Klyne Snodgrass: Wrong People

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Klyne Snodgrass: Wrong People

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Luke 7:37-38

“One of the most certain facts about Jesus is that He associated with the wrong people, people others thought caused defilement, but Jesus did not fear becoming unclean through contact with the unholy. He thought holiness was stronger and more contagious than defilement and he accepted the woman’s actions as righteous and loving.”

Klyne Snodgrass in Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008) 86.

Do you associate with anyone that might be labeled a shady character?

Yesterday my pastor looked at this text and quoted Snodgrass. Klyne is a brilliant scholar and friend. He alerts us to the fact that holiness is “stronger and more contagious than defilement.”

Think about that in light of the pandemic. COVID has gripped the world in fear.

We must fear neither disease nor defilement. Like Jesus, we should be associating with people that may even be labeled “wrong” because we are all broken and in need of a Savior.

How might you associate generously with the socially unclean?

For Jesus, it matters not how we start but how we finish. Like the woman, those who are forgiven much, love much. Let’s love people generously, especially those society labels “undeserving” or “unclean” people.

Remember, God’s love, grace, and forgiveness are for everyone.

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Jan Van Ruysbroek: Precious Liquor

So if anyone cleanses himself of what is unfit, he will be a vessel for honor: sanctified, useful to the Master, and prepared for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21

“When a man by means of charity and an intention towards God offers himself up to God in all his works and in all his living, to His honour and praise, and seeks rest in God beyond all things, then he must, with humility and patience and forgetfulness of himself, still await new riches and new gifts, with certain confidence: and still he must be untroubled, whether God gives to him or does not give. Thus a man makes himself ready and pleasing, so that he may receive the interior life of yearning for God. When the vessel is prepared, one pours into it the precious liquor. There is no more precious vessel than the loving soul, nor is there a more cordial drink than the grace of God. Thus shall man offer up to God all his works and all his life with a single intention towards God, and he shall rest, beyond intention, and beyond himself, and beyond all things, in the high unity where, without any mean, God and the loving spirit are united.”

Jan Van Ruysbroek in The Spiritual Espousals, translated by Eric Colledge (London: Faber and Faber, 1952) 90-91.

I likely got your attention with the “precious liquor” title. But the reality is that we are intended to be vessels that contain the greatest of all spirits. Are you a vessel for honor?

Let me give a biblical example lest this remain just a lofty thought. Consider Esther. She was an orphan girl who had nothing, then everything as queen. She risked everything for God.

In so doing, she helped her people go from destruction to deliverance. She’s fresh on my mind as we reflected on her story yesterday in lesson two for JOE India and will do it again tomorrow with JOE Malaysia.

“Humility and patience and forgetfulness” were necessary for Esther to “await new riches and new gifts, with certain confidence” not knowing whether God would give what she hoped for or not.

The key was for her to fast with her community. To set aside her desires and urge everyone to join her. When we make ourselves ready for God, through us He can do the impossible.

So, God help us with self preparation, as “There is no more precious vessel than the loving soul, nor is there a more cordial drink than the grace of God.” Make us vessels who dispense divine generosity.

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Eric Colledge: Gifts and Graces

You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him. Acts 10:37-38

“Out of the unity in which God dwells, He flows to His creatures, and flows back again into Himself: He flows to them in gifts and graces, and He requires the same in- and outflowing, both of His gifts and graces and of the human soul; and it is love which causes this flowing, God’s love for His creatures, and His demand of their love for Him.”

Eric Colledge in the introduction to The Spiritual Espousals by Jan Van Ruysbroek (London: Faber and Faber, 1952) 22.

Colledge illustrates for us how generosity flows in the form gifts and graces out of the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We saw this in Jesus. It’s God’s design and desire for each of us.

We receive through inflowing and we go about doing good like Jesus, that’s the outflowing part. So, all our generosity flows from that which we have received from God.

We are lavished with gifts and graces to enjoy and share. When Jesus lived this way, word spread.

The same is true for us. Generosity is contagious, and the abundant measure of flow is caused by the love of God. Because His love is boundless, His generosity knows no limits.

Today I am praying it continues to spread across India with our JOE (Journey of Empowerment) group that meets today. This is session two of five this month. There are about 40 trainers and influencers in all.

Come Holy Spirit, do a transforming work in their lives!

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Zach Williams: Less Like Me

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25a

Watch this music video and enjoy the lyrics.

Less Like Me – Song by Zach Williams

Oh, I have days I lose the fight
Try my best but just don’t get it right
Well I talk a talk that I don’t walk
And miss the moments right before my eyes
Somebody with a hurt that I could have helped
Somebody with a hand that I could have held
When I just can’t see past myself
Oh Lord help me be
A little more like mercy’ a little more like grace
A little more like kindness’ goodness, love, and faith
A little more like patience’s a little more like peace
A little more like Jesus, a little less like me
Yeah, there’s no denying I have changed
‘Cause I’ve been saved from who I used to be
But even at my best’ I must confess
I still need help to see the way You see
Somebody with a hurt that I could have helped
Somebody with a hand that I could have held
When I just can’t see past myself
Oh Lord, help me be
A little more like mercy, a little more like grace
A little more like kindness, goodness, love, and faith
A little more like patience, a little more like peace
A little more like Jesus, a little less like me
Oh, I want to feed the beggar on the street
Love to be your hands and feet
Freely give what I receive
Lord, help me be
I want a friendship first above all else
Love my neighbor as myself
In the moments no one sees
Lord, help me be
One, two, three
A little more like mercy, a little more like grace
A little more like kindness, goodness, love, and faith
A little more like patience, a little more like peace
A little more like Jesus, oh, a little less like me
A little more of living everything I preach
A little more like Jesus, a little less like me
Oh, a little less like me

Special thanks to my faithful friend and Daily Meditations reader, Randy Bury, who blessed me with this song yesterday. We correspond often, but have never met face to face. I pray we can someday.

I had never heard this song. I watched it like 10 times.

I don’t know about you, but the biggest obstacle to my generosity is me. I am so busy doing important things sometimes that I “miss the moments right before my eyes.”

With Zach I feel like “I still need help to see” the way God sees. I

By God’s grace I am becoming aware that I need to “see past myself.” God’s producing “a little more” of all these good things in me by His grace and mercy. I pray the same for you today.

Watch it one more time so it soaks in.

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Evelyn Underhill: Purity and Generosity

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

“Richard of St. Victor has said, that the essence of all purification is self-simplification; the doing away of the unnecessary and unreal, the tangles and complications of consciousness: and we must remember that when these masters of the spiritual life speak of purity, they have in their minds no thin, abstract notion of a rule of conduct stripped of all colour and compounded chiefly of refusals, such as a more modern, more arid asceticism set up. Their purity is an affirmative state; something strong, clean, and crystalline, capable of a wholeness of adjustment to the wholeness of a God-inhabited world. The pure soul is like a lens from which all irrelevancies and excrescences, all the beams and motes of egotism and prejudice, have been removed; so that it may reflect a clear image of the one transcendent fact within which all others facts are held.”

Evelyn Underhill in Practical Mysticism (New York: Dutton, 1915) excerpt from Chapter Three.

Richard of St. Victor was a Medieval Scottish thinker (1110-1173) largely known through his profound writings on the spiritual life. Eveyln Underhill shares a similar strength but lived much later (1875-1941). When I explored what we must ‘remember’ in her classic work, I discovered this gem of a quote.

Let me try to break down the message that surfaces in today’s Scripture and quote with three thoughts.

Firstly, Jesus is our example of the pure life. It was rightly ordered. He was attuned to God, free of tangles and irrelevancies, and served as the lens for us to see and know God. To see Jesus was to see the Father. And the writer of Hebrews urges us to fix our eyes on Him as the Pioneer and Perfector of our faith.

Secondly, self-simplification is not about a strict rule linked to negatives and refusals but a focus on the positive or aspects of affirmative existence. Think of this person as someone who seeks God first and everything else falls into place. Purity in that light is about plodding with consistency on a path to maturity.

Thirdly, we are on this earth to serve as reflectors. Jesus was the perfect reflection of the Father. The one overarching or transcendent fact that we are here to reflect is the goodness or generosity of God. If we want to do that we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, set our desires and ego aside, and attune to God. He will take care of the rest.

 

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C.S. Lewis: Heaven and Promises

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3

“Most of us find it very difficult to want “Heaven” at all — except in so far as “Heaven” means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognise it most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.”

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity (Quebec: Samizdat, 2014) 74.

After the resurrection, we must consider the purpose of the ascension.

Jesus left to prepare our eternal home for us, not to abandon us. As stewards, we must not get too comfortable here, for our Master Jesus told us we are not long for this world. But, as Lewis rightly argues, we lack training about Heaven. What would it look like to be trained? Consider three thoughts.

Firstly, going in heaven is about something bigger than seeing family and friends. It’s about being with Jesus. Jesus said, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” Matthew 22:30. In heaven, we will be one with Christ, and that union will unite us and transcend all other relational ties.

Secondly, to be like the angels is to find purpose in service. What service? Jesus alludes to roles linked to how responsible we are as stewards. “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities’ Luke 19:17. It is unclear what this service will look like. Angels have roles, likely so will we.

Thirdly, most people forget the promises of eternity with Jesus: life with no more sorrow, pain, or suffering. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Revelation 21:4. Someday we will experience life without brokenness, as God intended it.

There’s more we could say about heaven. This is only a start. Perhaps we are living in a time bereft of hope because people are forgetting that our home is in heaven and not here? Sadly, most people are living for the wrong order of things. Offering this training may be our greatest act of generosity in the difficult times in which we find ourselves.

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Tim Vreugdenhil: Resilient

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

“Although Jesus fell by our hands, He rose again by the hand of the Father. Because of Jesus, God makes firm the steps of everyone who delights in him. This belief made the early Christians astonishingly resilient people. Even Roman soldiers, highly praised for their level of fortitude, were surprised by the courage of ordinary Christians in all circumstances, even in facing death.

The apostle Paul spent the last part of his life reflecting on the meaning of the resurrection. This is what he said in a nutshell: believing in Christ makes you more resilient than anything else. Although the road can be long and hard, the outcome is certain. God will uphold you. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

You do not learn this resilience from a comedy series. You do not learn it in a council report. You do not learn it from the mouths of prime ministers or presidents. You learn it in the gospel. Everybody can be touched by it. And when that happens, it can be the start of an amazing spiritual adventure. Though you may stumble many times, you will not fall. For He upholds you with His hand.”

Tim Vreugdenhil in Redeemer City to City blog “The Search for Resilience” dated 7 December 2020.

I agreed this past week to speak at a conference on 31 May and 1 June with the theme of Resilient. Then over Easter my pastor shared this quote with the congregation celebrating the fact that it is precisely the resurrection which makes us resilient.

Consider this idea for a moment and how it links to generosity.

Christians are people who can weather any storm because the resurrection reminds us that we can trust God and anything He has promised. We can give and share sacrificially because He has said He will look after us when we do. His dependability fuels our generosity.

Too many people, however, think generosity flows from their capacity.

That’s merely philanthropy. It’s not generosity. Any giving that flows from a human source is human giving. Giving that flows from the work of the Spirit in us is generosity. Big difference! The apostle Paul teaches us this, which is why he employed different words for giving than were used in the NT world. Generosity was not a term used by the masses.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22-23

So, as we reflect on the implications of the resurrection, one implication is that we become more resilient people. I think it also makes us more generous people, because we remember anew and afresh that we can play our role because God can be trusted to play His. At all times and all occasions He supplies the resources for our generosity.

Pray for God’s blessing with me on another JOE (Journey of Empowerment) group that starts today. This one will serve God’s workers across India. We had a good start in Malaysia yesterday. Thanks for your support and prayers.

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Henri Nouwen: Waiting

On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4-5

“Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for His coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps. Waiting for God is an active, alert—yes, joyful—waiting. As we wait we remember Him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember Him we create a community ready to welcome Him when He comes.”

Henri Nouwen in Bread for the Journey (New York: HarperCollins, 2009) reading for 19 November.

Did you know that there was 50 days between the resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit? It is a season of waiting. But we have a purpose in the waiting time.

As we return to the word for the year, remember, we are reminded of our purpose in life after Easter. We are here to wait actively for our Lord while trusting in His promises to sustain us.

This is not a passive waiting. We wait actively by building a community eager to welcome Him. In a world filled with doubt, this is our generous contribution: we bring joy and we build community.

Over the next four Mondays I am excited to build such a community in Malaysia. With Kuya Anjji Gabriel, my friend and brother in the Philippines, I will facilitate an online Journey of Empowerment group.

This is community building. We are building a community of stewards who are accountants, attorneys, pastors, and other professionals who are eager to help ministries follow standards. Why?

This positions ministries for flourishing and sustainability while we wait for our Lord. In a world filled with crisis, we need more communities of people who remember and rely on the promises of our Lord.

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William Barclay: The Most Precious Thing

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.’” Mark 16:6-7

“The most precious thing in this passate is the two words which are in no other Gospel. ‘Go,’ said the messenger. ‘Tell His disciples and Peter.’ How that message must have cheered Peter’s heart when he received it! He must have been tortured with the memory of his disloyalty, and suddenly there came a special message for him. It was characteristic of Jesus that He thought, not of the wrong Peter had done him but of the remorse he was undergoing. Jesus was far more eager to comfort the penitent sinner than to punish the sin. Someone has said, ‘The most precious thing about Jesus is the way in which He trusts us on the field of our defeat.”

William Barclay in The Gospel of Mark (DSBS; Edinburgh; The Saint Andrew Press, 1975) 369.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

As we have learned, Mark is the Petrine Gospel. It’s Peter’s account as penned by Mark. So, the two words that are the most precious thing about this proclamation—and Peter—are Peter’s Easter greeting to us.

What is he saying to us?

He is saying that our failures are not final. Even if we sinned repeatedly, and we feel like we are spiraling to defeat, our risen Lord Jesus pursues us with love and forgiveness, with grace and mercy.

That’s Easter generosity!

The Lenten journey has taught us that prayer, fasting, and giving transform us into people who look and love like Jesus. We become generous conduits of kindness and forgiveness, of grace and mercy.

But, it’s hard, really hard.

For sure, which is why Jesus modeled the way for us. He tracked down the fisherman, Peter, that he had picked to be a pillar in the church, who betrayed Him three times and forgave him. That’s good news.

There’s hope for the rest of us.

And now, don’t stop the disciplines. Continue to pray daily. Fast like the early church, at least a couple times a week to stay centered, and give generously by serving as a conduit of material and spiritual blessings.

When we do this, we take hold of life, and reflect the love of our risen Savior to a watching world.

Happy Easter!

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Charles R. Swindoll: Grace

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn. Isaiah 61:1-2

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

“Take note of Jesus’ decision to end His reading [of Isaiah 61:1-2] where He did. He stopped short of reading “And the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.” He ended His reading on the subject of grace. The purpose of His first coming was to proclaim the good news of salvation by grace through faith in the Messiah. The “day of vengeance” will come soon enough. The day of wrath will occur in the future as predicted by John in Revelation. For now, however, the Lord’s anger against sin is held in reserve. Now is the time of grace, during which all who embrace the Messiah as their Savior will find mercy.”

Charles R. Swindoll in Insights on Luke (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary; Tyndale House, 2017) 116.

Today is Holy Week Saturday. It’s the day Jesus accomplished the work of setting captives free by conquering death. This is the good news. It is for the whole world.

Though times are challenging globally, we have peace. Someday Jesus will make things right. His second coming will be a day of vengeance against evil and comfort for the hurting.

In the meantime, let us dedicate our lives to sharing the good news of Jesus. At GTP our work of multiplying faithful stewards and helping ministries follow standards magnifies the impact of ministry.

Today marks our second birthday. We’ve experienced unimaginable fruits since we got our 501c3 on 3 April 2019. All glory to God. Visit our Facebook and/or LinkedIn to see cool infographics of what God has done.

And celebrate with us by making a gift to GTP today. Resource the global movement of helping ministries flourish in this season of grace while our Lord tarries His return.

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