“WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?”

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Mark 8:29

That’s a powerful question! Who do I say Jesus is? With my lips? Who do I say? Do I speak up with my lips and say: “Jesus is Lord”,(What does that really mean, anyway?). or “Jesus is savior?” or “Jesus is a great moral or religious teacher.” maybe, “He is a prophet.” Do I say to others that he is the Son of God, or the only way of salvation and eternal life; the sacrifice for my sins? Or maybe I tell others that Jesus loves them and now anything goes. Or do I tell them that Jesus taught repentance from sin and faith in Him and living by the ways of God in His kingdom. Or I could be telling others a vast variety of things, including nothing at all, which says volumes.

Here’s the point. If I am saying anything at all (am I?), is it true? Is it fully in keeping with what the Word of God says? Or do I only have a small and partial idea of WHO JESUS IS? A view that I have picked up from others, or society at large, or years ago in children’s Sunday School, or by some kind of mental osmosis from who knows where? Is it a picture of ease, convenience, pretty to look at? What does God really reveal to me about Jesus? Do I really know? All of it? Is that who I say Jesus is?

Enough about words, that is, what I say with my lips.

WHAT DOES MY LIFE SAY? The way I live is always saying something! My attitudes, values, interactions with others, ordinary conversations, my reactions or responses, my choices of entertainment and recreation and other involvements. In short, everything I say and do and am, communicates and expresses to everyone around me who and what Jesus is in my life. Who are you and I saying Jesus is? What does my life say to others?

Is Jesus a “Sunday” thing? Is He in a small compartment of my life? Maybe he is an “early morning in the closet” companion. Or is he the center and core of my life? The Lord and Master? Very life itself; his life being lived out in and through me?

As Jesus asked others then, he is asking me and you today, “Who do YOU say I am?”

Pilgrim 41144              8-3-2010

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Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 12:11 PM  Comments (2)  
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PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE

PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE! Go away. I’m afraid of you. I don’t want you messing with my life. Stop bothering me. I like things the way they are. It all sounds like too much work. This is just the way I am. This has always worked for me. I want to do it MY way. JUST GO AWAY!

“When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; AND THEY WERE AFRAID.” … “Then the people began to PLEAD WITH JESUS to LEAVE THEIR REGION.” Mark 5:15,17

This breaks my heart. Here with them, was the Lord and Master of all, the lover and healer of their souls, the deliverer from sin and guilt, the giver and source of eternal life. And they were afraid and pleaded with him to leave.

And so are the multitudes today. They are AFRAID and reject the one who loves them. Only a few will hear deep in their hearts and respond to Jesus for healing and salvation by repentance and faith. They don’t want their lives messed with. And Jesus does that, you know. If you really come to him, if you really incline your heart to him, if you sincerely set your feet on the path of following him, your life will never be the same.

How you see life will be different. Your priorities will change. How you see and view people will not be the same. Your relationships will be altered. You will come into spiritual warfare and experience new difficulties; but you will begin learning the way of joy, peace, love, hope and faith, that transforms all things. You will learn that death to yourself is the way of life and abundance in Christ. You will be filled with new life and purpose. You will know your Heavenly Father who loves you no matter what. Your Father, who is not with you to condemn you when you fall and fail, but will lift you up and set you on the path anew. Your Father who is constantly WITH YOU and working in you by grace, both through strengthening comfort and wise discipline to form you into the person you were created to be; transforming you into the likeness of Christ.

FEAR? Let your fear be that of missing Jesus and being left as you are, spiraling downward and away from God and his kingdom and family forever.

Instead, come to Jesus. Trust him! Bring all your need and all of yourself to him, even your fear and lack of faith. Just be honest with him and he will meet you where you are and go WITH YOU through life, together.

   pilgrim 41144

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Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 8:07 PM  Comments (1)  
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LET’S CALL SOME SINNERS

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 Jesus said this to those who were criticizing Him for eating with tax collectors and sinners, the unacceptable and rejects of “good” society (those who saw themselves as right with God because they followed all the rules and ritual). He did not say any were righteous, but the reference was to those who saw themselves as righteous. He came to rescue those who not only are sinners, but who realize and know they are sinners and not right with God. These are the only ones He can help. I don’t know about you, but I know who I am. I am, in and of myself, a sinner, lost and without hope. But now in Jesus Christ I stand as a forgiven sinner by the work of God through His Holy Spirit, a child of my Heavenly Father. I heard the call and I answered. Have you? And if you have, what is your life about now? Are you involved in a club for righteous people? Or are you involved in a hospital for sinners?

Here’s what Jesus was about. One day he came to a place where there was a man in horrible shape. He had an unclean spirit. “Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.” Mark 5:5 Jesus didn’t walk away or avoid him. Jesus didn’t give him a few comforting words and leave. Jesus spent some time with the man and ministered to him and healed him. How many today live in similar torment, unable to overcome whatever it is that has enslaved them. Perhaps not possessed of a demon; but surely slaves to various sins and addictions, in pain and torment crying out in many ways for relief, for deliverance, for anything to ease their situation.. But still enslaved and returning helplessly and hopelessly to what they hate to try to find something to relieve the pain inside.

And what is our response? to ignore? to walk on the other side of the street and turn our heads? to condemn as unworthy or hopeless? to express anger at their effect upon our society? or maybe to reach out in a compassion that feels for them, but in effect makes excuses for their condition and leaves them still enslaved? How about reaching out to them in the love of Jesus; With the truth of His love, forgiveness, and power to overcome any sin habit or addiction or behavior pattern; and to free them from any and every enslavement.

Are we willing to reach out and touch them with our heart and concern as Jesus reached out to touch the leper? Are we willing to love those who do not want to love us back and spend at least some portion of our lives for them as Jesus gave Himself for us (and them) “while we were still sinners?” Romans 5:8

I cannot tell you any specifics of what you should do: who to reach out to; how much time to give; what methods to use; what ministry to be involved in. This is the job of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him! Ask Jesus. Ask your Heavenly Father. Ask for a warm heart. Ask for eyes to see, for ears to hear, and for sensitivity to others in your daily life. Ask first for the change in you. And seek to know Jesus and walk with Him daily and you will become more like Him as He lives in and through you to be His heart and hands ministering love and healing in this world.

-Pilgrim41144

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Published in: on July 26, 2010 at 8:42 PM  Leave a Comment  
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FROM STRIFE TO LIFE

I see people everywhere,

Hustling here, bustling there.

Oh, my gosh, I’ve got to run,

Go somewhere to find some fun

Cover up what’s in my heart-

Empty, lonely, torn apart.

Oh, no. Oh no, dont let me feel,

I might see me- the truth, the real.

No more games, no more mask,

And then I would be forced to ask:

Who am I? Who is He?

What does he really want of me?

—-

Oh, my child, hear my heart.

Slow down, stop and come apart.

Read my word; listen, too.

Trust in me, for I love you.

This is life.  This is real.

Not a love that you just feel.

But I am always here with you.

In the great times, in the blue,

When you’re good, when you’re bad.

I am Abba–Loving Dad.

It’s not about the things you do,

But the fact is: I love you.

Grace so undeserved and free

Shown in Jesus on the tree.

He died to take your sins away-

No more guilt, no debt to pay

Come my child, this is the way

Of Love and Life.  Come now today.

-Pilgrim 41144

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 3:48 PM  Leave a Comment  
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COME AS YOU ARE

Have you ever thought that Jesus is inviting you to a “come as you are” party? Here are the words to a song that expresses that concept. This song was written and sung by the pastor of Disciple Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota about 1977.

COME AS YOU ARE
verse one:
I got invited, “Come as you are,”
No need to be perfect, the best or a star.
Jesus reached out with His hand to me,
“Be reconciled, trust me, come home and be free.”

CHORUS:
Just come and trust Him, He’s done it all.
New life He’ll give you when on Him you call.
A new kind of living is yours starting now,
Of loving and giving, He’ll show you how.

verse two:
Now you’re invited, come as you are.
He cares, He loves you, He heals every scar.
Jesus will keep you in good times and bad,
And fill up your life more than you ever had.

CHORUS:
Just come and trust Him, He’s done it all.
New life He’ll give you when on Him you call.
A new kind of living is yours starting now,
Of loving and giving, He’ll show you how.

Many years ago I heard something along this line: “Jesus loves you enough to take you as you are. And He loves you too much to leave you as you are.”

What a beautiful and astounding truth. It is just natural for us to think that before we can be right with God, be His children, or have a relationship with Him or have heaven as our eternal destiny, that we must CHANGE OUR WAYS and CLEAN UP OUR ACT. But that’s not His way at all, because we are not capable of doing it or ever becoming good enough to be His because of the way we live our lives or anything we do. So Jesus did it for us. He died in our place, paying the price for our sin, the perfect, the sinless and righteous one, for us who are sinners and unrighteous. So what do we do then? We simply reach out to receive the gift He is offering us. Forgiveness, His righteousness credited to our our account. It’s almost too much to comprehend. I don’t need to change. All I need is to want Him in my life and to go His way and then to trust and receive all that He is offering me. I can’t express it adequately. You need to read the New Testament to let it really get a hold of you. But he’s inviting you to come as you are. And then as you get to know Him in a real living relationship and trust Him and let Him love you, you will change, and you will want to change, and He will make you a new and changing person as you let Him work His way in you. And you will never regret it even though the road gets difficult sometimes. Guess what! The road of life is tough anyway, so you’re much better off traveling it with the Lord.

I sincerely hope you do this. I would never go back. Our Heavenly Father is so full of love and grace that it’s hard to take it all in and to appreciate it to it’s full extent. But I don’t want to live without Him. Just come and trust Him who has done it all for you and will do it all in you. He will wash you clean as new snow and you will have eternal life in Him.

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Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 8:27 PM  Comments (1)  
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AM I REALLY FOLLOWING JESUS?

If this was the last time I could communicate with you, what would I want to say? That is what has been on my mind. It’s another way of saying, “What’s most important, or most on my heart?” I tried to narrow it down to the one most important thing, but am not succeeding. So, what would I say? Here’s what came to me, in no particular order.

GOD, YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER, LOVES YOU! He wants you to be part of His family and to live in His Kingdom. Most people believe God loves them. Most seem to believe that we are all God’s children, therefore in His family. But this is not what God says in His Word. He does love everyone. But we are all sinners and that has condemned us and separated us from Him forever, which is eternal death. That’s why Jesus came to earth and died on the cross and was raised to life. To pay for our sin and to open the door. But we must each come to recognize our sin and guilt and turn to God in repentance and faith in Jesus and what He has done for us. That is the way into the family, the open door. Then the rest of our lives is learning to live in the family, getting to know our Heavenly Father, walking in fellowship with Him and being followers, disciples, of Jesus the Messiah. That’s about as brief as I can make it. This is all a free gift from God and I cannot deserve it or earn it. I can only reach out and receive it as a free gift from Him. This is all in the New Testament. Read it and see for yourself.

After 38 years of being in the Family of God and taking my Father seriously, I still barely know Him. But this I have learned some of: He loves me beyond my imagination and has only my best interest and highest good in His heart. He will use whatever difficulty and trial that come into my life (and even my own foolish or sinful choices) FOR GOOD if I bring them and myself to Him and trust Him.

His way is always right and best, even when the result doesn’t seem to be what I hoped for or expected.

I am not wise or very loving, but He is all wisdom and love.

I will not understand a lot, but I can trust Him because He is completely trustworthy. And when my trust runs low I can go to Him with even that and talk with Him about it. I can even tell my Father when I am angry WITH HIM! He is big enough to handle it, and when I get honest with Him, He can then begin His healing work in me.

He will discipline me when I need it. and it is always for my good and advancement in Christlike character.

The greatest expression of love is FORGIVENESS. That is what Jesus was doing on the cross. His death on the cross was/is the provision of His forgiveness for us, and is the greatest expression of love ever in the universe.

And to truly forgive others from the heart is the MOST CHRISTLIKE thing we can do. This the most important thing Jesus has for us to learn, because it is the healing for relationships. We say it’s not religion, it’s relationship. That’s true. But multitudes of believers go around with unforgiveness in their hearts, which leads to bitterness, a poison which destroys more relationships. It’s not just relationship with our Heavenly Father but with others. This is what God is after. He tells us in His Word that the way we love others is the way we love Him. How convicting. I really don’t love God any more than I love the very least of others. We’ve got to quit lying to ourselves and get a grip on this. And some say, “I forgive him/her but I just can’t have anything to do with them, and so cut them off and any possibility of reconciliation. Reconciliation is what God was doing in Jesus. Forgiveness is the doorway to a renewed relationship. And that is exactly what our Father has for us to do towards others. Some won’t reconcile with us, but we must always forgive and take the initiative and make the first and repeated moves toward reconciliation. Nothing else is love or God’s way. Read the Word and see! Many want to focus on great times of worship but do not forgive or reconcile. Jesus said that if we have a relationship issue we need to leave our act of worship and first be reconciled with our brother. We need to make every effort we can on our part. READ THE WORD AND SEE. This is probably the greatest hypocrisy amongst believers.

I need not bother trying to gain God’s acceptance or approval. I already have it all in Jesus. But I must always be learning how to do things His way.

In Jesus ALL SINS ARE FORGIVEN, past, present and future. But this does not mean that now “anything goes.” Sin will not cast me out of His family, but it is still very destructive to others and myself. The purpose of my freedom is that I now have free and open access to my Heavenly Father for help and fellowship which results in me being transformed.

When a Christian sins, he should be experiencing conviction by the Holy Spirit and if unrepentant, discipline by his Father. If you can just keep continuing on in some sinful practice and don’t experience these, then you have good reason to check yourself out and see if you are really born again. I have sinned both small and gigantic sins since being God’s child, and He has never let me get by with it. There is always conviction. And if I don’t turn to my Father with it to confess my wrong and my need of His help and continue on, sooner or later there comes discipline. And that’s in the Word, too.

The only law the Christian has is what the Word calls, “the royal law of love.” Love fulfills all the others. They do not come close to living up to love. Only in the Word do we come to appreciate and understand what God’s kind of love is and how it works and that we can’t do it on our own. It is not romance or sex or the weak and sappy sentimentality promoted by the world and by Christians who don’t really know God’s way from His Word. Agape love is strong, disciplined, self-sacrificing, always focused on the best and highest for another’s benefit. This is how our Heavenly Father loves us and is the way He has for us to love others. I can only do this as I come to the Lord, take up my cross daily (which is not trials and tribulations, but is the death of myself to myself) and follow Him.

I know this may sound tough, but it is our Father’s way, and He lovingly, patiently, graciously works with us and in us to accomplish these things, this conformance “to the image of Christ.” In the gospels, it was at a time not unlike this that many quit following Jesus. It is may hope and prayer that you hear from your Savior and continue following Him.

-Pilgrim 41144 7-18-2010

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Published in: on July 18, 2010 at 5:13 PM  Comments (1)  
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FROM MY JOURNAL

I got to talk with two people at work about the Lord today. Thank you, Father, for this opportunity. Please give me your words for them in the future and I ask for your working in their hearts.

I’ve had trouble getting started on these new disciplines. I ask for you to prod me and help me order my priorities properly.

The book, “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life,”  has reminded me to trust myself completely and unreservedly into God’s hands for the transforming work He performs to sanctify me, conforming me to the image of Christ. And that He does that through many circumstances in life, many of them not pleasant.

I have been reminded that “right doctrine” is not as important as love. In fact agape [Godly love] IS right doctrine and righteousness.

Journal 10-11-200?

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
I saw a report on TV today that said that British scientists had discovered the answer to the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” It’s nice that they came to this conclusion, but believers in the Word of God have always known that God created the animals and didn’t start with with eggs.

I cannot recommend to you too highly the book, “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life”, by Hannah Whitall Smith.  It is a great Christian classic that has been around for many years and has stood the test of time. It has been used by God to minister to my heart powerfully.

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Published in: on July 17, 2010 at 6:48 AM  Comments (1)  
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GOD’S WAY IS IN HIS WORD

I have been painfully reminded this week how quickly and easily one is placed in conflict with others if he simply proclaims the Word of God as it applies to living life in this world. This conflict arises not only with the lost, but also with fellow believers. It saddens and hurts me to see this preponderance of biblical ignorance among those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior. I do not use the word “ignorance” as a slam but in its simple meaning of not knowing or not being aware of something. How are we going to know our Lord Jesus and our Heavenly Father if not by His Word? How am I going to know truth if not by His Word? How am I going to know love and what it really is if not by His Word? How will I know God’s way and how to live life if not by His Word? And how can I rightly examine myself, my heart and all that the world presents to me if not by His Word?

I type this through tears in my eyes and sobbing in my chest because brothers and sisters are so easily led astray because they do not really know God’s way. Most think they know. They have picked up a few tidbits here and there. They have done some reading or listening. But it takes more. The way of the Lord is really quite simple once you let the Word bring it to you. It is to trust God and to love others. But the reality and depths of what this means and the enablement to live it out only come through a deep and abiding involvement with God through His Word.

And the approach to God through His Word is not just to attain some knowledge by reading. There is that. But I must approach God in His Word with a humble and open heart with a desire to know Him and His way, no matter how different from what I think I already know. I need to set aside all previous teachings and preconceptions and religious convictions and reservations. Because it is a process of God changing my way of seeing, thinking and understanding just about everything in me from the inside out.

So I encourage you, and myself. Get into the Word. Let the Word get into you. Submit yourself to the Word and let the Word examine you. You don’t come to God’s Word to examine it and to pick and choose what is acceptable to you and to do away with the rest. It is all from God. If you do that then you reject God in that area, and believe me we don’t want to do that. This Word is God speaking to us and making Himself and His ways known to us. Please, please, please devote yourself and a good portion of your time to the pursuit of God through and in His Word.

This challenge and reminder is for me as much as for anyone else. Because of some communications with some people very dear to me I am devoting myself to a renewed reading of the four gospels. I will be reading them, not once, but several times in order that I can examine my understanding of Jesus and His teachings and His way and His person and seek to be as complete in that at this time as I can.

It is my hope and prayer that you hear the voice of the Lord calling you to a fresh reading and immersion in His Word.

May God bless you all richly and may you bask in His love and peace

Prodigal Pilgrim 41144

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Published in: on July 13, 2010 at 7:45 AM  Comments (2)  
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CHOICES

Choices, choices, choices,
My answers to various voices

Calling to me
Come away and be free.

Free from restraint,
Or be free to be saint.

Destroyed in the end
Or forever God’s friend.

Which will I choose?
To win or to lose?

It’s all up to me
To look and to see,

For short term or long,
The right or the wrong.

Crushed in the dust
By pride and by lust,

Or to walk and to run
Eternal, God’s son.

-Prodigal Pilgrim 41144 12-13-09

Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 10:05 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Looking for love and money.

The PRIME DIRECTIVE of the life of the follower of Jesus is expressed in Hebrews 13:1 as “Keep on loving each other as brothers”. Most all other teachings about the living of life in the New Testament are really the outgrowth and practical application of what it means to love. And we are to “keep on loving”. Constantly and perseveringly. Don’t stop. Don’t slow down. Don’t give up. No matter what the response or lack of response; or the rejection; or our weariness or sometimes despair. We can and must keep turning to Jesus and find and receive His love and strength. Then we have love to give to others. I do not have it on my own without Him. It is not in me. But it is Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, working in me and through me to serve and minister and reach out to meet the needs of others.

If I truly love I will honor marriage (verse 4) and all that means. And I will keep my life free from the love of money and things (verse 5) because I cannot love and serve both God and money. My heart’s concern and focus will be loving God and others. Not loving money or wealth or things.

Then follows a real secret of life: “… and BE CONTENT WITH WHAT YOU HAVE…” (caps mine) Finding in the Lord satisfaction and happiness with what I have. To be thankful to the Lord for what He has provided. What a victory in life! To be free from the constant desire and hunger within me for more; more of this or that or something else. Getting and accumulating never satisfies for long. It only increases my cravings for more because the reality of my internal dissatisfaction becomes stronger, not being satisfied or fulfilled by what cannot satisfy and was never intended to fulfill. My inner need for satisfaction and fulfillment; my inner hunger for something that is not there; that “missing something”, is only met in a personal living relationship with God my Heavenly Father through my Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ.

And here in verse 5 it says we can be content because God will never leave you or forsake you. And so we can say with confidence that He is my helper and I will not be afraid. No fear. Because my Heavenly Father and His provision are sufficient.

-Pilgrim 41144
from Quiet Time Journal 2-27-2010 Hebrews 13:1-6

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 9:28 PM  Leave a Comment  
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