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Treasures of Earth Don’t Compare to God’s Treasures

Treasures of Earth Don’t Compare to God’s Treasures

Last week I vacationed at the beach in South Carolina. Looking down from an eighth floor condo at the ocean, I noticed a guy with a metal detector on the shore looking for buried treasures. He stepped slowly, methodically swinging his contraption back and forth in front of him, his head cast downward, eyes fixed on the ground in front of him. Something inside me felt sorry for him. I wondered how much time and hope he put into his pursuit of beachcombing. All around him was a breathtaking, majestic scene–one I had driven hours in order to see and experience.

Gazing out at the horizon made my soul soar. The sun rose in the morning sky of scattered clouds, casting a heavenly golden hue on everything; the sound of the steady waves pounded the shore, the gentle beeze added to the beauty of the hour. The beach was rather solitary because it was not a warm day, not yet the tourist season.

God quickened my heart to see a parable because the beachcomber was in my view and experience at the moment. So often, we walk around without noticing the beauty and living art God is painting and orchestrating all around us. We are too busy with our eyes cast down. We put our hope on finding treasures of Earth. We miss so much when we are like this, oblivious to the wonders around us. Really, all we need to do is look up. Look around. Notice the miracles of creation and life God is orchestrating for us, for our hearts, minds, and souls. He is saying, “I am here.”

I don’t want to live like the beachcomber. I want to look up, be attentive and see and experience what God is communicating to me through my surroundings and find my treasure in things from above.

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Live in the Light of Jesus–Lift up your Lamps of Oil

Live in the Light of Jesus–Lift up your Lamps of Oil

God made us in his image and we can rise up with the Light of Heaven and be creative, intentional, and passionate in all we do. Remember what Jesus said about the Ten Virgins? “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Jesus wants us to be close. “I am with you always,” he promised. Scripture says to “Pray without ceasing” and it doesn’t mean to talk to God continually. It simply means to be aware and present to God—that is prayer. Oh, my, if only we would pay better attention to what God is doing all around us, for us, in us, through us—we just need to notice and be present to him.

God’s bursting heart of love longs for us to live in his Light today, not deceived, discouraged, disinterested, diverted, or distant. These are the devil’s Ds he directs to descend down doing damage to the dearests of God.

When we look around, we see evil running rampant in the world. Fear grips the hearts of people and nations. But not so with the Bride of Jesus.

Look what is happening in God’s Kingdom. We are not part of the world though we are in it. We are the Last Days lovers of God. We are the Bride of the King of Kings, and we long for his return. Our love songs call to him to come and not tarry. Our books stir us on for more and more of his presence, goodness, and beauty. Our prayers are filled with the poetry of longing, calling our Beloved to make haste. And, Jesus the Messiah will come. It is nearly midnight. Are we ready? What is the oil we carry in our lamps? Our own oil? We can’t borrow from anyone else because God gives us our own measure of oil from the Holy Spirit. How much oil depends on your relationship with the Lord. Are you filled to overflowing? Are you lit with the fire of God? Jesus said only the Father knows when he will return for his bride. Is Jesus seeing half of the Church ready? Are you IN LOVE WITH JESUS? Are you singing love songs? The bride of Jesus is standing on tip-toes looking up. You know who you are. Your oil is burning bright.

Even better, Jesus knows you.

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The Genius of Jesus

The Genius of Jesus

What is this?

I saw this bit of a plant in the grass while walking my dog yesterday.  Whatever it is, it captured my attention. I brought it home and took this close-up picture of it with my cell phone. Look at the beauty and engineering, the artwork, that went into the design of it. It goes without saying—the Creator is full of wonders and all we need to do is “see” them.

If you click on the image a couple times you can see an enlargement of it. Wow!

Do you know what this is? A flower, weed, from a tree? It blew in from someplace and I’ve never seen anything like it. Please send me an email if you know because I am curious: mmontreuil@ymail.com

 

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The Art of Loving God

I’ve considered writing a book by this blog’s title: The Art of Loving God. It sounds rather mystical and religious. I don’t think I’ve grown too worldly, however I know I’m more down to earth than I’ve ever been. Maybe it’s our culture. We western Christians, especially in America, are practical, dress comfortable, and speak directly and plainly.

We keep pace with our changing world  while keeping close to God. He’s made me tech-savvy. I lost my cell phone last night and realized how dependent I am on it. One can feel lost without it–without the ability to connect with others. There most certainly is a parable here.

We change with the times and seasons as God relates to us differently as we to Him. I’m in my sixties, so I’ve experienced a lot.  I’ve passed through many seasons with the Lord, and Holy Spirit movements that not only affected me, but the Church. The Kingdom of God is here and still coming.

Evangelism was the main focus going on worldwide during much of my childhood years. Christian missions translated languages into written form and spread the Gospel I believe to every nation during my life. As a child, I grew up in a traditional church and adopted what my family had for generations been born into. When Jesus showed Himself to me personally at age 30, that’s when my heart became new and alive in God. These were the days when Jesus swept through our families, churches, and communities. The Jesus Movement.

The printing and production of Bibles and translations exploded to peoples and tongues. God was reawakening the church in my young adult years, and all kinds of denominations and traditions of Christian faith caught the fire. Yes, surprise! The Holy Spirit began baptizing people anew. Speaking in tongues and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the manifestation of spiritual gifts, became a sweeping movement across all denominations. I was in it. I think it rather unified us but not without some controversy. For me, it was about 36 years ago–right at the height of what God was doing to many.

Soon after, I discovered the Lord’s love for His people, the Jews, and I dove head first into the Messianic “movement” that included trips to Israel, Davidic/Israeli worship dancing, and I learned much about the early church and the roots of our Christian faith. This was a worldwide movement of the Holy Spirit and Messianic congregations popped up in most major cities wherever Christians gathered, not to mention many in Israel. This was strategic in God’s eyes because now the church was coming full circle–at last!

That was not all–God had more for me and the Church. There began a rebirth of mystical love. This is best described as His revelation of a deeper relationship with Him and involved the prayer of love, devotion, contemplative meditation, and a rather mysterious, wonderful bridal love for Jesus, the Great Bridegroom. Many of us came to know Him as the Lover of our souls and of the Church–and it was, and still is, blissful and beautiful.

These days now, what is God doing? Well, I think He is giving us time to grow in faith, to realize we’re part of a larger Story, to be wise in Him, steady in patience, ready for the second coming of Jesus. I mean, the world is spinning out of control. Mega churches are coming to life globally. I’m in one and it is all God! See www.elevationchurch.org. God is using our talents and our passion for Him more fully than I’ve ever witnessed. Also, persecution and martyrdom is rising. The dark grows darker while the light grows brighter. We need to seek first God’s kingdom now more than ever.

Communication technology is reaching the far ends of the earth with the Word of God. Surely we are living in the end-time harvest and the days of the preparation of the Bride.

Jesus told us to be aware of the signs of the times. So, when I look what He’s done in my lifetime, including the birth and gathering of the Jews to Israel, and the ways He’s revealing Himself to us, well, we must be nearing the last days and his return. We are at last becoming a Bride in love with Jesus, knowing all God has done to win our hearts.

God is the Artist of our lives, the Author of our days. But it is also a collaboration; we need to respond to Him. I guess if I could describe the Art of Loving God it would be to pay attention and let God love us the way he chooses and return love for love.

As A.W. Tozer beautifully put it: “God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires, and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thoughts between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.”

God reaches out to us individually, strategically, globally, spiritually, supernaturally, naturally, and continuously. We are the object of His desire and purposes. Let’s be aware and respond. That’s the Art of Loving God.

 

***

I’m finally on Chapter 31 in the writing of Come and See.  I’ve reached the last days of Jesus’ earthly life. I’ve posted the current manuscript on a page here if you wish to read it. I’d love any feedback.

 

 

 

 

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What Delights God the Most?

I am writing COME AND SEE and decided this last chapter might make a good blog. My last blog is like this one; I am still thinking about how much David and Peter’s heart affected God. This chapter, while following the chronology of events in the Bible, mirrors the same theme.

Hope you enjoy. If you feel like commenting, please do . . . Others might enjoy what the Lord shows you through the many thoughts that might come through the retelling of this amazing relationship Peter and Jesus shared.

(By the way, the background of this website is the Sea of Galilee at the place where this story is strongly believed to have taken place. I stood on the highest rise of the shore when taking this picture, and behind me is a flat plain near Capernaum, at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus fed the multitude and, later that night, likely walked on water from here.)

***

 

Chapter 16

“Do as You Have Seen Me Do.”

 

When Jesus had called the Twelve together,

he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons

and to cure diseases, and he sent them out

to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Luke 9:1-5

 

Simon Peter

 

Once I walked on water. Everybody talks about my faith, and doubt, regarding it—and the songs, poems, and who but the Lord knows the amount of art it inspired since then? It’s been preached, sung, and painted countless times. Of course, the part of my near-death by drowning is well-established.

Most agree, it took bold faith on my part to step out of the boat onto tossing waves, never mind the doubting and sinking part for now.

When I recall the experience, I see something quite the opposite. I see only one thing: Jesus’ reactions to me.

Imagine, Jesus believed in me—that I could do the same supernatural thing he was doing. It took more trust on his part to receive me onto those dangerous waves than it did for me to trust him. He knew I could do it.

That, I tell you, amazes me. You see, my faith in him so often failed me. My downfalls are historical facts of renown. I sank after a few steps only because I stopped believing I could do it. I worried the waves would be too much; I thought he would need to save me or I’d drown. And, that part was true; he did end up having to save me.

When I first saw him coming to us on the waves, I was thrilled. I called out to him, asking him to let me come to him. Seeing him, I felt invincible. He called back, “Come!”

I will never forget his look of delight in me when I leaped out of the boat.

Even though this miracle lasted only a few steps, I can’t begin to describe the exhilaration I felt.

The others in the boat could not understand what caused the preposterous thought to come into my head. Although such a foolhardy idea as climbing out of the boat seemed sudden, let me explain how it gradually came about.

Prior to my walking on the water, Jesus told us we were ready to minister to people in his name. This is what he said on the mount in Galilee, as he touched each one of us: “I give you authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, and proclaim God’s kingdom. Do as you have seen me do.” Then he sent us out two-by-two. According to his word, we accomplished signs and wonders and returned to him full of excitement, with testimonies of having done all he said we could do.

Shortly after, Herod beheaded John the Baptist. After learning of it, Jesus wished to be alone and so we set off in our boat to find a solitary place.  But the crowds watched us from the shoreline and, seeing him in the boat, they trailed along with us along the water’s edge. Seeing this, Jesus changed his mind, and we brought the boat to shore so he could minister to them—teaching and healing them until it grew late. He fed all of us with five loaves of bread and two fish. We ended up with twelve baskets of leftovers after he had fed thousands of people.

After all of this, he sent us twelve off in our boat to cross the lake and he sent the entire crowd to their homes. He still wanted time alone with his Father.

In the middle of the night, seeing our struggle against the wind and waves, he came to us, walking on the water.

Seeing him then, I knew he could do anything. He had just fed a multitude from practically nothing. The fact that he had no boat was not a problem for him. He’d come to our rescue.

My expectations of Jesus soared; I had worked a few miracles in his name, just days before. If he told me I could heal the sick, I could, and did. If he told me I could preach the kingdom in his name, I did so. The idea struck me that, if he was willing, I could do the same things he did and I wanted to test my theory.

When I sank, he reached for me, and scolded me with a laugh. “Why did you doubt?”

But I saw his face beaming at me—he was delighted that I’d given it a try.

Once, I did something worse than sink. It nearly destroyed me when I betrayed him. But, as it was on the water, he pulled me up from the threatening depth that nearly took my life. His look of sorrow for me became my worst memory of him.

I’ve learned an important thing: He trusts me to trust him. Even when I denied him, he trusted me to return to him and love him more than ever.

***

Jesus had found, in Peter, a man willing to believe and do the impossible.

In Peter’s letter to the churches in 64 A.D., he wrote, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Peter saw himself and every believer as living stones. Considering Jesus’ nickname for him, the Rock, Peter certainly was that. He became a foundation stone placed directly upon the chief Cornerstone. Peter, the first to recognize Jesus for who he was, his proclamation of faith the first. Peter was first to receive keys to the Kingdom of heaven—and he found himself in a key place in the Lord’s plans, in his Spiritual House—the Church.

Are we to believe Peter’s faith was what so endeared him to the Lord in the first place?

Let’s look closely. Jesus liked being with Peter. You see it throughout all the gospel events. He was one of the three in Jesus’ inner circle. Peter, spontaneous and emotional Peter, was honest, authentic, and dedicated. Outspoken about his feelings for Jesus, he was also the first to preach the Good News of Jesus in public, convincing a couple thousand festival pilgrims to believe in Jesus and be baptized.  Peter was a man of faith-in-action. Is this what captured the Lord’s heart?

Perhaps it’s what Jesus first saw in Peter. Like King David—Peter’s heart was a heart after God’s own heart. Peter sought and found the wonder of God’s particular love for him.

Peter responded to his Lord like a wick to the flame. He returned love for love, which brightened all around him. Known for his bold, relentless faith and utter dependence on Jesus, Peter took hold of the keys Jesus gave him to the Kingdom, keys of Jesus’ own power and authority.

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It’s Something Only God Sees

“I had always felt life first as a story—and if there is a story there is a storyteller.”

G.K. Chesterton.

We are characters living out subplots, our life-stories, within God’s Story.

I began this morning considering Simon Peter and King David. Their stories are alike. David lived before Christ’s time, Peter lived during and after Christ’s time.

Both of them were known for delighting God.

They were nobodies when God chose them. David, a youth tending sheep had been overlooked and discounted by his own father and brothers when the Prophet Samuel came looking for God’s future king to anoint. Peter was an outspoken, impulsive fisherman the day Jesus made him one of His closest friends. To Peter Jesus handed the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.  Accepting a leading role, Peter helped Jesus usher in God’s Kingdom on earth.

What made God choose such unlikely characters anyway?  David became the most beloved king of Israel, the nation claimed by God to be his own people. He was such a significant person in God’s larger story.   Jesus identified himself as the expected “Son of David.”

Peter, whom Jesus nicknamed “the rock” was the first stone (the first to believe Jesus was Messiah and Son of God) to be laid in the foundations of the Spiritual Temple of God made up of all believers in Jesus.

David and Peter were put in leadership roles. Both carried the kingdom of God forward. And, yet, both of them were a mess at times. They sinned. They disappointed God. They were unworthy of the favors given. Sometimes they walked beside God in the Light, other times they chased shadows.  They didn’t merit the Lord’s love, calling, or gifts. But God saw something about them that much affected Him.

God chose them because of something only God sees.

The Lord chose David and Peter because of their hearts. That was the real attraction. God proclaimed that David was a man after His own heart. Jesus said many endearing things about Peter.  He is the only man who walked on water with Jesus and was the first to use Jesus’ healing powers with words of his own mouth.

What affects God most when He sees us? Our hearts.

These thoughts are helping me to put my priorities in order at the start of this new year. I pray the Lord will look at my heart and help me put the foolish things behind me in order to enjoy walking in the Light beside Jesus, and to even walk on water with Him this year.  My desire is to realize that my little life can be like David’s or Peter’s—this is my time in history to do my little bit for Him and His Kingdom. But, mostly, it is my time on earth to appreciate the Lord’s love, care, and favor.  I want to live the Story God sees for me. If I live out of my heart, it’s what only God sees, but it is what He likes.

Priority One: Delight myself in the Lord.

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