Do you Have a Moldable Spirit? (Read Bible Thru Week #3)

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 2.59.11 PMThere is an underlying theme throughout scripture we know is there. For some reason, we miss the personal application on a certain level, and even seem to be okay with it. Once it is pointed out, you begin to see it all over the Bible.

The theme is the importance of having a supple, soft, moldable spirit, and living out that reality in your life.

Scripture constantly points out the importance of living out our faith. I’m not talking about the easy stuff – going to church, tithing, mission trips. It’s the DAILY walk, day in, day out, when no one is looking. What we think. What we murmur under our breath. Gossiping. Slandering. Holding on to jealousy, anger, resentment. Letting judgement trump grace. Not having time to be kind because we are in a hurry. Ignoring gentleness. Being unforgiving because we have forgotten that God has forgiven us. Being self-focused rather than God-focused.

Several scriptures this week point out the importance of living out our faith by having a moldable spirit.

Day 15 – Matthew 10:38-39 Whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me isn’t worthy of me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of me will find it.

BECAUSE… consciously taking up our cross EVERY day molds us.

Day 16 – Proverbs 2:20 Keep to the path of righteousness, AND Matt 11:29 (Jesus talking) Take up my yoke and learn from me.

BECAUSE… righteous living and learning more about God’s teachings molds us.

Day 18 – Proverbs 3:1-2 My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.

BECAUSE… keeping God commands molds us.

Day 19 – Matthew 12:33 … a tree is known by its fruit…

BECAUSE… being fruitful everyday is a constantly molding experience, making us more like Christ.

Striving to live out our faith daily must be a constant on the Christian’s heart, mind, and soul. It keeps us supple, gentle, teachable for the kingdom. We should realize the importance of living out our faith every morning, and commit daily to live in every way possible for the glory of God.

That said, let me balance a few things. First, how we live doesn’t save us. Only faith in Jesus saves from sin. How we live also doesn’t condemn us. There is nothing we can do that will keep us from the love of God when we are seeking him wholeheartedly. Just as no act is good enough to bring us to Him, no act is bad enough when we come in repentance for Him to reject us.

So why be moldable and live out our faith? Because it is how we show our love for God. Everything we have is from Him. The one thing we do have is our will. Choosing to follow Him it is a form of worship. When we choose to reject His ways, it is a form of idolatry.

Harsh, but true.

So this week, be aware of having a moldable spirit.  I also challenge you to begin to highlight verses in your Bible that mention living our your faith. It is everywhere! You’ll realize this as your Bible gets lit up with your highlighting pen. And, just as your pages become brighter, I hope that you too will shine God’s love further and further into the darkness and be effective for Him.


Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 1.50.28 PMMatthew 6:19-24 is all about how we should view money. It doesn’t seem like it at first, but it is! We read this passage on January 8th, so if you want to, get out your Bible now and re-read it, or, you can just read it below. It’s actually in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 2“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Now, I LOVE the Sermon on the Mount!!! Matthew 5-7 is packed full of amazing teachings. There’s a verse or two in todays scripture that can seem random in its placement. I’ve bolded what I’m talking about. Directly before it, Jesus is teaching not to collect treasures here on earth. Then, directly after it, he goes back to that concept and and tells us we can’t serve God and money. So… why would Jesus talk about light and eyes in the middle of a money discussion?

Because he was using a Hebrew idiom! The common theme is consistent in all five of these verses. We just miss it because our expressions are different from Jesus’ day.

In Jesus time, if someone had a “good eye” it meant they were generous.
Having a “bad eye” meant someone was selfish.

So, the opening thought is for us not to store up treasures here on earth. Then STAYING IN THAT SAME CONCEPT, Jesus says we should be generous. When a person is generous their whole body is filled with light.  In Hebrew, the whole body means your whole person. Not just your physical body, it’s your spirit – who you are.

When you are generous, you live in the light. Your whole person is seen and exposed. It is good, and Godly. When a person has a bad eye, they are selfish. As a result, their spirit is full of darkness. They are not being Godly because they are not thinking of others.

You could paraphrase the first verse like this: How you give to others shows who you are. If you are generous, you are Godly. If you are selfish, you are not Godly.

Brutal, right?
Let’s do the same thing with the next verse.

It says, If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness. Using what we have learned about this verse, it could be paraphrased as…

If the good you do comes out of a selfish spirit, then your selfishness is worse than you realize.

We need to be sure the good we do is not for our benefit. We should never give out of manipulation or a desire for power. That is not true generosity. It is selfishness. And selfish generosity… isn’t generosity at all.

What popped out to you in this weeks reading? Are there any verses that are echoing your mind this week?

The Beginning, Time, and Obedience

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 7.46.45 AMMost folks can quote the first few words of the Bible. “In the Beginning…”,  but those words carry a subtle nuance we can miss due to our translation.

“In the Beginning” in Hebrew is one word, pronounced “Brasheet”. Stay with me now people, this is cool.

The first letter of that word is the Hebrew letter Beit, equal to our letter B. In ancient pictographic Hebrew it symbolized a house on a hill. The idea is all of scripture is flowing out of a home. In pictographic languages, words create pictures for the readers as well as have their meanings. Our language isn’t pictographic, so we miss the symbolism. But it gives depth to the scriptures when we understand it!

Who lives in the house scripture starts out with? The answer is in the word itself. When beit and resh, the second letter, are together, they form the word son. And the third letter is the letter aleph, which signifies God the Father.

So, out of the house comes the Son of God.

It is a picture of the living word of God giving us the written word of God.  THIS IS HOW THE BIBLE STARTS!!!!! I love it! When we can see scripture in the culture it was written, it connects with us on an even deeper level. What do you think about God’s word flowing out of his home into ours? What a great way to start of the Bible, eh?!

Sticking with the Genesis 1 theme, I also wanted to address something we glaze over because we’ve heard it a million times – the creation account. Before we discuss, lets put some things out of the table I think we all can agree on.

  1. God is not trapped or controlled by time. He is infinite.
  2. He made time, and he lives outside of it.
  3. The Creator controls the created.

Knowing these three things, I think we could agree some created cosmic fireball is not going to limit God to a time table. Nothing can limit God because He is… well, GOD.

Here are the facts according to scripture:

Day one, God created light and dark. Awesome.
Day two, God separated the waters and created sky. Love it.
Day three, God created land, seas, and vegetation. I’m a fan.
Day four, God created the sun, the moon, and the stars.


Our sun wasn’t even around until day four. Now, could God, if He so chose in days one through three, given Himself 24 hours just for fun to get it all done? Absolutely. He is God. It also says God spoke the world into creation. It was easy for him. What if it only took what we would classify as seconds? Could he do that?

He is GOD.

I guess how long it took is a great question to ask when we meet Him someday. On this side of heaven, we will never know. The point is, we should not try to define God by assumptions or human terms.

Moving along – what stuck out to me in Psalms 1 was verses 1-3, “How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path of sinners… his delight is in the Lord’s instruction and he meditates on it day and night…”. To meditate on scripture is to let it roll around in your head for a day, week, or even month. Have you ever picked a passage and done this? What result was it? If not, you should try it… the depth of wisdom you can get out of one “living and active word” is pretty crazy.

Finally, (and man is it hard after five days to pick a few things to discuss!!!), the last thing I want to emphasize is the NT reading of Matthew 3:8,10. “Therefore, produce fruit that is consistent with repentance… every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut off and thrown into the fire.”

The Bible talks a LOT about the importance of Obedience, and living out our faith. If our relationship with God is real, we should be different. Kind. Forgiving, because Christ has forgiven us. We should love the unlovable and forgive freely because Christ modeled exactly that. When we repent we don’t live in what Bonhoeffer called “Cheap Grace”, but instead realize what Christ did for us on the cross was incredibly costly. To take that gift and blow off would be cruel. To live our lives as a sacrifice is what being a Christian is all about.

(Since this is our first official blog, let me remind you to respond if something popped out to you in this weeks readings, or the blog. There is SO MUCH we covered in these first five days there’s no way I could write down everything that touched me. So… what has God been teaching you? Simply put your curser on the title and click. This opens up the blog on a different page. At the bottom, there is a place for a reply. Fill in what you’d like to say then post your comment. After I check it and make sure it’s not spam it will be posted!)

Reading the Bible Through?

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 4.41.58 PM.pngHello people! It’s been a long time. Ministry at New Work Fellowship has been amazing, and my students and my volunteers are the best anywhere around.

I threw out a challenge for my adult volunteers to read the Bible through this year. I’ve done it for years now by myself, and it blesses me every time. Each year a different “theme” in scripture pops out, and I always catch new insights that I missed previously. God’s word truly is living and active, and I wanted that power to seep through every part of our ministry even more than it already does!

Why am I telling you this? Because there are about 24 of us who are reading the Bible through using the “Everyday with Jesus” Bible. You can click on the name, and it will take you to a link to order if you’d like like to join us. As Christians it is so important we know what we believe, and why we believe it. Part of living out our faith (because faith without works is dead, although we are saved by grace, not works) is growing in knowledge of our creator.

So… will you join us? The first entry will start tomorrow, and it will have things that popped out to me that I think would interest others. I encourage you to answer questions, ask questions yourself, weigh in on discussions, and dig deeper into scripture with us together as we all grow in the wisdom of God. Comments and discussion are encouraged, so get started with us today!


The Song they Sang the Day Jesus Rose

empty tombJesus rose on a Jewish holiday called The Feast of Firstfruits. It was a huge, happy celebration of life and what God had provided for his people.

For Firstfruits, a sheaf of barley was given as a Thanksgiving offering by each family to the temple. The people were giving their first “fruit” of the Harvest back to their Creator.

When the people arrived at the temple that day, there would be flutes playing to bring the traditional reply of everyone from Psalm 150, “Praise God in His sanctuary”.

The mood was loud, exciting, and joyful. And, the place was PACKED. The people were required to be at the temple the day before by Jewish law (for The Feast of Unleavened Bread), so more than the normal crowd was present.

Inside the temple, choirs of the priests would sing Psalm 30. You should read the whole thing (click here), but verses 1-3 says,

I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

That was sung over and over the day Jesus rose from the grave.

Wow, right?!

Jesus is the first and only one to be raised from the dead that did not die again. He is the “First fruit” who made it possible for us to live eternally with God because his death and resurrection redeemed us from sin.

Paul refers to Jesus as a Firstfruit in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22.

It says,  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 

Jesus IS the first to rise again, and to defeat sin and death. How can we not sing along to Psalm 30 as we commemorate Easter, the celebration of the first, the only Son of God to rise from the grave!

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30:11-12

Jesus 7 Statements on the Cross Explained

Together, the four gospels record seven statements of Jesus on the cross. It’s important we understand what they mean. (And so you don’t miss it, read #4 twice!).

1. “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing”. 

Isaiah 53:12 says about the coming Messiah, Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Jesus, while bearing the sin of the world, was praying for the very sinners who were causing him pain.

Jesus was physically broken and in agony, yet he was thinking of others.
The soldiers were healthy, yet they were casting lots for clothing and thinking themselves.

2. “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”. 

The Greek word Paradise actually is from a Persian word meaning “a garden enclosed for a king”. This conversation shows we can’t earn our salvation by anything we do, but it is a free gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10, click to read!).

3.Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”

Joseph had probably passed away. Jesus, as Mary’s oldest child, would have been charged with taking care of his mother.

Again, on the cross while Jesus was covered in sin that was not his own, he was thinking of others.

4. “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

This is the most misunderstood statement Jesus said on the cross. And what it means will


We know Jesus was a Rabbi.

There was a common rabbinical teaching method where the Rabbi would state the first verse of a Psalm or chapter of the Bible. His disciples were expected to catch on, and quote the rest of the verses in the chapter.

When Jesus said My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me, he wasn’t crying out because God had left him. God did not turn his back on His Son.

That would be horrible, and I’ll tell you why.

If God turned His back on His Son when he needed Him the most, he could turn His back on you when you needed him the most.

But He didn’t.
And He won’t.

He’s not that kind of God.

Our God promises to never leave or forsake us.
That promise is for us, and was for Jesus.

When Jesus cried these words, he was quoting scripture. This a common concept with Theologians all over the world. Please tell everyone you know about this, because it changes everything. Jesus was quoting Psalm 22, which is a Victory Psalm.

That’s right… a Victory Psalm.

We know he was quoting the whole Psalm because there are too many things that correspond with what Jesus had been/ was going through. And it is important to note that when David wrote this Psalm the idea of crucifixion wasn’t around yet. Click this link to read Psalm 22.

5. “I Thirst.”

Jesus ate the Passover Seder the night he was betrayed. (Read more HERE.)

Jewish days work differently than our standard calendar. They begin and end at sunset. Passover lasted from when they ate the meal at sunset until the sunset of the day Jesus was on the cross.

After eating the Passover meal and sleeping for the night, each family would go to the temple and sacrifice not a lamb as you would think, but a goat! Have you heard of the term “scape goat”? This is the second Jewish sacrifice where a goat represents taking the consequences of sin for the people.

This sacrifice of one goat per family redeemed them from sin and made them right with God.

The goat sacrifices started at 9:00 in the morning and lasted until around 3:00 in the afternoon. It has been estimated there were as many as 40,000 goats an hour.

Jesus, the ultimate scape goat, took our sins and sacrificed himself and died on the cross that very same time period for us.

This is no coincidence.

Around 3pm, the High Priest would kill the temple goat for all the people as the final sacrifice. After the last goat was sacrificed, the high priest in front of the people would announce, “I thirst”.

This statement got people’s attention, and had them listening for his next proclamation. He would wet his lips with water, and then proclaim…

6. “It is Finished.”

Not only did Jesus say this before he gave up his spirit, but the high priest said this after the final sacrifice.

It signified God had accepted the scape goat dying in place of the people.
The people had been redeemed from sin.

7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Psalm 31:5 says,Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.”

Psalm 31 is another Psalm of encouragement. It talks about God as our refuge. (To read the whole thing, click here). It ends with, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

All seven statements Jesus said on the cross were to encourage others.

Forgive them.
Mom, son.
Why did you forsake me…
I Thirst.
It is Finished.
Into your hands I commit my spirit…

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins. And the whole time he was on the cross, when he spoke, it was as an example for us.

To encourage us.
To teach us.

So I hope you will be encouraged this Easter by what God has done through His Son. Jesus wasn’t killed – he chose to die. Everything he says shows he was thinking of us while he did it.

Praise God people.
Because Jesus isn’t dead.

He is alive.

The Triumphant Entry and the Choosing of the Lamb

lambThe last week of Jesus’ life was full of activity for the Jewish people. They had to clean their houses for The Day of Unleavened Bread. They had to prepare for Passover. The whole celebration included 8 days of festival.

It was a big, big deal.

For the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they had to do major spring cleaning. They had to wash every article of clothing they owned, clean every window, under all the furniture, and literally not have a crumb of bread (which had yeast, or “leaven” in it) to follow God’s law for the festival. Leaven represented sin, and it was a big object lesson for the people to “clean out” the sin in their lives.

They also had to choose their Passover lamb. This was ordered from ancient times right before the Exodus.

For the very first Passover in Egypt, the Israelites were commanded by God to choose a perfect lamb on the 10th day of the month of Nissan. They kept it for 4 days, then killed it.

Each family knew their Passover lamb.  It had to be perfect, without defect.  Each chosen lamb was kept in the home to make sure nothing happened to it.

This practice continued for hundreds and hundreds of years. It’s all right there in Exodus 12:3-7. See for yourself:

Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household… The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. (NIV)

In Jesus day, the people would treat their lamb as we would a family pet. In those four days, the family would become attached to their lamb. When it was time to slaughter the animal, each person would feel the loss.

They loved their lamb.
They knew their lamb.
The loss was felt, because it was personal.

The day of the Triumphant Entry would have been on the 10th of Nissan. We know this because the Passover lamb was killed on the 14th, and eaten from the 14th and into the day of the 15th (remember, Jewish days begin at sundown).

So, if you count backwards from Thursday the 14th, Sunday would have been the 10th.

The day the Passover lambs were chosen.
The day Jesus came into town.

People waved Palm branches to welcome him. They shouted Hosanna, and put their coats over the bumpy path to make the way smooth. Of course, they didn’t understand who Jesus truly was (for more, read here).

If you look at the parade one way, you could say Jesus was “chosen” by the people. No one else received a welcome party like he did.

And Jesus knew, even though the people didn’t understand who He was, he had been sent by His Father and been chosen as The Lamb of God.

The Lamb chosen to die to save us from our sins.

Our Passover Lamb.

Why “Our” is better than “My”

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.45.06 AMThis, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, holy is your name… Matthew 6:9

What if the Lord’s Prayer started with “MY Father in heaven”, and not “OUR Father in heaven”?

If that were the case, there’s a small chance we all would end up like two years olds clambering for “mine” when it came to God and His ways.

The entire focus of our prayers would be different.

It’s easy to lose sight of the way Jesus taught us to pray. It’s easy to make it all about… us… when clearly, it’s not supposed to be.

Jesus prayed “Our Father” because in the culture of the day – as it is now in Jewish circles – approaching God was and is a community effort, not just a personal one.

When there is a faith community, there is accountability in how a person acts, thinks, and lives.

When our relationship with our creator is communal, how we treat others changes. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, his answer was to love God, and love others.

Everything else we do falls under these two categories.

When we remember that God loves ALL of us, and desires everyone to come to Him, there is a paradigm shift when we pray.

Our outlook goes from “what is best for me” to “what does God say is best for us”. We remember to pray for others. We ask God for His wisdom, and quit seeing things through our own humanity.

When your view shifts to how it is meant to be, it’s harder to harbor anger or bitterness against another believer. Why?

Because you serve the same God.
You are striving for the same things.
Pride is traded for peace.
Worldly “justice” is traded for joy.

When we remember that “our” God wants us to be a family, and that we are to serve and grow together…

our faith widens.
It deepens.

And, it becomes more than just about “me”.

When Life is Hard

chocolatesBecause life is like a box of chocolates, sometimes you get a nasty bite. Like those orange creams for instance… does anyone like those?

It seems everyone around me is going through something extremely difficult.

They are receiving heart-wrenching news. They are making major life decisions. Friends are dealing with horrible medical issues. Or, they simply have teenagers.

There are work issues. Home issues. Health issues.

Where is God in all the pain?

I want to share some verses that show God is not only around, but intimately involved in our lives. Before we go there, you need some perspective.

If you have a second, hit this link and watch this science video. It reminds us of the bigness of God. (If you skip a little, make sure you see the end!!!)

WOW, right?!

The God who made the universe made us.
He literally knows how many hairs are on our head.
And not only did He make us, but He desires to be intimately involved with us.

He will not force himself in our lives. We have the choice to invite Him in. And, once He is in our lives, we still choose how much He is involved in who we are and who we become.

That said, I hope you find these verses a powerful comfort and reassurance that He is with you.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you, the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in his dwelling, he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:1-5

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

Do not be shocked, nor fear them. The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes… Deuteronomy 1:29-30

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed because I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Real Christmas (Part 8): Jesus is an Off-shoot

NetserreThe author and prophet Isaiah enjoyed playing with words. He does it plain and simple for all to see. But because we read the Bible in something other than Hebrew, we miss it.

Isaiah 11:1 says, A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

This is prophetic, talking about the coming Messiah. Jesus fulfilled this verse, and it is one of the many ways we know without a doubt he is the Son of God.

The Hebrew word for branch is Netser. But it is more than a branch – it is an offshoot from the base of the tree. It is a new growth, one that brings hope, and new life.

Actually, today’s picture is of a netser from the Mount of Olives.

Matthew 2:23 says, “… and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene”.

There was a town in Galilee named Nazareth. It is where Jesus grew up. So, just like a Bostonian from Boston, or a New Yorker from New York, people from there were called Nazarenes.

When the scriptures say Jesus was a Nazarene, it is because he was from Nazareth. He was the “Netser” from “Nazaret”. However, it also is saying that Jesus is an offshoot – the offshoot – of God coming to us in human form!

Jesus came to offer hope, new life, and a new way of doing things. The Jewish kings before him were gone, and at the time Roman rule was the authority of the day. This offshoot is for a new kingdom, and a new way of doing things.

As we approach January 1, let’s remember the hope and new life we have in Christ. Let’s live accordingly as we grow in the Lord this coming year!

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