Flights of Faith

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Discern, Ask, Seek, Knock, Plant, Stand, Build

6"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

I don't really understand this verse except to say Jesus is merciful. How are we not dogs and pigs to him? Yet, Jesus presented Himself: more precious than a pearl. A presentation that was gruesome and made His Father go through so much anguish: to see His own wrath for sin be poured out on His Son, the only way we could live freely. I guess maybe it goes to show more mercies from Jesus. If people aren't listening or insulting you, then give that pearl to your wife, to your friend, not to the one who takes advantage of you or speaks lies against you. It makes me think who are the dogs and pigs in my life. Yeah, people might rise to the top of the list. However, I love them despite how vile they can be, how much they hate me because of Jesus. I'm not really sure about this one. I just asked God for discernment because this was a prayer request over break. By accepting Jesus as my Savior, I accepted a call to die to my sins and my selfish ambition. But I didn't necessarily accept a call of servitude of the flesh for those abusing the Gospel via me presenting it. I think this verse is an encouragement for people stuck in that. We love and pray for others, but we are not bound to those who only respond sinfully angrily to our message of His love. God will be at work in their hearts. And we will join Him when he calls us and when they're ready. Also, some more verses kinda popped into my mind now. 4You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."[b] 7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:4-8). God, I guess does this too, especially since we know the reality of Christ and our spirit "jealously longs" to exist as something better, in someone Holy. Jesus is mercifully present is us when we reveal our brokenness, the ways we need healing, when display our contrite hearts. We don't have to be perfect then (that will only come in Heaven) but we have to be "on our way" to Him. I wonder how many times people have tried to take a leap of faith but talked down to God or saw Him as an equal or just eventually cursed Him. Why would He respond to that when His response was already His own death for those sins? And is part of the reason, not Christ's own pickiness, but the form of idolatry those men and women commit. A god lower than a human or a human seeing him or herself in the same stature as God (something Jesus didn't even do though he was!) is false worship and Christ cannot even be recognized. Maybe that's the meaning of a verse...if a pearl won't be recognized as a pearl, then stop giving them because, in a way, it ceases to be a gift, it ceases to be beautiful to a person because of their blindness. If people are complaining or disgusted by sacred gifts, don't offer them anymore. That person has made the sacred profane in his or her own mind. Wait and...

Ask, Seek, Knock
7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

This time of prayer was great. Asking, seeking, and knocking through several requests. I love it because it's about God's faithfulness to us and an invitation for us to be faithful to Him. And the line about: What? You think I'll give you a stone? Let me show you my wonder and my power. Amazing. I think it's why we should pray for the requests of our friends. No matter what their background. And pray with them, if they're willing. God wants to show us His power in order to demonstrate His love and what life could be like with Him. No conditions. Those have been set at creation and on the Cross. Just acts of invitational mercy.

The Narrow and Wide Gates
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The statements of "few" always make me sad. "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." I hope it's a human history thing and that we can see many people entering the narrow gate in our lifetime and in our age.

A Tree and Its Fruit
15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

We cannot just watch a person and idolize him or her, but we need to see what they're bearing: earthly treasures or heavenly treasures? And are they rotting others through their fruit? We can't just call ourselves Christians. We must bear the fruit of Christ. We must follow Him to His vineyards so he can teach us how to be planters of divine seeds. And as much as it ruffles feathers to say this, this passage speaks to the hedging we try to do as a society. We worship the Kanye types: "I wanted to do good and I almost did...then I saw her and the fancy car and the diamond...and then I did wrong all again. Guess it doesn't matter in the end " (I have a flow to that, btw) We praise them for their complicated stories and moral courage...but they're dead in sin. They just showed a scar from the battle, which they lost. And proudly so. Just doesn't seem like courage to me. These are false prophets. And I hope I am not among them. I must be dependent on God and worship Him because my strength comes from the perfection I find in Him not just the work I do with Him. I must take time and learn to love worship and prayer. This will keep me humble, connected, and bound to the Truth. Christ always praised the Father in an effort of humility and right relationship. I must always praise Christ, my Father, and the Spirit. Otherwise, I might unduly become the hero. And I should not want that. I'm learning not to want that.

The Wise and Foolish Builders

24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

I pray that my house is built on the rock of Christ. I think they're like the rocks in Ghana. Wind beating, waves roaring, spray foaming and blinding; yet they squatted down low and took the hits of waves with their jagged edges then invited the water to baptize them as they become soaked, but not drowned. They always surfaced, they never budged, and they always held my weight as I prayed on them looking out on to the Atlantic, the Ocean that is as much a home to me as I'll ever know. And despite death, despite pain, despite heartache, despite a brutalizing form of bondage, I knew God was good because His foundation was still there and it opened possibility for me. And it still does. And he allows us to stand on it even amidst a storm.

And Peter answered Him,
"Lord, if it is you,
bid me come to you
on the water."
29 He said,

I pray this in your Son's name, Jesus Christ,

Seek First His Kingdom

Matthew 6:19-34

Treasures in Heaven

19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Do Not Worry

25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Oh God, I will not worry. Instead, I will seek Your kingdom. For what should I want that will not be found there? What would I worry about that You cannot provide? Why would I look in other places for the Stuff of You? Forgive me for the times that I have. Let me forgive others for abandoning me when I need Your ambassadors surrounding me. Lord, ease my sadness. I know You cry with me. You are a God who wipes away my tears. God, thank You for Nature. 2,000 after You came to this Earth Your words still resonant when I see trees alive in this frost. They are living despite their outer conditions. And Spring is coming! Break it through my bones, God. Let me feel it. Do not let me grow tired. Let me desire what you desire. Let me listen and obey to true things and let me discard what is false. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear and the discernment to understand what You are doing. God thank You for making us Your great lilies, beings wandering life waiting to be known, waiting to be loved. Yet, You see us. You take joy in us. You are a God slow to anger, a lover of Mercy. Lord, let us know the wait is over. You have provided the birth, the new growth, that washed away our inequities. Now, we can grow in You. I desire to grow in You, Lord. Teach me Your ways. Free me from my sins and my addictions. Let me live a life of doing what the Father is doing.

Lord, let it be that my eyes would be floodlights of Your Truth and Your Love. Grant me sight to see others the way You meant them to be seen: through loving eyes that are aware of their plights and eager to rescue them. Let our eyes draw them in just as Your loving stare pierced us with Truth from You. Do not let me be in the darkness, Father. Do not let be contaminated by sin and evil because it makes me fall and becomes a stumbling block to my friends. I thank You for freeing me from the Law so that I may follow a living Judge who proclaims his righteousness humbly, as a servant. Make this servant's heart be my treasure. Let me grow closer to its beat by acts of humility: silences so that I may listen and hear, not finding my identity in my work but the ones who made it possible by preparing the way before me, letting other people name me a characteristic of You instead of flying that banner myself. Let me have a simple life. Not that it will refuse to tackle complexities; instead, Your double edged sword will pierce through lies in order to separate what seems complicated to a simple truth: is this act loving You or not? Am I obeying You or not? Yes, Lord, yes. Let me love in obedience.

Let me have a right relationship to obedience. Let me see it as freeing. I ask, Jesus, that You give me a heart to fill my storehouses with the treasure of discipline so that I might follow Your will. Grant this freedom to me, O Lord.

Lord, You are not a moth and You are not rust. You do not destroy as they destroy. You do not corrupt as they corrupt. You complete. You fulfill. You replenish. You make whole. You do works of creation and healing. You are my King and my Savior. You want to preserve me, to make me Salt and Light, substances that last beyond my earthly frame. Step into this body You've encased my soul in and guide me, through Your Spirit and Your Word. Let this be an offering of praise, an act of worship.

Lord, you alone are my Master. Let me serve only You.

In Your Strength, not my own,