Saturday, February 28, 2015

Growing in the Light

Have you ever really looked at a tree? It is amazing!  So why are leaves flat? Could it be so every leaf gets a chance at the sun? Why is it they are green for a period of time and then turn colors and shrivel up and fall off the tree. How come there are no fall colors in Florida? These are great lessons in its design.

The leaf has other structural miracles. Just check out the stomates sometime, or the palisade, xylem, phloem cell layers. Biology is a fascinating subject (Romans 1:20) and I love talking about it (guess that's why I became a biology teacher)!

Plants were brought forth on the 3rd day. Uh oh! The sun came into being the 4th day! A day is a day (see Genesis1:14-16), so there is no problem with plants coming into existence a day before the sun.  Actually a plant will grow in the dark. This was one of the first experiments we did in my Biology class. Plants grown in the dark have long long long white stems (to help them look for light). Plants grown in the light are green, vibrant and sturdy. The spindly plants have smaller leaves. Plants grown in the light have larger, productive leaves. Again these are great lessons that apply to life.
Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
God is light and in him is no darkness at all. So when we bask in God's light we flourish in productivity and fruit. Our lives are not spindly.











The Word of God into the bible

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pleasing God

As I travel through the Old Testament slowly, I often find things in the New Testament that emphasize some of the treasures found in the old covenant period. As I get to know people like Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, the 'Believer's Hall of Fame' in Hebrews 11 is really becoming clearer. These men had a passion for God, 'they walked with Him'!

I had to do some rethinking of Hebrews 11:6 in regards to the word 'faith'. It is translated from the Greek word 'pistus' meaning faith, believing or trust. God expands His meaning (He often does that) right there in the verse!
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Pleasing God had always seemed highlighted for me until recently; but it is the phrases that follow that present clearly what it is to please God.  We cannot please God by any other method than by 'coming to Him', 'believing that He is' and that 'He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him'.  Often this verse has connoted to people an 'earn by works' or what I call 'bootstrap believing' (or 'grit and believe it' theology). That is not at all what it is about. It is all about our hearts turning to God and trusting. How can one believe someone without trusting? Trust involves knowing the true nature of God and having a relationship with Him. Jesus Christ showed us that.

Each one of those men mentioned in the first paragraph had a relationship with God; it was individual and each one did something different for God. When you have the spirit of God in your life, you are the one to whom the spirit of God communicates purpose and direction to. No one else can do that for you. No one else determines your 'mission for God' except you and Him.

Several years ago someone told me I needed to go on a project assignment for God in order to grow and not be afraid to give up my well-paying job. Had God forgotten to tell me about this?  Was I not listening? Was I not believing or trusting God? It happened several times and I even started entertaining a fear of being fearful! Then I realized God was providing my own unique 'projects' and my paycheck was not in my way!  Heck, God had helped in my job search! It could absolutely be an entirely different situation for someone else.  The point is that each of us has to believe that He (God) is and diligently seek Him. No one does that for you. What we share with each other is the excitement of access to God for direction, not the direction itself.

In the Old Testament, the spirit of God was 'upon' certain individuals and not on everyone. The whole purpose of the New Testament is to explain our access individually to the throne of grace. We all can have the spirit within because of the death, resurrection, ascension and Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Spirit Of Jealousy

In Numbers 5, jealousy is dealt with in the law:
12 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man's wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him, 13 And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner;
This law involves adultery on the part of the wife when there are no witnesses or that she hasn't been caught in the deed.
14 And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled:
When there is no proof, there is the possibility that she is innocent. The problem is that jealousy can enter the relationship and by it's nature it can be violent involving rage and out of control emotions.
Proverbs 27:4 4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Envies and jealousies are cruel because they go after another person in a bad way. Gossip, lying and extreme emotion may be its vehicles, in one person trying to destroy another. It can lead to even more damaging consequences. Throw in some control and indignation and it can be quite a recipe for evil. Adultery is wrong, but so can the reaction to it be wrong.
15 Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance.
29 This is the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside to another instead of her husband, and is defiled; 30 Or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law. 31 Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity.
In the Old Testament this is the way things were dealt with. In the New Testament, with the presence of the spirit of God in the believer, Paul records the ultimate reaction to evil:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; II Corinthians 10:3-5
Galatians 6:1Brethren, 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. 
Check out Ephesians 6:11-17. The world is full of jealousy, envy and strife.  God is the answer to it all. It is in his hands how forgiveness plays out. It may involve restoration, but it could involve putting distance in the relationship when things are not restored.  Our attitude of meekness toward God is the primary determiner.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Prophets, Prophecy and God's Heart - Happy Hearts Day!

You've gotta love Numbers Chapter 11! The people of Exodus were complaining again. Even Moses got irritated with having to deal with it again yet another time.
I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. Numbers 11:14
God did an amazing thing. He told Moses to gather 70 men and he gave them spirit.
And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. Numbers 11:25 
These men were set around the tabernacle. Two men,  Eldad and Medad,  however, were reported to have been prophesying outside in the camp. Imagine that! As human nature would have it a young man asked Moses to forbid them to do so! Moses had a great response:
And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. 29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them! Numbers 27-29
God's heart was to be able to talk to every believer. In this record we have a small porthole to see what would happen eventually on the Day of Pentecost that is recorded in the book of Acts. On that day 12 men spoke in tongues as evidence of the gift of holy spirit they received. But the day did not end with just the 12 receiving the gift of holy spirit:
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:38-41
God calls to us today to receive His gift. This gift should not lift our hearts above others as if we are specially endowed, or more spiritual than anyone else. It is a gift to lift others up to enjoy the same privileges and comfort in every recess of our inner heart.




R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend and we got to talking about respect and the current culture. He made a statement to me t...