Powerful messages  that encourage, inspire, and convict “People of the Way” to enter into the presence of the Living God and to mirror the image of the precious Lord Jesus, bringing his life to this hurt and broken world. The messages are mainly written by a retired pastor whose prolific writings have spanned six decades.

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Short Messages/Tracts

 

WHO OPENED THAT DOOR?

Did you open that door, Lord, or was it the enemy?

If it was you, Lord, give me the courage to walk through.

If it was the enemy, give me the wisdom to walk away.

Sometimes, when we forget to hallow God’s name, our unfocused prayers echo across the emptiness, and reach the ears of the enemy.

Satan loves to offer “answers” to our heart’s desires.

Shortcuts to freedom.

Fulfillment of our dreams.

Victory over enemies.

All of which end in disaster.

“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.”

                                           Matthew 6

If we hallow God’s name and focus on his kingdom,

our prayers will always find their way to the throne.

Hallowed be thy name

The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him and delivereth them.

O taste and see that the Lord is good  Blessed is the man that trusteth in him!

O fear the Lord, ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him!

                                Psalm 34

The love of God is a River of Living Water.

The holiness of God is a Terrifying Fire.

The River and that Fire are never apart.

When we pray, we are in the presence of blinding glory, holy love.

So we take off our shoes and worship.

Thy Kingdom Come

God’s kingdom is the focus of all prayer. 

All the things we seek in prayer are simply foretastes of God’s kingdom.

Healing.

Forgiveness.

Provision.

Protection.

Blessings for our neighbor.

Blessings for our enemy.

Wisdom.

Peace.

Love.

Joy.

We frame our petitions inside the ultimate vision:

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

Where all is forgiven.

Sickness and pain are gone.

Death is defeated.

Evil is no more.

Joy, peace, love, are the air we breathe.

Once I cry out to the Father to open a door, I wait until heaven does the opening

My focus is not on “results” but on the Father who answers prayer.

And on Jesus, who opens the door and welcomes me into the Kingdom.

Prayer- Our dear, beloved Father may the focus of our prayers be to love you, to honor you, to lift our hearts in awe of you and to desire that your goodness, your Spirit be poured on our fellow man. May our hearts be so focused on loving you and seeking your kingdom that we know to the core of us which doors are the ones that you have truly opened. Help us to be less concerned about the provisions, answers, and victories you bring to us. Instead may we be awed that you are the great provider and be thankful for whatever you give us and wherever you lead us. Maranatha Mirror
Message: REB  July 2021         Printable Version
Featured Art: Chris Cook  chriscookartist.com

BACK TO JESUS

Christians seem to be going in all directions these days.

Doctrinally.

Scripturally.

Ethically.

Politically.

Morally.

So many gospels!

So many agendas!

Amid all the confusion a motley group of souls is finding its way back to Jesus.

Just Jesus.

Jesus only.

No more shrines to Moses or Elijah, or Luther, or Calvin, or Augustine, or Billy, or Oral.

“This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

 To Jesus, Lord of scripture.

“You search the scriptures, for it is in them that you think you have eternal life.  But it is they that bear witness to me.”

                                            John 5

Jesus opens up the scriptures as no one else on earth ever could.

Jesus leads us to the essentials and sets us free from dietary laws and useless traditions.

Apart from Jesus, scripture can be bent and twisted to say anything we want it to say.

What Jesus tells us in the gospels gives us all the light we need to penetrate Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Psalms, the epistles, all the way to Revelation.

 To Jesus, who is Lord of all.

“Christian Principles” and “Christian Values” evaporate in the presence of the simple words of Jesus himself.

“Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.”

“Judge not and you will not be judged.  Condemn not and you will not be condemned.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” 

Jesus keeps it simple.

He expects us to do the same.

Consider following the motley crew that found its way back to Jesus.

They will still be here when all the cathedrals on earth have turned to dust.

Prayer- Lord Jesus, in the middle of these conflicting voices… opinions, agendas, and theories that draw our hearts into bitterness and criticism and even condemnation… that cause us to wander away from you… rescue us, draw us back to you. Help us to let go of these conflicting voices, forgive us for wandering away and inspire us to lift our hearts to you again, only you Jesus. Draw us back to your tender, merciful, powerful words. In them may we find you again so we can simply follow wherever you lead us.  Maranatha Mirror
Message: REB  July 2021         Printable Version
Featured Art: Fred Baumbach  at artpeacewithgod.com

HE KNOWS WHO’S WHO

It’s favorite Christian pastime:

separating the wheat from the weeds.

He smokes like a fiend, and he thinks he’s saved!

She hasn’t been to a real church in years.  And she claims she’s saved!
He says he’s saved—and belongs to the Hells Angels?

                                    Impossible!

Seems like everybody thinks they’re saved these days. 

We have to be on the lookout for religious phonies.

It’s time for a little weeding in this Christian garden.

We seem to have no trouble figuring out who’s who. 

The wheat are folks like us.

The weeds are those weirdos.

“`Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ He said to them, `An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, `No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”   (Matthew 13)

Go ahead and nail the false prophets. 

But Jesus never told us to separate the wheat from the weeds.

He says we’re not up to the job.

Pulling the weeds belongs to God alone.

And God will do it at the appointed time.

Many people we regard as weeds are actually wheat.

Many people we admire as wheat are actually weeds

So why waste time messing with God’s garden?

His angels will do the weeding at the appointed time.

If we are wheat, better we should get on with being wheat,

and leave the weeds to God.

Prayer: Lord help us to leave the weeding to you and to keep our hands out of where they don’t belong… so we don’t do more damage than good.  And yes, help us get on with being the wheat you call us to be.

Message: REB  June 2021         Printable Version
Art:  Permission of Mark Hewitt  at oldtractorintheshed.net 

IT’S IN GOD’S HANDS

You laid it before God.

That burden, that problem, that fear.

“Lord it’s beyond my power. I put it all in your hands!”

So leave it there.

There’s nothing wrong with laying it before the Lord every day, as long as you keep your hands off it.

There’s nothing wrong with giving God thanks.

Beyond that, you back off and leave it with God.

How the kingdom works.

“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”   (Mark 4)

The farmer does not dig up the seed to see if it’s sprouting. 

He allows the seed to be hidden in God.

He lets God run the show.

In God’s time the farmer has a crop.

Once I put my problem in God’s hands, God does things his way.

He does not need my help.

He does not need my advice.

He wants only my faith.

We spare ourselves tons of grief, when we back off and give God room to do things his way.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one.” (Mark 11)

God will take care of his part.

All you have to do is take care of yours.

Believe

Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Obey

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one.”

 
 
Prayer: Lord we admit that the burdens, problems and fears that trouble us are beyond our control. We can’t solve them, we can’t see beyond them. Lord we give them to you, we place them in your capable and loving hands. Lord help us to leave them to you, to keep from interfering, from advising you and from manipulating situations to our will. We trust you. We trust your sovereign will. We trust your love. And as we lift our hearts to you seeking relief from our distress may your tender mercy strike us to the heart… to extend the same tender mercy and forgiveness to all in our circle. MM
Message: REB  July 2021         Printable Version
Featured Art: Rebecca Brogan at John the Baptist Artworks
 

PRAY FOR ME!

What an awesome thing!

 Someone unburdens their soul to us.  And then they say, “Pray for me!”

Who of us does not feel inadequate when we hear those words?

Who am I to pray for this person?

To lift them before God.

To pray for their healing.

To ask the Father to raise them out of that danger and misery.

They didn’t go to the priest.

They didn’t reach out to the preacher.

They came to you—because God sent them to you.

So pray for them, trusting the Spirit to give you words.

If possible, pray for them right there, confident that the Father is listening and not one word of your prayer is wasted.

And now this person is added to those you pray for every day by name.

Every day your prayer follows this person, wherever they are, with light from God’s World.

“Pray for me.”

 Once we hear those words, we are accountable to God for what we do with them.

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

I John 5

 “I’m not righteous!

The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

God knows that I am far from a “righteous person”.  So how can my prayer have “great power in its effects”?

Let the Lord Jesus worry about that.

He sent this person to you.  His blood covers you.  And his Spirit is guiding you.

Just get on with it and keep praying for this troubled soul who found their way to you.

And leave the rest with God.

Prayer: Lord give us the tender hearts and the urge we need to lift others before you. Give us empathetic hearts for their burdens. Give us compassion for their weaknesses. Give us the insight that you sent them to us with their troubles. And Holy Lord, give us the faith to know that you have them, that you love them and for some strange, beautiful reason our simple prayers hold the power to pour blessing and healing into their lives and into our own as well as we enter into your precious presence. MM
Message: REB  June 2021         Printable Version
Art: Kindness and permission of Deedra Everett   at facebook.com/deedra.everett.5 

“LISTEN TO HIM!”

He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Matthew 17

“Listen to him!”

If there was ever a word from heaven to Christendom it’s the word that came to Peter when he missed the point of the vision.

The Father is revealing Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.

“Jesus is my Son.”

Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus is all we need.

Peter doesn’t get it.

“How ‘bout if I build three shrines here, Lord?  One for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

“This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.

Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe.

But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”

And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

 Jesus only.

Did Peter finally get it?

 Do we?

 The moment we add Moses or Elijah, eternal security, tongues, the rapture, a political agenda, or fund raising to Jesus,

 … we have lost our way.

Christendom is loaded with religious kingdoms that use Jesus mainly as a marketing tool.

They are urgent about issues, doctrines, projects, agendas, and lukewarm in their love for Jesus.

These kingdoms rise and fall.

They grow and they shrink.

They split and they multiply.

In every case Jesus has to share the spotlight with one Christian idol or another.

But here’s the truth:

 Jesus is still Lord.

He is Lord alone.

He needs no props.

No “interpreters”.

No financial support.

No help from politicians.

 So who are we listening to?

Who has the final word?

Who actually rules our lives?

If we believe that Jesus, alive from the dead, is Lord, why aren’t we listening to him?

And only to him!

 When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom.

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

I Corinthians 2

Prayer: Lord, beautiful Lord that we could hear the voice of the Father in our hearts saying to us…”this is my beloved son…listen to him…in him I am pleased” That we could lift our faces in awe of you Jesus, only you. That the impetus of our lives is to draw close to you and listen with all we have, so we can rise without fear, without agendas and simply follow you, only you. MM
Message: REB  June 2021         Printable Version
Featured Art: Ineke Hopgood  https://inekehopgood.weebly.com/

COME TO THE FEAST!

It’s not an obligation.

It’s not a duty.

No, you won’t be bored to death!

It’s a Feast, like none you’ve ever seen.

A table laid out by God himself.

A table where people of all shapes and sizes, have finally found joy!

A heavenly Feast here on earth.

Wait a minute!  Are you trying to trick me into coming to church?

This Feast is not like “church”.

It’s not as stiff.

Not as “nice”.

Not as homogeneous.

Not as predictable.

And here’s the thing:   We don’t have to search for it. 

This Feast finds us.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent. So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.   (Luke 24)

A Stranger on the road listened to their grief.

They opened their hearts to him, and soon they were sitting at his Kingdom Feast.

Wherever this Stranger goes, the Feast is spread.

It’s his Feast.

            He prepared it.

He is the Host.

Amid all the chaos of the present hour,

this Stranger moves across the earth, inviting us to his Feast.

Maybe we meet him on the road.

Perhaps he sends a servant into our life.

Sometimes he appears to us as a victim beaten and robbed and left for dead.

He comes in the morning.

He comes at night.

He comes as a daily renewal.

When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, `Come; for all is now ready.’

 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’

So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’

And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'”  (Luke 14)

A seat with our name on it waits at this Feast.

The Lord says,

“Come, for all things are now ready!”

There are people who have gone to church all their lives and still haven’t come to the Feast.

There are people who have never seen the inside of a church who are sitting at his table.

The Feast begins when the Master’s voice reaches our heart.

And our heart begins to burn with faith.

Prayer: Father, dearest Master we need your voice to reach our hearts. You yourself are the feast, the life, the joy we need. Draw us to this beautiful feast that you have prepared and you lovingly spread before us. What a blessing, what a gift…may we not turn from it. May we be burn with such love for you and be so compelled to come join…. that no hindrance, no excuse, no attitude will keep us from the joy you yourself offer. MM
Message: REB  June 2021         Printable Version
Featured Art: Jennifer Kathleen Phillips  at fineartamerica.com/profiles/jennifer-phillips

I’M WAITING FOR A SIGN

“I know God wants me to do something big.

And I’m prepared.

All I need is a sign from God, and I’ll be right there bringing souls from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.”

Waiting for a sign?  My Friend, you are going to wait forever.

The Lord of the Vineyard has been there five times hiring laborers and you keep sitting under that tree waiting for a sign.

You wouldn’t recognize a sign if it hit you on the head!

You don’t need a sign.

You need to open your eyes and see the work God already put in front of your nose.

It’s not a “great work”.

It’s lowly stuff.

But that’s where the power of the Kingdom is always found.

Doing lowly stuff.

That guy who calls you on the phone and wants to unload his complaints and you keep brushing him off.

He was sent to you by the Lord himself.

That boring cousin over in the nursing home, sitting there all day with nothing to do.

There is no work greater than paying her a visit.

 Our obsession with greatness.

Naaman the leper, the Syrian general who came to Israel to be healed, was told by the prophet to wash in the Jordan seven times. 

Naaman was insulted, and rode off in a huff.

“Why should I wash in the crummy Jordan, when there are better rivers in Syria?”

“My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, `Wash, and be clean’?”  (II Kings 5)

Even Jesus’ disciples were caught up in the pursuit of “greatness”.  Whenever Jesus told them he was on his way to suffering and a cross, they would start arguing about who was the greatest among them.

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20)

The Vineyard at our doorstep.

We’re so busy talking about evangelizing the world that we fail to see the Vineyard that surrounds us right where we are.

 We do not need a sign to move us…

…to pray for people God sends across our path.

…to be there for wounded souls who bump into us in a thousand ways.

…to have a sustaining word for those who are weary.  (Isaiah 50)

…to provide a listening ear for folks who have no one to unload to.

…to share of our means with folks in need—-near and far.

…to encourage a stumbling brother or sister.

…to track down a lost sheep that the Spirit has put on our heart again and again.

The most effective servants of the Kingdom are not the Christian celebrities. 

They are the ones whom nobody sees but God, as they quietly move among the forgotten ones of this earth. 

May we be found among them!

Prayer- Yes Lord may we be found among those who hear your prompting to care for the forgotten ones who cross our paths. And Lord if we are seeking greatness and are turning ourselves away from obscure service… prod us, pester us… stir up compassion within us. Give us the vision to see that you are with us as we give a listening ear, take time to encourage, extend a hand, pray for and seek out the forgotten. May the sign we seek be our hearts burning with life as we serve and remember the unrememberable ones of this world. MM
REB – June 2021  Printable PDF
Art:   Journey Ahead,  Returning,  Showing the Promised Land  and Unetlanvhi  By Ramone Romero ramone-romero.blogspot

MY YOKE IS EASY

Are you Spirit-filled?

Do you believe in eternal security?

Do you speak in tongues?

Are you pursuing social justice?

Do you believe in the Rapture?

Empty questions.

Only one question is needed:

Am I under the yoke with Jesus?

Learning from him to be meek and lowly in heart?

Finding Sabbath Rest?

Jesus calls us to follow him on a narrow road.

This road is hard, if not impossible.

Until we come under his yoke.

My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

When we are under his yoke we are no longer “solo”.

He is right here with us.

We walk together.

We bear burdens together.

We face down evil together.

We pass through fire together.

Our own weakness is sanctified in his strength.

 “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”  (John 14)

We do it every day.

That ring on your finger stays there day and night.

But the Master’s yoke waits for us each morning. 

Each morning we submit to it afresh.

Every day we learn that his yoke is easy.

His yoke is joy.

His yoke is peace.

His yoke is wisdom.

His yoke is freedom.

His yoke is love.

His yoke is unspeakable power.

His yoke is simple.

The streets of Christendom are paved with vanity.

Bible experts.

Prophecy experts.

Theologians.

Philosophers.

Psychologists.

P.R. wizards.

Eloquent speakers.

Fabulous teachers.

God bless ‘em all, but Jesus keeps it simple.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.

  For I am meek and lowly in heart. 

 And you shall find rest for your souls.

 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

                      Matthew 11

Message: REB  June 2021  Printable PDF
Art: Kind permission of Maria Lang Garcia   MariaLang.net 
Prayer- Lord Jesus, we want to be under the yoke with you, because you call to us from there. Draw us. Hold us close. Teach us to be like you. Help us to enter each new day under the yoke together with you and in this we can face life as we take your blessed yoke upon us and in this we will find true rest for our souls. MM

I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS

“Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”  (Matthew 28)

He does not promise prosperity.

He does not promise perfect health.

He does not promise a smooth ride.

To those who choose to follow him, Jesus promises one thing:

“I am with you always.”

“I am with you day and night.”

“I am with you when things go well”

“I am with you when you walk through smoke, fire and ashes.”

I am with you.”

  If we are focused on following him, his promise applies to us in four ways….

1. “I am with you when I speak to you.”

The most important words we will ever hear are the words that come from the mouth of our Lord.

We hear his words in the gospels and in scripture.

We hear his words as his Spirit speaks to our hearts.

Sometimes the words of a stranger have the ring of his voice.

 Our world is awash in voices.  But the voice of our Master has the ring of truth as no other.

“My sheep hear my voice.”

 When we hear that voice we are sustained by its power.

2. “I am with you when you speak to me.

By his Spirit our Lord visits a million places at once. He is with each of us wherever we are as surely as we breathe.

So we talk to him.

“Lord Jesus, where am I missing the boat?”

“Lord I just don’t know which way to go.”

“Lord, help me!”

“Thank you Lord! Thank you!”

“Lead me Lord.  Make your way plain before my face!”

“Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;  if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”

                                John 14

 3. “I am with you as we walk together in the Father’s will.

We walk with the Lord in the places where he always goes.

Good news for the poor.

Deliverance for the captive.

Sight for the blind.

Freedom for the oppressed.

Truth in a world of lies.

Love that brings help in a wilderness of despair.

We do not expect the Lord to go with us when we veer off into arguments over doctrine or politics.

Nor do we expect his approval when we take our talent and bury it.

But Jesus never fails to be at our side as we walk in his light.

4. “I am with you as you gather in my name.

“Wherever two or three are gathered in my name,  there am I in the midst of them.”   (Matthew 18)

When Jesus is the center of our worship, he is there.

When we’re “doing church” he lets us do our thing, until we learn what it means to gather in his name.

Two friends praying together on the phone.

A handful sitting under a tree, calling on his name.

A vast cathedral or a country chapel where hearts are fixed on Jesus only.

A cluster of believers meeting secretly, in a land where his worship is forbidden.

A modern Samaritan turning aside to help a stranger.

The Master never fails to come with power when his followers join their hearts in his name.

What more do we need?

He does not promise prosperity.

He does not promise perfect health.

He does not promise a smooth ride.

To those who choose to follow him, Jesus promises one thing:

“I am with you always.”

    What more do we need?

Prayer: Yes Lord, what more do we need? “I am with you always” … This promise brings us the greatest of all comforts and lifts us from the deepest despair. May we continue walking in your light so we hear you speaking them to us. As we face each day, may “I am with you always” embolden and empower us. As we go forth with the gifts you have given us …as we lift our hearts in prayer… as we seek you in the Scriptures… as we turn to you with our brothers and sisters…as we interact with those who have yet to know you… and as we face disappointment, loss, fear, hurt, shame, and sorrow may we carry them. Even as we breathe our last and enter into the unknown… may we know you are with us. What hope, what unfathomable love, to have you ever with us. What more could we ever need? As an offering of thanks, love, and worship… may we never forget it, may we hold this precious gift close and may we thrive in it. MM
Message: REB  May 2021         Printable Version
Art: Courtesy of  Kate Austin  Christart.co.uk

WRESTLING WITH DARKNESS

Seems like Christians are doing a lot of wrestling these days.

Wrestling against pagan laws.

Wrestling against Christians who aren’t fighting against those laws.

Wrestling on behalf of Israel.

Wrestling for our constitutional rights.

Sounds legitimate.

Until we check in with the Apostle Paul, who tells us where the real wrestling happens.

 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We need to understand who the enemy is and where the real battle is taking place.

If we’re busy fighting against flesh and blood, while the real battle is with the principalities and powers of darkness, we are not only fighting the wrong war, we are being conquered by those powers of Darkness!

Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace.

When we fight against flesh and blood our feet are never shod with the gospel of peace!

The breastplate of righteousness also disappears when we get tangled up in human conflict.

Besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6

Bottom line:

If our Christian wrestling is against flesh and blood, the Powers of Darkness are in control.

If we wear the armor of God as we strive against the Powers of Darkness, we will win the war that counts.

Satan offered Jesus the same short-cut to the kind of power many Christians are pursuing today.

And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'”

Luke 4

A deadly war is going on in which every follower of Jesus is involved whether we like it or not. 

This war is not taking place in Washington or London or Ottawa or Jerusalem. 

This war is raging at the door of our hearts.

It is a war between Darkness and Light.

Between Truth and the Lie.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are bringing the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet to their final destination.

In this battle we need the armor of God—which does not mix with guns, money or political influence.

 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Lord, give us the wisdom to discern!

Message: REB  May 2021  Printable PDF
Art: All art from Chris Powers at the Full of Eyes website. The first and last piece are stills from an animation called “The End of Night” that I stumbled into after writing the prayer. 
Prayer- Lord I admit when thinking about all that’s wrong with this world, I spend a great deal of time stewing over who is wrong and what should be done about it. I am wrestling with flesh and blood and am overwhelmed by disappointment and despair because there is no worldly fix to end oppression and wickedness. Help me to put down swords that I have no right to carry and rescue me from the need to control the world. Forgive me for these battles I fight that place a barrier between me and you and that are robbing me of the life and joy that are found in your presence. Without your covering I am wanting and naked. Clothe me so I can withstand the evil that permeates this world. Shod my feet with your peace, cover my heart with your righteousness, give me the weapons to fight the true battle. And yes give me the wisdom to discern, open my mind to who the real enemy is.. And finally, Lord Jesus, wrap me in your arms where darkness cannot harm me, where there is no fear and where I can rise victorious.  MM

THE WAY

They did not call it “Christianity”.

They called it The Way.

 It was not a religion.

 It was a way of life that belongs to the world beyond—God’s World.

Christianity has changed a thousand times.

 It is changing now before our eyes.

But the Way has never changed.

You do not find the Way.

The Way finds you.

When it finds you, you know it.

A door opens to a world within this world.

God’s World.

 A world with only one King.

A King with unspeakable power.

A King who is gracious with the humble and stern with the haughty.

A King who is our Shepherd and our Friend.

Once we hear the King’s voice all we have to do is let go of our delusions and follow where he leads.

He will speak, if our heart is open.

He will lead, if our eye is single.

He sets us free.

He makes us whole.

He anoints us as servants of his kingdom.

He causes us to breathe the breath of the world to come.

Christianity has changed a thousand times.

It is changing now before our eyes.

But the Way has never changed.

Thomas said to him, “Lord we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, “I am the Way….”

John 14

Prayer- Lord, find us, call us to you, our king, so we may walk in this world as people of your way, as people of your world. Keep opening our ears, our hearts to your call so we may keep walking in your way. And may this way of life be more than religion to us, more than trying to live righteously for a future reward. May it be the natural outcome from drawing our hearts close to your heart, from seeking to follow where you lead because we can’t bear being without you Jesus. MM
REB – May 2021  Printable PDF
Art:  Permission of Ain Vares  https://ainvaresart.com/

HAVE NO ANXIETY ABOUT ANYTHING

He was not lounging in a recliner sipping tea when Paul wrote those words.

He was in chains in a Roman prison.

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 From his prison cell Paul tells us to turn our anxieties into prayer. 

Is he kidding?

Maybe Paul could do that. 

But me?  I’m not so sure.

They call our era “The Age of Anxiety”.

And who of us isn’t affected?

The fear that tomorrow will not be safe.

The awareness that life is unpredictable; nothing is certain.

Who knows what’s going to happen next?

How can we not be anxious?

Still, Paul says,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Let all people know your forbearance.

The Lord is at hand.

In the face of all the pressures, all those storm clouds, we are to rejoice in the Lord?

And let all people know our “generous overlooking of insult and injury (forbearance)”?

We can do it if we remember that the only unchanging reality in our lives is God.

God is not going anywhere.

When God says, “Let there be light” there is light.

When Jesus says, “Lo I am with you always,” it is so.

Maybe it’s beyond our power to change our situation.

But it is within our power to focus on God.

To rejoice in his presence.

To show kindness to those around us.

To lay our worries before God as prayer.

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

                                                                  Philippians 4

Message: REB  May 2021  Printable PDF
Art:  Gwen Meharg DrawneartoGod.com
Prayer- Lord, we bring our anxieties to you. We trust you to lead us through every storm and to keep your promise that you are ever with us and that in you there is no reason to fear. We rejoice in who you are. We rejoice in your presence. We open our hearts to your loving kindness. We open our hearts to your peace. May we live and thrive in the midst of any trial…. as a thanks offering and as a testimony of what you give to those who seek and find you. MM

HOW DO I BELIEVE?

“All things are possible to the one who believes.”

Mark 9

 So how do I believe?

With my mouth?

Or with my life?

  Do I believe with my mouth?

 Perhaps I’m bold with my mouth.

 I’m not afraid to confess Jesus before the world.

I bring scripture to bear on world events and personal issues.

I uncover sin where I find it.

Everybody knows where I stand with Jesus.

But why is it that people cringe when I open my mouth?

Or do I believe with my life?

Is my daily life rooted in Jesus’ words?

Is Jesus in charge of the way I treat my spouse, my neighbor, my enemy?

“A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

    Matthew 5

How do I believe in Jesus?

With my mouth?

Or with my life?

All things are possible to those who believe in Jesus with their life.

All things are possible to those who deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow him.

All things are possible to those who get under his yoke and learn to be meek and lowly in heart.

  “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do.  And greater works than these will they do, because I go to the Father.”

                                                                  John 14

Message  REB April 2021  Printable PDF
Art: Pondering the Cosmos and Works of Mercy by Jen Norton at jennortonartstudio.com
Prayer- Sweet, merciful Lord help us demonstrate our belief in you with our lives. Draw us so close to you that we crave to live the life of mercy you call us to. Teach us and lead us Lord, so we willingly and joyfully choose your yoke, seeking the meekness and lowliness that draws us closer to you, that lights us up and that makes all things possible. MM
 

I WILL GUIDE YOU WITH MY EYE

I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go.

I will guide you with my eye.

Psalm 32

 For a long time the one who wrote those words refused to admit that he was on the wrong path.

When I declared not my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

All this man had to do was to bring the mess to the Lord and confess it with a penitent heart.

              Why not?

 Where else could he go?

At last he broke down and did it.

I acknowledged my sin to thee, and I did not hide my iniquity;

 I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.

From this point on, things began to change. 

And things will change for us, if we do what this man did.

Thou art a hiding place for me, thou preservest me from trouble; thou dost encompass me about with songs of deliverance.

When Jesus calls us to repent, he’s simply telling us to give up the play-acting.

To open our heart to God.

When we learn to do this every day, we are ready to be guided by the Lord.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go.

I will guide you with my eye.

 

 

Message: REB  April 2021  Printable PDF
Art:  Courtesy of Melani Pyke  https://www.melpyke.com/ 
Prayer- O Lord, we feel your hand heavy upon us. Our strength is sapped. We cannot go on like this. O Lord we confess our sins, we repent of all that separates us from you. Forgive us, cover our sins. Deliver us from our troubles. Fill us with songs of deliverance again. Surround us with your loving kindness. We ask you to never stop keeping your eye on us, teaching us, guiding us away from evil, and preventing us from wandering away from your precious presence. MM

OBSESSED, OPPRESSED, POSSESSED, DEPRESSED

The mind under a cloud.

 Define it as you will.

 Explain it if you can.

When the mind is under that cloud, nothing makes sense.

But how do we disperse the cloud?

How do we escape this prison of despair?

Do we turn to Norman Vincent Peale and The power of Positive Thinking?

Do we pull out the schnapps?

Go on a cruise?

Buy a new hat?

One thing we learn from that dark cloud is that life in this world is not a comedy.

Our vision may be distorted and our judgment skewed, but at rock bottom we are now aware…

 …that something is amiss—not only inside my head, but in that world out there.

 So how do we come out from under the cloud?

 Who will bring us from darkness into the light?

 ____________________

 Nobody ever experienced that dark cloud like Jesus did.

Forty days and forty nights in the wilderness; then face-to-face with the devil himself.

The oppressed and possessed were drawn to Jesus.

They knew he could help them.

The tormented soul who cried out in the synagogue.

The man who lived among the tombs, cutting himself with stones.

Mary Magdalene.

He set them free.

Jesus still sets us free.

  When we forsake the distractions and focus on him alone, 

   Jesus is right there.

He knows what we’re going through.

He knows what to do about it.

He came to set at liberty those who are oppressed.

He will set you free.

Jesus is at your side as you read these words.

As a sign of his love,

as a door to his Kingdom,

Jesus will deal with your darkness, if you bring it to him.

He will remove the cloud.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…”

                                                       Luke 4

Message  REB April 2021  Printable PDF
Art: Ramone Romero  ramone-romero.blogspot

Prayer- Lord Jesus, these dark clouds are obscuring my vision of you. Help me to see you despite the clouds, to know you are with me even when the clouds are thick. In your mercy and kindness remove these clouds, release me from this captivity, revive me with the good news you bring, give me vision again. Set me free, set me free. MM

EMPTY

So you got rid of the demon.

You repented of that sin.

You gave up that grudge.

You even gave Lazarus a sandwich as he begged at your gate.

Your spirit is now clear of all the garbage.

It’s clean…..but empty.

It won’t be empty for long.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

                                                                  Luke 11:24-26

An empty house attracts squatters.

An empty spirit attracts darkness.

Once the demon is gone, the sin forgiven, the space once occupied by darkness must quickly be filled with light.

The same Spirit of the Lord that drove out the demon, that brought you to repentance, must now be given the throne within your spirit.

We’re not talking about the “gifts”—tongues, prophecy, miracles, etc.

All those things can be counterfeited.

We’re talking about the Spirit filling us with the love of God, as only he can. 

A love which the evil one can never counterfeit.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

                                                   Romans 5

The Holy Spirit can “pour God’s love into our hearts” only when he is on the throne.

When the Spirit is on the throne of our hearts…

He convicts us when we deceive, exaggerate, or belittle our neighbor.

He nudges us, when we pass by Lazarus at our gate.

He sets off an alarm when that old grudge comes knocking at our door.

He encourages us, when we reach out with a helping hand.

He pours heaven’s fire into us when we walk in love.

 So we open our heart to the Spirit daily as we approach our Father’s throne.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

                                            Luke 11

Lord, let me walk in the Spirit today…

…think in the Spirit, hear, see, work in the Spirit.

…connect with people in the Spirit.

…end the day in the Spirit.

The Father never fails to answer our prayer for the Spirit to rule and guide our lives.

Message: REB  April 2021  Printable PDF
Art: Ramone Romero  ramone-romero.blogspot

Prayer- Lord, rescue us from the darkness that waits to fill our empty hearts. We lay our empty hearts before you, fill them with your Spirit. Yes Lord, helps us to walk in your Spirit each day…. think, hear, work, and connect in your Spirit. We cannot do this without you. How we need your love to keep walking in your light. Help us to place you on the throne of our hearts… so your love can reign, so your light dispels the darkness, and so we will never be empty again. MM

THE SPIRITUAL BIG BANG

 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.   (Matthew 28)

Stepping out of the tomb into the gray dawn was a being unlike anything this earth had ever seen.

He was the Firstborn of a New Creation which will soon replace this world of sin and sadness.

Few people understand who he is. But in the coming days it will become clear to many that the man who stepped out of that tomb is….

Lord of heaven and earth.

He is the Way into God’s World.

He is the Truth that searches hearts.

He is the Life of God that fills the universe.

He is the one who watches over you as you read these words.

The only ones who saw Jesus after he rose from the dead were men and women who believed his words, who were walking in the light of those words.

Before his crucifixion he promised them,

“Yet a little while and the world will see me no more. But you will see me.  And because I live you will live also.”   (John 14)

When they “saw him again” these men and women knew that they were actually seeing him for the first time. 

“Did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us on the way, and as he opened to us the scriptures?”

                                                       Luke 24

We “see him” when he chooses to reveal himself.

We “see him” when we get under his yoke and learn his ways.

We “hear him” when we open our hearts to his words which now circle the earth.

The Risen Lord is not only the Firstborn of the New Creation, he is “the Firstborn among many brethren”.

 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.

                                Romans 8

The blinding glory that exploded in that tomb and stepped forth as the Firstborn of the New Creation is calling all who have ears to hear to rise from the dead and become like him.

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

                                            Ephesians 5

Message  REB March 2021  Link to Printable PDF
Art: Ineke Hopgood at  inekehopgood.weebly.com

Prayer-Lord help us to see you, really see you, so we may rise from our graves and live in this precious light you offer us. May the truth and power of your resurrection explode into our lives and wake us up.   MM 

DISCOURAGED

We’re at a crossroads with nothing in sight but wilderness in both directions.

God is far away.

Jesus has vanished.

There’s nothing left.

Have I been a fool all these years?

Or am I missing something?

Those two disciples trudging toward Emmaus were overwhelmed with discouragement.  

Jesus was gone.

And so were all his promises.

“Why are you looking so sad,” said a stranger joining them on the journey.

“Are you the only one in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened here?”

“What things?”

They spilled their bitterness to the stranger, who listened for a while, and then began to speak.

 “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.                                                     

 Luke 24

Who is this man?  We need to hear more.

           “Come in and stay with us!”

The stranger took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and was gone.

 And so was their discouragement. 

When God is far away, when Jesus has vanished,

maybe we too are “slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken.”

The same Lord who visited those disciples will find his way to us.

If we are ready to slow down and listen, we will hear his voice.

“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”

Discouragement is the door either to despair or to revelation, depending on the welcome the Lord receives when he meets us on the road.

As he always does.

Message: REB March 2021  Link to Printable PDF
Art: Fritz von Uhde Public domain… about

Prayer- Lord when we are discouraged may we sense and welcome your sure approach. May we not be slow of heart, allowing despair and discouragement to weigh us down. Instead, open our ears to your holy voice, cause our hearts to burn within us and to be filled with revelation, awe and encouragement because you meet us where we are.

THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

It’s a road well-traveled.

Doctors, lawyers, preachers, billionaires, athletes, actors, brick-layers and plumbers, clerks and burger chefs are all plodding along this road with high expectations.

Pursuing a Land, where the sun always shines and never a tear is shed.

One problem:

When we arrive at our destination there’s nothing there.

It’s an illusion.

The Wizard behind the illusion is not only a fraud, he’s an idiot!

But here’s what’s really baffling.

 When we wake up from our delusion, where do we go?

Right back to the Yellow Brick Road!

Will we never learn?

The devil is smarter than we are.  Yet the devil is a fool.  Like all liars, the biggest lie is the lie he tells himself. 

The devil thinks he still owns the world.

“All you have to do is trust me, and I’ll put you on top!”

And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.

If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours.”

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'”

                                                       Luke 4

The kingdoms of the world no longer belong to the devil.  They are now under the power—and the judgment—of the Risen Lord.

There is no Yellow Brick Road to his Kingdom.

Only Calvary Road.

Only faith and obedience to the Lord of heaven and earth.

“I am the light of the world;  he who follows me will not walk in darkness,  but will have the light of life.”   

John 8

Message: REB March 2021  Link to Printable PDF
Art: Courtesy of Chris Cook chriscookartist.com
 

Prayer- Lord help us to recognize when the devil is calling us to trust him, to follow our illusions… luring us to make compromises, to manipulate circumstances, and into seeking power to achieve our desires. Lord may we trust you, only you…even if the path is a difficult one, even if it’s not a prosperous one. Wake us up to the lie of the devil, that the path of Calvary is not for us. Lord may we be determined to follow you, even if it’s tough. May we avoid the pursuit of illusions, knowing that darkness will not overcome us…knowing that we will have the light of life, knowing we need not fear and we will be set free as we embrace your truth.    MM 

WHEN THE DEVIL SAYS, “TRUST ME”

Whether the devil shows up….

…as an angel of light,

 …. a billionaire,

…. a beautiful woman,

…or a premature answer to prayer,

 his “gospel’ is always the same:

 “Trust me!”

“Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”

 “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

“You will not die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

                                                       Genesis 3

“Trust me, God is holding out on you.”

“Trust me, God doesn’t even know you exist.”

“Trust me, there is no God.  You are on your own.”

“Trust me, a little lie goes a long way.”

  The devil loves to bring his gospel to church.

“If you had more money you could do more good.  Money is the answer.  Trust me!”

“The thing you need is power.  Think of all the great things you could accomplish if you controlled what goes on in Washington!”

“You want your church to grow?  Get rid of the riff-raff.”

“If you want to be a success, learn to compromise.” 

Why does God give the devil so much rope?

Not to worry, God holds the rope.

 The devil is on a leash, and the leash is getting shorter by the day.

When the devil says, “Trust me,” we have a choice.

 ….between following the Truth or following the Lie.

 ….walking in Light or walking in Darkness. 

To those who choose the Darkness, Jesus has terrifying words.

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

                                                       John 8

 To those who choose the light Jesus says,

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Message: REB March 2021  Link to Printable PDF
Art: Courtesy of Chris Cook chriscookartist.com

CRYING OUT TO GOD

 “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?  I tell you he will vindicate them speedily. Yet when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” ( Luke 18)

There are those who live as though there is no God.

There are those who never stop talking about God.

And there are those who “cry to God day and night”. 

Because God is the rock-bottom reality of their life.

Because they know they need God’s help.

God alone knows who they are, these men, women and children, scattered across the earth, who “cry to him day and night.”

 But here’s the question:

Do these people cry to God day and night because they are “the elect”?

Or are they “the elect” because they cry to God day and night?

Crying out to God is never futile.

As surely as the widow pestering the Unjust Judge got what she pestered for;

Those who keep crying out to God are always vindicated.

Always.

The world stumbles on in its absurd vanity (“When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”).

 But the heavenly Father watches over those who never cease to cry out to him for help.

Unto thee will I cry, O Lord, my Rock! Be not silent to me, lest I become like them that go down into the pit.   (Psalm 28)

We live our lives on Eternity’s razor’s edge.

Day and night we walk the rim of an unknown.

So we keep crying to God to lead us on.

“And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?  I tell you he will vindicate them speedily.

Prayer: O Lord, our Rock, our Master we cry out to you to lead us, to sustain us. Be not silent to us, give us what we need to keep clinging to you, to keep trusting you, to keep faithfully following you wherever you lead us
REB March 2021  Link to printable PDF 
Art: Father James Hasse … Our Father, The Persistent Widow, and Black Prayer in a White World at Claver Jesuit Prayer Gallery

MY GOAL:  THIS DAY

 

My goal is not to save a thousand souls or spark a new revival,

but to simply live this day to the glory of God.

To present my body as a living sacrifice, poured out for God’s glory—today.

To turn my mind away from the darkness and open it to the light of his Spirit, so I can love God this day with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and love my neighbor as myself.

To trust God today in all things.

To serve God today in the place where he has put me.

To focus today on the one thing needful.

God’s Kingdom opens before me every morning.

So I press on toward “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”

 in this place where God has put me today. 

… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize

Philippians 3

The glory of God blazes before me this day!

 What more could I ask for?

 
Prayer- Lord we present ourselves to you this day. Today we choose to turn from darkness and gaze at your beauty. We choose to love you with all we have, to trust you in all things, and to serve you wherever we are, today. And yes, may your glory blaze before us and within us as we seek and find your love, your pure light each new day.
 
Message:  REB March 2021 
Link to printable PDF

Art: Lisa MD Skinner at Lisa MD Skinner Art
 

THEY WALK WITH GOD

He who says he abides in him ought to walk  in the same way in which he walked.    

I John 2

They are out there.

Men and women who walk with God.

Amid all the confusion, hypocrisy, conflict and deceit, they just keep walking with God.

They never break the bruised reed or quench the smoking flax.

They wave no flags, blow no trumpets.

They serve in the place where God puts them, with humility and grace.

The Spirit of the Lord Jesus sustains them as they pour out their lives with holy joy.

When we look at these people we see Jesus.

When we listen to them speak we hear the Master’s voice.

There is but one thing unique about them:

They walk with God.

They are the true Body of Christ.

They are the Kingdom of God.

God grant that we may be found among them!

Prayer: We trust you are with us as we walk with you, beloved God. May we be among those who keep hearing your tender voice, who are graceful and humble, who extend mercy and lift others out of their brokenness. And yes, fill us with a holy joy that will sustain us to the end, as we walk with you, cry out to you, listen to you, and find ourselves wrapped in your tender love.
 
Written: REB March2021    Link to Printable PDF 
Art: Jane Spencer via The Secret Place on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/artjspencer

 

WHILE WAITING FOR ORDERS FROM HEAVEN….

 

….How about taking care of what heaven has already put in front of our face?

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5

 We do not need an angel to point it out to us.  It’s right in front of our nose.  

That cup of cold water carries redemptive power.

That word of encouragement breaks chains of despair.

That anonymous gift of cash opens the windows of heaven.

Words of Jesus from our lips raise dead souls to life.

If we’re waiting for God to ordain us “a prophet to the nations” or the “healer of the year”, we may have a long wait.

God’s kingdom is never big-time. 

Signs of the kingdom are never show-time.

Signs and wonders confirm, at God’s pleasure, the words he puts in our mouths—-as we walk in obedience to the Lamb.

The one who abides in me,

and I in them, is the one who bears much fruit.

For apart from me, you can do nothing.

                                    John 15

Prayer: Lord give us the insight, humility and resolve to see and do the simple calls to kindness you put in front of our faces. May we continuously abide in you so we hear and live your heavenly orders.
Written: REB January 2021
Art: Jane Spencer via The Secret Place on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/artjspencer

ALL AUTHORITY

The Jesus who met the disciples for the last time on a mountain in Galilee was the same Jesus they had traveled with for more than three years.

Yet something about him told them he was not the same.

This Jesus was the First-born of the New Creation.

This Jesus was Lord of heaven and earth.

No wonder they worshipped him!

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

All authority.

  Jesus sent these men out under that authority.

An authority which set the world on fire.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”     (Matthew 28)

Soon disciples of Jesus were found everywhere in the Empire. Little gatherings of believers sprang up in cities, towns and villages throughout the Roman world.  

There was joy, zeal, a love for God and neighbor in these folks which the world had never seen before.

One could say that they gladly sold all they had to buy the field with the treasure—God’s Kingdom.

So what happened between then and now?     

Only God knows.

But this much we do know: If God can raise up children to Abraham from stones (Luke 3:8) God can raise up laborers for his harvest out of “stones” like you and me.

He does it without violating our wills.

Jesus calls us each to follow him.

If we say “No” he moves on, and keeps moving on until he finds a “Yes”.

The Lord then takes the “Yeses”, empowers them, and sends them out….

not to build more churches,

not to change the laws,

not to “take over the world”,

but to make disciples.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….”

Baptizing them into his death and resurrection.

So that their lives belong to him alone.

Teaching them, by word and example…

—The life Jesus portrays in his Sermon on the Mount

—In the admonitions Jesus gives in his final discourse in John 13-17.

—In the call to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow him.

The Lord of heaven and earth will make it happen.

With us, if we answer his call.

Without us, if we choose to say “No”.

But it will happen.

It’s happening now.

And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

 
Prayer: Jesus, Lord of Heaven and earth speak to our hearts so we can truly know your lordship, so we are awed, inspired and driven to not only seek you but to teach your commands, to make disciples for you. Help us to rise up and step out in the authority you give us to do this…knowing that we belong to you, knowing we are not alone and knowing we can set the world on fire because you are ever with us.
Message: REB February 2021     Link to printable PDF version
Art: Step Out and Match Light by Mindi Oaten at mindioaten.com and Praise the Lord and I am with You by CMK at art4prayer.co.uk

WHY ALL THE WEEPING?

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born. (Zechariah 12)

Zechariah is giving us a glimpse of the spiritual awakening that will visit Jerusalem before the Day of the Lord.

 A spirit of repentance and supplication will envelope the people like a cloud.

 The Spirit of the Lord will cover Jerusalem with unspeakable love.

And Jerusalem will weep.

The weeping will turn to joy, as repentance is answered by the Lord’s unspeakable forgiveness.

Presently Jerusalem is under the shadow which fell over the city as Jesus approached it for the last time— and wept.

And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19)

Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

And now Jesus weeps over his Body on earth.

Again and again his church has missed its “time of visitation” stumbling through the centuries bewildered and confused.

But this is about to change.      

When they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.

When God awakens his people, and opens our eyes to Truth,

what else can we do but weep?

We will look upon “him whom we have pierced” with our hard hearts, and we will mourn.

The spirit of weeping which will one day sweep over Jerusalem has already begun to visit the Body of Christ.

 We are weeping in repentance.

 We are weeping in awe before the glory of God.

Our weeping will be swallowed up by joy as the Spirit raises the church from its long slumber.

If we find ourselves weeping when we are alone at prayer…

If weeping takes us by surprise as we worship the Lord with sisters and brothers…

          Don’t be alarmed.

The Spirit of the Lord is leading us to repentance.

And he will turn our repentance into joy….

    ….as he sends us out into the waiting harvest.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, Bearing precious seed, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126)

Prayer- Lord grant that when we look at you our hearts are truly pierced. May we see the truth and truly weep over our hard hearts. May we be truly repentant and covered with a spirit of compassion. May we indeed feel covered by your unspeakable love and unspeakable forgiveness. Turn our repentance, our weeping into joy. May our weeping bear precious seed and may we rejoice in the sheaves you place into our arms.
Message: REB February 2021    Link to printable PDF
Art: Cindy MacDonald: He was Wounded for Our Transgressions, Man of Sorrows and Crown of Thorns at Facebook CindyMacDonaldartist1 And Christa Rosier Psalm 126 at Psalmpaintings.com

OPINION: THE ENEMY OF FAITH

The church door opened and out they came with their eyes burning and their jaws set. The stirring sermon had fired up the folks for another week. They knew what they had to do as Christians in a world that no longer shared their values.

One question:

Will the world see Jesus in their fired-up lives?

Over the centuries faith has often been replaced by opinion in the lives of Christians.

…As when the priest, in his Good Friday sermon, encouraged the believers to “go after the Christ killers!”  The church doors would fly open and the believers would march through the village, smashing windows in Jewish homes and burning their synagogue. The priest fired them up with the opinion that the Jews were to blame for the crucifixion.

Their rampage was driven, not by faith, but by opinion.

 When Jesus taught in his home-town synagogue…

…his call to faith shook their opinions so badly that they flew into a rage, dragged him out of the synagogue and tried to throw him over a cliff.

 Jesus’ call to faith

He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”  

And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-21)

At first the people were moved.  But as Jesus looked into their faces, he could see anger rising up.

These folks were so full of opinions that there was no room for faith.

  Jesus shook their opinions.

 Opinion number one:

We’ve known young Jesus all his life.  How could he be a prophet?

And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, `Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Caper’na-um, do here also in your own country.'”And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.”

Opinion number two:

 We Jews have the inside track with God.

“But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Eli’jah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and Eli’jah was sent to none of them but only to Zar’ephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.

And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Eli’sha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Na’aman the Syrian.”

Don’t mess with our opinions!

When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them he went away.  (Luke 4)

Our opinions are the enemy of our faith. 

They elbow their way into our hearts and push faith over the cliff.

When we come to hear Jesus, we need to leave our opinions at the door.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The poor in spirit have no opinions; they have faith. 

They have ears to hear what God has to say.

If we want to hear Jesus, we need to leave behind….

…our doctrinal opinions.

…our theological opinions.

…our political opinions.

Only when our opinions are out of the way can our hearts hear the voice of the Master.

When we go out to proclaim Jesus, we need to leave our opinions in the garbage.

No wonder the world shakes its head when it looks at the church.

When the world looks at us…

…it hears us talk about “Christian values”, “Christian principles”, Christian culture”….all of which are more opinion than faith.

It rarely hears the voice of Jesus.

It rarely sees the love of Jesus.

It rarely encounters the truth of Jesus.

We need to leave our opinions in the garbage, and simply bear witness to Jesus,

 By the way we live.

 By the way we speak.

 With our opinions out of the way our gospel has power.

By that power we will continue the work which our Master began, until he returns to settle accounts.

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Prayer:  Holy Lord help us to leave our opinions behind as we proclaim you to this world. May our faith in our theology, our doctrines, and our political views not lead us to boil with rage so we are ready to push you over the cliff. Sweet Master, help us to continue to listen to your voice above the angry mob, the crowd seething with opinions. May the poor, the captive, the blind and the oppressed encounter your truth by the way we live, by the way we speak and by our simple faith in you, only you.
 Written: REB January 2021
Art: Ramone Romero Weeping Jeremiahs

THE UNKNOWABLE ONE

Some people call him Daddy.

Some people think he’s their Buddy.

Some folks believe they deserve special consideration.

“God I thank thee that I am not like other men….I fast twice a week.  I give tithes of all that I possess.”  

Some arrogant souls command him to do their bidding.

So what’s missing here?

Why is heaven silent?

Jesus teaches us to pray,

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

“Hallowed be thy name.” 

Hallowed, because the Unknowable One is beyond human comprehension.

Hallowed, because his very Name is wrapped in blinding glory.

He can only be known if he chooses to reveal himself.

All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him

Matthew 11

The Living God is hardly our “Daddy”, our “Buddy”, “The Man Upstairs”, or even “God as you understand him.”

God is the Unknowable One who can be known only when he chooses to reveal himself….

…to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

…to those who take off their shoes on holy ground.

In his mercy, the Unknowable One has chosen to manifest himself to us on a human level, to speak to us in human language.

He approaches us as the Incarnate Word, better known as Jesus of Nazareth.

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

John 14

Yes, the Unknowable One has spoken through prophets since the days of Abraham.

But now he speaks through Jesus, who alone makes the Unknowable One knowable.

 In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Hebrews 1

Do we actually know Jesus?

Do we know who he is?

“No one knows who the Son is except the Father.”

Who Jesus is remains a mystery. 

Paul, after years as an apostle was still seeking to know Jesus.

…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3

Since the beginning of time, people have come up with “designer gods” to suit their needs or to manipulate their neighbors.

But the Unknowable One, who searches our hearts, waits for us to get over ourselves and listen when he speaks.

Waits for us to draw near with these simple words:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name. 

 
Prayer- Our Father…glorious…holy…unknowable, we honor you, we bow before you. Give us hearts that reverently take off our shoes in the midst of your glory. Give us ears to hear your voice that calls us to your holy presence. Oh that we truly hear you speaking to us through the beloved voice of Jesus. Oh Lord how sweet it is and how blessed we are that you make the unknowable one knowable. Hallowed be your name
 
Message: REB February 2021
Art: All artists belong to the art ministry sanctified art… a team of artists who minister through their art  sanctifiedart.org

UP FROM THE ASHES

Jeremiah predicted it.

Ezekiel confirmed it.

           And now it has happened.

Jerusalem has fallen under the judgment of God, and has been destroyed.

It was God’s judgment on a people who had traded greed for mercy and lies for truth, who had turned their backs on the God who had blessed them in a thousand ways.

And now, after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, the people of Israel trudged their weary way back to the ruined city—and wept. 

But their humiliation had softened their hearts.

They began once more to cry out to God and yield to his guidance.

Once again the God of Israel forgave their sin and helped them rise from the ashes.

They shall build up the ancient ruins,

they shall raise up the former devastations;

they shall repair the ruined cities,

the devastations of many generations.

                                 Isaiah 61

At last the Temple rose from the ruins.  The city came back to life.  There was joy in Jerusalem after years of despair.

_________________

How many times this pattern has been repeated in the history of Israel, in the history of your life and mine!

God redeems us and fills us with joy. 

We give thanks and walk in his light—for a while.

Then we drift.

Our hearts stagnate and grow cold. 

We start taking shortcuts to satisfaction. 

We add idols of fame, gain and pleasure to our “walk with God”.

God waits for us to wake up. 

Finally the fire of judgment falls. Our “Jerusalem” is destroyed.

But does this pattern have to go on forever?  

Isn’t it possible to leave futility behind and enter God’s kingdom for good? 

 Jesus came to break the curse of rising and falling, climbing and sliding back.

           So he calls us ….

 …to draw near to the mystery of his cross.

….to focus on the blinding glory of his resurrection.

It is possible to rise from our ashes and never fall again.

It is possible to enter God’s World and stay there forever.

To break the curse we need to let go of our past, smash our idols, and keep following the Shepherd.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.      (John 10)

Thousands and thousands have risen from their ashes and walked into the eternal kingdom and never fell again.

It’s time for us to rise up and do the same.

No longer trusting in our favorite doctrine.

No longer clinging to our favorite spiritual advisor.

No longer relying on our money.

No longer looking to the left or to the right.

Keeping our eyes on the Master.

Following Jesus only.

So when the angel points to us and asks the Apostle John, “Who are these?  Where did they come from?” the Apostle will answer,

 “Sir, you know.”

 And the angel will explain,

“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.

 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  (Revelation 7)

 

Prayer: Lord, kind Shepherd, when we fall, when we are humiliated, you have been so faithful… forgiving us, lifting us up, pulling us up from the ashes of our own hardness and putting joy back in our hearts again. Lord help us to stop returning to this hardness, this coldness, we want to rise from the ashes and not look away from you again. You deserve no less, tender Lord. May we hear you, know you, follow you and willingly rest in your hands. May we spend our lives washing our robes in your blood, seeking your presence, and faithfully following your loving call wherever it leads us.
Message: REB  January 2021
Art: Courtesy of Ramone Romero   ramone-romero.blogspot.com/

BAGGAGE

“Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” 

Luke 9

Jesus traveled light

He commanded his disciples to do the same.  

When we are about the business of the Kingdom we do not need gadgets and trinkets and tons of equipment.

We need Truth.

The Living Word ruling our lives.

The Spirit of God lighting our way.

“Take nothing for your journey,” means get rid of the baggage.

Too much stuff

“The more stuff, the more status” has been the theme since the dawn of history.  What a price to pay for status!

When we’re surrounded by stuff we cannot see the road ahead.  Our minds are cluttered and confused.

Too much doctrine

Believers love to embellish their faith in Jesus with elaborate doctrines that “explain everything”.  Pretty soon the doctrines take over, and Jesus is left behind.

Jesus keeps it simple.  We don’t need to add Moses and Elijah and Aristotle and Luther and Calvin to improve on his gospel.  

Jesus is Lord of Scripture and King of Truth.   We don’t need to systemize his teaching; we simply need to walk in it.

“Grace theology”, “Eternal Security”, “Gifts of the Spirit”, “Healing”, “The Sabbath” and all our other doctrines become idols side-by-side with Jesus.  

And how we fight to defend our idols!

Too much politics

If we live in a democracy we do our duty as citizens and vote.  But we see all governments for what they are: something less than the Kingdom of God.  

We do not compromise with evil in order to advance a political agenda. We do not waste time trying to impose a “Christian Culture” on a pagan world.

Our focus is the Kingdom, to live it, proclaim it, and welcome others into it.  

“Take nothing for your journey.”

If we follow Jesus, we travel light.

If we travel light, we are sustained by the power of God.

When we are sustained by the power of God, we are the Light of the World.

Prayer: Lord help us to get rid of our baggage. Help us to leave the stuff, the status, the theology, the opinions, and the politics behind. All we need for this journey is you. Rule our hearts your living words. You alone are our light, our life, our strength on this journey.
REB December 2020
Art: Rudy and Peter Skitterians via Unsplash

JEREMIAH AND THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jeremiah and the New York Times…

They had one thing in common:

They were both despised by many.

They were distrusted.

They were seen as a self-righteous pain. 

The other prophets jeered at Jeremiah.

The princes dropped Jeremiah into a dungeon. 

Yet time and again Jeremiah turned out to be right.

 Still no one trusted him.

Now the New York Times is no prophet of God.  But, like Jeremiah, the Times’ popularity is tanking.

Maybe we should forget about the New York Times for a while, and just read Jeremiah.

You’d be surprised how up-to-date he is.

You would think Jeremiah was talking about Miami or Washington or Chicago.

And when Jeremiah talks about the Temple, just substitute “Church” or “Christianity”, and you’ll get the picture.

If you don’t like the New York Times, you’ll really hate Jeremiah!

But you might just hear the voice of God as you listen to this despised prophet….

   ….who turned out to be right as his nation disintegrated.

 
Prayer: Lord give us the courage to listen to the Jeremiahs’ in this world. To accept the truth about us, even if it’s ugly, even if it hurts. Help us to accept our role in how far the church has wandered from the nature of Jesus. Convict us for reacting in scorn, anger and rage when we hear the truth. Replace our denial, our scorn, our bitterness with mourning. We want to listen, really listen even if it hurts…so we can hear your voice again. 
 
Written: REB November 2020 Art: Photo via Unsplash w/inset of Weeping-of-Jeremiah-March Chagall

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