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Just Receive

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receive: to be given something; to come in possession of something; to accept from another by hearing or listening; to be a recipient; to act as a container for

The Jews argued among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (John 6:52-53).

When those who followed Jesus heard him talking about eating flesh and drinking blood, they probably thought, This man is crazy. Is this some type of cult?  Although they heard him, they didn’t understand him. This is a hard saying: who can understand it? (John 6:60). And because they didn’t understand, they complained and many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him.

For my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed (John 6:55).

Those who heard the words of Jesus should have been able to relate to what he was saying because he was speaking their language. They knew about offering sacrifices according to the law. Words such as flesh and blood were familiar to them, but they still missed it.

For years, they had been sacrificing animals for their sins, but what they were doing didn’t last because they had to do it again and again. But now the Word was made flesh (Jesus).  God sent Jesus to become both the High Priest and the sacrifice. And even though he would only sacrifice himself once, that one time would last forever.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (Revelation 1:16).

Before Jesus was pierced, he was laid on the cross. Before the priest cut the animal, it was laid on the altar. Prior to the priest cutting the animal, all he saw was the outer, but the moment he cut the animal, what was inside of it was exposed for all to see. This is what the word of God does. It exposes thoughts, motives and intentions of the heart. It shows us who we really are. In Genesis 1:4, his word divided the light from the darkness.

In order for the word to do what it was sent out to do, it will require us to lay down our will and our ways. It will require us to become a living sacrifice. It will require us to say like Jesus said, Not my will, but Your will be done. Just like the followers in John 6, some of us were raised to think a certain way – at home and in church. We were taught to believe a certain way and to do things a certain way for years, but some of the things we’ve been doing hasn’t worked.  

Jesus wasn’t asking them to do something that they were used to doing. He wasn’t asking them to purchase and to sacrifice another animal. In fact, he wasn’t asking them to give Him something. He was asking them to receive something. Receive change. Receive the words of the Father and receive what His Son came to do for them.

If you don’t understand a thing, then ask for understanding and God will give it to you. I know it’s different, it’s not what you’re used to and you always do it ‘this way’, but don’t walk away from God or reject what He said because you don’t understand what He’s doing or because it doesn’t make sense right now. Anytime God sends His word, He sends it to help you, not to harm you or offend you.

Just receive it.

 

[Scripture references: John 6:51-66; John 1:14; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 10:1-14; Romans 12:1]

Perfecting Character

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In John 17, Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples and all believers, but He doesn’t pray for the world (John 17:9). Why would the Person who taught that love was the greatest commandment not pray for the world? Why would the Person who never rejected sinners not pray for the world? Because He gave us as believers a responsibility to the world. He said that if we would become  one and be made  perfect, then the world will believe that God sent His Son and they will know that they are loved too (John 17:21,23).

I know some of us would rather just preach or teach a good word, but this is not what Jesus did. Even though He was the Word, He didn’t just give the people a word. When He preached, He preached in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. He cast out devils, healed the sick and raised the dead. He demonstrated forgiveness, compassion and love. While on earth, He didn’t just tell the disciples what to do, but He showed them how to do it. He showed them how it worked. He proved what He said to be true. Signs followed confirming the word He spoke.

The world will never know how much God loves them by our words, but by our deeds.

Most people practice before they sing or study the word before they preach, but let us not be people who learn to perfect our gifts, but refuse to perfect our character. Character is a set of qualities that make you different from others. It’s your reputation and it has to be built. Tribulation and trials builds patience. Patience (and perseverance) builds character  (Romans 5:3-4).

Jesus told us to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). James never said that a perfect man was one who did no wrong or never made mistakes because we have all stumbled or offended in many things (James 3:2).  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us  (1 John 1:8). A perfect man is one who is mature and fully developed in godly character. Yes, we have all done things that we shouldn’t have done, but we were never made to be sin. Jesus became that. We were made to be the righteousness of God.

Paul said, Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus  (Philippians 3:12). He never said he was perfect. He made it very clear that he hadn’t learned all that he should, but he was still learning. He wasn’t all that God wanted him to be, but he was going to get there. He kept pressing. He kept striving for maturity and perfection. Even while in his ignorance, God didn’t give up on him and now he wasn’t going to give up. He set a goal and he was determined to reach it.

In Hebrews 6:1, Paul was admonishing immature believers to press on to maturity. It was time for them to grow up and to live like they were from the kingdom of God. As I examine myself today, I realize that God is still going over the same material that he taught me years ago. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t sometimes need a refresher course, but what He is teaching me is what I should have already been teaching others.  God shouldn’t be trying to convince me to have faith or to trust Him. I should be believing Him for everything now. He still shouldn’t be telling me what sins to stay away from. That’s elementary teaching. I know right from wrong. I know what pleases Him.

The spring commencement ceremonies have begun and at some point, God expects us to grow up and to graduate to the next class (or stage in Him). God knows what He has placed in each of us and He desires to speak to us as spiritual, not carnal and worldly children. We live in this world, but we do not belong to this world. We are citizens of heaven. It is our job to display Christ. How can they want Him if they can’t see Him? We are to conform to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), not the world (Romans 12:2).

Jesus not only prayed for the disciples, but He gave them what His Father gave Him. He wasn’t self-seeking. He considered others more important than Himself. For their sakes I sanctified myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth  (John 17:19). Whatever we do for the Lord from this point forward, let us do it for His sake and for their sake.

Prayer: I pray for all believers today that we become the light of the world and give light to those who sit in darkness. May the love God had for His Son be in all believers. Father, help us to walk in love. Help us to want You more than the things we’ve been asking for. Lord, make us strong, make us wise, make us one and make us perfect in You. Help us to grow up and to become men and women who walk in truth, integrity and godly character, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You Are in the Right Place

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Have you ever felt like you were on the wrong job or in the wrong city or married to the wrong person? For some of you who are reading this, God is saying, You are in the right place.  The Israelites probably felt like the wilderness was the wrong place, but God led them through the right place for forty years to humble them, to prove them and to know what was in their hearts, whether they would obey Him or not (Deuteronomy 8:2). When God delivered them from Egypt, they danced and praised Him with their mouths, but to know what was in their hearts, they had to be tested (proven). He allowed them to go hungry just to see how they would react (Deuteronomy 8:3). In the wilderness, He was stripping them of pride and teaching them how to trust and to solely depend on Him. God wanted them to obey Him so that they would live, prosper, enter and own the land that He promised their ancestors (Deuteronomy 8:1, MSG). He was trying to give them something. He wanted them to have what their ancestors never had.

Last week, my manager told me that she was giving me more responsibilities because I wasn’t created to just do what I was doing and that there was more in me. I loved all the things she was saying until she said, ‘And I’m going to squeeze it out of you’. Squeeze??? Sounds like it’s going to hurt and it sounds uncomfortable, too. There are a lot of things that may not sound good, but it is good for you. You see, nothing can grow when it is comfortable. What God was doing then in them is what He is doing now in us. The purpose of the humbling and the testing is so that He may do you good in the latter end (Deuteronomy 8:16). He is preparing us for the good that He wants to give us, but can He trust us? When He does what He said, will we forget Him?

God is also doing in us what He did in the earth on the first day of creation. He is still separating light and darkness. The bible tells us that God saw that the light was good, but He never said darkness was good (Genesis 3:4). God loved the world so much that He gave us the true Light and now it’s time for us to be the children of light. We are in the world, but the world shouldn’t be in us. We can’t make a difference if we choose to remain the same as the world. What fellowship can light have with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord  (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Let us become like the two blind men who wanted what Jesus came to give them. Jesus had just left Jairus’ house. The ruler’s daughter was pronounced dead, but now she was alive. The blind men heard about what happened, faith came based upon what they heard and they followed Jesus. If Jesus could raise up that young girl, surely He could restore their sight. The bible tells us that the men cried, but Jesus kept walking. They also asked Jesus to have mercy on them, but Jesus kept walking. Then, Jesus went inside a house. Anyone else would have thought that Jesus didn’t hear them or He didn’t care or maybe they didn’t deserve it, but these men didn’t stay outside. They didn’t turn back around and they didn’t give up. Instead, they continued to seek Him and they followed Him inside the house. It wasn’t their crying that moved Him, but it was their ‘Yes, Lord’ (Matthew 9:28) and their faith that moved Him (Matthew 9:29).

God didn’t force it on them and He’s not going to force it on you. You have to want what God has given you. Not only were these men in the right place to hear what Jesus had done, but their hearts were in the right place. They believed what they heard. The King James version tells us that Jesus told the men, According to your faith be it unto you, but I love what The Message version says: Become what you believe  (Matthew 9:29). The reason why some of us haven’t become what we heard is because we don’t believe. The reason why certain things haven’t come into existence yet is because we don’t believe. You must believe that God is able to do this (Matthew 9:28).

In the wilderness, God brought water out of a very hard rock (Deuteronomy 8:15) and He is able to bring forth much more out of His people – even the stubborn, the proud or the ones set in their ways – IF we would become willing and obedient. Just as dead Lazarus was commanded to come forth, so shall every gift, every calling, every word and every fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) come forth because God has commanded it. The church as well as the world needs what’s in you. Don’t resist what God is doing because it’s uncomfortable and don’t give up because it seems too hard because there is nothing too hard for the Lord.

Today, believe that God has you in the right place. Believe that He knows what He is doing. He is good and everything He does or allows the enemy to do still works together for good to them that love Him and to them who are the called according to His purpose. It may look like nothing good can come from the wilderness and it may look like nothing can grow there, but trust God.

You are in the right place.