.

You want more than anything else in our lives for us to live out your love in a way that transcends anything and everything that would distract.

Help me to walk beside you in this day like a child aware and following at your side.