Friday, December 25, 2015

Focusing Forward and Real Leadership

Caleb is mentioned in several places as being someone who wholly followed God.
(Numbers 14:24, Deuteronomy 1:36 and others) He was one of the 12 spies that were sent to scope out the land God promised them. Along with Joshua, Caleb was one of the only two spies that came back with glowing words. They were ready to take it on.  The other 10 spies did not feel the same way. They were full of fear.

Fear is a corrosive negative quality. It corrodes relationships with people as well as God. We don't ever need to be scared of God. God is love and only wants the best for our lives. Our relationship with God cannot be based on fear. Unfortunately, certain religious circles utilize fear to try and motivate people towards their particular theology. We've all been exposed to this kind of thinking in some form or another. Wherever fear is, it permeates everything. This doesn't do much for people to people relationships as well. It causes lots of problems.

We all know and recognize difficult relationships. Sooner or later it gets back to some basic fear that is involved that eventually shows itself. Perfect love displaces fear and replaces it with power, love and sound thinking. Caleb must have been a great person to be around. He had great trust in God and it showed in his peace and determination.

Caleb did not fear.  He stayed focus on God and prepared himself to eventually receive the promises of God. It s true when they didn't listen to his spy report, Caleb had to do the wilderness walk with the others for 40 years! At 85 years old, he got his opportunity and he had kept himself strong so that he could with God's help obtain his piece of the land for his family. He knew it would come. Actually the name 'Caleb' means 'full-hearted'.  He had no place for fear in his life, not one little cubbyhole! He was successful! He had no fear to move onward when the time came to do so.

Joshua and Caleb are true leaders. They didn't have to read books or go to conferences on leadership, they moved forward and were out in front naturally because of where their focus was. They were leading from the front and did not turn back to look at who was following them. Full-hearted people don't lead from behind.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

God is Faithful 100%

In Deuteronomy 1, Moses reflects on the journey through the wilderness. The context of Deuteronomy is Exodus and Numbers in which the history of the travel out of Egypt to the edge of the promised land is recorded. Leviticus belongs with this group also. The chapters devoted to Israel's history in Leviticus is written in chapters 8-10. The rest of Leviticus is about a just God wanting to live among His people.

The main purpose of Deuteronomy is to explain their relationship with God. Both Numbers and Deuteronomy refer to the 40 years in wanderings thru the desert and preparation for entering into the promise land of the younger generation.
26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of theLord your God: 27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. 28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. 30 The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. 
32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God, 33 Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. Deuteronomy 1:26-33
God took care of them through all of the 40 years. Yes, they had trouble that emanated from their own minds and actions, but God stayed with them through all the complaining. Moses wrote that 'the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son'.  That is beautiful. The comparison helps people relate to God. There is no greater father than God.

The problem of the older generation eventually caught up with them as they continued to rebel and do things that God could not help them with. God shows them how arrogant they were when they went after the Amorites at a their own choosing. It hurt them because they walked themselves (1:44) into the bee's nest and they ended up suffering for it.

God is absolutely faithful, He desires the best for His people, but sometimes people put themselves in a bad situation and still don't humbly ask God for help.

God wants a relationship with His people. In the New Testament, every individual can have a relationship with God.  Jesus Christ showed us the way. We can't just sit back in a pew and take it all in, we need to go for the full right of having access to God. It starts by trusting, asking, listening and then carrying out God's word.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Deuteronomy

The name 'Deuteronomy' means second law. The people of God had reached the edge of the promised land after spending way too much time trekking around the wilderness both physically and spiritually.
1 These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab. 2 (There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadeshbarnea.) 3 And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the Lord had given him in commandment unto them; Deuteronomy 1:1-3
It took them 40 years! They sure did mess around and take their own 'sour' time. Fear and doubt were the beacons of their darkness, so they became subject to an abundance of failure and frustration. There is nothing new under the sun, this same chaos is going on all around us. Humans will trip on their own two feet when they rely on their own balancing act.

Before Moses died, he spoke to the younger generation among the sojourners about what God was all about and he gave then some detailed guidelines about their relationships to God and to each other. Deuteronomy is not a scary book like some say, it is a book of love. The first four chapters of deuteronomy recap what God had done for them in the journey. In chapters 4-26, Moses further explains the law with greater details and examples. Chapters 27-30 delve into the God's covenant with man. The book ends with the final words from Moses.

People often view God from their own perspective and fail to see God's perspective. God is the designer of the universe. He knows how it works. He sees the full picture. Above all of those accomplishments, He loves and that love is woven through all that He made.

Another perspective that many people don't consider is the opposition's perspective. Some people don't even think there is an opposition. It is in this misunderstanding that people attribute evil to God.

God led His people through the wilderness with a pillar of fire and a cloud and yet when it came to going into the promised land, they needed to send people in to figure out the best way in. H-m-m.

Despite man's pride and mistakes in not listening to God, God continues to love man. After seeing in Leviticus the basic desire of God to be among His people, to the frustrations of wilderness living in Numbers, there are rich principles in Deuteronomy to mine to help people understand how to live the kind of life God desires for people.





Thursday, December 3, 2015

Active Expectation

We always want an instant fix. Human nature is generally impatient regarding God's abundant grace and peace. It is like sitting down to dinner without shopping, cooking or setting the table. Spiritual success is absolutely available, but it takes some effort.  I'm not talking about 'works' or 'earning it'. It is about acknowledgement and active expectation. It is important to note that the responsibility for the effort is individual.

In Ephesians 6:17,  there is wonderful allegory on tapping the power of God:
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking (analambano-receive by seizing) the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take (dechomai- welcome, receive) the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Ephesians 6:14-18
It all starts with the 'truth'. Truth is necessary to protect ones thinking, confidence and rest. 'Truth' offers protection, soundness, and provides the necessary tools to ward off evil. Truth is light. In this allegory the belt girds up the tunic to keep from tripping. It has a sheaf for the sword to have it readily available.  The belt holds the breastplate in place so as not to flop around. Who needs ones righteousness flipping and flopping around?

The main effect of evil is to darken the light. It is easier to recognize light and dark when the switch is suddenly pushed, but sometimes Christians have dimmer switches and are hardly aware of what is happening around them. The key is to focus on the light.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended (katalambano-seized) it not. John 1:5
When I go to bed and turn off the light, initially I can't see a thing. It is pitch dark.  If I keep my eyes open for a while, the pupils adjust by opening to whatever light actually exists. It takes time but no matter how little light is around, it helps us to move through the darkness.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Critical Thinking

It amazes me how often people disparage 'faith' and almost equate it with 'thoughtlessness'. In the world of thought in our culture, oftentimes 'critical thinking' is described as 'scientific' and separate from a belief system. Critical thinking is found in the bible! In Hebrews 4:12 there is a beautiful example:
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
This, in my opinion, is the ultimate goal for thinking critically.  It is the basis for making sound decisions. The context for this verse in this section of Hebrews is 'entering into the rest'. God desires rest and peace for His people and it requires thought, intent and energy that comes from God.

God designed the human mind to think, feel, motivate, and stimulate action. In Ephesians 6:17, we are told to "take  the helmet (why the helmet?) of salvation (wholeness) and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God"! The result of putting this all together is the true rest.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Trusting, Expecting and Loving

The group of people to whom the book of Thessalonians is addressed to were a remarkable group. Despite pressure from the status quo of that time, they stood out 'like a healed thumb'. They were not 'tide riders' or 'crowd followers'. When Paul shared the word with them he did not use flattery nor power positioning to pull people to his way of thinking. Paul loved them and he gave them the simple truth in so much that how these people acted as a result was widely reported.
9 For they themselves (people who observed) shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols (faith) to serve the living and true God (love); 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven (hope), whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
Paul himself said of them:
3 Remembering without ceasing your work (effort) of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 1 Thessalonians 1:3
 The three 'virtues' mentioned here: faith, hope and love, are all active and  are exhibitions of trust. They occur together in several passages. Interestingly enough, faith is usually listed first. Trusting God is what is primary in hoping and in loving (all 'ing' verbs).

Hope, in our culture, is often describes as 'wishful thinking'.  Biblical hope is not wishful thinking.  It is active, visible (Paul saw it in the way the Thessalonians lived) and assured, more like an 'expectation'. When we invite someone over for dinner and they accept our invitation we don't wish they will show up, we expect them to come. We prepare for their visit. We don't sit around fiddling our thumbs; we are busy. We turn away from the idols of this world to enter into an expectant rest which is not passive in any sense of the Word.
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast  the profession of our faith without wavering (hope = active expectation); (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Hebrews 10:22-24
Love is very active and true love reflects God love.  It is productive  and fruitful. Love is a stimulant. It is the right word at the right time with the right truth that explodes and starts a domino effect with everyone it touches and that is why it is the greatest:
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity.




Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Droptrine"

In Deuteronomy 32:2, the word 'doctrine' is used for the first time:
2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rainupon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:  Deuteronomy 32:2
This verse paints a refreshing picture of the effect of the word of God on us. As one focuses on each of the phrases the simile dances beautifully and melodically in the mind.

When rain is used to describe 'doctrine' or 'good teaching', several thoughts come to my mind. Rain falls out of heaven to earth as 'doctrine' falls on man from God. It falls on the 'just and unjust alike' (Matt 5:45) and usually spreads out evenly over a large area. It falls where it is sent and more so. It cools, refreshes moistens, softens, revives and produces fruit.

Dew is moisture that condenses from the atmosphere when the temperature drops below the dew point. In the region where Israel is located, there isn't much rain during April through July. Dew is, therefore, very important for their crops. As dew condenses on certain plants with trough-shaped leaves, the water trickles down to the base of the plant. The shade of the leaf will slow down immediate evaporation from sunrise and water will seep into the soil to a shallow root system to be utilized by the plant. Israel considered dew as a reminder of God's constant and unfailing care.
5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. Hosea 14:5
Sometimes it amazes me how refreshing the Word of God is at the right time and moment; especially when things seem weird and chaotic. It is like jumping into a long cool shower at the end of a hot summer day or, like dew, it seems to come out of nowhere to shower the brain cells with a cool, softening mist. God is so good to us as He blesses us with His infinite wisdom and grace. I am always blessed  and revived when I think of James 3:17-18:
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. James 3:17-18

Saturday, October 31, 2015

My Unfavorite Holiday!

Today is Halloween! Of course it is cold, rainy, and dreary. Cute little munchkins will be knocking at
our door for the usual concoctions of fructose, glucose and whatever else is mixed in. Whole Foods is selling organic candy (?) for the healthy-minded parent.

The phrase: 'Trick or Treat', will resound everywhere. In essence it means: "Hand over the goods or I will do something bad to you".  Lawns will be decorated with gravestones, spiders, cobwebs, headless horsemen and snarling pumpkins.

A third aspect of Halloween is that children dress up in a costume.  I understand that superheroes, Starwars characters, and pirates are among the most popular costumes this year. There  will also be witches, ghosts and goblins and current Disney stars.

Thank goodness this holiday is not tied up with some religious event (like Christmas and Easter); or is it? Actually October 31 is Reformation Day celebrating Martin Luther's posting of his 95 theses on the door of Wittenberg. October 31 also is know as All Hallow's Eve or ALL Saints Day Eve where people honor dead saints.

I guess I'm a holiday scrooge, but its not like I will walk up and down the streets with signs protesting fructose and glucose. But I do a lot of thinking as to the 'how and why' these things developed in our culture.

There is a superhero we all need to recognize and he is not a dead saint. He is not a fantasy, he is real and alive. He had a birth (but he doesn't wear a red suit) and he died and was resurrected (no eggs and bunnies involved) and he ever lives to make intercession for the saints:
25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Love Produces Fruit

Recently in current events there has been a lot of discussion about what love is and what love isn't. Whose responsibility is it to define love? For me it is God who designed a creation that never ceases to exhibit love. God is the designer, creator and definer of who He is. God is the creator, we don't define love, God does. John 3:16 says:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God so loved that he gave. God has loved everyone in this world, no exceptions. How? By providing life through His son, that whosoever believes in Him has certain rights with God. This involves a choice. God provided man with choice. Love involves offering something without force.

I Corinthians 13 has a few things to say about God's love:
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
You would think prophesy, tongues, all knowledge, all faith would be the ultimate in godly actions. These things are nothing without God's love involved. The life in them is the source of energy behind them.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Wait!  Feeding the poor and being a martyr for the cause seem like great examples of unselfish giving.  Without the love of God, these activities are more flat than flat.
4 Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: I Corinthians 13:4-8
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
The love God pours into our hearts is distinct,  clear, unmistakeable and satisfying. The love of God helps us focus less on ourselves, comparisons, and pride. It produces right results no matter how complex the situation. There is no law needed in the presence of the fruit of the spirit. It will flood every nook and cranny of where God sends it. It absolutely never fails!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dumb Idols

I Corinthians 12:1-3
Now concerning spiritual gifts (pneumatikos = spiritual matters), brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) 
What does it mean to speak in the 'spirit of God'? God is spirit and He has given us holy spirit to walk alongside our hearts in order for us to thrive in this world. So when a man or woman speaks by the spirit of God he/she is speaking what God has placed in the heart.  That is also how Jesus Christ can be Lord in our lives. We believe God about His son and that he is the head of the church. The relationship between God, Jesus Christ and us is a vital, living  and dynamic relationship.
I John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
  Idols are anything someone depends on and worships. It could be self, other people, technology, education, money, world issues and even religion. Now contrast I John 1:3 with the following verses about dumb idols.
Jeremiah 10:2-52
Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

Habakkuk 2:18
18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?
Isaiah 46:1-7 Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast. 2 They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.
3 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: 4 And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. 5 To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?
 6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. 7 They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.
Is there really any choice? 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Don't Know What To Pray For?

Recently, I got to thinking about the word 'intercession' in Romans 8:26:
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
As I read through the verse,  the word 'helpeth' jumped out and I looked up the Greek word and found 'sunantilambano'. Old Greek is a great language. We can gain a lot of insite into a word by examining its roots. 'Sunantilambano' is made up of 3 word parts. "Sun' means 'together with'. "Anti' means against. 'Lambano' means to take hold of something.

If I were to rewrite this first part of the verse with these parts in mind it might look like this:
Likewise the Spirit also works together with us to take hold  and move against something that is causing some problems....

It is magnificent to think that the Spirit can move together with us in such a way to take care of things we have no idea how to straighten out. So often the idiom 'the devil is in the details' is an actual reality and can cause headaches and confusion in figuring things out.

The gift of holy spirit that has been given to us works with us. It does not work independently of us. The spirit does the searching of the fine details and heart factors, none of which is readily visible. As we recognize its work in us, the way out starts to become visible one step at a time.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

God's Love and The Law

So much of the Old Testament reveals a lot of 'people stuff'. People will be people. As I finish up the book of Numbers, I realize there is nothing new under the sun. Much of what is addressed in Corinthians reflects the same thing. Human behavior is really very predictable.

God provided the law in the Old Testament to help His people live more abundantly. Our traffic laws make a great illustration why laws are given. There are more than 25 million cars on the road today in the United States. If there were no laws, it would be mass chaos.  The primary purpose of the laws is not to catch, fine and jail people who violate the law. The laws were set down to keep people safe. The world is treacherous.

The law brought down from Mt Sinai eventually expanded when well-meaning men or not so well-meaning men got a hold of it and fine-tuned God's simple list of 10. They added regulations, rules, oral law and legal traditions.

In the gospels, Jesus Christ simplified the law by providing two categories: love God and love your neighbor. Looking at the first 4 commandments in the Old Testament, the context together is evident: loving God. In examining the last six, how we deal with fellow humans in the light of loving God is spelled out. It is a list with two main ideas, that of loving God first and loving your neighbor. I really don't think the purpose of this list was to make each one an end in itself, or manage and control a wayward people. God wanted to help people live more abundantly.

Ultimately, through the faith of Jesus Christ, true righteousness is available to any believer. As a result, our lives will not be dragged down in guilt and condemnation in trying to live up to the law. In the heart of our hearts we are truly free to handle life and our relationships with others without pressure when we trust God and His loving grace.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Patience is not Agonized Waiting, It is Trust

The trouble with cable news (I mean one of the troubles of cable news) is the 'seesaw living' it engenders. One minute it is 'this' and one minute it is 'that'. Up and down, up and down, up and down! Minute by minute living can have some disadvantages, especially if it is controlled by circumstances.

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed to switch directions by the hour; it is totally draining. This can happen easily in our cyber world today of twitter, Facebook, emails, snapchat, instagram, live streaming etc, etc, etc. We expect instant answers!

God can provide instant answers, yes, but most often things develop and that takes time. It doesn't mean He is not listening or  not answering. Too often we give up before we see results.

The book of James was written of a time that was both difficult and amazing for people who loved God. Persecution and danger were everywhere after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was like a dense, thick cloud that hung over the believers.  For those who believed in God, it was one of the greatest moments in history, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. It was a dynamic time.  Read through the book of James and see how many times words like 'patience', 'endure', 'continue', 'waiteth', 'no variableness', and admonitions to be slow to do something are referred to. It is a great book.

There is a great illustration in James 5:7:
7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
The early rain is the autumn rains that are necessary to prepare the soil for planting. The latter rain is necessary for growth before harvest. Crops take time. God may take His time. We all know He is able to do magnificent things (just take a look around - Did you see the moon the other night?) We also need to know that He is willing:
James 5:11: Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience (endurance) of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful (compassionate), and of tender mercy.
Cable and all the cyber opines will never  reflect God's compassion. His compassion is found in His word and the spirit that works in your heart. That is where you place your trust.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Grace is almost too good to be true but IT IS absolutely true!

Recently, I was drawn to a verse in Jonah that I wanted to mine for its gems. As I started to find a whole lot more, I was amazed again how magnificent the Word of God is in its simple depth. Jonah is an amazing story obviously shadowing the then future resurrection of Jesus Christ. With its 3 days/3 nights in the belly of the whale incident, it sits as a sparkling jewel amid the Old Testament records. It is the story of salvation, not only for Jonah and Nineveh, but it is a type for us to read and think about.
7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. 8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed.Salvation is of the LORD. 10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
The world is full of 'lying vanities'. Psychobabble, politics, self-interest and secular humanism opine at us daily dropping the veil of unbelief wherever they can gain access and distort or even remove our view of a compassionate, loving and willing God.

I am thrilled by the beauty of the Word and how God has protected it through the ages. There are many precious gems of truth sitting in the tiny book of Jonah. Just being in it a couple of days has generated fellowship, dialogue and joint amazement with other people who have reflected back more light off the facets of the same jewel.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Prayer Is The Answer Itself!

Thank God that God has provided an open door to His heart. We can communicate directly with Him heart to heart! Thank God that communication to him is not through text messages, emails, twitter and Facebook. Cyber communication has many pitfalls. Just look at all the quotes and conversations that appear on Facebook alone. Sometimes posts seem inspiring, but may still contain what I call the 'complaining' effect that when the 'Post' button is pushed it unloads something negative on all who read it.

Communication on a human level is tough. God is a great listener. We can talk to Him and we don't have to worry about being misinterpreted. Have you ever poured out your heart to someone and gotten frustrated because he/she didn't understand what you were saying.  The more you try to explain, the deeper trouble you get into. I have worried about being misinterpreted and wanted to fix it, but the older and wiser (hopefully) I get, the more I realize that this too is what prayer is for. I have grown to love praying for people I have trouble talking to or don't understand. Prayer is the greatest action you can do for someone else and for yourself.
8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psalm 62:8
Sometimes, and I have said this many times before, we feel like we are boxed in; that is the way of the world. When David was hiding in a cave away from Saul, his prayer was that he might praise God's name through it all. The situations we find ourselves in today may not involve a Saul problem, but a maybe its a dilemma that seems like there is no answer.
7 Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me. Psalm 142:7
Difficult things tend to make us feel very defective, David's psalms expressed the same feeling. David was a man after God's heart so despite his shortcomings, David trusted God. That is our job too!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sin

In Genesis 4, God had an interesting discussion about worship. Cain brought an offering to God and Abel did too. Cain's offering was not a blessing to God and Cain got irritated. A response like Cain's defeats the whole purpose of showing God how much one loves and reveres Him. God addressed the issue at hand:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. Genesis 4:5-7
God asked Cain why he was downcast and mad.  It was a logical question. If the whole reason for an 'offering' is to show appreciation for God, why would Cain explode about this. God said 'sin' (actually the first use of the word 'sin') is lying at the door. There is indication that the (namely Eve) believed Cain was the man from the Lord.  Could Cain have developed some religious pride about this and thought he was something he was not? The whole thing humiliated him and he was angry. God lovingly explained to Cain that evil repercussions were around the corner and he would need to get a handle on dealing with his heart. Cain didn't do that, but allowed pride and jealousy to get the worst of him.

Focusing on God and doing things out of gratefulness for all he has done for us keeps us out of the soup. That means rethinking through something that is less than the best. Certainly a 'very wroth' attitude does not fit. It is an attitude that needed to be 'ruled' over. Cain rejected God's loving advice and turned another direction which ended up ruining his life.

The Rainbow and Gravity- Just to clarify

God's creation is truly to be admired (but not worshipped, I might add). A rainbow occurs when light travels through prismatic type matter such as glass or water.  Because light is made up of various wavelengths of various speeds, the light gets divided into its component colors to produce a rainbow. After the great flood in Noah's time the rainbow appeared and God told Noah that this would be a reminder of God's covenant with man. Today, just because a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean that something significant is going on, but it does remind us of God's heart in his creation. God wanted to bless man with the rainbow and every time I see one I get blessed because I am reminded of the heart of God to create something very beautiful to see and something incredibly technical by design.

Gravity is an amazing force. We are held to the earth through gravity.  The universe is held together by gravitational forces among other forces. We are protected by gravity. However if we get to the edge of a cliff and continue to walk, gravity can have some very harmful effects. We decide by our own free will to turn around and take the safe route. We can figure out how gravity works and its effect as we are awed by it great pull.

People have free will. That means they can decide whatever path they want to take. No one can force or push you to believe one way or another. Our ability to think is also a gift of God. He designed humans, not robots. The greatest path to abundance and true freedom, however, is in respecting the design of God which we can see and understand through His Word.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Throw Everything at the Wall and See If It Sticks"?

"Cover all your bases", "Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it", "Go til you hear glass break", Throw everything at the wall and see if it sticks, are frequently used present day figures of speech. Each one of them pushes 'effort' which is not bad in and of itself, but put together and emphasized, frustration and defeat can show up pretty quick.

One of the first problems with these type of sayings is that they focus on what we do. If we are have the attitude that we are out to change the world with out even checkin' in with the creator of the world, we take on a monumental task that usually ends in failure. Life is so much simpler when we trust God. Trusting God is not a passive, inactive mind set. Actually it is very proactive, but not in the self-energizing category.

It is easy to tell from which mind set a person is coming from. Check out who gets the glory. When God gives us answers to things, He nails it! You can't help but get excited! The results are easy! The only reason we have difficulty is when we worry, push too much, and doubt. Don't get me wrong. Life is work, no doubt about it, but when we trust Him step by step it is like sailing. Yes we have to adjust the sails and turn the rudder. There is absolutely nothing passive about trusting God. it all hinges on doing this:
 5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Enjoy Joy

Have you ever felt like just being miserable and then couldn't do it? Have you ever tried to tell 'joy' to go away and leave you alone? Everybody has ideas about what 'holy spirit' is and how it affects us, but the fruit of the spirit tells all. Joy is one of those fruits. Fruit is something that is produced as a result of operation of the gift of holy spirit.

If you are chilly and someone gives you a sweater and you accept it by putting it on, you can't stop the feeling of sensing warmth. It is a similar analogy with the gift God has given us. God has given us something very precious. He has given each of us a piece of what He actually is!  (John 4:24) You can't see spirit (you can't see God) but you can see its action in something physical and see the results of its action.

Joy comes from within and it is from God.  It is individual.  In II Corinthians 1:24, Paul says:
24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith (individual and personal), but are helpers (sunergos- joint workers) of your joy: for by faith (individual and personal) ye stand.
II Corinthians is a great chapter on the comfort (paraklesis) of God. Jesus Christ talked about the comforter that would come after him:
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter (parakleton), that he may abide with you for ever;17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. John 16:22





Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Heart of Galatians

Recently, while I was reading Commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther, I ran across the phrase 'tyrants of men's consciences' when he was referring to the judgement and condemning attitude of some of the people during Luther's time. They were promoting intimidation to keep people in line with the religious legalism that was prevalent.

I was specifically reading about Romans 6:1-5 in the commentary. There is some puzzling language in those verses that look like contradictions:
6 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
First and foremost, in order to understand what's written here, you have to look at the context. In Galatians 5, Paul continued to lay out the flesh vs spirit problem the Galatians were having. They were into performing according to the flesh. In the later verses of Galatians 5, he lists the fruit of the spirit which are products of the operation of holy spirit in people's innermost hearts. Galatians 6:1 starts out and closes with 'Brethren'. This book is written to brothers and sisters in Christ.

Another thing to keep in mind is that God didn't put the chapter breaks in His Word, man did. If we look at verses 25 and 26 in the previous chapter and verse 1-5 of chapter six it reads:
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
With all that in mind, the apparent contradiction starts to untwist. We help one another with burdens ('baros' - like an overloaded ship that presses downward). We fulfill the law of Christ by loving one another and helping one another. We remind each other of the power and love of God that lifts the load. In verse 5, we read that we carry our own burden ('phortion' - like a ship that is carrying cargo, its proper invoice weight. A ship travels better with a certain amount of weight that prevents being tossed to and fro).

If someone is overtaken with a burden we help because we know that we at times deal with overloads and this happens in life. We walk by the spirit rather than by the flesh knowing that is the only way to help.  The only boasting that goes on is about God and what He is able to do.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Living Without The Fear of Making a Mistake

There is an old saying "Yard by yard life is hard, inch by inch it is a cinch!" I'm sure this pertains to the handling of life's problems that come along, rather than taking aim at planning and organizing the calendar way far ahead of time.

Fear is a very real feeling. I'm talking about the sick to the stomach, tossing and turning, creepy kind of fear. It can't be cured by hiding, denying, talking louder, fighting, bravado, or even chocolate! It is replaced by power (Ephesians 3:20), love (Romans 5:5) and a sound mind (safe and balanced mind) II Timothy 1:7:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
That is why the 'pause that refreshes' is so vital. God has given us access into His rest and that is where we want to be. When something presents itself and distorts the perception of safe and balanced, it is time to take time. When we stop the roll of the moment and not allow ourselves to be pushed, we seize the moment, give it to God and handle one step at a time. One step at a time is the best way to let it all lay out otherwise we will get a pile of 'who knows what' that gets bigger and bigger!

We all make mistakes, its OK. It's nice to have a few people around you that don't hold your feet to the fire, but true peace comes from God who has definitely got your back if you let Him. Sometimes we can get so lost- oops! I mean found! in His peace that as we can pick up the pace of life without blinking an eyelash! Sometimes we can't, but He still love us and so-o-o patient!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Law is Perfect

God's law is perfect. Anything God does is perfect. It is man that is imperfect; not the other way around.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4
No one ever (except Jesus Christ) has ever lived up to the every jot and tittle of the law. Jesus understood that sin in the flesh was something not authored, promised or provided by God  (condemned- meaning not in any way useful to God in His love for mankind). To be in the flesh was to live from the seat of the self, instead Jesus lived unto God in the spirit.

Everybody born has soul (mental, emotional) and a body. From the time of birth man continues to learn and develop habits that contribute to the soul as well as the body. Upbringing, education, and experiences, heredity and emotions all are inputs that define the carnal or fleshy nature. The flesh in and of itself is not sinful but it can be useful to the the adversary of God. The flesh nature can be pushed into making comparisons, gossiping, seeking power and status over others and destruction. It can harbor pride, resentment, depression, jealousy and immorality.

When a person receives the spirit of God (Romans 10:9-10), a third dimension is added and man becomes body, soul and spirit. That spirit is a gift from God. It is power, it is love and it is a sound mind. We have the opportunity to walk in the spirit. The spirit can rule over the soul, as the soul provides for the body. It is in understanding this relationship that man can truly walk with God and be free of all the impediments of the fleshy nature and actually glorify God and walk in His power.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fellowship with God


The flow of words in Romans 8:14-17 reveal much about our relationship with God and how he communicates to us, especially verse 16. I used to think when God talked to people, He thundered or spoke with a voice that sounded like He was in an echo chamber. Those were the days I thought He was pretty scary.  God is spirit and it is through spirit that He can impress or lead anyone in an uncomplicated way.
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.16 The Spirit (God) itself beareth witness with (summarturei) our spirit (gift of holy spirit), that we are the children of God:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with (sunklēronomoi) Christ; if so be that we suffer with (sumpaschomen) him, that we may be also glorified together (sundoxasthōmen).
Notice the Greek words in parentheses. They start with the same root word 'sun'( 'sum') which means: with, in association with , intimate relation with, or a fellowship with. There is another more common word used for 'with' in the New Testament. It is the greek word 'meta', but 'meta' is not as tight a relationship as 'sun'.  I have heard the word 'sun' described as 'two rivers that flow into one'.

The beauty of spirit of God in tight relation to our own spirit is thrilling. It is followed by 'heir, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ'! When a word is repeated like this it places added emphasis on the word.

 John relates a similar message in I John 1:3.
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. I John 1:3
Because we are joint-heirs with Christ, we can also be subject to the persecution suffered by Christ as anyone who has stood for God and His son has readily experienced, but that also means the glory is to be shared too. We can joyfully work through pressure and opposition knowing that we are strengthened by the His spirit in connection with our spirit. All of chapter 8 of Romans reflects this. It is a great chapter to read in its entirety, but verses 32-37 sum it up beautifully.
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
 Romans 8-32-37
It is simple to apply this as there are so many opportunities every day that call for its application. Everyday there is pressure and we can decide to give in to it or trust God as He works in our hearts.
There is great joy experienced when decide to trust God (I John 1:4).

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Oh! Press on!

Even the sound of the word 'oppression' bears down. Last night we experienced an huge storm. Prior to its arrival the air felt thick and burdensome. This morning everything has cleared. As I went out for a walk, I was surrounded by the light, lifting music of the birds, the glistening of drops on leaves and nice gentle breezes. The air smelled clean and fresh!

In Isaiah 54: 14ff there are some pressure-relieving verses as to the effects of oppression:
Isaiah 54:14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. 15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. 17 No weapon that is formed (yatsar) against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
I have been looking at verse 17 for a while and the word 'formed' intrigues me. It is the Hebrew word 'yatsar' meaning an act of taking things already in existence and squeezing and pushing them together to get the desired results. This is an action verb for how things are put together to exert a force, good or evil. Everything around us exerts a force. A force for evil presses down, a force for good lifts. Depression is a result of a downward movement, freedom is a result of lifting. 

Force, in physics, equals mass x acceleration, in other words there is more than one component to a force. A system is a group of components that work together. Weather operates as a system or a group of systems. In order for a tornado to form or a bird to fly, a series of things need to happen.

When something begins to bear down on us, God is the best source of relief. He knows exactly how this world works. Both the blacksmith and the waster were given choice, therefore even though God created humans and spirit beings, they in of themselves can cause pressure. Ultimately God knows the component parts of the systems involved in their actions.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God (knowledge, righteousness and believing provided by the manifestations of holy spirit), that ye may be able to stand against the wiles (methodia- methods in reference to the systems of the world) of the devil.
We have choice too. We can choose to pray or not to pray. We can choose to look to God or away from him. We can choose the worldly guilt-ridden package of imperfection or truly accept perfection in the Lord that effectively and graciously lifts our heart.






Monday, July 6, 2015

Passion and Patience - the two 'P's of persistence

Many times we are faced with situations that push us into what seems like a whirlpool of nondescript craziness that we don't know what to do. Being a passionate person, I often find myself reacting quickly to these type of things. Quick reactions are good but they can also be bad. Whenever I find myself uneasy about what to do, if I can I turn off the water jets and chill, things get done God's way. If I can't, then it gets worse and worse. I have plenty of experience in both scenarios that I should know exactly what to do, but pressure and pull comes in many disguises and has many players, that it can be easy to be tricked.

Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the adversary. The word 'destroy' involves a component by component methodology. His life and mission provides us with the spiritual tool of holy spirit to stand up to the things of this world. That is our connection to God.

Every pressure situation that comes up is a multiplex of issues and only God can truly sort it all out and clean it up the way it needs to be done for full deliverance. God has equipped us with the resources to get the job done. As we rest in the spirit of God, fruit is produced and things get taken care of in a breathtaking way. Sometimes we have to wait, but in that waiting we stay ready to act because we know God will provide the moment to move. It is at those moments our passion rewards us.

Just because a situation presents itself chock full of things that are horrendously wrong, it is no cause for panic. It is cause for chilling on the Word and thankfulness to God that light will dispel darkness! It absolutely will. Take God's word for it.  If He could start the universe with four words "Let there be light", he surely can do the same in our tiny scenarios.

Don't let people, time, systems of the world, public opinion, guilt, irritation or anything of the same ilk, trap, burden or goad you into apathy, boredom or even sadness. Wait for the moment and be excited in the meantime that God will get it done!
4 But let patience (remain looking to God) have its perfect (teleion -go through the necessary steps to complete the project) work, that you may be perfect (teleioi - complete the project) and complete (in its entirety), lacking nothing (not left out in the cold). James 1:4

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Real Liberty


This (Galatians 5:1) verse hit home this morning in a way that I am just giddy with gratitude for God's heart!

Have you ever felt powerless and inadequate? Welcome to the weak and beggarly elements of the world! (Galatians 4:3). The book of Galatians is an important book. It exposes legalism as to its misuse. Think, for example, about the 10 commandments. Are they weak (powerless) and beggarly (inadequate)? Not really, unless one gets the idea that by observing them, one earns his way into anything. Paul made this point over and over again in Galatians.

The book of Galatians is also addressed to pagan, gentile converts. Could we describe the ways of the world as powerless and inadequate? Yup! We see it everywhere. The world has got answers for absolutely everything! Sometimes - no wait!- usually, it is very, very frustrating. I have to remind myself over and over again that man isn't the smartest firecracker in the sky always, God is!

When you combine legalism and paganism together the whole thing is insane. Enough of that!

I love that we have the privilege of prayer! It is great to talk everything over with God. I recently read an interesting quote:  "As long as you know God is for you, it doesn't matter who is against you." If you just believe the first part of that quote, power and adequacy are unequivocally yours! The second part of that quote we don't have to worry about. Human beings naturally bump each other about, so why is it even shocking that it happens (reminder to self).

Absolute true freedom comes from a loving, wonderful God who sent His son to totally free us of all that renders us powerless and inadequate. Have a truly free day!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Tabernacle Now

In Exodus, the Tabernacle, was initiated, as the place for God among His people. God gave meticulous instructions as to its construction, function and services. As they wandered through the wilderness, the tabernacle went with them. Once their traveling days were done, a more permanent structure, the temple, was designed and built to worship God.

God has always desire to be with His people. Jesus Christ became the replacement for the temple. God's spirit rested on him. Since no man could actually see God at any time (John 1:18), Jesus Christ as God's son, could make Him known through the way he taught and lived:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14
18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John 1:18 
His life was the sacrificial lamb to make the ultimate atonement for the weaknesses of human existence. Previously sacrifices were made over and over to continually atone for mens sins. As a result of the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ , the gift of holy spirit is poured forth to anyone who confesses Jesus as Lord and believes that God raised him from the dead.
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple (tabernacle) of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. I Corinthians 6:19-20
The tabernacle was a tent literally.   It was usually made out of woven goat hair or skins. It is interesting that Paul's occupation was that of a tent-maker to support himself.

Paul's revelation of the new covenant unfolds the truth regarding our new spiritual natures tenting in our own hearts.  It was Paul who revealed the spirit's purpose in our lives in Romans through Thessalonians. He revealed our spiritual inner nature, its benefits and the closeness of God.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Abba Father


Saturday, June 20, 2015

God Works in Obvious Ways...........

Why do so many feel like God works in mysterious ways? Things seem mysterious when people fail to understand the love of our creator. I have been working through a difficult chapter of a certain section of the New Testament. It was troublesome because of translation problems. Right in the same chapter God appears to contradict himself. God does not contradict Himself! He's God! It was troublesome because of translation problems. Man causes those kinds of problems.

Take a peek at II Timothy 3:16-17:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Honestly, does this sound like God wants confusion and mystery in our lives? Even King Jimmy English cannot hide what God wants us to have. It says "All" scripture; not just the book of Timothy.

The word 'perfect' might throw one off a bit. Does God expect us to be perfect? Actually the word 'perfect' means complete or equipped for suitable purposes. To say otherwise, would be a lie. None of us, in and of ourselves, are perfect, but we can be completely equipped.  Obscurity, mystery and frustration come with a lie. Men lie. God doesn't lie.
9 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?(Numbers 23:19)


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Nightwatch

Today I had all planned out. I knew exactly how the day would go. Right! Nothing went according to plan but it all worked out well. I have seen that happen so often and I'm glad that I'm beginning to understand that I don't have to control everything to make sure I land on my feet.

For many, in certain situations, excessive control over things makes people feel safe, however in reality it promotes and celebrates anxiety and fear. Letting God take care of fears and anxieties is absolutely the best way to go, although many times our 'white knuckle do not let go' grip on life is very reluctant to give up its clench.

The greatest times to let go of things that are bothering me occur when I wake up suddenly at night.
If I have remembered Thee on my couch, In the watches -- I meditate on Thee. Psalm 63:6 (YLT)
The word 'watches' in this verse refers to a specific unit of time at night A while back, I went to bed early and was sleeping soundly when I woke up with a very clear mind and a sense of joy. It was 11:55 pm. It was exactly the same time as a couple of nights before that when I experienced the same thing. I stayed up until about 3 am and still ended up with about 8 hours of sleep. I had a great time those three hours. It had been a busy weird week. Somehow a lot of things got processed in those wee hours free of telephone calls and other side distractions and noise.  It is a pretty exciting concept actually. Almighty God, designer of the universe, loves actual undivided fellowship with his kids. If we could just believe this!

When we pray, be it in the middle of the night or in broad daylight, we must believe that He is a rewarded of those who diligently seek Him. It is not about begging, cajoling or fulfilling a spiritual chore. We aren't being be dragged into the throne room.  Prayer is vibrant, exciting, always available and must include a 'yes He is real!' attitude. It is something to look forward to with delight.

Too often, we languish in feelings of insignificance and unworthiness or the other side of the coin, pride and elitism, to really understand what it means to come boldly and humbly to the throne of grace. Thankfulness is the great leveler. Thankfulness and joyful expectation are the keys to rich conversation in a any situation, be it human or supernatural.








Saturday, June 13, 2015

Revival

First there is a seed. These seeds are floating all over throughout our neighborhood. The seed is at the base and fine filaments are surrounding it.  The wind lifts the seed by these filaments and carries it wherever. 
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. John 3:8



These seeds fall everywhere, even on stony ground

Some fall by the wayside
Some fall among thorns and thistles and other stuff.
Some falls on good ground.  These seeds fell on the lawns and it looked like snow. I was reminded of:
 John 4:35! Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.



Monday, June 1, 2015

In the Beginning was the Word.................

John 1:1 is a beautiful verse! Much has been written about it and 'extrapolated' from it. Actually it is quite simple:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
God is the Word. The Word is what God is and the Word is life-giving and powerful, healing and ultimately separates truth from error. The Bible contains records written down by men who loved and saw God operate in their lives. God is spirit (John 4:24) and that is how God communicates to man:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (Spirit) (2 Peter 1:20)
We don't have original texts. The Bible, its versions, translations, translations of translations contain the Word of God but also may contain biases, slants, interpretations of God's heart. God has protected His Word for anyone who wants to know and error can be routed out and truth gotten to. (Just look at all of God's works; surely He can protect His Word.)

Think about who wrote down the books that are contained in the Bible. Holy men like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, John and Peter. These men spoke by revelation from God and it was written down. Paul doesn't contradict Moses, nor does Peter contradict Jeremiah.

It is easy to splice out a verse and in standing it up alone change the meaning of it. Context is very important. An example of this is Philippians 4:13:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

This verse could mean a lot of things when taken alone, but nestled in the book of Philippians, its true meaning is clear. I had an interesting time studying Galatians 6 this weekend. Galatians is not a long book, so reading it in one gulp is not hard. Galatians 6 makes so much sense in context.

Biases from translations can be eliminated by taking in and regarding the whole context of the Word of God. This takes some effort, time, some diligence and love for the truth.

John 1:1 re-emphasizes the context of the Word of God. It was in the beginning. God is faithful to His Word. This is so simple and, actually, it is quite an adventure!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

God loves us!

But without faith it is impossible to please (to have thankful joy, for Him to have thankful joy) him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

So often in sermons we are reminded that we didn't earn salvation and I don't disagree with that at all. God, however, would not want us to wallow in our in our plight, rather the emphasis should be on believing who God is and trust in His magnificent ability to love us. That is what faith is. That is what Hebrews 11 is all about!

It is not God who constantly reminds us of our unworthiness. It is not God who pushes fear in our face every time we turn around. He is not the one whispering in your ear "What if?" God is always ready to be there for us, we just have to look in His direction for the answers instead of some place else. We run into trouble when we look to the world for answers or even try to rely on our own introspection for handling things.There are many things we do easily using the brain we have. However, we can be our own worst enemy at times due to blind spots in our thinking.The light of God's word alerts us to those things when we face Him squarely and love Him.

The apostle Paul was by the world's standards back in his time, a very successful man. Then one day he realized he was the wrong side of God. I'm sure when he thought of some of the horrible things he did once he woke up, thoughts of self-hate and condemnation probably tried to grab him back away from God (Check out Romans 7). He had to learn to disown his past mentally and stand up for the freedom and grace he was being offered.

Self-hate and condemnation don't originate with God. They are the tools of the devil. we can become downright monsters if we allow them to dominate our lives. Romans 8 has a lot to say about staying out of their grasp. If you are struggling with those thoughts, slap Hebrews 11:6 on your mirror and remind yourself to trust the God who is real and that He can help you with that problem. An if doubt that read Romans 5:6-8.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Manifestation of Holy Spirit




7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (I Corinthians 12:7-11)

Recently we celebrated Pentecost (actually we celebrate it everyday). After the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the gift of holy spirit was and is poured out to every person who makes Jesus Christ Lord and believes in his resurrection. What is the point of the above verses? God wants every man enabled with His power. That is important to repeat! God wants every man enabled with His power!

In verse 7, Paul explains that holy spirit has profitable uses. The language is a little misleading starting in verse 8 because it says 'for to one is given'. It sounds like one gift is given to one person and another gift is given to someone else. The 'for to one' is actually referring to the 'profit' in verse 7. This list is a list of the profits of the holy spirit to an individual person. 

In reality, any person in which the gift of holy spirit is energized will probably exhibit more than one of these benefits in any one situation, not just one.  Word of knowledge(what is going on) and word of wisdom(what to do about it) are often needed at the same time. Discerning of spirits (separating out the good and the bad) may also be involved and with all that going on, miracles, healing and faith (energized beyond ordinary believing) enter into the mix. So to say that one person operates one  and another person operates another is not accurate. God energizes the spirit in a way that gets the job done. He could involve two people (we don't dare put God in a box), but all nine profits are available to each individual.
Utterance, Revelation, Impartation
Holy spirit in our lives is as simple as breathing. Man has mystified, elevated and complicated God's gracious entrance to our lives by dissecting, separating and isolating it into pieces. Spirit comes from God. It is His very essence (John 4:24). Sometimes we work so hard at hearing from God that we can't see how simple it is. God's word is quick and powerful and cuts through anything. Sometimes it takes us some time to get it because of all the noise in our space, but when we get quiet and deliberately await God's solution, answers are forthcoming, sometimes in a split second.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Strong in the Grace

II Timothy 2:1-2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
So often when I read this verse,  I considered 'grace' as something having to do with 'never forgetting how God changed my heart' so that I could better help others. I perceived 'grace' as kindness. There is so much more to this verse, starting with being 'empowered by grace that is in Christ Jesus'. Christ Jesus is a messianic title. To engage the risen Christ in our lives is a powerful concept. Of course we are changed! What changed Paul on the road to Damascus? What he experienced was dramatic!

Grace is empowering. Grace is about what God has done or is doing, not what we have done. That is what we help others with.
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
What is clear in Romans is that grace is free from merit. God is absolutely amazing! Jesus Christ had to believe in God's grace to do what he did. When he stepped in front of the 5000, the sanhedrin, the woman at the well, or prayed in the garden of Gethsemane and hung ultimately on the tree (cross), he knew God would empower him. He exemplified power and authority everywhere he went.

The world is not an easy place, that was determined a long time ago as recorded in Genesis 3, however God provided another way:
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the workS of the devil. (I John 3:8)
The devil loves 'works'. He is not about imparting 'grace'. Grace is free. The devil is all about obligation. Anything the evil gives has a price. God has paid that one all time price of error in Genesis 3 through Jesus Christ , the second Adam. It is done, finished and overwith for those who choose to believe. That is what we simply and
freely have to share with others.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Balaam

In Numbers 22, Balaam is introduced. As the children of Israel approached the land that God promised to them, some of the people who had heard about them were concerned. Balak, who was a Moabite, sent for a man noted to be a diviner, named Balaam, to curse the people coming into their land.

Balaam is an interesting character. He must have recognized God in that God told him not to curse the Israelites. In fact God told Balaam to not go with the men from Balak. The men from Balak came back and promised more (Numbers 22:17) and Balaam went back to God to see if God changed his mind. He should have told them to go back where they came from, but Balaam was interested in what they could provide.  God could not make Balaam send them away and Balaam had free will choice to do whatever he wanted. God did what he could to convince him even using his donkey to try to knock some sense into him.



Balaam was drawn by his greed to tweak what God had said for his own benefit. He never did curse Israel but he did some other things that would cause the Israelites some problems.  He  helped Balak find a way to lure the Israelites to go against themselves.
16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Number 31:16
14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. Revelations 2:14
Balaam may have thought the fabrication of his mind in achieving his fame and fortune would bring him great blessings, but he ended up being drowned in the mire of worldly greed.

It is a great lesson for us. Sometimes we push the envelope on what we 'imagine' would be godly blessings and direction for ourselves. 'Imagination' (images that exert pressure) could involve something less than God's standard. Staying humble to God and His word, living in thankfulness for how He continues to love us and staying flexible and receptive to Him are key components for living above the fray. These actions are also great indicators where our mind is at to ourselves.