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It is our hopeful contention that Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount so very early in His ministry to prepare those who would follow Him for the storms they would face in sharing and living it with others. The gospel of the kingdom of heaven – the good news of God’s reign in the hearts of His people – would be so radically counter-cultural, not only to the heathen Gentile, but to the Jew as well, that it was only fitting and fair to lay it out from the beginning. Full disclosure; nothing hidden.

As we read the Sermon two-thousand years later, we must use our imagination and consider the timing to appreciate God’s approach in the introduction of His New Covenant. It is both simple and instructional: Jesus first taught His followers about life in the kingdom so they could then observe Him walking it out before them and His Father. “He who hears these sayings of mine, and does them…” is the disciple-makers way.

So, what are we to do about these sayings of Jesus in the Beatitudes? Is there a way we should respond to them? Or, are we left to simply hope the blessings will one day be ours?

God intends for every Christian to respond to every offer of His grace in the same way: through faith. It is no coincidence that the process of faith begins with the hearing of faith (Romans 10:17), proceeds through obedience to the faith (Romans 1:5), and culminates with the work that perfects our faith (James 2:22). Indeed, the process of faith answers the question, “How should we study the Sermon on the Mount?” The only way to become a kingdom citizen is by grace, through faith.

The Sermon begins with the Beatitudes for this very reason. Read the rest of this entry »

Recognizing that a storm is still coming (some would argue that it has arrived); 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 most recent searching:

  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.

We are revisiting these sayings for obvious reasons: several significant storms are brewing over America and the world. They will likely continue into the rest of this decade. Many houses will fall under their pressure, including those of our sisters and brothers in Christ. These individuals, families, and fellowships will be looking around for a safe harbor. It is the desire of my heart as God’s pen to help raise up houses that will be ministering agents.

Furthermore, we plan to use this revisit, and a providential teaching opportunity, to produce a new book on the SOTM. Our prayer (please join us) is for God’s glory and the advance of His kingdom. You can also help in this endeavor 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.

In the meantime, God bless you with grace for the storms in your life and in the lives of those whom God has placed in your spheres of influence.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, a spiritual amnesia set in; they no longer recognized who they were and who they were created to be. Eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil bound humankind’s ability to reason with our rebellious nature. In the process, mankind’s #1 enemy was unleashed. The carnal mind has been at enmity with God and His children ever since.

Our carnal mind, with help from Satan and the world, labors tirelessly to keep us trapped in the amnestic condition into which we are naturally born. Regrettably, Christians have not fared well of late in this regard. Many do not realize the attack continues even after we are spiritually reborn. One particularly critical battle front involves the way we think about the new life we have been promised in Jesus Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live… Galatians 2:20a

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

For whoever wants to save their life
will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Mark 8:35

As Jesus took our place in death, He must also take our place in life. Even after we become a new creature in Christ, we must lose our life to fully exist in His. Death and resurrection are not the same; they do not accomplish the same outcome. The transactions, so to speak, are different.

Even on this side of rebirth, God’s promises are conditional. We don’t get to keep our life and Jesus’, too. There is a connection that remains between the old and the new that cannot be fully severed until the new has been surrendered AND sacrificed. Read the rest of this entry »

This article is the fourth in a series based on the assumption that God is after something, He is doing something to get what He is after, and He is willing to tell us everything that we need to know for our participation. God is using this time of chaos (like so many others) to prepare His children for a season of opportunity that will be exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work… 2Thessalonians 2:7a

Lawlessness has been around since Satan rebelled against God. It has plagued mankind since that fateful day when Adam and Eve succumbed to his deception and chose to follow his lead. The events of the last few weeks remind us that lawlessness is already at work.

The truth is, most of us have become comfortable with some level of lawlessness in our lives. We have learned to justify our lack of lawfulness. Who drives the speed limit anymore? For that matter, who loves their neighbor as themselves? Lawlessness is not a respecter of persons. Our comfort with it should cause great concern, perhaps even fear. Things could get worse.

Chapter two of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonian church describes the tragic culmination of the legacy we have carried since mankind’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden. It warns of a great apostasy, a falling away of people from the kingdom of God prior to Jesus’ return and His gathering of the faithful to Himself.

Like me, you are probably wondering how a follower of Jesus Christ could ever leave Him. There are doctrines of man that argue against such a possibility. As you might imagine, such doctrines have become quite popular. Personally, I don’t understand them. But that is not what this article is about.

Our purpose here is to expose the enemy’s tactics and encourage a sufficient response. You see, lawlessness is simply a symptom of, and a cover for, the enemy’s primary weapons.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish… 2Thessalonians 2:9-10a

The rise of lawlessness is like smoke to a fire. Yes, the smoke can kill you, but the fire is the source. Put out the fire and the smoke will eventually abate. Read the rest of this entry »

If we are not careful, chaos will drive us to carnal reasoning and the resultant carnal response. The best defense is a good offense. Our best offense against the wiles of our carnal mind is the process of faith. That process is dependent on an intimate relationship with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Luke 11:10

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

As a bit of a side note, it is interesting that the door of intimacy with the Lord opens both ways. He desires our intimacy like a groom for his bride. Truly, nothing but our reluctance stands in the way.

Recognizing that intimacy requires conversation, let me suggest three conversation starters:

Lord, what are you saying?

Lord, what are you doing?

Lord, what are you after?

There is an assumption behind these questions: God is after something; He is trying to do something to get what He is after, and; He is willing to tell us all that we need to know. God is using this season of chaos (like so many others) to prepare His children for a season of opportunity that is likely beyond our imagination. Read the rest of this entry »

Late last year, while researching for an article, I discovered the Global Rich List calculator. At the time, it reported that a U.S. worker making the federally mandated minimum wage ($7.25/hour) earns more salary than 92.2% of workers in the rest of the world. The statistics do not lie: American Christians are rich.

That’s a good thing, right? Well, as with so many things in this world, that depends on your perspective. From a heavenly perspective, we all have reason to be concerned.

Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:23-27

Jesus’ warning raises two important questions: Why is it so hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God? How do we mitigate the risk?

The first question is not hard to answer; the Bible has much to say on the subject. The answer to the second question is not so obvious (at least, for most of us). Here are nine reasons it is so hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God:

  1. The rich tend to trust in their riches (v. 24).
  2. Riches are deceitful, choking the word of God from our lives, resulting in unfruitfulness (Matthew 13:22).
  3. The unfruitful are cut off from Jesus Christ and thrown into the fire (John 15:2,6).
  4. The rich are tempted to bury their riches, instead of investing them into the kingdom of God (Matthew 25:24-27,30).
  5. The poor have been chosen to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom (James 2:5).
  6. Our heart is tied to our treasure (Matthew 6:21).
  7. To whom much is given, much will be required – including our riches (Luke 12:48).
  8. The world’s goods are given to meet the needs of others (1John 3:16-18). The rich are responsible to know how much to give away.
  9. The rich are most at risk of two powerful and destructive deceptions: they do not need God (Revelation 3:17), and/or God needs them (Acts 17:25).

Read the rest of this entry »

When the message of The Map Maker was coming into focus, several well-meaning workplace ministers counseled me to lead with something other than surrender, sacrifice, and submission. Had I been the pen, the book – and the ministry of inLight Consulting – might have followed their advice. To their credit, they were right in a way. The call to sacrifice has been a particularly difficult message for workplace leaders to hear.

But God would not have it. As The Map Maker, He insisted on the truth: Christian leadership requires counter-cultural sacrifice. At no other time is this more evident than in the midst of crisis and chaos. The COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point.

Perhaps a bit of context would be helpful. The Map Maker was written to help Christian leaders find joyful, Spirit-filled ministry in the workplace, by becoming disciple-making transformation agents. Of course, becoming a transformation agent first requires transformation. From The Map Maker perspective, transformation begins with surrender to the desires God has deposited into our hearts. It ends with the good work He created for us to supernaturally walk in, as we submit to the Holy Spirit.1

The preparatory journey from desire to good work requires sacrifice and includes chaos; the two go hand in hand. We know this from at least two perspectives. First, consider the Greek word translated as “transformed” in 2Corinthians 3:18 and Romans 12:2: Metamorphoo. Do you get the picture? How would you describe what’s going on inside that cocoon? Is it not the messy chaos of a caterpillar sacrificing some part of its previous life to become what God intended it to be?

God created the Greek language to help us understand the process He uses to make us into the instruments of His good work. Then He sent His Son to walk through the process with us. Read the rest of this entry »

Is it possible that the Church at Laodicea has been given an unfairly bad reputation? Sure, being rejected by the Lord is probably the worse thing that could happen to anyone. Being deceived about one’s wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked condition is a sobering reminder of the Great Apostasy (see 2Thessalonians 2:9-12). And it probably doesn’t help that critical observation of the Western Church reminds us of Laodicea’s lukewarm state.

Indeed, it is difficult to look beyond Jesus’ rebuke and chastening of the Church at Laodicea. It is hard to get past the King’s displeasure and the frightening consequences. Still, there is hope.

The Lord himself seems to have considerable hope for this much maligned church… and much to offer her. Let’s take a look.

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:18-21

It is truly amazing what the Lord offers the Church at Laodicea:

  1. His kind and godly counsel;
  2. To sell them what they need;
  3. Loving rebuke and chastening;
  4. Encouragement that they are still capable of zealous repentance;
  5. To dine with them; and,
  6. A place with Him on His throne.

In short, our King offers restoration. How can we neglect so great a salvation, or so kind a King? What must we do to restore our relationship with Him? How do we turn this thing around? Read the rest of this entry »

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

Knowing God is sovereign, we can confidently say that He creates or allows the chaos that finds its way into our lives. We also know that He works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). How we respond to chaos makes more difference in our lives, and the lives of those in our spheres of influence, than we might think or imagine.

Generally speaking, chaos either draws us away from the truth or it serves to focus our attention on what is fundamentally real (i.e., the heavenly perspective). The greater the chaos, the greater the impact in one of these two directions.

Chaos tests the set of our mind. Chaos also gives us the opportunity to practice our resistance to the enemy’s distraction and deception. By the way, the enemy I am referring to is our carnal mind – our number one enemy. Scripture makes it clear that neither Satan nor the world can influence a child of God (James 4:7, Galatians 6:14) … unless they are allowed to do so. Our carnal mind opens that door.

Most of us have been trained for much of our lives to turn to our carnal mind when chaos invades our lives. This is directly and exactly the opposite of God’s intention. When chaos comes, He would have us choose the influence and direction of Christ’s mind. Make no mistake about it: We are responsible for that choice. Read the rest of this entry »

The way to find peace in the midst of crisis, concern, and chaos is one of the areas where Christians should be thinking differently than the world and our carnal mind would prescribe. Consequently, we are living in a window of time which offers a great opportunity for the renewing of our minds (and the transformation that will create).

With that in mind (no pun intended), I would like to share the promise, provision and way of peace for every child of God. It starts with the prophecy of His coming.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

This much quoted verse contains something I had not noticed until recently. Not only was the Messiah to be wounded, bruised and scourged, but he was also promised as the chastisement for our peace. He took on the Father’s correction, reproof, and rebuke) that we might have peace with Him.

The LORD God is faithful and trustworthy. He is almighty – able to do all that He says. He keeps His promises. That includes the provision of His peace.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:19-20

It is important to note that the eternal peace we have with God is the provision for our peace in the storms of this life. Maintaining this connection in your heart and mind will bring revelation and power to the peace of God, in the midst of our current tempest. Read the rest of this entry »

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