Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Beginnings - December 29, 2013

Psalm 118:24 - This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Many make new year's resolutions, while most hold little hope they will keep them. The problem with resolutions of this kind is they are inflicted with self-will which horribly handicap a favorable outcome. Oftentimes, they are things folks believe they SHOULD do ... like eating less, exercising, quitting smoking, and so on. However, these desires are more likely born out of a sense of guilt rather than from a genuine epiphany to change for the better. Change that is born out of perceived necessity often results in resentment. For instance, our doctor may tell us to lose a few pounds in order to live a better quality of life. While we may agree with our physician on this point, it is easier said than done. That late evening snack or that piece of pie after a meal seem to entice us as never before once we know what we SHOULD do. We may begin to resent those who don't need restraint in this area of their life and we might look with envy on their ability to take in calories indiscriminately. Unless we are stalwart in our resolve, it is easy to cave in to compromise and to justify why we are not as deserving as the next person to indulge in a "little" excess.

Dictionary.com defines resolve as "coming to a definite or earnest decision about a particular outcome". While this sounds good regarding a desired effect, the catalyst or the power behind this decision is critical concerning its conclusion. While one may set their mind in resolution to complete a task, the heart is what will more often carry it out (or not). For believers in Christ, this inner resolve comes most effectively through the working of the Holy Spirit. For it is God who is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). As our mind, emotion, and our will (e.g. our soul) gets in line with God, then our new found resolutions collide with our old habits. Our sin nature cannot tolerate these new resolves so it must either surrender to God or usurp God's authority. (This struggle is depicted by the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25.) No matter how "definite" or "earnest" we might be regarding our desire to rule over our old habits, they simply will not die easily. However, if we will take the high ground and defend our position with the word of truth and a song of praise, then we will indeed win the day.

Our lead verse clearly establishes a premise for creating a new beginning daily that will enable us to stay strong in HIS resolve. First of all, the psalmist declares the sovereignty of God over time. He states that "this is the day which the Lord has made". If He made this day, He has surely made all previous days and any yet to come. This simple declaration of God's ownership of time means that God is in control of whatever happens in our lives today, if we will but allow Him that right. By acknowledging the Holy Spirit within, we are declaring the Almighty as the Lord of our lives and therefore the Lord over all my "old ways" as well as my present and future resolves. All must be placed in His care. We must simply surrender the outcome to Him. If we fail or win in our day to day battle with sin then we humbly place both our failures and our successes in His hands and rejoice in Him. If we have experienced the victory today, then we should rejoice! If we have struggled and fallen short, then we must still rejoice in the victory yet to come for He will not forsake us. If we continue to give ourselves to Him in humility, He will bring us to that "large place" where there is freedom and fellowship with our Lord (Psalm 118:5).

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand (Psalm 149:6). Once we recognize that the day is the Lord's, our only obligation is to praise Him while we weld the sword of the Spirit (or the word of truth [Ephesians 6:17]). If we praise the Lord in the resolve that is born in His heart, and humbly use His word to contradict the guilt and lies of the evil one, then we will know the victory no matter how long it may seem to take. While some will give up after a few short weeks regarding their new year resolutions, God's people should never faint regarding the timeline of deliverance from the old life. If we are in Christ, we are new creatures ... period! (II Corinthians 5:17) It is our heritage as believers to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us in His manner. We are being changed into His likeness if we are humbly submitting ourselves daily to His loving hand. As we give ourselves to His resolve, then we needn't worry about the outcome. He is the One who owns the day, the year, and our lifetime ahead. We must simply trust Him to complete the work He has so illustriously begun in all who call Him Lord.

Heavenly Father, thank You that You own the day! Thank You that You are our Lord and that You live in us to will and to work for Your good pleasure. Allow us to live, and move, and have our being in Your resolve in this coming year. Give us the grace to experience Your love in both our failings and our victories. For with You, there will only be success if we faint not. Give us Your strength as we rejoice in You this day. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Christmas Star - December 22, 2013

Matthew 2:2 - Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.

The heavens have long held a fascination for humankind. For millennia, man has looked to the skies for both direction and hope. King David wisely stated in Psalm 19:1-2: The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. Arguably, the greatest manifestation the world has ever seen of the manifestation of the glory of God in the heavenlies is the Christmas star that appeared over the eastern skies at the time of Jesus' birth. By this glorious light, the Magi from modern day Iraq traveled to a non-descript city south of Jerusalem named Bethlehem. Through this beacon shining in the night, the wise men were able to ascertain the birth of a mighty king in Israel. Very possibly these holy men from the once mighty Persian Empire understood through the writings of Daniel more than 500 years earlier, that a future ruler who would ultimately save His people would be born at this very time in Judea (see Daniel 9:24-27). They understood the signs of the times and they took heed, traveling hundreds of miles to confirm that truly a ruler had been born in Israel that would be the Eternal King.

Throughout scripture, God uses stars as metaphors for his heavenly beings. Job refers to the morning stars singing together, and all the sons of God shouting for joy (Job 38:7). The psalmist tells us that God numbers and gives name to all the stars, implying that His angelic host is finite yet even so an assembly of myriads (Psalm 147:4). And Isaiah states that not all the "stars" in the heavenlies are good (Isaiah 14:13). As the prophet speaks about Satan's prideful rise and self-assertion toward God, John the Revelator tells us how a third of the wicked "stars" or rather the devil's mutinous collaborators fell to earth at the fateful time when the angels rebelled (Revelation 12:4). The greatest Star of them all is first prophesied (centuries before Daniel) to appear by a Mesopotamian prophet named Balaam. (This fellow is a good example of someone that started out right and ended up seriously wrong!) In the book of Numbers, Balaam is hired by the king of Moab to curse the nation of Israel, but instead he pronounces a blessing over the Hebrews. During his prophetic utterance, Balaam speaks about a Star that will arise in Israel and will reign forever: I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth (Numbers 24:17). The prophet was declaring a dichotomous fulfillment to his prophecy. First of all, he stated that this part of his prophetic word was not for the present but was for a later date. Undoubtedly, this was the revealing of the star that would herald the Morning Star (II Peter 1:19; Revelation 22:16) to be born in Bethlehem several millennia from his utterance. Secondly, it was a prophecy speaking of the return of Christ to be revealed at His second coming as He takes captive the nations of Moab (present day Jordan) and others that have raised their hand against His beloved Israel (see Jeremiah 25). Balaam's prophecy, as well as others, only confirm the inevitable in God's plan of redemption for both Israel and the Gentile nations.

Jesus tells us that in the same way as he departed the earth in the same way He will return (Acts 1:11). Even so, in the same way as he came the first time, so also will the heavens herald His return. Jesus both foretold and warned us of the great and terrible day of the Lord in the book of Matthew:
But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. - Matthew 24:29-30
This will truly be a day of great rejoicing for those who have believed, but a day of terrible reckoning for those who have despised His appearing. Just as the Son of Man appeared under the twinkling herald of a great light in the sky, so His coming will be in the twinkling of the eye and it will be a great light that will consume the darkness. The Morning Star will have arisen to create a new day where only He shall reign and no wickedness will stand before Him. For even as His coming was heralded two millennia past, so the sky will once again proclaim His glory as He sweeps the stars from the sky and He alone will remain to shine bright.

Throughout time, the heavens have been the place for man to turn his gaze to learn of God's glory. David knew this, Daniel also, and most assuredly the Magi. Now, it is our turn. Will we allow the Christmas Star to captivate our hearts until the Morning Star rises first within our spirits, and ultimately on a new earth in the age to come? It has always been and will continue to be our choice. Like the wise men, we must seek Him, traversing whatever distance is necessary to find Him. For only as we allow the Christmas Star to abide within, will we then know the Morning Star who desires to reveal His life to us all. Come, Lord Jesus, and reveal the very Star of David as we celebrate the birth of Christ in us all!

O Holy God, thank you for the Christmas Star that lives within all who call You Lord. Allow the bright and Morning Star to increase His brilliance in all of our lives until He returns in splendor. We thank You and praise You for Your wonderful gift to the world! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More Through Mercy - December 15, 2013

Mark 10:48 - Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Blind Bartimaeus learned a life-changing lesson the day he cried out to Jesus for his sight. In the depth of his despair over his blindness he ironically found that it was essential to feign a loss of hearing toward Jesus' followers. He needed to disregard the sway of the crowd that kept telling him to mind his manners. Social decorum' or first century Jewish etiquette was the last thing on Bartimaeus' mind as he shouted to be heard over the crowd. He knew that if he let this opportunity pass there might never be another. He could not concern himself about what those following Jesus might think of his persistence to gain the attention of Jesus. The scripture tells us that Jesus stopped and told His followers to ... call him here (Mark 10:49). The blind beggar does something next that is quite extraordinary. Bartimaeus throws aside his cloak, probably his only worldly possession, and leaping up he comes to Jesus (Mark 10:50). In the next two verses we share in the beautiful exchange between the Lord and this blind man. Christ first secures Bartimaeus' desire from his own lips. This created faith in his own heart as he heard his own desire vocalized. Then, the Great Healer spoke wellness to the man's eyes which immediately open upon Christ's declaration of healing. This is a most glorious example of a man desirous of a touch from the Lord and the mercy of a loving God to do so.

Oh, for more Blind Bartimaeus' in the church today who would not be silenced! Of equal need are those who would not seek to quiet the oppressed, but would encourage their deliverance by allowing them to come to the Lord. You might ask, how has the church hindered those seeking Christ to find Him? Jesus made an important distinction regarding "how" Bartimaeus was to come to Him. He told the crowd to "call him here". Jesus could have just as easily called the blind man Himself, but He desired that the crowd would call him. This is an important lesson for today's church in western Christendom. We may state that Christ can deliver men and women of any sin that would beset humankind, but do we really believe that, or more importantly, is that what we want? Blind beggars were a nuisance in ancient Palestine. They were dirty, often offensive in their "panhandling", and they were generally looked down on as those who "had it coming". As we recall from the disciples conversation with the Lord in John chapter 9, the disciples tried to ascertain what was the root cause for this man to be born blind from birth -- his sin or that of his parents (John 9:1-3). The Lord states "neither", but that God's glory might be demonstrated. Just as people's views and perceptions were skewed in Jesus' day regarding cause and effect regarding blindness, so today many in the church are skewed in a pharisaical way regarding sins that are reprehensible and sordid in origin. In the past 20 years or so, the western church has grown demonstrably in its ability to embrace the alcoholic and the drug addict. During a good part of the 20th century, these were sins of the flesh that many could not confess because of social stigma. Even more so today, those in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are finding that anonymity is not as essential as it was when the 12 Step Program began in the 1930s. Today, many notable figures in the public sphere are finding strength by confessing their weakness. However, what of the dark, demonic sins that often find fertile soil in these and other addictions? Are we as a church ready to embrace these and "call them" to our Savior?

For the western church to move in more of the grace that the Lord is so desirous to pour out, we must learn to love ALL as He loves them. This means all manner of "untouchables" that would seek freedom from their spiritual blindness. The church might find more forgiveness for those that would escape a life of homosexuality or pornography or prostitution. These are immoral sins that usually involve only "willing" participants that share in this sordid behavior. However, many would believe that those who would prey upon children, in both sexual and murdererous fashion, would have no forgiveness in God's plan of salvation because they have preyed upon the innocent. While accounts of these horrendous behaviors might sicken on a daily basis in our 24/7 news cycle, our judgment on these can often be premature to that of our Father's in Heaven. He desires that NONE would perish but that ALL would find salvation in Him (II Peter 3:9). Beloved, have we opened wide our hearts to love all as He commanded us? Or, are we like those following Jesus telling those who are reprehensible by our standard that Jesus wants nothing to do with them. I believe in my heart that once the Church, the true Body of Christ, comes to a place of willingness to love those who are the despised of this world, that we will see a revival of His love break forth that is unparalleled since the beginning of times. We will see those very much like Blind Bartimaeus in his day, throw off all protection or anything that they have hidden with a "cloak" -- feelings and apprehensions of shame and distrust. These will be cast to the wind IF the Church of Jesus Christ will lay aside the heart of what they believe a Christian should be and begin to embrace the love that God will show them. They only have to be willing to "call these" that are so desirous to come. They just need to know that a Savior came for them also, to break them free from any and all sins that would seek to master them.

You might say, "I can't love people like that! There is no way that I could accept an ex-stripper, or a delivered alcoholic, or an ex-producer of pornographic movies, let alone a "supposed" child molester who says he or she now knows Jesus! I just can't!" That is the first step, Beloved. When we tell God we can't, then it allows Him to begin to move upon our hearts to tell us "we can". Personally, my fleshly heart that seeks to defy Jesus' command to love all rebels at the thought! (Somehow, I might delude myself that as a recovering alcoholic my sin is not worse than some.) However, where sin abounds grace does abound all the more (Romans 5:20). Christ is not only ready to give grace to all who would but come to Him, but He is also ready to pour out MORE of His grace and mercy on a parched and dry church. In order to know the love of Christ, we must walk in the love of Christ. This means loving all, regardless of where they might be in our perceived judgments. Thank God for those who are reaching out to those who are the "untouchables" of this world -- to those calling to these to come to the Master to receive their proverbial "sight" and to no longer walk in darkness. However, we must give our whole collective heart for this type of transformation to occur, where God can fill up the church with more grace and mercy than we ever believed possible. Are we willing to say that we have never loved in this manner but we desire to? It will only happen if we first "see" and then ask for His heart, so that we can truly lead those to the Light who will not find it in any other way. Lord, make us MORE to those we would despise in our own flesh by giving us MORE of Your heart!

Father, give us Your heart to love the unlovable, to cherish those whom the world despises. Help us to see the great treasure in the sordid of this world whom Your Son bled and died for. Lord, we cannot do this without your love. Give us Your heart. Give us MORE mercy and grace that we might give it away. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Simple Gospel - Part II - December 8, 2013

Titus 2:14 - Jesus Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
The simplest expression of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ gave Himself, as Paul describes to his son in the faith, Titus. Christ's "giving" had one ultimate purpose -- redemption of mankind on a grand scale that would forever set us free. Humankind was hopelessly locked up in bondage to sin without no possibility of escape, except through a sinless Man's sacrifice on our behalf. Both literally and figuratively, every man, woman, and child was held as a slave to sin with a cruel master that would ultimately torment us for eternity. Hopelessness was our legacy both in this life and the one to come. However, a Savior came to redeem us all from the "slave market of this world". He is a benevolent master that seeks a people for His own possession, that will love Him with the same love in which He loved them. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 6:14 that we have been bought with a price, therefore we should glorify God in our mortal bodies. The price, beloved, was more than we could ever muster. We could never hope to gain our own freedom, but only through His purchase we are set free to serve and to love Him. For a few, this will be a reality (Matthew 7:14). However, for the vast majority this will not be their experience either in this life of the one to come. They will subject themselves to the slave market of this world and the eternal prison of death eternal.

Horace Greeley, famed editor of the New York Tribune reported on a massive slave auction in Savannah Georgia in 1859. A staunch abolitionist, Greeley was appalled at the treatment of the 429 men, women, and children to be sold at this well-advertised "event". The break-up of two plantations was the cause of this wholesale bartering of human beings, and the majority of these families being sold were terrified of their future prospects. One man in particular that caught Mr. Greeley's attention was a slave named Elisha. This large black man had a wife and two small children. He sought to persuade a benevolent looking gentleman to purchase his family. He fawned over this prospective "Mas'r" with degrading humiliation, hoping that he might secure a glimmer of hope for his family in possibly a humane environment. The buyer passed over Elisha and his family and purchased other slaves, much to their dismay. Another situation that the editor pens is regarding "Molly". Whether this young lady actually had a lame foot, no one would ever know. Purportedly, she was examined by a doctor in Savannah and was given a clean bill of health. However, she dragged her foot most convincingly while on the auction block. She only fetched $695 (equal to over $15,000 in today's economy) whereas she might have been sold for upwards of $1600 if she didn't show herself to be a possible cripple. To a slave, a reduced price was to be rejoiced in. A pre-civil war slave could never hope to save up over a thousand dollars to purchase their freedom. However, if one could reduce their worth to $300 or $400 it was conceivable that they could one day purchase their liberty through the help of "friends" from the north. To a slave, freedom without health was to be prized more than health without freedom.

The parallels between this 1859 slave market and the slave market that Satan still successfully operates on this earth are striking. Although Jesus Christ came and paid the price for all, most insist on remaining with their old master because of their own fear and the lies of their oppressor. Post-Civil War found many ex-slaves in disbelief of their new found freedom. Many returned to their plantations after a short hiatus because they truly knew no other life than that of being subjected to a harsh master. Even today, there are many "Elishas" that might be seeking the best for themselves or their families, yet they don't believe that a benevolent Master has already set them free. God Almighty has redeemed them and bought them with a price to follow Him out of love and respect, not out of fear of retaliation. Yet, they continue to seek out another way -- possibly their belief in the pursuit of wealth and security as the kind master they seek. Or, in dark retrospect, they feel unworthy of any kindness and give themselves to wicked addictions such as lust, alcohol, drugs, pornography, or any number of other besetting sins -- all because they feel unworthy. Then, there are the "Mollys" that may seek to humble themselves through various "religions" in order to purchase their own salvation through their own set of works. If we go on seeking to free ourselves from the slave market of sin, we will invariably find that we are still mastered by sin's master. Jesus said: Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:34-36). How ludicrous and illegal it would have been if the south continued with these open air markets of human trafficking after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War! Yet, it is equally appalling that Satan still manages to convince most that Jesus Christ NEVER came to purchase their freedom. Instead, they continue to seek out other avenues of salvation that ultimately only lead to despair and hopelessness.

Paul tells us in Galatians 5:1 that it was for freedom that Christ set us free, so therefore stand firm and don't be subject once again to a yoke of slavery. Those who have never understood that Christ came to redeem us for Himself, should seek God until their eyes are enlightened and they know beyond any doubt that Christ has rescued them from the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13). Those of us who know Christ and have experienced His freedom should never again submit ourselves to the pains of our old master. Our "old self" WAS crucified with Christ Jesus on Calvary's tree, and our body of sin WAS done away so that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). Therefore, we should walk daily in that reality and rebuke our old master to his face if he ever comes around with his lies of bondage. We are FREE, beloved! We are FREE to serve a benevolent Master who perfectly cares for our well-being. He desires that we all enter into His joy so that we might desire to share His love with others. There are thousands daily, going from the slave market of this world to a much graver, darker prison of torment -- more horrific than our imagination can even comprehend. It is our responsibility to work the works of Jesus (as His zealous slaves) for our loving Master, and pull some back into the freedom that Christ gave to all. May we all work to loosen the shackles of those who are crying out in desperation before time, as we know it, draws to a close.

Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for all of humankind that You might redeem us from the slave market of this world. We accept your benevolent love that you have so graciously offered. We receive our proclamation of emancipation from Your heavenly throne and we choose the life You've given to each and every one. We thank You and praise You! In Your Precious Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Simple Gospel - Part I - December 1, 2013


Titus 2:14 - Jesus Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

The gospel of Jesus Christ will never be about us. It has always been about Him and for Him. Christ's redemption was never meant to "bail us out" of our troubles. It was the expression of a Father's heart toward children in rebellion, that He might make us offspring in the exact likeness of His Son whom He sent to redeem the world. Hudson Taylor, missionary to China wrote poignantly about coming into a deeper understanding of what Christ had done in his own heart. He states: It was the exchanged life that had come to me -- the life that is indeed "No longer I"... It was a blessed reality "Christ liveth in me." And how great the difference! -- instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another. Just as salvation or justification from sin was never for our ends but for "Another", so purification or sanctification is only for Him and for His glory. If we seek to keep salvation for ourselves and not share it, or to cloister ourselves away from life to keep from sinning, then we only strengthen our flesh and the selfish position of the "old man" that should now be crucified and done away with in Christ (Romans 6:6: Galatians 2:20). Paul lived and breathed a deep understanding of what he declared to his child in the faith, Titus, in our opening scripture. Paul understood that a profound knowledge of redemption plus God's sanctifying power equals a zealous desire to live for Him. This equation cannot be reversed or it simply will not work. One cannot say that through seemingly "good deeds" that one will purify one's self and then achieve redemption. This is humanly impossible and a fatal error if one attempts to change the order of salvation. An impenitent sinner will never embrace the idea that redemption can be afforded to them by anyone or anything other than by their own efforts. Conversely, a humbled man, woman, or child that knows they need redemption will never again look to their "works" to justify themselves. They understand they have committed high treason against the King of Heaven and without Jesus Christ as their Redeemer, they are lost.

An epiphany of the Lord's redemption is the catalyst that leads to the deeper life in Christ. Without a deep realization of what Christ did for humankind on Calvary's cross, there can be no deep cleansing or purging of body, soul, and spirit. The flesh will not submit otherwise. If someone has only a casual understanding that Christ died for their sin, then one might accept Him as one selling a bit of "fire" insurance. The fear of God has gripped them to the point where they are convicted of their sin as the penalty of eternal damnation. They choose to accept Christ for this assures them a place in eternity with Jesus and away from the tortuous flames. Beloved, if one stays in this frame of belief then they are truly playing by the precipice of decision and may or may not be saved by the "skin of their teeth". The fear of the Lord may be the thing that brings a man or woman to the Lord, but it has to be a love for Christ that keeps and perfects them (II Corinthians 7:1). While the fear of hell fire may be on a man's mind when he comes to Christ, the fire of purification best be in a man's heart to keep him in a position to grow in God. If we call ourselves Christians, and yet shrink from His purifying fire, we should question our position in Christ. For if we love Him, we will obey Him (I John 5:3), and to keep His commandments should not be a tiresome chore. If we see with eyes of gratitude, knowing that He has saved us not only from the fires of hell but also from the burdensome life we have created for ourselves outside of God's love, then we will embrace the flames of purification, leading to a sanctified life. Just as the gospel of redemption is not about us, neither is sanctification. It will never be so that we might proclaim our own "whiteness" and holiness to others. It is so we can have fellowship and walk in the light as He is in the light (I John 1:7). Only then will we begin to work the works of God (John 6:28-29) and lead others to the light even as the Lord Jesus demonstrated nearly two millennia ago.

The Simple Gospel of Jesus is further stated in John 5:19: Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. Jesus knew who He was. He was and has always been the Son of God. He didn't need redemption, because He is redemption. He didn't need purification because He is purity. Jesus could and would not do anything that He did not first see His Father doing. There was a conscious understanding of what the Father would or would not do because their Natures were totally united. In the same way, Christ has become to us redemption -- He has become to us purification and sanctification, allowing for His people to move within the very Nature of God in the same way as He moved in that of His Father's. Although He was perfect, Christ lived a life of obedience by continually learning a life of subjection to the Father (Hebrews 5:8). He suffered in His sinless flesh the pangs of temptation yet with perfect obedience. His perfect Spirit taught his earthly flesh how to come under the dominion of His Father, which created a lighted path for all to follow. Just as Jesus was "zealous for good deeds" through His sanctified life to His Father, so we too must walk in total surrender to Jesus. We should do only those things which we "see the Son doing". Once we submit to His life within, we can be assured that the works will be of heavenly origin.

Jesus desires for us to rest in His work that He has already accomplished (Hebrews 4:1). He desires for us to cry out until we come into such a revelation of His redemption that we are lovesick in heart and would follow Him anywhere. He further desires that we would stand and not shrink from the fires of purification He would bring into our lives. For truly, we are set apart and sanctified for His use. Only as we are holy vessels, cleansed for the Master's use, can we then go forth even as the Son shined upon this earth many centuries ago. We will then be redeemed, purified servants, zealous to go anywhere or to do anything for Him. This is the Simple Gospel. This is the Exchanged Life. Do you hear His call? He beckons all to come and to live as He lived for His Father, always eager to do His will.

Heavenly Father, give us eyes to see and ears to hear the great redemption You purchased long ago through Your Son's death. Help us Lord to stand in the midst of Your purifying fire, trusting and loving Your every desire. And then let us go forth with zeal to do your will. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick