“Peace to You, my Brother”: Change Your Greeting, Change the World

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2, NIV) This is a very simple greeting, but as is so often true, the simple is sometimes the most profound.

Author Linda Olsson said, “It’s often about the simple things, isn’t it? Painting and photography are first about seeing, they say. Writing is about observing. Technique is secondary. Sometimes the simple is the most difficult.” We live in such a complex world, but at the root of all complexity is simplicity, so maybe it makes sense to take the world’s problems and address them at a very simple level.

Consider the act of greeting one another. In everyday conversational exchanges, we say “Hi! What’s up? How are you? Hello there!” or as Joey Tribbiani (from “Friends”) would say, “How YOU doin’?” And while friendly enough, these greetings don’t really carry the same love or impact that saying “Grace and Peace to you, my friend’ would carry.

What if you did something simple, and greeted everyone with “Grace and Peace to you”, and meant it? Would it change anyone’s day? Would it change YOUR day? It would certainly make people think…and it might make YOU think.

First of all, it assumes you know about Grace, and that you wish it upon your fellow man. What if you really felt that way? What if EVERYONE really felt that way? Wouldn’t we all be in an amazing place if everyone had the goodwill and the passion to wish grace upon the world?

The second part of the greeting has just as much potential: “Peace to you”.

How would being peaceful change the world? The Baby Boomers flashed the peace sign and protested war, but did it really change anything? I think Paul is referring here to the personal inner kind rather than world peace, but if you think about it, if everyone found peace perhaps the world would as well. But how many people do you know who are both graceful and forgiving? How many people do you encounter who would benefit from being both MORE graceful and MORE forgiving?

We live in the Polar Age, where people divide into opposing social groups, political parties, divergent agendas, and critical camps. It’s Conservatives versus Liberals, Whites versus Blacks, Haves versus have-nots, Straights versus Gays, what I want versus what everyone else wants… No matter where you are in any of those polar opposites, could you sincerely wish the other side “Grace and Peace”? What would happen if you DID? In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” If He was generous enough to leave us His Peace, the least we could do is share it with each other.

In a world of polar hate, Full of insult and debate,
Could we try another way? To simply and sincerely say,
"Grace and Peace, my Friend, to YOU. Easy to say, but hard to DO...
We can change our attitude, give "peace" and not be misconstrued,
Have dialog and not be rude, and keep from being lewd or crude! 
No more insults to be hurled: Change your greeting, change the world!

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Patience is Something that Requires a Lot of, Well, Patience

They say that patience is a virtue, something that Micah apparently believed: “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7, NIV)

Have you ever been frustrated because God’s timing is different from yours? Does it ever seem like it’s taking a REALLY long time for Him to act or move or provide something on your behalf? When you think about patience, consider these folks:

Abram was 75 when God told him, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you”. (Genesis 12:2). He was naturally skeptical when, TEN YEARS later he still had no children, but God assured him in Genesis 15:5, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” It was ANOTHER FOURTEEN YEARS before Sarai became pregnant with Isaac.

Imagine speaking with God, having his rock solid promise, and waiting TWENTY-FIVE YEARS for its fulfillment. Do you think Abram may have had his doubts during that time? Struggled with believing God’s promise?

And what about Sarah? Barren, ashamed, laughed at, scorned… She waited so long that when she knew she would actually bear a son, she laughed out loud! Against all logic, God’s promise was delivered and so was Isaac.

Moses as a young man was a rising star in Pharaoh’s house but became a murderer-fugitive, and had to go live as a sheep herder in Midian. According to Stephen, (Acts 7:29) he lived there FORTY YEARS. Exodus 7:7 says Moses was EIGHTY when he went to see Pharaoh. Did he have patience? Do you think Moses ever wondered about his life purpose while he tended sheep? Wondered if God had any reason for sparing him as a baby in the bulrushes? Felt alone or discouraged?

David was anointed King of Israel while he was still a sheep-herding teenager, but didn’t become king until he was THIRTY. In those intervening years, he ran, hid, fought, feigned madness, and was threatened by Saul. God’s pending promise did not negate the difficulties or dangers of the time David spent waiting for it to come to pass. Certainly David felt oppressed and discouraged during those years, yet God was ultimately faithful in his promise and David became Israel’s greatest king. In Psalm 40:1 he said, “I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined and heard my cry.”

Even though Paul preached powerfully and began telling his story right after his conversion, he spent THREE YEARS in semi-seclusion away from public ministry before God began to use him greatly. So when Micah says he will wait for the God of his salvation, he is honoring a long list of Biblical characters who showed patience and faith.

Are you a very good waiter? DO you find yourself getting impatient with God, or worse yet, giving up on His promises? Micah (and Abraham, Moses, David, and Paul) would say: “Be patient. Watch expectantly. Wait for the God of your salvation. You might be surprised at what He will do.” (And maybe also at when He will do it)

Sarah's Testimony

God gave me a promise. And I watered it with tears,
And I tried to hide my anguish, all my doubts and all my fears,
While the other women laughed behind my back; my hope grew dim--
But my small faith somehow remained intact. I trusted Him,
Way past the time that trusting made Him sense, and even after!
When I found out His word was true, I couldn't hold the laughter!
God's promise seemed to take forever. But now that it is done,
I know His word is true, for He has given me a son!

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Words are Powerful: How Important are Words in YOUR World?

Words have the power to transform or trash. They can unite and inspire, or they can divide and harm. Something said can insult us and hurt us, but it can also be the soothing salve on a fresh emotional wound. Take a moment and think about your words, or the impact someone else’s comments have had on you. I bet you can still remember that thing someone said to you once that still hurts your feelings when you think about it.

I guess it’s not surprising that the Bible offers insight about words and what they do. After all, Scriptures themselves are words… “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.” (Proverbs 4:20, NIV) “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, NKJV)

A couple of questions naturally arise from these verses: 1) how much of God’s treasure do you actually hear and “give attention to”? We are in a world surrounded by and bombarded with words from every imaginable source, covered over with phrases or slogans designed to influence you, get you to buy, to build a Brand, give you a call to action, or persuade you to listen again.

Words in our culture invade and surround you;
You hear them and see them in things all around you:
The radio, laptop, your TV, your phone,
On billboards and signs, they won’t leave you alone!
They fly through the air and they nest in your ears;
Your brain then records every word that it hears!
Words in commercials will just try to sell you;
You can’t believe everything newscasters tell you.
The words fill your mind, and there’s no place to hide,
Since those THOUSANDS of messages can’t be denied!
So be careful what words you allow to reside,
Since it’s words that influence who you are, inside…
If THOSE words are sobering, they’re just a start:
The real danger lives in the midst of your heart:
Your heart’s not at risk from words flying about,
But from words, Jesus said, from within, coming OUT.

Do you really pay attention to God’s word? Does the quick sermon on Sunday morning arm you with all the spiritual power you need for the week? Is your weekly small group lesson enough to equip you for spiritual battle? What do you “incline your ear to”? Do you pay attention to what you pay attention to?

2) How many of God’s sayings reside in the midst of your heart? I know SO much useless information and so much junk…but how many of God’s sayings are “in the midst of my heart”? When I think of all of the hundreds of old songs I can sing along with– every meaningless word of old tunes like “Hang on Sloopy” or “”Do-wa-diddy, Diddy-dum-Diddy do”, or even “You Can Call me Al”, it makes me think that perhaps my brain capacity has been just a teeny bit under-utilized. Maybe we should all start singing favorite Bible verses to catchy tunes.

So we have millions of words stored up, but the question is, Are they good ones? What do they say about us when we are saying them? We sure use a lot of them (he said, in a blog full of WORDS…). And by the way social media friends, when you criticize, rant, curse, mislead, spin, lie, spew hate; or when in conversation you tell dirty jokes, ridicule, gossip, cuss, and swear, it’s an indicator that maybe “the midst of your heart” needs a little work. Just sayin’.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Fishing: Jesus said It Is More than Just a Hobby, It’s A Way of Life

“Jesus said, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, NIV) This verse about fishing contains a world of information about life, purpose, and ministry. Don’t miss THIS:

It starts with the important phrase, “Jesus said”. The words of Jesus are not just random comments from an itinerant Jewish Rabbi, they are powerful and eternal. In Matthew 24:35, he promised, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” So far, so good. In John 6:63 he explained, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life”. When other followers turned away, Peter’s response recognized how important it was to pay attention to Jesus’ words, when he said, “Lord to whom [else] would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).

Secondly, Jesus said, “Follow me.” This is what Jesus calls all of us to do, but even those of us who SAY we follow Jesus, really don’t. (Ever wonder why Jesus used certain analogies, and whether he was a good teacher? Look at his recorded teachings sometime, and how what he said related to where they were or what was happening; he was a master at connecting the dots for his audience and drawing them into his lesson.) In this case, Jesus was talking to professional fishermen, so when he mentioned fishing, he had their attention.

The men Jesus addressed HERE responded in a radical way: “immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:22) They left their livelihood, their heritage, and their families to hear what Jesus had to say. What have you left to follow him? What is it that pushes him back to second or third (or tenth!) place in your time, your priorities, and your schedule? Perhaps “follow” meant something more to Peter, James, and John than casual acquaintance and hanging together a couple of hours in church every week…

But when you love something, isn’t that how it is? You’re willing to invest money, resources and time to chase a dream or perform a mission. Yeah guys, you can mentally compare what you spend on fishing, golf, hunting, cars, etc. to how much you invest in your spiritual life… (Or ladies, you can compare what you spend on clothes/jewelry/Nick-knacks/girls’ trips, etc…) Face it: following Jesus meant more to the disciples than it does to us.

Finally, he calls the disciples to continue fishing. He relates ministry to what they know, and asks them to transfer their skills from commerce to the Kingdom of God. When the fishermen heard that, I feel pretty sure that they immediately thought of all they knew about fishing: Preparation is important. You have to mend your nets, inspect your ropes, patch your sails, and check your boat. Know the right places to go fish (Go where the fish are). Get up early. Use the right bait. Cast your nets wisely. Take all the time you need. Persevere. Be patient. Have fun! Be passionate… Fishing…

 

Jesus walked upon the shore along the Sea of Galilee
And saw some brothers fishing, and he said to them, "Come follow me."
They stopped their casting to consider what he said, and then
He told them he would make them fishers not of fish, but men.
They left their nets behind to see if this new Rabbi by the Sea
Could train them up so they would be the truth of his analogy.
Do you have curiosity? Read Acts. The rest is history.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Wisdom is Precious. If You Have Some, Share it With the Rest of Us!

“Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!” (Proverbs 3:4-5, NIV). Make a quick mental list of things important to you that were taught to you by someone else. The obvious things like reading, riding a bike, swimming, and driving a car come to mind… And then there are the subtle things like manners, values, appreciation, and humility: undoubtedly some aspect of all of those skills or behavior was taught to you by someone else. Having teachers makes an AMAZING difference in the quality of our lives, in our ability to solve problems, and in the opportunities that life brings our way. Say a quick prayer of thanksgiving for the people who have taught you the things you value the most.

Then think of what Solomon said: Apparently wisdom and understanding can be readily acquired—anybody can get them. And yet they seem to be in short supply all around us. It’s surprising that something so available to anyone can be so rare. Voltaire said “The thing about common sense is that it is not so common.” The same can be said about wisdom. While understanding involves learning the details and being able to grasp subject matter or content, Wisdom is a little more complex. It is mentioned 222 times in the Old Testament, and Jewish rabbis regarded it as a virtue emanating from God’s character. I’m thinking it was even more amazing. In Proverbs 8:22, Wisdom says, ““From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.” He describes being present for all of creation, and says, “Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.” (Verses 30 and 31)

Hmmm… Wisdom was there from everlasting, from the beginning, was a master workman in creation, and delighted in the sons of men. John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him…” To me, Wisdom sounds perfectly interchangeable with the Word. The Word=Jesus=Wisdom. Perhaps one of the reasons that wisdom seems so rare in our world today is that not very many people recognize its source or follow its teaching. How about you? What wise thing have you acquired lately? And what wisdom have you passed on to somebody else? Any of you have some wisdom you’d be willing to share? Think of your best wise saying and post it here!

How does wisdom come to be? The Bible offers it for free,
And says that it can be acquired by anybody so inspired.
If we just had a Holy Book where we could read and take a look
And gain the wisdom of the ages written there upon the pages!
There is a Book that you can read where wisdom gained is guaranteed,
Whose timeless truths will make you wise if you will exercise your eyes…
If you gain some wisdom there, then take a little time to share!
Just write for us a little note to share your favorite verse or quote:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

The Upside of Rebuke: Why a Kick in the Teeth Can Be an Act of Love

“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools”. (Ecclesiastes 7:5, NIV)
Who in your life offers you wise correction? I once made a list of all the “difference makers” in my life. I thought about people who offered me rebuke, taught me something useful, exhorted me to go farther, or pushed me to elevate my game in some form or fashion. In almost every case, those people caused me discomfort or even pain at the time.  I certainly didn’t recognize 100% back then that they were helping me instead of hurting me. In fact, there were times I surely resented it; but maybe rebuke was a good thing. Looking back, I can clearly see how my Dad (in particular) and certain teachers, coaches, and friends motivated me to achieve more than I would have without their sometimes abrasive assistance. Oddly enough, I thought most of them were being mean to me in the moment, but they were actually pushing me to get out of my comfort zone and into my potential.

Walt Disney said “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Jesus said it in a different way: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2, NIV) Even fruitful branches get pruned by the gardener. A healthy plant actually bears more fruit after it has undergone the stress of losing branches; Jesus presented that as an analogy for human growth as well.

Our Father uses the pain and difficulty of today to prepare us for tomorrow. When Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers and then sold into slavery, he could have stayed bitter over his mistreatment. Instead, he recognized that there was a larger purpose involved. He told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20, NIV) I’m certainly not trying to make light of tragedy in any way, but the next time you find yourself in discomfort or difficult circumstances, say a little prayer of thanksgiving for the fact that you will be “even more fruitful”. That person telling you to take it easy or inviting you to slack off may not be your friend; and the person who challenges you and rebukes you may not be your enemy.

Jesus said we are the branches, and he is the vine;
"My Father", Jesus said, "will prune on every branch of mine."
Unfruitful branches are cut off completely, while the rest
Are cut and pruned so that their fruit will be the very best.
When we are tempted to relax, stop trying--just to coast--
The people who rebuke us are the ones who love us most.
A wise rebuke may hurt our feelings, or at least seem cruel,
But it's better than the soothing flattery of a fool...

 

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

The Biggest Gamble in History: Doing What Had Never Been Done

I have always thought that we tend to minimize the cosmic transaction whereby Christ became a man… I’m sure that  God knew what he was doing, but to my finite mind, it had to be the biggest gamble in history. Hindsight is always 20-20, but splitting apart the personhood of God had never been done in all the eons of history. Paul describes it like this “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5, NIV)

Was this a gamble for God? To me, it raises the question (have you ever truly considered this?): Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be God? Not just like Superman, or even somebody with magical powers, but to be totally loving, totally self-sufficient, to be able to transcend time and space, and to have all wisdom and knowledge and power? To have limitless aspects of character and creativity, to exist transcendent and triune, three expressions of function woven into one intricate and intimate personality?  Imagine being infinite, not just in moments of time but in capacity and power, in the ability to see all ends and understand all cosmic secrets? What would being the creator feel like, forming living things, breathing life into them, building not only the circle of life and the food chain but every intricate organ system, cellular structure, and neural transmitter that provides the basis for perceiving, sensing, and thinking? What if you were not just Louie Giglio, but the One who created Louie Giglio? What would it feel like to be absolutely unfettered by physical limits, to dwell throughout and around and above all created things? To be irrevocably, spiritually and intimately connected by eternal bonds to your Father, who nurtures like a newborn’s mother, who leads like a shepherd, protects like a warrior, whose very nature is intertwined as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a complex and thrilling relationship because He IS love, and with whom as the Son you have the Closest. Relationship. Ever.

Now imagine taking a gamble on giving all that up and accepting limitations, allowing yourself to be subject to weariness or pain, to deal with temptation, to have to walk places among people who ignorantly assume they are more important or powerful than you are… What would it be like to place yourself into your own creation as a tiny, vulnerable infant in a world full of ignorant, apathetic, cruel, selfish men? How would it feel to go from being King to being a servant?

(I sometimes wonder how God knew for sure he could reverse that process– was there even an infinitesimally small chance that Satan could win, or that the Son might perish, never to rejoin the Father? We have the benefit of hindsight, but wasn’t it really a cosmic gamble for the universe? In a Marvel comics bizarro world, couldn’t it have been even remotely somehow possible that the Son becoming man would have torn apart the fabric of the universe and unraveled the cosmos? In reality, Jesus bet everything he had and everything that existed on the Father’s ability to do what He promised.)

Paul says we should think about that contrast, and think like Jesus did. If you could stop for a minute and look out at this world with the knowledge, the connection, the intimacy and the love of your Creator, would you see it any differently? Would you see it as it was intended to be? And if you saw Jesus as the eternal King of Kings who set his advantages aside to dwell in his creation, to risk his life on our behalf, would it explain anything about how he taught, what he did, and why he was SO different? This is the real question, isn’t it? Was Jesus any different? Was he “God with us”, or was he just a guy? Was he a prophet who died early or the Lamb of God? Did he miss his fulfillment or fulfill his mission?  If he was Joe Average Prophet, then hold your chips, or place a bet on Buddha or Mohammed or Joseph Smith; but if he was God, I’m thinking it has to be all in.

Could the Lord have failed when he became a fragile child?
Was it guaranteed that he'd prevail?
Satan and his minions used their power, dark and wild
To cause redemption's plan to fold and fail.
Jesus came to earth not as a king but as a slave,
Committed to a plan that could not fall;
The cross required his life exchanged for those he came to save:
The chips were down, and Jesus bet it all.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Why Being a Priest Is not What You Think: From the Highest Priest to the Very Least

The priestly function is as old as the Bible, and we tend to think of a priest in sacramental terms (Mass), or as Father Joe or Tim… But it actually has nothing to do the Catholic church. The Biblical definition of priest is far more universal than any denominational function.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16, NIV)

Most cultures in ancient times had priests who represented gods or conducted religious rituals. Joseph married the daughter of Potiphera, who was a priest of On; Moses’ father-in-law Jethro was a priest of Midian.

The first mention of a priest in the Bible was in Genesis14. Lot and his family were carried off after a defeat of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah by an alliance led by Kedorlaomer. Abram took 318 warriors and went and rescued Lot from these marauding kings. Upon his return, it says “Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:18-20, NIV)

After perhaps the first story of redemption in the Bible (since Abram went into enemy territory and rescued his own, bringing them back from hostile captivity), we meet the first priest. He represents the God Most High, he blesses Abram, serves bread and wine, and gives God all the credit. Sound familiar? The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus “forever a high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:6), and most scholars feel that Melchizedek is a Theophany, or a pre-incarnation appearance by Christ. Jesus himself certainly pointed us back to this passage when he served bread and wine at the last supper, and he was certainly the King of Peace (Salem). Based on our recent trip to Israel, it’s obvious that Melchizedek is still recognized around Jerusalem:

It’s interesting stuff worthy of further study, but for now I’ll just point out a couple of things: 1) Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, and yet remained sinless.

2) Jesus is called our high priest, and He is actually the ONLY person ever qualified to serve in that office on his own merit. As a man without sin, truly consecrated, he could certainly represent God to all of us, and show us what serving God truly looks like.

3) As a priest without spot or blemish, he not only administered sacrifice but became the sacrifice on our behalf. So what does all this have to do with you? Think about what Peter wrote to all believers: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

If you are a follower of Jesus, YOU are a priest, and you are “God’s special possession.” So as a priest, start serving. Keep shining.

 

Abram saved his people, and the Lord gave him a sign:
He met the priest Melchizedek, who served him bread and wine.
Of all the jobs we tend to think we're qualified for the least,
Perhaps the one we most avoid is acting as a priest.
We know that Jesus as a priest was truly qualified,
And that his right to fill that role was surely bona fide;
But Peter says that we are priests. God gave us every right
To sing His praise since He called us from darkness into light.
So if you doubt your status, probably just like I doubt mine,
Do this: Accept God's calling to the light, and let yours shine.

 

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Complete Access: Can we REALLY come Boldly Before the Throne of God?

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV) To the Hebrew mind, access to God was impossible. Having the ability to come boldly before the Great, Awesome, and powerful YHWH was unthinkable. Moses was more intimate with God than any other man, and yet God told him in Exodus 32 that “no man may see me and live.” Moses only got to see God’s back as He passed by.

Dealing with God was life-and-death business, not something to be approached casually. Hebrews 10:31, perhaps mindful of the death of all Egyptian first-born sons, or the slaughter of over 200,000 Assyrians, says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.”. In Jewish worship, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and that only happened once a year. It was such a sacred place that they tied a cord around his ankle so that if he was stricken dead while performing his duties, they could drag him out without going in themselves.

When Jesus died on the cross, Mark says, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:38, NIV) In our current cultural world of accessible, casual worship, it is difficult for us to even imagine the gravity and the sanctity that the Jews had regarding God’s presence or being in the Holy Place. Worshipping the Lord, I think, meant something different to the men Jesus lived among than it does to us.

(Hmmm…Since worship was so sacred and awesome, I wonder if they felt the same way about confession and repentance? Perhaps we can be too casual about those today as well. Maybe our prayers of repentance are serious business.) In any case, the New Testament allows believers to interact with God in a totally new way. It says that we have intimate access to the Almighty. We no longer have to approach Him through a human intermediary.

If you want to know what that looks like, try noticing the way Jesus interacted with the Father. He spoke to Him often, privately and publicly; he prayed for long stretches of time. He seemed to be intimate and familiar with Him. Like Jesus showed us, we can go directly to our heavenly Father. Even though He is the most awesome, powerful force in the universe, we can approach Him anytime we want to seek grace and obtain mercy. When is the last time you really thought about God’s dreadful, fearsome power? And when was the last time you went boldly before His throne?

No member of the human race could dare to look upon His face,
Or walk into the Holy Place, Until our Advocate made his case,
Removed our sin and our disgrace — He took us into His embrace:
From the Highest Throne to the lowest place,
Each one of us can access grace.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Party?! Never Let it Be Said that Christians Don’t Know How to Party!

If you think the Bible doesn’t like a good party, then read this post all the way to the end: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:5-8, NIV)

Jesus told his disciples that they were connected to him like branches to a vine, and that they should remain in him, abiding in a constant connection in order to receive sustenance and bear fruit. I used to think that such an arrangement would result in a somber kind of life, just meditating on Jesus all day or doing devotionals and such. A party would be out of place. The first impression many have about Christianity is that if we going to hang out with Christ 24/7, we are pretty much doomed to head straight to the monastery.

And if we were honest we’d admit that Christians probably aren’t the group the world thinks of inviting first when they decide they want to party…

But consider these ACTUAL descriptions of Jesus: “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding party“. (John 2:1-2). “While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.” (Matthew 9:10). [Jesus said] “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” (Luke 7:34) Apparently Jesus and his crew were just the kind of guys people would WANT to roll up on their social gatherings (and I’m talking sinners here, not Sunday school teachers).

Sadly, that’s probably not what the prostitutes and sinners would say today about most Christians. I wonder what has changed… Jesus went to parties. He was criticized for it! HE HAD FUN. So. Should. We. Come on, ya’ll, being a Christian is AWESOME! Being connected to Jesus is a sustaining, spiritual nutrition-delivering pathway to life and growth. Jesus says that if we remain in him we will bear “much fruit”. Tell me—what could be better on a hot day in July than biting into a sweet, succulent peach or cutting open a ripe, delicious watermelon? Jesus goes on to say that our fruitfulness is something that glorifies the Father! Do you ever stop and think of yourself as an example of God’s GLORY?  According to Jesus, that’s what his disciples are. That’s what you are. If Jesus gave a party, then Robert Earl Keen would be RIGHT: the party would never end! So celebrate! Be glorious! Party!

 

Some folks think that Jesus is a bunch of do's and don't's,
A list of things you cannot do--mostly can't's and won't's…
They say they'd rather party than spend all their time in prayer,
And yeah they went to church but it was pretty boring there...
Well let me tell you this: my Jesus hung out with the sinners,
And losers who were his disciples turned out to be winners.
My Jesus (yes I know I said these words redundantly)
Said that he came so we could live our lives abundantly!
His followers went to parties, got invited to events,
They saw him spreading love and joy most everywhere he went.
So if you want to party, follow Jesus and his friends,
Where the road goes on forever and the party never ends.

 

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread