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“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father……….”  Matthew 6:9

“For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed I came forth from God…” John 17:27

There was a common theme I can remember growing up.  It may be that it was just fiction or it may be that there was an actual stigma attached to being adopted.  The sense that being adopted would be something that you would want to hide from the child.  I’m not sure if it was based on not wanting the child to believe that they were at some time unwanted.  Or perhaps it was the idea that sense there was not a blood relation, that somehow the parent and child relationship was somehow less.  If that stigma actually existed, it does not appear to be as pronounced in today’s culture at least within the United States.  Yet still there seems to linger, at least in the world at large,  a sense of different/lessor relationship for an adopted child.

The  bible is very clear about one thing.  There is only one Messiah.  In prophesying the Messiah in the Old Testament, it is pointed out that the Child of the virgin, will be the only, true Son of God.  Herod believed that for when the wise men arrived and asked him about the birth of the Christ, the Once and for All King of the Jews.  Herod killed Bethlehem’s young male population in hopes of destroying one Child.

Jesus is teaching His disciples, plus His followers during His time and finally, the rest of us, for all time,  through His lessons.  We know that Jesus chooses His words very carefully being very precise in the message that He proclaims.  After all, as Jesus Himself testifies, it is not His message but the Message He heard straight from God Almighty, His Father that He is teaching.  When He teaches about fasting and giving alms. Jesus mentions the reward for proper behavior comes from “your Father”.  When Jesus teaches about proper prayer, He starts the prayer with “Our Father…”.  Now Jesus could have substituted terms of God, the Great I Am, Yahweh, Your Creator, but He didn’t.  It seems clear that Jesus wanted to communicate a very specific concept.  Jesus wanted to and did communicate a relationship, a very special relationship of Father to child.  But if Jesus was the One and Only begotten Son of God; the only way that God could be our Father is if He adopted us.

When and how did we come into a need of a new father?  Jesus explains this when He explains being born again.  Through the loving of and acknowledging Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we are born anew into a new relationship.  A relationship that finds us changed from children of this world to children with a New Parent; God Our Father Almighty.

Wait a second, the world responds.  Adoption requires a contract, a covenant if you will.  Earthly adoptions also require some sort of payment by the parents.  Another aspect of worldly adoptions involves the parents sometimes researching the backgrounds of the potential adoptees to see if they are going to be worthy to be brought into the family.

Our Heavenly Father says there is a covenant to our adoption.  The covenant of believing that He has one Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth from heaven.  Second, a payment for us to be adopted?  Well that ties into the third part about our being worthy of adoption.  Here’s the thing, we should have been turned down.  We utterly have failed our background check.  Sin should have been the eternal objection and obstacle to our adoption.  The Parent is worthy.  The child is not.  We, the children in need of adoption, do not have the wherewithal to make ourselves worthy of being adopted into God’s Family.

The Parent could have walked away.  God, the Father, could have searched for more worthy children.  He did neither.  Our Father wants to be Our Father so badly, that He devised a plan to pay the price.  Jesus Christ, wanted us to be a part of His Family so bad, that He went along with His Father’s plan and paid the price, our price so that we could be adopted.  Jesus Christ died in our place.  In taking our place, we can be allowed to be with Him in His place with God Almighty being Our Heavenly Father.

So, you or I may be feeling abandoned today.  Even with earthly parents trying as hard as they can, we may be feeling lost.  The world is telling us to give up on trying to have a relationship with the Father; we are not of His blood.  You feel not wanted.  Bottom line; God can make it no clearer.  He wants you and I.  He has done everything to bring you into the Family.  Understand, there is no need on His part (there is the greatest need on our part).  He doesn’t need us to be part of His Family.  It is all about His Loving Desire.  In an unfathomable act of Love, the only reason Jesus Christ needed to die is to allow for our adoption.  There can be no stigma attached.  Our Father has seen to that.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we freely admit that we can not fully conceive of Your Love, so gracious as to want us just as we come, to be Your Children.  Our Praise is to You for the plan as well as Your Son Jesus Christ for His sacrifice that makes our adoption possible.  Forgive us Most Merciful Father that, because we don’t understand, we don’t fully appreciate the extraordinary lengths Your Love has gone to for us.  We testify of our need for Your Spirit to help us with a sincere desire to live as truly Your Children would live.  To the praise of Your Most Holy Name and in the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

” Everywhere and in all things I have learned to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:12-13

“Consider the lilies of the field…….”  Matthew 6:28

A quick note about what this post is not.  Based on the title if some are thinking this is to be a discussion or argument about which economic system God prefers, then I suggest you keep on searching somewhere else.  I have found nothing in scripture definitively pointing to one system over another.  I believe God can use any and all systems to bring about His plan.

Yet lately there has been a significant amount of discussion about the pros and cons of different systems in helping the people to which the system applies.  So here is the thing, trickle down, capitalism, socialism, communism, equitable distribution of wealth are all man designed processes concerned with material welfare of people.

While these systems are of human origin the basic question still arises, whose material is it originally as well as where does it come from?  It would seem to me that scripture tells us that what we should be acknowledging and then therefore working with, regardless of the system we live with, is the Flow Down system.  That is, what we have, all we have, all we need comes from our Heavenly Father.

Okay, I hear the arguments starting.  Sure, comes from God, I get that.  But, if I don’t have what I think I should, it is because all those rich folks are hoarding what God wants me to have right?  Hold on just a minute.  God warns against those who are sluggards and won’t work expecting others just to give them things.  That is what the poor mainly are right; wanting what I have worked so hard for?  All rich are cursed; right?  All poor are good?  But wait if the poor stop being poor; will they become cursed?  Jesus Christ and Paul (in His Name) seem to give us some insights.

Paul tells us that he has experienced the ends of the spectrum.  He has known abundance and hasn’t felt cursed because of it.  He has known need without being bitter at God or his fellow person.  He has been full and he has been hungry.  How is he able to handle all these different experiences; through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ always uses words with precision.  If He wanted us to just look at the lilies, He would have said so.  However, Jesus asked us to “consider” the lilies; which is a deeper process.  The lily doesn’t, in fact can’t decide to look a specific way.  It doesn’t select the best seeds, decide to be planted in only the good soils, meticulously plan out how much rain it will get or hours of sunshine it will expose itself to.  No, all those things happen because of God and yet it’s beauty is unsurpassed.

So what’s the point of all of this.  Flow Down seems to me to be summed up in Jesus’ statement:  “How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask.  Yes!  Woo Hoo!  That means I should ask away; money, power, promotion fame, ….you said it, if I ask God will give. Hmmmm:  How would Jesus define good?  When asked by Jesus, the wealth of the rich man kept him from following Jesus.  The man who kept getting blessed harvests from God; who kept tearing down his barns just to build bigger ones, to acquire and save more and more, in the end was called a fool.

So who knows what the good things are?  God does.  Keeping me from temptation, keeping me from evil, giving to me today what I need (daily bread), forgiving me; these are all good.  Let’s break this down to some practical terms and examples.  I am a writer who has had one book published and completed a second book.  I am asking God (please please don’t think that this is some underhanded, sly scheme of asking anything from readers of this) for some resources that it will take to get the second book published.  Today it didn’t come.  Am I to say that I was wrong to ask?  Am I to assume that God hates my book?  What I’ve received today is an abundant choice of food when I have been hungry.  We are about to have our coldest day in our history and I am warm.  In short, I received today exactly what I needed.  I did not need those resources today.  God will decide when I do.

God may decide one day that I need to receive a significant amount of resources due to sale of my books.  What should be reaction be then?  I believe it will be to understand; there is a need, it may be mine it may be of someone around me for me to use those resources for.  I’m not to bury that money in the ground as the unwise servant did.  I’m not to tear down what I have just to buy bigger things and bigger things as the foolish farmer did.  If I’m blessed with success in my business; who has been out of work for a long time that I can hire?  If my books take a downturn or, as I am right now, without steady work due to the economic downturn and I don’t have the same measurable material wealth; I obviously don’t need it.  God will provide.  He will Flow Down to me what I need.

Brothers and sisters know that while I can see the reality of God’s Grace and long to live in perfect contentment without fear; alas, I have not achieved it.  So that is why the words of Paul are so comforting.  For I know that it can be done.  And to be done, if it is to be done, it must be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father; we struggle mightily with questions about what is the best man made system, how to correctly measure prosperity whose to blame for achieving or lack thereof.  Forgive us Merciful Father when we turn from what You have so clearly showed us.  Pour Out Your Spirit upon us Dear Father that we might come before You with a grateful heart.  Flow Down Your most perfect blessings upon us which are always more than sufficient yet also keeping us from too much.  Put Love and Generosity in our hearts so that we would always strive to share Your bountiful gifts with others in need.  That in our sharing and thanksgiving we would be living lives of joyful praise to You.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.”  John 8:3

“This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.” John 8:6

Ahh, the loaded question.  I ask you a question; maybe even in a very sincere, answer seeking tone.  Yet secretly, I know what the answer should be and I hoping you give the wrong answer.  Or perhaps you give what I think is the correct answer and that will let me use that answer against you based on something you have previously said.  Either way I’ve got you and you have no escape.  My wisdom will defeat your arrogant ignorance in daring to think, believe and/or speak anything differently than I profess.

What a great plan.  The scribes and the Pharisees had Jesus just where they wanted him and if it cost a woman her life?  She’s a rotten sinner anyway, so much the better.  For Jesus had been claiming to be the Son of God.  The very same God who gave Moses His law.  The very same law that said that those committing adultery must be stoned.  I step aside a moment to point out another aspect of the cunning evil to which these people would stoop to.  For in Leviticus 20:10, it advises that both the man and the woman who commit adultery are to be put to death.  The scribes and Pharisees will tell Jesus that this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.  There can be no doubt concerning her guilt.  So where is the man she was caught with?  Why was he not also brought forward to pay the price as laid out in the Law of Moses?  But, back to the Pharisees plan.  You see Jesus was the type to associate with, even eat with these sinner types.  He claimed, in healing them, that He was forgiving their sins.  Blasphemy!  And some people, more and more people were actually starting to believe Him.  Jesus must be stopped.  Yet the people also believed, or at least said they believed in the Law of Moses and would not tolerate someone who openly taught to disregard the law.  They truly didn’t expect that Jesus would go along with stoning the woman but even if He did, they could point out to the crowd:  “Look he is no different than we are!  He thinks like us!  We do not claim to be the Son of God and you can see that he is no Son of God either!”  Yup Jesus was sunk.

They prodded him, in today’s vernacular some would say they bullied Him for an answer.  “Come Jesus, what do you say?”  they demanded.  Jesus just knelt writing in the sand.  Then Jesus answered.  A soft answer, not shouted but quietly spoken.  An answer that crushed their plan.  For the scribes and the Pharisees had not heard the entire saying that “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.  There they stood, motionless, mouths a gape, hands with stones in them hanging limply to their sides.  “What did He say?” they pondered.  For in one brief statement, Jesus had upheld the perfect Law of His Father in Heaven and slammed shut the imperfect human judgement used to carry it out.  Each person’s conscious spoke to him:  “If I throw my stone, others will condemn me because they know that I have sinned.”  Slowly, glumly, stones fall out of unfurled fingers and drop harmlessly to the ground.  The Pharisees and scribes turn slowly away, grumbling to themselves:  “It was a good plan, it should have worked, it should have worked.”

Boy I am glad I am not like them!  Really?  Can I be so smug?  Have I never asked God:  “Don’t You love me God?  The bible says that You love me.  And if You loved me why won’t You do this thing or that thing for me?”  Am I not trying to back God into a corner with that question?  Am I not trying to say that I know more than Him?  We can come to God and in fact He wants us to come to Him with our prayers, including our requests.  Yet those requests should be made in humility, the humility of Christ Jesus.  Who faithfully asked His Father if there was some way that the cup of suffering might be taken from Him, but also righteously added: “not My will but Thine be done.”  What is our intent?  We can’t trick God into doing what we want regardless of His plan.

Here’s the thing though.  If we are not like the Pharisees and scribes and turn and walk away.    If our intent has been wrong and we’ve found that we’ve sinned.  If we truly repent, believing in the true Sonship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Then we will hear this amazingly blessed reply.  The reply that is the outcome of God’s Perfect Plan, truly The Best Plan.  Jesus will say:  “Neither will I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we humbly admit that we far too often think ourselves wise in our own ways.  We believe that we are equal to Your Wisdom and our plans are as good, if not better than Yours.  Thank you most Merciful Father that you do not strike us down with the judgement that we deserve.  We praise You Glorious Father, that You sent Your Son Jesus Christ, to be our salvation.  That when we turn from You, Jesus Christ is our path back.  As we make our petitions, help us to call upon and rely on Your Perfect Will for us.  Pour out Your Spirit on us, Dear Father, that our longing would become to have Your Will be our will.  That our intentions may always be pure and our lives a testimony praising Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

“Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them ‘What do you seek?'”  John 1:38

Why have I been put on this earth?  Who am I?  What will I have for breakfast?  Fundamental questions (well maybe not that last one).  Questions of life and purpose.  These are questions that we often find ourselves pondering as we come to milestones in our lives or when sleep escapes us in the dark of the night and we find ourselves pondering the depth and breadth of life.  Sometimes the answers we come up with fade with the rising of the new day sun.  Sometimes those answers end up defining who we are and what we do.

Jesus knew how to ask questions.  He knew how to cut through all the smokescreens and confusions to get right to the most important heart of the matter.  In the quote above, this is not Jesus engaging in self reflection (for Jesus Christ always knew what He was seeking).  It was not an individual or group sitting down and trying to define themselves.  Jesus saw two people following Him.  He knew who they were; that they would become His disciples.  They, however, did not know that.  All these two men(the notes in the bible explain that, although not specifically named, they are most probably John and Andrew) knew was that, the one they had been following, John the Baptist, proclaimed about this new man “Behold the Lamb of God!” (john 1:36).  Having heard John the Baptist proclaim that, they followed Jesus.

Here is where, to me, Jesus shows His amazing understanding of humans and the way we think.  For Jesus could have asked, and I might have had I been in his place, “Who are you seeking?”  After all, seemingly, it was a person that they were following.  But Jesus understood that it was not a person they were seeking, but what that person would be able to do which really caused them to leave John and follow him.  If He was the true Lamb of God, the Messiah, what would he then do?  Would he wipe out the cursed Romans with a wave of his hand?  Would He strike down sinners with merciless judgement?  Would lightning bolts and claps of thunder constantly emanate from His being?  What would He do?

And again, here is a wonder of Creator, created interaction and relationship building.  For Jesus, right then and there, could have declared his position as Son of God, wrought some terribly powerful miracle that would leave no doubt and demand their allegiance through power.  Yet, He does none of those things; instead, He asks them a simple but fundamentally powerful question:  “What do you seek?”

At this very early stage, the two disciples don’t understand the depth of the question so their answer is very simple:  “Rabbi, where are You staying?”  Over time they would come to deeply understand that in seeking and finding the Messiah, what they may have initially thought, and what the world thought, a Messiah should be was radically different, and totally in error, as to what Jesus Christ, the True Messiah was.  They also came to understand, how infinitely more powerful, more omniscient, more loving, more perfect, was jesus Christ, than any earthly vision of what a Messiah should be.

Jesus knows how to ask questions.  He looks and sees us following.  We have heard proclaimed by parents or friends, preachers or teachers, in books and on television, Jesus is the Christ.  And Jesus turns to us and asks:  “What are you seeking?”  Perhaps a genie who can fulfill all your wishes?  Maybe a body-guard who will keep you from any danger?  Maybe a great doctor who will keep you physically well?  Maybe a wonderful therapist that will make you constantly happy.  The question He asks is not a simple one.  It causes us to look deep into our very core.  In Jesus Christ, what are we seeking?  Who do we see Him to be and what should a proper relationship with Him be like.

Unfortunately, when He turns and asks that question, some will turn and run away, afraid to even be in conversation with Him.  Some will arrogantly believe they know exactly what, when, where, who with and why Jesus should do for them and make those demands.  Yet some, will drop to their knees and cry out that they need a Loving Savior.  They (we, I) need a Loving Saviour who will take us just as broken as we are, lovingly heal us, and guide us in His ways, that we can not understand.  We are seeking the Perfection of Him and through Him to come into the presence of Our Most High Heavenly Father.  For those of us on our knees, may we find the strength to raise our bowed heads, look into his eyes and witness the Perfect Love and Mercy as He smiles and replies to us with outstretched arms:  “Come and see.”

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we are so very thankful that You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ to live among us and be Our Savior.  Thank You Dear Merciful Father, that He takes the time to reveal HImself to us through the questions that He asks.  Thank You Most Forgiving Father, that He beckons us, just as we are, to come and see Him and through Him that we can see You.  Through that invitation, Most Perfect Father, change us into His likeness of love and wisdom, that we might come to live a life that praises Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“…Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders….”  Mark 14:43

Now when He said:  I am He, they drew back and fell to the ground”  John 18:5

I was in the military, the Air Force, for a while and part of my job was to understand and plan for battles.  To think about things such as concentration of force, and overwhelming of resistance by focused superiority of weapons and numbers.  And while I feel that I served for a noble and just cause, it is still unnerving, that amount of energy, thought and planning that can go into the destruction of our fellow man.  So from a human sense, the above referenced arrest of Jesus, makes no sense.

Judas and the group that was with him, held every advantage.  First, they were a numerically superior force.  For Jesus had only eleven men with him compared to the multitude that came with Judas.  Secondly, Judas’ group had superior weapons.  They had swords and clubs.  In the gospel of Luke, we are told that Jesus’ group had just two swords.  Judas group was better trained.  In the gospel of John, we are told that at least a part of the multitude was a detachment of troops.  The gospels do not tell us the professions of all the disciples but we know five of them are fishermen.  A fisherman of that day might have built some considerable strength but that would not equate to training with a sword.  Finally, they had authority on their side.  This was not some mob of the street.  This multitude was gathered at the request of and were carrying out the orders of the chief priests, scribes and elders.  Only the Romans had a greater earthly authority.  Jesus claimed no earthly authority or kingship.

So the arrest should have been an amazingly simple process.  Judas identifies and then the overwhelming superior strength of Judas’ support easily captures and removes Jesus.  It even starts out that way.  Judas indeed comes up and identifies, betrays Jesus by giving Him a kiss.  Now the troops should have stepped in and done their duty.  This is when things go wrong.  For some seemingly unexplainable reason, they freeze.  Jesus has to prompt their action by asking:  “Whom are you seeking?”  They answer “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Now it should be that they already know this because Judas has already pointed Him out.  Yet for some reason they need to hear it from Jesus himself.  “I am He.”  Jesus answers.  And here is where the most incredible thing happens.  When Jesus says this, it is not as if all the sudden His disciples rush the multitude.  It is not as if suddenly the sky is split by the sound of earth shattering thunder, followed by legions of angels coming to His defense.  However, at those three simple words:  “I am He”  the multitude are gripped by fear, fall back and fall to the ground.  Seemingly, it is only when Jesus gives them permission to take Him by telling them:  “this is your hour…..but the scriptures must be fulfilled……therefore if you seek me, let these go their way…., that the multitude gains the courage to take Jesus.

The world may not understand it but you and I do.  Though they did not acknowledge it, consciously even believe it, each of those members of the multitude, spiritually knew they were in the presence of the Son of God.  The power in His declaration that I am He went far beyond just the momentary announcement that He was the one they had come for.  I am He is the declaration that He is the I AM.  He is the one Son of God and as such God.  No wonder they fell back.  To be in the presence of that kind of power would scare anyone, even though they don’t understand it or even believe in it.  No wonder they could not move until he spoke to them in such a way as to say:  do what you must do.

So what are we to carry from that interaction to today?  Earthly power is distributed in many different forms.  Sometimes we measure power by the sheer muscular size of the person or people,  Sometimes we measure power by the title that a person has:  CEO, President, General, Manager, Husband, Wife, Father or Mother.  Sometimes we say those with letters behind their names are powerful:  MD, PhD, MS, EIEIO (couldn’t resist the last one).  And there are so many other ways we grant or measure power:  age, country, race, gender, volume of voice, tendency for anger, weapons possessed, just to name a few.  Sometimes, if we are the ones with any of the above listed characteristics, we try to wield our earthly power as if we are the ones who are in or should be in control.  However, sometimes the opposite is true.  We find ourselves cowering in fear of someone whom we believe to have earthly power over us and give in to their demands.

Jesus needed no earthly trappings of power.  Jesus knew He was and is the very definition of power.  Jesus could have used His power to uterly destroy that mob and any other who would come against Him.  How did He decide to use His power?  Jesus Christ decided to use His power to carry out the loving plan of His Father.  Jesus Christ used His power to lay down His life for us and become the Powerfully Perfect Sacrifice for all of us who were powerless to do so.  In His Power He rose again, defeating all evil powers for ever.  That is a power that is so beyond my comprehension that it is awesomely frightening to behold.  Yet because that Power is rooted in love, it is a power that I so want to be able to tap into, knowing that His power will far exceed any other power out there.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we humbly confess that there is no power that we have which can compare to Your Power.  We praise You, most Merciful Father, that You wield Your Power in Perfect Love, Mercy and Justice.  We thank You, Holy Father, for the Power in the Resurrection, that cleanses us of our sins.  And we pray that we would be drawn to Your Perfect Power, living a life of true worship, honoring Your Most Holy Name.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen


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