The Place of Exaltation

. . Jesus took . . . them up on a high mountain apart by themselves . . . —Mark 9:2
 
We are made for the valleys to serve there with the ones who need service. We are granted times on the mountaintop to be energized and exalted. These times are a blessing. We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there. 
We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength. Yet our spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mountain. We feel that we could talk and live like perfect angels, if we could only stay on the mountaintop. Those times of exaltation are exceptional and they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware to prevent our spiritual selfishness from wanting to make them the only time.
The mature Christian has experienced and seeks the deep and abiding joy that comes from valley service, not from the results thereof, which we often don’t see; but from the joy of obedience which guides our valley walks.
Come on down and 
Be blessed.
Nick

The Assigning of the Call

Bread and wine were the food staples in Jesus’ time. They’re pretty popular now. But here of no good if the wine is in an unopened bottle and the bread is an unbroken loaf. They become useful when poured out and broken. The image of us as broken bread and poured out wine is a great one. For it is our purpose to be useful, in fact, necessary substance for others. There is no greater purpose, calling or thrill than to be essential to the life of another. But are we ready to be broken bread and poured-out wine? Yes, we respond weakly. Weakly, because brokenness and a pour out self seems painful.  What if we knew it was what was necessary for His call on our lives?  Yes, we respond with more vigor.  But what if He uses someone we dislike or a set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us? Now we are more than unsure. We might be willing if the call is truly great, if we can choose the instruments of brokenness. But we can’t.
Then He gives us a tremendous, riveting pain to fasten our attention on something that we never even dreamed could be His call for us. And for one radiant, flashing moment we see His purpose, and we say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
If we love Him, we want to be used by Him. If we love Him, we should trust Him to do to us, even what is painful, for we know it is for our betterment. It’s all about surrender, absolute and complete,.

 Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.

 
Surrender and be broken bread and poured-out wine, a blessing to ourselves and to others.
 
Nick

The Awareness of the Call

. . . for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! —1 Corinthians 9:16

The call of God has nothing to do with salvation and sanctification. It is a supernatural compulsion to service. For Paul, it was a call to preach the gospel. For you, it may be a call to serve in some other way. It is more than  a “wouldn’t it be nice if…” It is a drive so powerful, that it can not be ignored. It can be confused, however. Satan may misdirect us. He may have us believing that it is simply a dissatisfaction with our current situation. He may even convince that the call can be fulfilled by a satisfaction of material or physical needs. The only satisfaction of the call comes in following it. 
The call may start slowly and build. For this reason we most practice sensitivity to God. When we become practiced in responded to His instructions in small things, we can with greater confidence and faith follow His call when it demands more of us. 
In other cases, the call is dramatic and seems sudden. Although God has probably been preparing our spiritual ears and our hearts for some time. 
Whether gradual or sudden it is always spiritual. There is something glow-like about it that arises from its supernatural nature. It is Him saying, ”I chose you . . .” (John 15:16).

We may have buried our call. Sometimes in running from God and sometimes in substituting our own ideas of service or our particular abilities ahead of the call of God. We may think, “He has given me a talent to do this, so to do it must be my call.” We forget that often got gets the glory because he works through His children who have no natural talent in an area. He may call the person with stage fright to preach the gospel. 
We can also be detoured by common ideas about service. It is not necessarily preaching or teaching. It may be holding or comforting, encouraging or cheer leading, doing common tasks for supernatural purposes. His call is personal. He loves us individually and He calls us to serve the same way.
If a man or woman is called of God, it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances may be. God orchestrates every force at work for His purpose in the end. If you will agree with God’s purpose, He will bring not only your conscious level but also all the deeper levels of your life, which you yourself cannot reach, into perfect harmony.
What’s your call? What’s your response?
Serve and be blessed.
Nick

The "Go" of Unconditional Identification

Jesus . . . said to him, ’One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor . . . and come, take up the cross, and follow Me’ —Mark 10:21 

Jesus is one with the Father. He came to make it possible for His followers to be one with Him. We err when we believe that it’s all about “holiness.” Our Lord never places anyone’s personal holiness above everything else when He calls a disciple. Jesus’ primary consideration is my absolute annihilation of my right to myself and my identification with Him, which means having a relationship with Him in which there are no other relationships.Our holiness is a result of that identification not a prerequisite for it.

“One thing you lack . . . .” From Jesus Christ’s perspective, oneness with Him, with nothing between, is the only good thing.
“. . . sell whatever you have . . . .” I must humble myself until I am merely a living person. I must essentially renounce possessions of all kinds, not for salvation (for only one thing saves a person and that is absolute reliance in faith upon Jesus Christ), but to follow Jesus. “. . . come. . . and follow Me.” And the road is the way He went.
When others look at us, they should see Jesus. The identification should be that complete. It is what He came and died for. It is more than worth anything we must let go of to get it.
Be blessed.
Nick

The "Go" of Renunciation

 Luke 9: 57As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  58Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
 59He said to another man, “Follow me.”
      But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
 60Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”
 62Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

It is amazing that some preach, and many believe, that Christianity is the life of a Persian cat on a silk pillow. 
Church, this is serious business. In these verses, Our Lord is headed to a confrontation with death in Jerusalem. and Jesus has no patience with frivolity. He was moved and strengthened by the Spirit. Forgive us, Lord, when we consider the Spirit a Santa Claus, whose purpose is to bring us brightly wrapped presents that we don’t deserve. He comes, rather, to equip us for serious business.
He comes to sanctify us, fortify us and motivate us to do work not to wallow in “blessings.” Service is the ultimate blessing.
These words destroy the argument of serving Jesus Christ because it is a pleasant thing to do. We think we deserve “prosperity” and “peace” when  “. . . the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
We are proud of ourselves when we put our family ahead of ourselves. But He calls us to put Him ahead of even immediate family.  This man did not want to disappoint Jesus, nor did he want to show a lack of respect for his father. We put our sense of loyalty to our relatives ahead of our loyalty to Jesus Christ, forcing Him to take last place. When your loyalties conflict, always obey Jesus Christ whatever the cost.
The person who says, “Lord, I will follow You, but . . .,” is the person who is intensely ready to go, but never goes. For most of us our service to the Lord is, and remains, a future event, while the present is self-focused.
Like Jesus, our future is in death. We are called to die to self and family. We are to follow Jesus to “Jerusalem.” It’s time to stop talking about it and planning it. We need to start moving.
Move and be blessed.
Nick

The "Go" of Reconciliation

If you . . . remember that your brother has something against you . . . —Matthew 5:23

Do you find yourself in worship and a human conflict in your life comes to mind? Sometimes we like to think that if we’re “good with God” that it doesn’t matter if we are in conflict with a brother. That’s just not right. Our communion with our Lord requires a clean slate with our neighbor. 
It is no excuse that the neighbor has not taken the initiative or that “he’s the one with the problem.” This verse says, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you . . . .” It places on us the burden of reconciliation even when it’s not us “with the problem.:” Jesus does not mention the other person— He says for you to go. It is not a matter of your rights. The true mark of the saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.
“. . . and then come and offer your gift.” Notice that although we need to reconcile, we are not to be caught up in reconciliation. Our final and highest obligation is our relationship with our God. We must put reconciliation with others first in time, but Our God remains first in our priority.

Sunday is our traditional day of worshp. Does your Saturday need to be spend in reconciliation?

 
Be blessed.
 
Nick

The "Go" of Relationship

It is sometimes difficult for us to comprehend that we are called into relationship with Our Lord. This is no ordinary relationship. He is God. We are so clearly not. We are comfortable with “balance of power” in relationships. He is all powerful. We are powerless. We understand that a good relationship is mutually beneficial. He offers us everything. It seems we have nothing to offer. We know that good communication is the life blood of relationship. We can’t see Him, hear Him or even really understand what He is really like. To sum it up: the relationship is an impossible one unless He has done a super-natural work in us. 
So in addition to all the ways that our relationship with Jesus is obviously different from others, it is principally different in that it is only possible because He make it so. 
Review the Sermon on the Mount. Christ describes something seemingly  impossible; but assures us that it is at hand. The Sermon on the Mount is not some unattainable goal; it is a statement of what will happen in me when Jesus Christ has changed my nature by putting His own nature in me. Jesus Christ is the only One who can fulfill the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you. . .” (John 15:16). That is the way the grace of God begins. Our selection starts with Him. Our salvation starts with Him. Our relationship starts with Him, is made possible by Him and is sustained to heavenly bliss by Him. 
Ain’t He great.
Be blessed.
Nick

The Go of Preparation

We know we are to be soldiers of Christ called to do His will. But like soldiers in the natural, little of our time is spent in battle compared to the time required for preparation. Training and development is continuing and consumes much of our time. 
We must avoid considering that we have “made it” or become fully prepared.

Our training is, in large part, the becoming more like Christ. As the light of the Holy Spirit moves through us areas of imperfection are illuminated and, if we are willing to surrender, made usable by God for his service. The old nature can never work in His service. And no one but God can detect that nature in you. Do you have anything to hide from God? If you do, then let God search you with His light. If there is sin in your life, don’t just admit it— confess it. Are you willing to obey your Lord and Master, whatever the humiliation to your right to yourself may be?
Never disregard a conviction that the Holy Spirit brings to you. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to bring it to your mind, it is the very thing He is detecting in you. You were looking for some big thing to give up, while God is telling you of some tiny thing that must go. But behind that tiny thing lies the stronghold of obstinacy, and you say, “I will not give up my right to myself”— the very thing that God intends you to give up if you are to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Surrender to His constant probing and correcting Spirit and grow in usefulness to Him.
Be blessed.
Nick