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This article is a bit of a walkabout. It reminds me of a tourist group out for a sight-seeing adventure. Not every sight will be for everyone, but each one will find something here to encourage, edify and equip them for the good work we have all been created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

Every Jesus follower is responsible to be (or become) a faithful steward of God’s mysteries (1Corinthians 4:1-2). So why do we so often play the mystery card to avoid our responsibility as stewards? For example, the fact that we have been made one in Christ Jesus is a mystery (Galatians 3:28). We would rather keep it that way than commit to the hard work of agreeing with Jesus’s prayer for the manifestation of that reality (John 17:23). And another: The Bible suggests that church discipline is necessary for strong healthy fellowships. Rather than search out its proper application, most church leaders treat it as a mystery – avoiding it altogether for fear of running off the wrong people.

God’s expects us to steward His mysteries for the advancement of His kingdom. Playing the mystery card for our own motives (e.g., to avoid difficult responsibilities, or excuse error in our teaching) is rebellion; many times unintended, but nevertheless adversarial to the purposes of God.

We must search out the mysteries of God. To the best of our ability? Yes, and no. With the help of others? Again, yes and no. Under the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit? Yes and yes.

With the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we search out the mysteries of God with our whole heart and the help of others – the purpose of our search being His glory and the advancement of His kingdom.

Let’s practice our searching with Ephesians 6:10:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Paul is encouraging us to be strong in two distinct ways. We are to be strong in the Lord, and we are to be strong in the power of His might. In my humble opinion, this is the most power-filled verse in the entire Bible. Three of God’s “power” words are included:

  1. Be strong (endynamoō): The root is dynamis – the explosive power of God.
  2. Power (kratos): The dominion of God – the power of His authority to reign.
  3. Might (ischys): The ability and force of God – to accomplish what He intends.

This is what Paul is talking about when he goes on to encourage us to put on the whole armor of God. This is what it takes to stand against the wiles of the devil. Get your head around that!

As leaders in the Workplace – that includes all segments (business, religion, education, government, etc.) – we are responsible for leading others into this kind of radical life. Note carefully: This is the normal Christian life!

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I have a friend who ministers to me by occasionally reminding me that I think too much. Being quite the thinker himself, I don’t think he is trying to tell me to think less. There are just times when thinking gets in the way of something more important.

Much of our conversations revolve around the mysteries of God; and our desire to be good stewards of them (1Corinthians 4:1-2). For those of you who feel the same way – and those who would like to – here are a few of my favorites.

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory. 1Timothy 3:16

And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables…” Mark 4:11

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion… Romans 11:25

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory… 1Corinthians 2:7

We have been redeemed to know, and be a demonstration of, the mysteries of God – and that for our glory. Let that sink in for a minute.

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As stewards of the mysteries of God, we are invited to search out the Scriptures for the “matters” that God has hidden there. The purpose of this article is to share a hidden mystery (or two) and to encourage you to do your own searching.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
Proverbs 25:2

Generally, there are three types of Bible translations. There are thought-for-thought translations; where the translators have taken a verse or passage and translated what they believe to be the thought of the writer. This includes a few of the more popular modern translations: NIV, REB and The Message.

There is also what are called word-for-word translations. Included in this group are the KJV, NKJV, and NASB. These translations are considered more reliable than thought-for-thought translations because they avoid much of the latter’s inherent human interpretation.

To improve readability, word-for-word translations include the rearrangement of sentence structure. This accommodation introduces a very small opportunity for mistranslation. However, as we will soon discover, small mistakes (e.g., the exclusion of a “the”) can make for some very BIG differences. Read the rest of this entry »

 Bible with Cross ShadowEven so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:17-20

Bearing good fruit is a test for every tree, not just prophets and teachers. In fact, our faithfulness as disciples of Jesus Christ is evidenced by our bearing much fruit (John 15:8). To do otherwise results in our being cut down (or cut off) and thrown into the fire.

It is the abiding life that bears much fruit; Him abiding in us, our abiding in Him, and His words abiding in us. Jesus is faithful in His abiding. When it comes to bearing fruit, we are the limiting factor.

The Greek word for abide is menō. It also means to remain, continue and endure. The abiding life is not a passive life. At a minimum, there is the obedient response to Jesus’ command. We must choose to abide.

Furthermore, while God is working in us to will and do to His good pleasure, we must be working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13). The good fruit that every good tree bears is the fruit of the Spirit and the work of God that we have been created to walk in; work that glorifies the Father (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 5:16).

For me, abiding has required my enduring the transformational work of the Holy Spirit (2Corinthians 3:18). The removal of impatience and a judgmental spirit are two examples. Furthermore, God has used the chaos of transformation to work His way, truth and life into me; and to work out the hooks, habits and hang-ups that interfere with my glorifying Him and enjoying His presence. Read the rest of this entry »

A Storm is ComingRecognizing that a storm is coming; and recognizing that the house that stands in the storm is the house built by the man who “hears these saying of mine and does them”; and recognizing that you cannot do something you have not heard; I am searching out the Sermon on the Mount (SOTM) – again – for the sayings that my Master would have me do. I hope you will join me.

This is not the first time I have endeavored to understand these sayings of Jesus. Here are a few past discoveries that will help in our searching out the matter now:

  1. The SOTM is filled with kingdom mystery. A mystery may mean something different to different people; and different things to the same person at different times. In any case, it must mean something. Each one is responsible to search out the meaning. The Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are our teachers.
  2. In much the same way that the Law was given to reveal our inability to please God, The SOTM exposes our inability to live the normal Christian life. Only Jesus Christ can live that life. This does not excuse us to live some other life. Rather, it helps focus our attention on the way God intends to save us (Romans 5:10).
  3. While everything Jesus says is ultimately actionable, some sayings are more so than others. For example, “let him have your cloak also” is easily translated into a particular and ubiquitous action; whereas, poor in spirit is more about attitude and belief, manifesting itself in differing behaviors.

    At this point, I believe God will focus us on the more actionable sayings. However, it should be noted that the Beatitudes are positioned at the beginning of the SOTM for a reason. Giving up my cloak to someone that is suing me for my tunic is only possible for someone that is poor in spirit.

The first of these articles has been posted: These Sayings of Mine – Do Not Swear at All. Those following will be published under the same “These Sayings of Mine” banner. The Good Lord willing, we will group them all together in an eBook. You can help with this by asking questions, challenging my thinking and providing additional input. God speaks in community; even virtual community. I expect He will use you to make me a more faithful steward of the mysteries of God.

Humbly yours and forever His,

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