The cornerstone

Ephesians 2:20-21 NLT Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. [21] We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.

The cornerstone is a guide to the structure.

Since ancient times, builders have used cornerstones in their construction projects. A cornerstone was the principal stone, usually placed at the corner of a building, to guide the workers in their course. The cornerstone was usually one of the largest, the most solid, and the most carefully constructed of any in the building. The Bible describes Jesus as the cornerstone that His church would be built upon. He is foundational. Matthew 16:15-18 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Once the cornerstone was set, it became the basis for determining every measurement in the remaining construction; everything was aligned to it. As the cornerstone of the building of the church, Jesus is our standard of measure and alignment.

Jesus, as our cornerstone, is a guide for our lives.

As we come to Jesus and begin to build our lives according to the orientation of the Christ Cornerstone, we will be a strong well equipped Christian growing in the faith and power of the Holy Spirit. There may be areas of your life that need to be torn down because they do not align with the cornerstone. A building with only part of the construction aligned with the cornerstone of Christ will fall just as surely as one without any cornerstone.

Precious and proven cornerstone. Safe to build on.

Isaiah 28:16 (1Peter 2:26) Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.” God was speaking of His only Son who would come to earth to give direction and provide an escape from sin and death if they had faith in Him. 

Rejected by men but chosen by God

1 Peter 2:4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.

Mark 12:12 ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. 

Read Bible daily, pray, go to a church that preaches the truth of sin and eternity, rather than very soft sermons.

Build your life on the precious cornerstone of Jesus Christ. Allow your life to be carefully joined together on this rock. Test everything against the cornerstone. If it does not line up with the cornerstone, remove it. Your life will be blessed and will never be shaken.

Build your lightnside on the precious cornerstone of Christ Jesus; It is safe to build on.

Ephesians 2:11-18 The Cross defeats racism

Ephesians 2:11-12 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 

Racism has always been a part of the fallen world. 

There was arrogance and name-calling from a class of people who felt superior to a “heathen” class of people. There were the outsiders and the in-crowd. Hostility, anger, abuse, privilege, shunned could all be wrapped up in the verses above.  

Brought near to him through the blood of Christ. 

Ephesians 2:13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. 

The death of Christ on the cross released a supernatural power to overcome division. On the cross, the enemy thought he had destroyed Jesus. But because of Jesus’ sacrifice (not destruction) on the cross, a mighty power over sin, separation, and death was birthed. It all points to the cross and the blood of Jesus. 

Christ’s perfect sacrifice and resurrection opened a world of hope to many who would die in their sins. It is the supernatural power of Christ’s blood that dripped off the cross and is still dripping on those lost, separated, abused, shunned to bring them to hope through Christ. The supernatural work of Christ’s blood goes out to the world of the lost and calls them to draw near to Christ and other Christians.

Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross

Ephesians 2:14-16 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

Christ broke down the wall of hostility between us. Jesus ended the regulations the Jews were required to keep in the Old Testament. Rules like circumcision, animal sacrifice, sabbath, and dietary restrictions. Now there is no more separation between the Jews and Gentiles. Jesus died for all on the cross, and through His death, He can put to death our hostility toward each other through the power of Christ’s blood.  

All of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit

Ephesians 2:17-18 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now, all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

Let us call upon the power of Christ’s blood over our personal lives and conversations about other races and other beliefs that are causing pain and division. Let us share a message of hope and breaking down walls of separation as we share the news of Christ to a lost world.  

Let your lightnside shine hope and peace to people outside your own circles.

FAITH-BASED MOVIE “COUNTER COLUMN”

NOVA VENTO ENTERTAINMENT SET TO RELEASE MILITARY FAITH-BASED MOVIE The Award-Winning Feature, COUNTER COLUMN Will Open May 21, 2021 (Montana) Nova Vento Entertainment has acquired the theatrical rights to the new award-winning faith based film, Counter Column and will be releasing the film in theaters nationwide on May 21, 2021.

Counter Column follows the lives of two young men from very different worlds that clash hard and fast when they meet in basic training. Anthony Mendoza (played by Chris Gonzales) is a hard hitting drug dealer who grew up fighting everyone and everything in the inner city. He has no idea what to do with Chris Wright (Nathan-Andrew Hight), a quiet man of faith who grew up in the rural farmlands of Indiana. Mendoza learns quickly that his violent life lessons haven’t prepared him for what life outside the inner city, let alone in the military, is like. When tragedy strikes, both young men need to dig deep and find out what’s truly going to carry them through.

This fast-paced, emotional drama is already changing lives and opening people’s hearts in a big way. Says lead actor Chris Gonzales, “I took risks making myself vulnerable in front of camera and crew every day, but there was no other way to make it real. I loved the experience, and I could not be prouder of this movie, and the message it brings.” Brandon Smith of Nova Vento Entertainment feels that the time is right for the powerful message of hope that this film brings. “Everyone right now is searching for the uplifting stories and even the smallest glimpses of hope. Counter Column brings with it a beautiful story of redemption, hope, and reconciliation at a time when people need it most.”

Find the movie in a theater or rental when available. I’m sure your lightnside will be blessed.

Are you dead?

There was a movie in the 80s called “Weekend at Bernie’s”. The plot was about a man who was the key person for a deal, and he was to have a party at his house this weekend. His name was Bernie. Before the weekend, Bernie died. Some decided to have a party at Bernie’s house anyway and pretend Bernie was “alive” when he was dead. They would prop Bernie up and pretend to wave. Bernie was dead all along, but he looked alive.  

Ephesians 2:1 And you, He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.  

We are not talking about physical death but spiritual death. Our spirit is what should be able to connect with God. But if that spirit is dead, it cannot become alive on its own. Only God can breathe life into something dead. God is life. All living things come from the original life source, God.   

People who are dead cannot connect with God. That does not mean they don’t go to church. It does not mean there is no desire to live a righteous life. On the contrary, they are constantly seeking something to bring peace and hope. But since they have no communication with God, they search for hope through self accomplishments, money, addiction, pleasure, and escape. These people always ask the pastor or someone else to pray for them. They cannot pray for themselves. Their spirit cannot connect with God because they are dead. What can the dead do? Nothing. There is no power to change their path in life. They have no defense to the forces of temptation and the demonic powers of Satan.  They have no control over the desires of their heart. They follow them to their harm.  

Trespasses and sin

Remember what God told Adam in Genesis about eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; Genesis 2:17 NKJV “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Adam and Eve did eat, and the spirit that communicated with God died as God cast them out of the garden. From that time, everyone was born with a dead soul. It is sometimes called ‘original sin.’ Psalm 51:5 NIV Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. We start with sin, and the sins accumulate. The only way to get rid of sin is through faith and repentance to Jesus Christ.

Trespasses are the choices we made that we know are sinful. Our own decisions to steal, hate, hurt, cheat. These are our own choices against what we know is right. We trespass over God’s laws that we know are true. The Bible says we were dead in our trespasses and sins.

You do not have to teach babies to be selfish or to say no. They were born in sin. One illustration I found of a dead spirit. A man was walking through the forest in the fall. He came upon a stream. In the stream were dead leaves floating down the river. The leaves could not choose where to go. The dead leaves were at the mercy of the river. Also in the river were fish that were swimming upstream. They were looking for food. So they could choose their course. The leaves were dead, but the fish were alive.

Ephesians 2:2 NIV “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

The people with a dead spirit follow the ways of the world. They follow the darkened Godless beliefs of a lost world. They also are ruled by the “Prince of the power of the air!” Where ever there is air, Satan’s kingdom is there. Air is everywhere! You cannot get away from the enemy’s influence. The dead find themselves more and more resistant to following God. Instead, they become hardened, rebellious, and disobedient.

Ephesians 2:3 “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

The influence of Satan’s kingdom is to have people focus on their lust and desires. As a result, they are developing an emotion of wrath and violence.

Ephesians 2:4-10 But God…

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Call upon Christ.

So, are you dead? Do you identify with the poor souls who cannot talk with God? Are you following the ways of the world and cannot stop seeking your lusts. Do you feel controlled by evil forces that are everywhere? There is a way out.  Call upon Christ to save you. Tell him you repent of your sins. Tell Him you will follow Him and begin to go to a passionate church. The most excellent words listed in the first ten verses of Ephesians chapter two are “He made alive., you once walked, But God., made us alive together with Christ, by grace, and ‘it is the gift of God.’

Allow the truth of Ephesians to brighten your lightnside as you become more and more alive in Christ.

That you may know…

Ephesians 1:17-18   

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

The book of Ephesians is full of great truths about what God has in store for all Christians and the amount of power through Christ we can use. Ephesians 1:3-14, is one sentence of amazing truths we have in Christ. Then why are we challenged to believe, receive and walk in these gifts and promises?

Mankind lives in a broken world and, since birth, we have rejected the truth of a God who wants to bless us. Most of our thoughts are what we can do to make our lives greater. There is a dusty cloud covering the powerful scriptures that hide the potential promises from us. Our damaged souls and carnal minds cannot comprehend these truths, so we stay in a stressful life. We are swamped with doubts about our salvation and are fearful of making a stand against the things in our lives that harm us. There must be a way TO KNOW these truths.

How can we break through this gray wall to the truth written in Ephesians? How can we KNOW the truths written in Ephesians? Paul is writing to the young believers of the church, and he prays a specific prayer for them and a model for us to break through to power in Christ. Paul begins by thanking God for the newfound faith and love for each other. Then Paul mentions four events the Holy Spirit can help us with THAT WE MAY KNOW the truths, so that we can push through the gray wall separating us from this truth.

Ephesians 1:17-18 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the…

Spirit of Wisdom   

Find a place each day to read about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Ask God to give you wisdom in what you are reading. It is the Holy Spirits’ job to help us understand God’s word.  

And revelation in the knowledge of Him

Revelations only happen when you grow in the wisdom of God. The Holy Spirit makes a verse come alive for you specifically. You can also receive revelations of God at any time as your knowledge of God grows. These revelations are mighty and life-changing. One very quick example. As a teenager, I was driving, and my eyes were drawn to the power lines in the city. I happen to be passing a power station with huge transformers. My mind was saying how smart man was to be able to harness this power. Just then, one lightning bolt lit up the whole sky, city and completely dwarfed the power lines. The Holy Spirit gave me a revelation of God’s power in just one lighten bolt. When I find myself feeling weak, I go back to the revelation. Revelations need wisdom as a foundation to build on.

The eyes of your heart be enlightened.

God, through His presence, wisdom, and revelation, begins to clean our heart’s eyes to the real truths we have in Him. Jesus said I am the LIGHT of the world. John 1:4 “In him was life, and the life was the LIGHT of men.”, John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the LIGHT of life.” Ask God to bring light to your heart as you read.

That you may know…

As understanding, revelations, and enlightening of our heart are supernaturally given by God, Our understanding of who we are in Christ becomes more clear. We KNOW. We Declare. We confess our unbelief and declare God’s word is true in us. Declare these truths out loud.  Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.

The truths in these two verses will bring you to greater maturity of hope, peace, power, and assurance of God’s gifts to you. May wisdom, revelation, enlightening, and confident knowing to brighten your lightnside this week.

The Woke Wounded Warrior

“I am an Egyptian…we raided some territory belonging to Judah…and we burned Ziglag.”

What is WOKE?

The definition of “woke” is being alert to injustice in society, especially racism. Of course, this “woke” movement defines racism by its own belief. Other groups of people believe just the opposite. Because of these views, deep anger is rising in America. If we are not careful, our nation will become unstable and increase anger, hatred, and destruction.

In today’s scripture, David is dealing with strong emotions of anger, rage, and pain. He comes face to face with a “woke” enemy. What will David do? Will anger overwhelm him and his followers. We all will face this sometime in our life. The time when you feel you are unfairly treated and possibly a great pain to you. Will you be swallowed up in anger and revenge?

You may even have a right to respond, but in that dark time, there may be a miracle waiting. Something the Lord wants to do in your life that going through a dark season is the only way to receive it. Now the story.

David and Disaster

1Samuel 29-30:10 David is rejected because he was a Hebrew hero.  He was sent home. Arriving home (Ziglag.) David finds it destroyed and their families taken. ” So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep… David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God. 

Have you found yourself in a sudden disaster? A personal attack of overwhelming emotional trauma. In the middle of pain, David sought the Lord. David and his men began to track the enemy.

The “woke warrior” and the choice

1 Samuel 30:11-14  They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— 12 part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights. 13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.

What would you do if you came upon the person who was part of the attack on you? What would God want from you? Would you have the right to attack? David faced the man who was part of the destruction and kidnapping of his family. I wonder what was going through David’s mind. Revenge? Hatred? Possibly, but God wanted to mature David to prepare him to be the king. 

To be kind or to get even?

In the past, I was hurting deeply from an unfair attack. We were accused wrongly, and it was very public. Eventually, we were found free of any wrong, but what do I do when I see people who were part of the attack? It would be nice to tell you the thoughts of revenge were never there. I would be lying. God dwelt with me to humble myself and be kind to those who attacked.  

God’s Grace and reward

1 Samuel 30:15-20 David was kind to the Egyptian. Because of that decision, the Egyptian led them to the enemy who had attacked their home. David recovered all the families along with the spoils of the attacking army. 

How will you react in the face of the “woke” who accuse and destroy? Remember David as he found the Egyptian. David’s decision of kindness led to the restoration and blessing of God.

Matthew 5:44 – love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  

In the difficult time of the woke. Be kind and seek God. Allow your lightnside to shine kindness to those who are angry. God is at work.

The Four Chaplains “Faithful Service”

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

THE STORY OF THE FOUR CHAPLAINS


The story of the Four Chaplains is one of faithful service and sacrifice so others could live. The Dorchester was a coastal passenger steamship ship first launched in 1926. As America mobilized for WW II, it was delivered to the War Shipping Administration and converted to a troopship in New York where it was fitted with additional lifeboats, life rafts, and armament.


The Dorchester departed New York on January 23rd, 1943 bound for St. John’s Newfoundland where it would join a convoy bound for the Army Command Base at Narsarsuaq, Greenland.
It was the evening of Feb. 2, 1943, and the Dorchester was crowded to capacity with 904 souls aboard. Hans Danielsen, the ship’s captain, was a cautious man. He knew they were in dangerous waters and that German U- boats were constantly prowling the sea lanes, and several ships had already been sunk. While only 150 miles from its destination, the captain ordered the men to sleep that night in their clothing with their life jackets on. Many soldiers sleeping deep in the ship’s hold disregarded the order because of the engine’s heat. Others ignored it because the life jackets were
uncomfortable.



On Feb. 3, at about 1 AM, a periscope broke the chilly Atlantic waters and the German submarine U-223 spotted the Dorchester and fired. One torpedo hit —striking the starboard side — far below the water line. Within minutes the Captain gave the order to abandon ship. In less than 20 minutes, the Dorchester would slip beneath the Atlantic’s icy waters. Panic and chaos had set in. Men jumped from the ship into lifeboats, over-crowding them to the point of capsizing. Through the chaos, four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness. Those chaplains were Lt. George Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander Goode, Jewish; Lt. John Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark Poling, Dutch Reformed. Quickly and quietly, the four spread out among the soldiers and sailors. There they tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded and guide the disoriented toward safety. One Army Private found himself floating in oil- smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. “I could hear men crying, pleading, praying,” He recalled. “I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage and calling us to them. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.” Another, sailor PO John Mahoney tried to reenter his cabin, but Rabbi Goode stopped him. The sailor explained he had forgotten his gloves. “Never mind,” CH Goode responded. “I have two pairs.” The rabbi then gave the petty officer his own gloves. In retrospect, Mahoney realized that Rabbi Goode was not carrying two pairs of gloves, and that the rabbi had decided not to leave the Dorchester.



By this time, most of the men were topside, and the chaplains opened a storage locker and began distributing life jackets. It was then that Engineer Grady Clark witnessed an astonishing sight. When there were no more lifejackets in the storage room, the chaplains removed theirs and gave them to four frightened young men. “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven,” said John Ladd, another survivor who saw the chaplains’ selfless act. Ladd’s response is understandable. The altruistic action of the four chaplains constitutes one of the purest spiritual and ethical acts a person can make. When giving their life jackets, Rabbi Goode did not call out for a Jew; Father Washington did not call out for a Catholic; nor did the Reverends Fox and Poling call out for a Protestant. They simply gave their life jackets to the next man in line. As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four chaplains —arms linked and braced against the slanting deck. Their voices could also be heard, offering prayers. When the news reached American shores, the nation was stunned by the magnitude of the tragedy and heroic conduct of the four chaplains.


In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13 NIV).” That night those four chaplains passed love’s ultimate test. In doing so, they became an enduring example of extraordinary faith, courage, and selflessness.


As a postscript I want you to know that the Dorchester is best remembered today by the Four Chaplains who died because they gave up their life jackets to save others. And to note:
• On December 19, 1944, all four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross.
• In 1948 the U.S. Post Office issued a commemorative stamp in honor of the heroism and sacrifice of the chaplains. This stamp was highly unusual, because until 2011, U.S. stamps were not normally issued in honor of someone other than a President of the United States until at least ten years after his or her death.


• On July 14, 1960, Congress created the Chaplain’s Medal for Heroism. It was presented posthumously to the next of kin of each of the chaplains in ceremonies at Fort Myer, Virginia on January 18, 1961.
• In 1998, on the 55th anniversary of the sinking of the Dorchester,
Congress established February 3 as “Four Chaplains Day” to commemorate their act of heroism.
• And most Army Chapels hold a Four Chaplains service on the first
Sunday in February ever year.

Let this story of four faithful Christian Ministers give you strength to stand strong in the battles you are fighting. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you strength, honor, and service to those whom God puts in your path. As you do, your Lightnside will shine bright and others will be blessed.

Remember the Four Chaplains

This devotion was presented to the National Adult & Teen Challenge Board meeting in April by John J. Rossi.

The Presence of Pain

Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

One of the lessons from the scripture today may be one we do not particularly want to hear. Before the resurrection, there is a cross. Good Friday comes before Easter. The hard lesson for today is sooner or later, life will involve us in real pain.

The gift nobody wants! The symptoms of pain and illness are not the same thing. The illness exists long before the symptoms of pain. The feeling of pain can be the beginning cure of the illness. The fact that they are unwanted makes them even more a phenomenon of grace— a gift of God to initiate self-examination and repair.   M. SCOTT PECK

C.S. Lewis The Problem with Pain

 From the loss of his mother at a young age to the untimely death of his wife Joy, Lewis experienced pain as God’s megaphone, as he says, to rouse a deaf world. Pain leads us somewhere – to something. That something is a life of faith. Just as there is importance placed in a strong rope when you’re dangling from a precipice, faith is the only way to pull ourselves out from a life of desperation, a life of anxiety and need, a life of doubt and insecurity.

But how can faith be present if we don’t realize we need something beyond our own person? How do we believe unless we recognize how frail our efforts have become to maintain everything just so?

Lewis says that we must understand our fallenness. He interprets the fall of humanity not only as an opportunity for evil to thrive, but also the choice to ignore the purpose of pain. Christianity creates the problem of pain because it provides hope for righteousness and love. Without the revelation that God loves us, the painful world would make sense. Pain would have no cause. Let’s face it: it’s much easier to dismiss God or to regard him only as an airman regards his parachute, as Lewis says, there only if he needs it but he hopes he never does.

When we run headlong into God, Lewis contends that pain is demanded. Why? “How impossible it is to enact the surrender of the self by doing what we like,” he says. The truth is that at the heart of God’s love is a suffering Messiah and followers who take up crosses and follow in like fashion.

“If I knew any way of escape I would crawl through sewers to find it,” Lewis writes. “I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. That is what the word means. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine of being made “perfect through suffering” is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design.”

The Power of Pain

 Maturity

I Peter 5:10 “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.”

Humility

Paul’s thorn in the flesh helped him remember that he was still human walking in the flesh. II Corinthians 12:7 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”

 Birth – physical and spiritual – requires pain.

 Physical – John 16:21 “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembered no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.”

Spiritual – James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Eternity for the Saints, no more pain.

Revelation 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” 

When in pain, remember it is God’s gift and desire to do more excellent work in our life for physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Lightnside

New wine and new wineskins

New wine must be put into new wineskins

wineskin

Mark 2:21-22   No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

In Mark the religious leaders criticized Jesus for almost everything.  Healing on Sunday, eating with tax collectors and not fasting the traditional way with the traditional rules. Jesus responded with a comment that was not just about fasting but all the issues listed in Mark.  There is a new kingdom coming into the world that will not work with the existing traditional rules and expectations.

New Wine is a new level of Holy Spirit power.

Jesus said this new kingdom or new spiritual experience that is coming cannot co-exist with the structure and rigidness of the existing expectations.  The new kingdom can only exist in a new structure.  Trying to experience a new spiritual life without any change in their current behaviors and expectations would be a disaster.  Not only would it not work, but even the existing structure would break down in where you would be worse off than if you had not sought a new experience with Christ.

In my devotion, I began to meditate on this truth.  New wine needs new containers.  New patches of cloth can only be used on new material.  Obviously, Christ and the Holy Spirit are the source of the new vine or spiritual empowering.  But before we can receive this new ability or spiritual gifting from God there must be intentional work in our lives to prepare ourselves. A hunger for more of God. Submitting to spending time in the word and in prayer.

New wine preparation

Are you being challenged by new responsibilities or frustrated by your management ability?  Is God nudging you to deal with a sin issue or challenging you to be aware of an issue of your personality that could use refining?  Are you working harder on your daily devotions, work habits, or more concerned about a social issue that you never noticed before?  The Holy Spirit may be leading you in developing a new wineskin in preparation for a new spiritual assignment.   Allow this process to do its work.  Be determined with self-control and focus on these issues.  God is preparing you for some New Wine for some new assignment or influence in your world.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you develop new wineskins to receive new anointing from the Holy Spirit.

The new wine is God’s work.  The wineskin is our work. God will give you guidance and ability but the work is yours.  It requires self-control, commitment, seeking truth and advice, adjusting your priorities and faith. Your lightnside will shine as new wine from the Holy Spirit is poured into your heart.

Psalms 32:2-5 Listen to your body

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night, your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord .” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.  Psalm 32:3‭-‬5 NIV11

Groaning hearts and bodies

As a  Christian we enjoy the power of God and the presence of Christ.  However we are still part of the fallen nature of man.  We sin.  We are turned by our desires and traps designed by our enemy (James 1:14-15  “14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.“)  Like King David our eyes see something we may not even have been looking for.  Our carnal fallen nature rises up and we find ourselves falling into sin.

The first response is to justify and minimize the sin.  Using our logic we devise a world where we can live with the pleasure and pretend it has no effect on our relationship with God.  But, we notice a dryness of God’s presence.  The desire of seeking God’s presence is reduced or replaced.  Day after day a decrease of seeking God is replaced by the carnal desires you tasted and liked.

If this is you,  listen to your body and heart.  As David described during his sin his body reacted to the lack of God’s presence.  There is pressure and groaning in our bodies.  You feel it.  Trying to escape this pressure you keep yourself occupied with distractions and entertainment. But all along a Christian’s body that houses God’s presence moans and suffers. The joy of God’s presence is dampened as the Holy Spirit calls for repentance.  This is a difficult and uncomfortable feeling.  The clash of God’s presence with our selfish desires is an inward battle.

Listen to the Holy Spirit

I am glad the Holy Spirit does not give up.  I know I need to confess and reject that carnal pleasure that was birthed by gossip, lust, anger, or any other emotion.  Once I begin to confess this to God, a sweet presence floods my life.  I am forgiven.  I am free of inward pain. The joy of seeking God and His word returns and strengthens me.  We serve a great God who knows we are part of a fallen world.  He understands and His grace covers us during these times of wondering.  We can continue to reject Christ to our own shame and judgment but as I confess, I am restored.

Listen to Jesus’ understanding and compassion

Jesus prayed for Peter (also called Simon) when He saw his future denial of Christ.  Luke 22:31-32 NIV “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. [32] But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knew Peter would deny Him but Jesus prayed for him as He is interceding for you today.

Be still and listen to your body and God’s still voice. Let your lightnside beat strong and faithful.