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The Big IF

We have come to share in Christ if… Hebrews 3:14

Doesn’t that “IF” get our attention? I recently read The Pilgrim’s Progress and noticed how many characters in the book were there to pull the main character, Christian, off the path to the Celestial City. Pilgrim only got there if he stuck to the narrow path. The same theme recurs in movies such as Lord of the Rings. The drama builds, as sinister figures seek to hinder the mission of the main characters.

Twice in Hebrews 3, the Scripture says “IF.” The first is, “And we are his house if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6) I am not asking whether we are “still saved” if we lose our courage and hope. The context of the book of Hebrews goes beyond that to enter into all that God has for us. It is not just about “getting out” of Egypt but “getting in” on God’s agenda. I do believe we can get sidetracked...

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Some People Get It

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 59-60

The wave of business people owning their slice of societal transformation is picking up, and this encourages me. Every now and then I am reminded, however, that not everyone gets it. This will always be the case in some area or another as God moves on just enough ahead of us to keep us traipsing after him. There are those of us who, even though we know the slowness of the human heart, still want everyone on board before we will move. Until the last person is committed (which probably will mean forming a committee) we will not join the kingdom adventure. This is the curse of the lowest common denominator.

The sad fact is that many business people are still in the old modus operandi. They don’t understand the integration of work and faith, life and Jesus. They struggle with the difference between church and kingdom. Jesus has some advice: “Let the...

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Salt Heals

Let your speech always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

Gracious speech becomes salt. This is a strange thing. How can something full of grace actually be something that stings? 

People need grace because they are wounded. That’s what sin does to humankind. The salt that stings is also the salt that heals wounds. Jesus weeps over that damage, and He knows that the first thing that we need most often is not a confrontation, but something kind. 

Kindness becomes salt for healing, and then that same salt soon makes people thirsty. The issue is not whether we should share the gospel message, but whether our speech, our whole life, is filled with grace. Be grace, be salt, and be ready.

Reflections

How can you become kind salt to those around you?

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Safe Growth

Deliver me and rescue me from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.  Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of the walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress on our streets.

Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144: 11-15; Psalm 3

Deep down many believe that with growth comes an increased danger of the walls being breached. Someone has said that in the world, high places are slippery places. Not so with God. He wants us to have the capacity to handle blessing, which starts with the knowledge that every sheep, pillar, ox, and field is his. Every paycheck,...

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Objections to Place – Part 4

According to their ability, they gave to the treasury for this work    Ezra 2:69 

We pulled off the busy main road onto a side street in an industrial area in Lagos. The streets had potholes where water had gathered, sidewalks were nominal, and street vendors sold evening snacks to passing pedestrians. The church where we were speaking was located in a former factory or warehouse. It was a warm evening and the expansive hall had fans whirling overheard to compensate for the absence of air conditioning. Lyn and I preached to a congregation of mostly younger people. By US standards the setting was very modest.

Two things happened as we left the building: first, the pastor handed us an envelope with a “very small token of thanks for our ministry.” The second was that they pointed out a large brick and mortar building under construction behind the hall we had spoken in. It looked to be massive. “That is our new building,” they told us. When we got...

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Is Contention, Dissension and Division the New Normal?

You don’t need a genius IQ to figure out that the world is divided, split, fractured. Arguably, this has been the case since man broke the unbroken human-divine connection in the Garden. Since then it has been a ripple of billions of sub-fractures that have splintered society. Then came Jesus and he united the unthinkable, made one the implausible, and formed a family from diversity. There has been nothing else that comes close to His unifying embrace of humanity.

Yet here we are in 2022 with our paltry opinations dribbling precious unity away like desert sand running through arthritic fingers. We have avid covid camps, rabid pandemic politics, and infallible science splits where our opinion is the right one, of course. We are experts in masking, vaccinating, and herd immunity when the only real herd we have is the hubris herd stampeding through the narrow canyon of our limited perceptions. “We” know best; “they” are uninformed. “We” are...

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Objections to Place – Part 3

give careful thought to your ways
Haggai 1:5

In the previous devotionals, we addressed objections #1—the timing is not right—and #2 – place is not that important any longer. The third objection is this: “Putting money into buildings is not good stewardship, so I am putting my money into more direct spending on immediate needs.” This is not a bad argument, but it fails to recognize the difference between capital and working capital. We know that the nature and use of each of these is different. Scripture calls it “seed for sowing” (that is capital) and “seed for bread” (that is, working capital). A best practice for kingdom people is to (a) build capital, and (b) give capital towards capital projects. Yet many believers amass capital, often in foundations or investments, then mainly give it to “daily bread” needs, rather than to planting a wheat field or building a bakery. Why is this? First, there is more immediate...

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Objections to Place – Part 2

so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord   Haggai 1:8

In the previous devotional we addressed objection #1: The timing is not right. Moving forward to today’s world, we have a second objection: “Place is not that important to God in these New Testament times. Brett, the temple was an Old Testament thing…now God lives in people, so why do you need a place for rēp?” (Or, ‘Why does this ministry need a building?’… whatever your situation may be.)

There is some truth to the shift in emphasis on place. Going back to the beginning, however, every square inch was God’s, and all of it was man’s responsibility to manage. Then Adam yielded that right to Satan. God elected to live mainly in one place, the temple. Later the second Adam, Jesus, redeemed everything through his sacrifice, reconciled the cosmos to himself, and restored our management responsibility back to us. Place became hugely important to God...

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Objections to Place – Part 1

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’” Haggai 1:2

We were flying back from Texas and I felt I should read Haggai so I turned there, not knowing that the topic was going to be property. The specific matter at hand in Israel was timing about a property improvement. God’s place needed some serious repair, and some were not in favor of it. God used this passage to highlight for me how those engaged in believing God for property for ministries, and sometimes even for homes, face common objections. There is “push back” from others that has two components: as God puts it to Haggai, “These people say…” We need the ability to discern the assumptions that underlie the “These people say…” statements so that we can speak truth and liberty into our own lives, and into the minds and hearts of others. We face an interesting dilemma...

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Rock On!

who turned the rock into a pool
Psalm  14:8

Do you have any circumstances in your life that seem to be impossible? Are there people that make your life hard? Do you live in a nation where the government is opposed to your way of life? Take courage from this tremendous truth: the presence of God turns the impossible into provision. 

What would be a less likely source of water than a rock? My humanist friends will be saying, ‘You see, the water was there all the time, and the rock simply obscured it, so Moses probably carried a crowbar, and shifted it to get the water.’ 

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, 

 who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.

The nature of things changes in the presence of God. Rocks can become not just liquefied, but a pool, a spring for the refreshing of a nation.

God still changes rocks into water. If you are like me, you will admit that there are...

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