Considering it all joy…in doing what can be done: Discerning the Difference Between the Difficult vs the Impossible (Easter Thoughts ) A WorkPlace Devotional at Christus Highland on 4.13.17

It’s the Easter Season again. Easter is essentially about all things being made new. New Life, New hope. Joy being born of sorrow. A resurrection has occurred. We celebrate Easter with bunnies and baskets, with chocolate eggs and tasty treats. Family and friends adorn our memories and warm our thoughts as our hearts are stirred with recollection of Egg hunts and Reunions of our childhood from yesteryear. I treasure those times. I treasure the spiritual moments and awakenings too.

So here we are on the Eve of the Day we celebrate as “Good Friday”. We work the week long, so after a manner, every Friday is good in a relative sense… unless we are pulling the weekend call duty. But tomorrow is not a reference to relative good but to the ABSOLUTE GOOD of the very Son of God entering into that process of His Labor for His glory before the world was, as His hour had now come, and our good is at hand. (John 17)

His glory was submission to the Father’s wise and perfect, yet painful and costly will… “Let this cup pass… yet not My will be done, but Thine be done” was His prayer in Gethsemane. He did not complain, He did not disdain… the very purpose of His entry into this world as Emmanuel (God with us) was to please His Father and accomplish the task at hand. He came to willingly embrace whatever the Father set before Him, and that labor involved a cruel cross. Without the cross, there is no crown. To enter back into His glory, He learned obedience through the things which He suffered as a Son. Hebrews says, “it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross, despising the shame…” yet now, He has accomplished all and “has sat down at the right hand of the Father.” We were His joy. We were in His heart.

The joy set before Him was His desire to please His Father by the chosen path of Life via His death. He was Life, in Him was Light and no darkness. His life and light were the light of this world of darkness in which we live. The life He pursued was for each of us who receive His gift of Love and work of Redemption. He took our place and He tasted death for each one of us so we might enter into true life, joy and true love by His perfect obedience.

Jesus endured an impossible task assigned to each of us, so we might escape the consequence of our failure by our habitual breech of Moral Law and duty. We today might know joy and freedom because of His life, and His love of even us unto His death. Yet the grave could not hold Him, for “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph over His foes… He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign!” (He Arose) That’s us. We Live! We are recipients of great joy and life because of His labor of love and resurrection over the grave.

None of us have ever worked as hard nor endured such hostility of opposition as did the Lord Jesus. He stormed the very gates of Hell by His life and death. Yet, He never open His mouth in complaint or in rejection of the assigned task. Sure He cried, “My God, My God! Why has Thou forsaken me?” in that darkest, cruel hour of divine abandonment by His Father as He hung upon the tree. But my point is that in His endurance and perseverance, He never complained, murmured nor blamed another for His misfortunes. He is our example of excellence.

We are called to live a Christo-centric ethic of life with the Lord of glory as our example or illustration of how to live life and endure hardship. The Scripture is replete with other examples of enduring hardship and of those who ultimately find joy in the process of obedience to the assigned task. Moses was given an apparently impossible assignment to lead approximately 2 million Hebrews to freedom from slavery from the rule of the most powerful dynasty of the time: The Egyptian Pharaoh world. He felt very inadequate and understaffed as He approached Pharaoh with the demands that Pharaoh let His (God’s) people go, and His life became miserable before it became better and successful. Things went from bad to worse as the Hebrew slaves were charged with the task to make bricks without straw in consequence to Moses’ meddling. This was a near impossibility and yet God provided. He always provides. Perhaps we need patience and endurance to continue doing the right thing and minimize our complaints? We need to recall the principle “what’s impossible with man is possible with God.”

In John 11, Jesus stood before the sealed tomb of a dear friend, Lazarus of Bethany. Lazarus had died 5 days earlier and now Jesus had arrived, apparently late, to the sound of weeping and the flow of tears as the sisters Mary and Martha sought consolation for their loss of their brother. Jesus wept with them. He reminds the crowd that He was the Resurrection and the Life, and that all who believe in Him would be raised again to never die. He then commences upon a path that shocks the crowd as He requests those present to remove that stone that covers the tomb of Lazarus. Despite the outcry and the fear of a stench that will surely break up the funeral proceeds, the stone is removed as the participants do the bidding of the Lord of Life.

Those present do what they can do in this assigned task. This is a difficult but assigned task in the process of glory. The impossibility portion of the process is a God work; it is not ours. The local peoples and family cannot do what now must be done. Only God can do that. Jesus commands Lazarus to come forth, and he does so, bound hand and foot. He is loosed and let go. There is life-altering authority in that One who cried, “Lazarus, Come forth!”

We cannot do the impossible; that is the business of God. However, the difficult is often confused with the impossible. God is the one to handle the impossible tasks which confront us daily. The difficult tasks are in our realm and within our reach. Sometimes the stretch to reach the assigned task hurts as we weary of the process. Remember we shall reap in due time though, if we do not lose heart in well doing.

A perspective of encouragement that I seek to locate and live by every day as I come to work is from Colossians 3. It was a word given to those who had trusted God as Savior and Lord but now continued in a life of slavery in a culture that utilized slaves. Here is what Paul said:

Colossians 3:22-24

[22] Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. [23] Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, [24] knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

This is our calling today at Christus Highland. This is our assigned task. This is our glory and labor of love. We are to do what we can, even enduring hardship through circumstances, that maybe we wish we could change. But may we never lose the true vision that we are to seek to help others and please God in daily life and practice. (And we get a paycheck to boot!) We can’t do what must be done, but we must do what can be done. We each play a critical role in the assigned task of our duty to care for self, staff and our patients. We know ours can become a problem of repetition and familiarity though. We do the same things over and over without much variation nor relief. With repetition of assigned duty, we discover the drudgery of the mundane, and tend to develop attitudes of complaint rather than see the wonder in the ordinary experience of life itself. Glory is all about us. God opened the way for us to experience excellence in this thing called Life. God also grants capacity to consider any current circumstances of difficulty as the means to establish character and joy as we learn the secret of being content with where God has assigned us today.

Bricks can be made without straw. It is difficult but not impossible. God provides. We can’t raise the dead, but we can remove the stone so Lazarus might come forth upon His authoritative command. Remember whom you serve and how He first served and loved you. Ours is to discover what we can do and ought do as we trust God to intervene in the impossible.

Are you too good for God?

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”
Phil 3:7

To faithfully follow Paul’s example we need to incorporate a habit of prayer and a manner of life that includes salvation (deliverance) from our good works, as well as our need to be saved from our bad works… that is our transgression of or lack of conformity to the Law of God (sin).

The latter speaks of indifference to God as we pursue a created consumptive god unto our Self and our ravenous Desires. The former attempts to approach God by prideful, self-sufficient merit. (“I did it My Way!) “Well, I tried anyway!” Either is devastating and falls short of demonstrative, saving Biblical faith. One pedals from God and the other pedals to God. Infinity times Eternity separates our greatest and cumulative attempts on our very best days.

    God said, “I AM THAT I AM!” And He did not say, “You Are as You Are and that’s good enough for Me!” Remember: “The redemption of a soul is costly.”

    True saving and sanctifying FAITH flees to and finds merit in Christ, and in the work and Person of Christ alone.

    “I count all things as loss for sake of knowing Christ…” 

    We actually can be “too good” for God in our own mind as we present our selves to the Savior similar to the Rich Young Ruler… “Lord, what one thing might I do to ensure heaven…?” He wanted a stacked deck in his favor by his standard, and not God’s decree revealed in the Garden.

    The answer of Jesus is still relevant and inclusive of us today, “Why do you call Me good? There is none good but God alone.

    “It is not the healthy who need a physician, it is the sick who need a physician. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  The Friend of sinners.

    Come to Jesus. He is mighty to save.


    “The Sun is the Same in a Relative Way but You’re Older…” (Time by Pink Floyd)

    “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

    Time is a very small thing to Almighty God, yet not inconsequential nor is time a thing indifferent. God by His inscrutable wisdom incorporates time into His grand Eternal Purpose by the unfolding of His Eternal Decrees, which most people will unknowingly experience today, (and every day), by providence and by reflection upon History. When we see God introduce Himself to us in the Genesis Creation account, it is within the constraint time defined by evening and morning, limited to those first 7 days of the Creation Week. Subsequently, we know He walked with Man in the cool of the day until the Time of the Fall, and until sin entered the world. Death through sin interrupted Man’s Time of nearness, of intimacy with God. God our friend was acted upon by Man the insurrectionist, as He submitted Himself to the preservation of the holiness of justice in a moral universe gone awry. We know in retrospect that His Story of Redemption was actually enacted at this time of His seeking out Man in the Call of “Where are you?”

    All subsequently and surely changed. In mercy God acted, and the Way to the Tree of Life was barred until that time of Man being made fit by grace to eat of its fruit of eternal bliss, and thus live forever.

    Time Matters

    Finally, from our perspective; but perfectly from His
    “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son born of a woman…”
    “From that time Jesus began to preach…”

    “My hour has not yet come…”

    “My hour is at hand…”
    “My time is at hand. I am to keep the Passover…”

    “But of that day and hour no one knows… but the Father…”

    “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”
    Ecclesiastes 3:11
    “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
    Matthew 25:13
    “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
    Ephesians 5:15-16


    1. Rise up, O men of God!
      Have done with lesser things.
      Give heart and mind and soul and strength
      to serve the King of kings.
    2.  Rise up, O men of God!
      The kingdom tarries long.
      Bring in the day of brotherhood
      and end the night of wrong.
    3. Rise up, O men of God!
      The church for you doth wait,
      her strength unequal to her task;
      rise up, and make her great!
    4. Lift high the cross of Christ!
      Tread where his feet have trod.
      As brothers of the Son of Man,
      rise up, O men of God!



    The Rescue of Our Stupid World that Feeds Anger

    “The churning of milk produces butter…and pressing the nose brings forth blood;
    So the churning of anger produces strife.”
    Proverbs 30:33

    There is a Cause to that Particular Effect…

    This proverb is about the cessation of stupid. What did you think would happen if you kept prodding and poking at your nose? Haven’t you learned that if you pick at it long enough you will soon be rewarded with a blood bath? And here we also see by comparison the proverb states that if we feed the “anger monster” the battle moves to intensified strife. Is that helpful to any? I think not, except for the warmongers who thrive on inflicted misery.

    The point of the proverb is the logical progression and necessary outcome of a stated course of activity. Garbage in…Garbage out. But what of the exceptions?  Agitate milk and voilà! Look what happens! Milk is magically transformed to cream and butter. Cream is a precursor to “ice cream” and we all know that is one of those “very good” things God made.

    But alas, we live in an angry world. Even folks I know who ought be dancing for joy seem trained in the art of anger. Careful… it’s infectious. Abundant strife across our land is indicative of angry hearts within the breast. Men churn and agitate the flesh for ad infinitum reasons, most of no essential account, but they all produce magnified and multiple consequences.

    How can we restore order to this chaotic mess? Simply put: That solution has never changed, so there must be a rending from above. We perish if God departs… or if He allows ordinary cause-effect to reign apart from radical intervening grace. He must visit us from on high. Simplistic? Ponder the rending of the heavens again; would that ever be simplistic? I think not, but always glorious and purposeful where the Gospel is preached.

    Not all agitation is bad. One is a work of the flesh that stirs up enmity, and the other a grace and work of the Spirit that yields glory. There is hope for you, my friend. There is hope for me. There is hope for the nation. It becomes a question of who mans the churn and what we target as the end product of acceptable results. We desperately need the “Divine Agitator” to create some “butter”. If we continue to stir the cauldron, trouble will continue to brew up as surely as a pot of coffee is produced by my percolator every morning. (That’s Louisiana Community brand coffee, BTW.)

    My experience: We are hard-wired to produce enmity, strife and jealousy by default until grace comes and conquers us. There must be “Regime” change in our hearts. Jesus must come and gentle us with restraint and self-control…the fruits of righteousness. (Consider, and then count the number of toddlers you know who play together with one toy by peaceful resolution vs contention and selfishness. Then consider even believing adults and the challenges of friendship… ungodliness and self-promoting jealousy easily rule the day. #HardWired for strife… from the beginning.)

    By a gracious encounter with the One who comes to us, we are offered escape from the madness and self-destructive behavior as those who dwell in the Gerasenes. Not all those in Mark 5 were happy with the finished product. Not all will be rejoice today. There is always a pricetag. God values the individual, not the mass. Sheep crashing off a cliff hurts the bottom line in the temporal world, though we easily neglect that Eternity still rejoices over this same fact of the one clothed and in his right mind, until today. Just be aware: Many can temporarily profit from strife. Or war…

    The God of grace and mercy stirs the pot, and we are refined. As we churn the same container via our efforts of fleshly indulgences we produce a sour and useless concoction that potentially harms many. Grace teaches we are perfected through the wonder of adversity, as we yield ourselves to grace as trophies, as vessels of honor and glory, going from anger to resolution of peace and gratitude in Him. Isn’t this worship? Worship is about knowing and enjoying our great “ChurnMaster” who refines us as gold or silver cast from the smelter’s pot.

    From the beginning God has acted to bring light from darkness, order from chaos, He recreates something good from absolutely nothing to work with. He is Creator who does all things well and “very good.” He labors over us until Christ is formed in His people.

    Today, we will encounter many who live in bondage to an angry heart. (Have you taken off the blinders to see the infection of anger all about? It has many nuances and flavors, but where is the joy of a glad heart in the world today?) What a wonder that the Gospel entrusted to us is the Light of escape from normative, fallen behavior into a glorious experience as that of the rich cream that rises to the top as milk is agitated within the churn. We never know when the Spirit will show up to stir in grace to bring glorious joy in any present circumstance.  Historically, we know the harder cases often become the brightest and purist vessels. Glory floats to the top in rich fashion. When God agitates He constructs something eternal: ordinary water is remarkably turned to exquisite wine. He makes all things new. Do we live in expectation that God is, and that His purposes CANNOT fail?

    We have a saying in the OR about surgeons who keep picking at this or that, tinkering with an exposed area, needlessly prodding and poking at an vulnerable body part. If they pick long enough they are sure to stir up bleeding. So it is with picking and pressing the nose… leave it and anger alone with the expectation that God is the life and light Giver who alone can apply the perfect pressure to bring one to “Cease striving and know that He is God…”

    My point probably is, (who really knows), don’t be angry; it never achieves the righteousness of God. Yet, be angry and do not sin. Turn your anger into an agitated prayer for the King to rouse Himself and “make a thousand hearts His own.” (Cowper) There are lots of churns going on all about us at any one time. May we be light and life with the Word of Truth entrusted so that we might offer escape unto joy to fallen men we know and love. May our contribution to the fracas be grace and truth, and not another voice of agitation.

    Fear After the Fact of Forgiveness by the Sovereign Potentate

    “But there is forgiveness with Thee, That Thou mayest be feared.” (Psalm 130:4)

    Well, it works for me this way, anyway. You do as you will… or should I say, “as you can”?

    God must act in forgiveness before we can properly fear Him. Yep. It’s another one of those “but God…” scriptures similar to the Ephesians 2 Grace First Model. I mean, it’s His move isn’t it? It always has been. After all, He is a seeking, a pursuing God. On the Chess Board, God is always white. No slur there, He is light. (I digress. Back to the reservation! Oops! “Sorry,” said Pinocchio.)

    Are you confused in thinking the old hymn goes, “’Twas not that Thou didst choose me, for Lord that could not be! Thy heart would still refuse me, Hadst I not first chose Thee.” That’s the Arminian and erroneous version. #Rutrow

    Of course we know how is really goes…
    “’Twas not that I didst choose Thee,
    For Lord that could not be!
    My heart would still refuse Thee,
    Hadst Thou not first chose me!”

    If you think about it, otherwise it is the Job, (the man Job, and not employment we seek), experience of Divine revelation. “Lord, I heard about Thee with the hearing ear, but now mine eye sees Thee, and I retract and repent in dust and ashes.” #Worship. True worship contextualizes even body posture as a secondary nonverbal cue as to heart condition. 

    It is only a clear view of God that enables and insists upon a full view of His holiness so we decidedly and rightly fall and worship. Without fear. That’s the enigma. Without fear. And we serve Him in holiness. Without fear. And that is why Jesus came; access to the glory of worship without fear by fear being established. So it’s a fear of respect and awe; and we see and know glory!

    “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
    And grace my fears relieved…”

    True and saving religion is a paradoxical thing that God only can explain in the mystery of Christ the crucified.
    #Paradox #Mystery

    “He made Him who knew no sin, to become sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

    #HeckofaParadox and a #Glorious one at that!

    #HeOpensTheDoor because frankly and Biblically, we are, on our best day, dead and in a casket, and there simply ain’t no caskets I have ever seen with a doorknob on the inside. And there sure ain’t nobody escaping.

    Well, that was like a walk-about in the forest. I gotta go. My tractor is calling me to go break up some soil for that spring garden. And that appeals to me greatly.  

    Now a worthy song… it actually fits.

    Phew! What is that Putrid Smell?!?

    “…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit…” (Eph 4:22)


    If you dare revisit your old man in your former life, (BC Days), you will discover things are not improved, but more corrupt, yet strangely familiar in wooing the heart to wander. There are places prohibited to the flesh as the new man has a terribly frightening capacity to deviate. We never gravitate of natural accord toward light and truth, and the purity they bring; one might say that somewhere hidden within is always the supernatural or divine component. 

    Things never improve in the old man, nor in the old manner of life. Our hope is in the newness of life recreated in Christ Jesus alone. 

    Reformation of the old is not our need. Regeneration or a whole new beginning is! This requires a new construction upon a whole new foundation with new plans that do not include a renovation.

    It is not that we cease being who we were but that we become all the Father has called us to be.

    “And this is marvelous in His eyes…”

    Escape from a Welfare State: Stop the Theft!

    “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.” Ephesians 4:28

    Our failed application of, and subsequent violation of the 8th Commandment to “not steal” is rampantly resident in our current system. As a nation we reward non-work with the alternative of welfare and entitlements to those whose hands are fit for production. This has produced generations of thieves irrespective of race or color. Our neglect of the principle “If a man will not work, neither let him eat,” is devastating to that man and this nation.

    As a young man in my oilfield days I was a driller who ran a crew of men. The role to hire and fire as required was a necessary hat to wear. I eventually understood from my practical people experience a difference in work ethics. The man who was committed to wife and children consistently performed his work well; his motivation implicit to his commitments. The ne’re-do-wells were the rolling stones without roots. Welfare clients never bothered to apply except to request a signature on their form that stated no jobs were available. (This was so they might continue their unemployment benefits.) Today, we reap the consequences of stupid and willful violation of natural law that instructs us to care for one’s own, and then there is the specific revelation from God of commanded duty to work to not steal and to share with legitimate, needy neighbors. Work is an honor and privilege. Work is worship. Work is a Creation Ordinance. 

    #LikeBegetsLike and we always get more of what we subsidize, whether intended or not. Weeds grow in abundance in my garden without provocation, and only by my neglect. To remove them requires the sweat of the brow. It’s the curse, you know? Christ alone cures the curse by killing it and its effect in us, “far as the curse is found…” (Wesley)

    Spiritual truths and principles are valid in every arena. Sowing and reaping pursues us both privately and publicly; from the bedroom to the boardroom…from the sanctuary to the public square. Truth is truth, and it is never a small thing to neglect what God has said. Devastation occurs by indifference and neglect. However, repentance is a gift that God offers, (we are under orders of commanded duty to…Repent!), and the specific application of the fear of the Lord for any called people to witness “the Lord building a new house, so our labors might not be in vain.

    The King is coming and His requirement of each of us is an accounting of His entrusted stewardship. Our debt is coming due. We have taught many to bury their entrusted treasure and live off the fat of the working class who desire to simply do what God has stated.