Thursday, July 20, 2017

HE WILL ALWAYS HEAR US OUT


I was talking and agreeing with my wife, Tanya, last night about how God never gets frustrated, fed-up, impatient or disgusted with our requests, petitions and prayers to Him. God will never say, "Oh Brother! Here comes Chad again with that same request." You will never hear The Lord say, "I wish Tanya will just give me a break, I've got the whole world to listen to and the whole universe to manage."

In Scripture there are too many Come Unto Me or When You Seek Me You Will Find Me themed verses to counter a God pictured as possibly frustrated, fed-up, impatient or disgusted with our communication to Him. Sometimes I think we forget Christians have The Perfect Father as God. No matter what kind of parents or environment you grew up under, Father God is the perfect listener, Counselor and Father.

An additional Amazing feature about our Heavenly Father is that He is always around. He never sleeps, He never slumbers. Through rough times, easy times, sad times, happy times, alone times and not-so-alone times - He is always there (Omnipresent). Which means nothing is hidden from His sight. Nothing catches God by surprise anyway, because He knit you together in your mother's womb - physically and mentally. So, because He knows us thoroughly and because He is always present, we might as well take advantage of our loving, perfect Father God and commune with Him. He will not reject you or me.

Scripture says "God is Love." (1 Jn. 4:8) With God equaling Love we then can plug God into the 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 passage that reads - 

Love (God) is patient, love (God) is kind. It (God) does not envy, it (God) does not boast, it (God) is not proud. It (God) does not dishonor others, it (God) is not self-seeking, it (God) is not easily angered, it (God) keeps no record of wrongs. Love (God) does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It (God) always protects, (God) always trusts, (God) always hopes, (God) always perseveres. Love (God) never fails.

So, God is being God when I am not turned away for asking for the same thing the millionth time. Some might expect some form of rejection or put-off, but Love or God always hears and listens to our communications with Him. The Answer and the timing thereof is totally in His hands and we have to trust that, but we also must be assured He Will Always Hear Us Out.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

TAPPING THE SOURCE


What is your Source? There are so many directions for people to choose from for their life journey. And whether you are looking at your lifetime occupation, spiritual life or family life - there are a plethora of options vying for your selection. 

When you do choose whether to have a family; what job to have; what governs your spiritual man/woman - what will you do when temptations from other influences come in each of these areas? Who or what will be your Source as you go through life? 

Is it any wonder society has many drifters in life. In the family scene the drifter doesn't know what makes up The Family Unit any more and drifts with society's definition. In the job scene, the drifter does not hold down a single position with one company - there is no loyalty, no commitment and other character building features met here. In the spiritual life of a person, the drifter experiments with different belief systems and never settles on one.

It is so important to have an Anchor in life. Teams have their clutch players. People having their coping mechanisms they fall back on in rough times. But if you are a Christian you have The Rock of All Ages - Christ Jesus, The Lord. He is described as a Well That Will Never Run Dry. The Lord is seen as The Shepherd we can trust and The Father we can cry out to about anything. He is the Glory and the Lifter of the believer's life. He created everything and He sustains everything. He is The Source for everything good and needed with a believer. 

Anytime we experience a questionable input or influence, the believer should consider the source. John admonishes us - "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1) Anytime we experience the Pivots of Life - where we know change of direction is eminent - seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness is paramount! 

So, my encouragement for the Drifter is to acknowledge and accept Christ Jesus as The Way, The Truth, The Life and Your Source. From this point forward you will have a more solid foundation to base everything. For my brothers and sisters in Christ I encourage you at all times, but especially in decision-making to continue Tapping The Source.

WORTHY OF WORSHIP AND COMMUNION


In the Old Testament there are many foreshadows to Christ and His sacrifice for us. Some foreshadows are obvious but others have to be read just at the right time for the perspective to leap off the page and deliver the Ah-Ha moment. Now observe the parallelism I noticed to Christ's Sacrifice as the writer of 1 Kings describes what Elijah did in preparation and execution of the sacrifice before the prophets of baal on Mount Carmel. 

"Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down." [Indicative of Christ driving out the robbers, buyers and sellers from The Temple and making it a House of Prayer once again.] 

"Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, 'Your name shall be Israel.' With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed." [A picture of the Passover with the Lord's Disciples in the Upper Room as He spends His final, quality time with His Core group.]

"He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood." [Jesus made The Tree He would die on. The Word of God was made flesh in Christ Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus laid down His life of His own free will, no one forced Him. And he picked His life up again too.] 

"Then he said to them, 'Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.'” [Water was present in the form of a mighty storm at Christ's death. Water and vinegar mixed were offered to Jesus on The Cross. Water and blood flowed from the side of Jesus when His side was pierced. Water is a symbol of purification.]

“'Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.

'Do it a third time,' he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench."
[The total purification or redemption of all humanity's sin would be paid for on The Cross but take three days to manifest in full with The Resurrection being the showcase victory of that payment. In addition, the number three is important in Scripture.]

"At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: 'Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.'” [Reminiscent of - "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. It is Finished. Into your hands I commit my spirit."]

"Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench." [Paralleled to the time Jesus surrendered His spirit to Father God.]

"When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, 'The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!'” [This to me is clearly the soldier at The Cross, crying, "Surely this man was the Son of God."] 
(1 Kings 18:30-39)

The Lord showed up at both sacrifices and proved HE is the ONLY GOD  - Worthy Of Worship And Communion.

Monday, July 17, 2017

MORE POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE


Prayer is a privileged communication with God made possible by Christ Jesus. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) So, when a person is a believer in Christ, that relationship with Jesus should eliminate any hesitancies from addressing Father God directly and confidently. Paul says to the Jews about this frankness,  "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) This is a wonderful honor, however, what James says about prayer and the praying person is what I desire to reveal to you today.

James 5:16 says, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." Because of all that Christ has done for me, I desire to be powerful and effective in my prayer life. The element that precedes having a Christian's prayer "powerful and effective" is being found "righteous"The original Greek word for "righteous" here is dikaios (dik-ah-yos), meaning fair, just, right and reasonable in character or act; by implication innocent or holy.  Yes, a person who is in right-standing with Father God because he/she trusts in Christ's Redemption will have a powerful and effective prayer life. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." However, even moreso will Christians be powerful and effective when they have their life in order, according to The Word of God, when they are communing with God in prayer. Jesus speaks to this in John 15:1-8 when He talks about abiding in Himself as The Vine. 

For prayer to be powerful and effective, it is not enough to just rely on our salvation or our right-standing with God through Christ Jesus. We must continually work out our challenges and struggles, So That our character and prayer life can be perfected. God says through James that He desires our prayers to be more than a wish list; more than a passing five minute whim every day; more than a repetitive mantra. So, make it a point to recognize where your everything comes from, especially your Righteousness. Both your right standing with God and your everyday judgments of what is reasonable, fair and right all come from God. Then as you are walking steadfast in both, your prayers and mine will become More Powerful And Effective. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

DO THE RIGHT THING


There are some places where chivalry is still practiced but it seems to be dying. The same could be said about good ole fashion manners. My observation over the last handful of years is common sense is declining at an alarming rate too. 

James 4:17 is the last verse of that chapter. In this verse, James appeals to people's common sense of life, but uses the entire chapter leading up to that appeal to provide a list of good things they ought to do. 

James 4:17 says, "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them." Prior to this statement, James mentioned concerns that needed addressing in our relationship with each other and our relationship with God. Fights, quarrels, covetousness and even murder come from not placing God first in your life and asking Him about things with the right motive. (verses 1-5)

Next, we are told to sever or totally cut away the world and all of it's systems/trappings. We do this by humbling ourselves before God and relying on His provision in our lives. (verses 4-6) Jesus speaks to this in Matthew when He said,  “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

On the heels of this instruction James lists some nuggets of truth to hold onto, mainly referring to our relationship with God. "Submit...", "Resist...", "Come near...", "Wash and purify...", and "Humble yourselves...". (verses 7-10) Then James returns to the treatment of one another. He says, "Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another." (v.11)

One more bit of advice James gives us - we are not personally guaranteed tomorrow, as such we should recognize who grants us every breath and say, "If it is the Lord's will we will live and do this or that." (verses 13-16)

James then says, in a manner of speaking - So, now that you have a good starting point for what you ought to do, do it because not doing it is an affront to God. Add these things to your common sense and Do The Right Thing.

"If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them."

Monday, July 10, 2017

THE INPUTS AND OUTPUTS OF LIFE


Many of us have heard the phrase - Garbage in garbage out. This is a principle that describes the negative cause and effect relationship. Nature and nurture play the major roles in what kinds of inputs and outputs we exhibit. "We know biblically that it's true:  Whether positively or negatively, what a person continually sees and listens to will directly affect him in his soul, in his spiritual life, and in his walk with God. And the company a person keeps will affect him spiritually and influence the way he views God and others." (Sparkling Gems From the Greek 2, Renner, p. 480)

Take for example the life of Lot. 2 Peter 2:8 speaks about Lot when he says, "...for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard...". This pictures Lot as an upstanding, honest man when he moved to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. While there he was "tormented" by all the evil sights and sounds that surrounded him. He always had the choice to leave, but he didn't - why? Because "day after day" Lot was desensitized and acclimated to that environment.

One part of society's environment that we need another great wake-up call is violence. Violence in our mindset, violence in our attitude, violence in our relationships, violence in every component of our media and violence in our atmosphere. The demonic spirit of violence is hard at work in our world today. "The fact is, this is the most violent generation that has ever lived. We may not fill a stadium to watch actual murders as the Romans did, but we are every bit as barbaric. In fact, this modern barbarism is even worse than the Romans. Think how desensitized  the soul of society has become to think it normal to watch a movie filled with murder and bloodshed - or listen to music focused on violence - in the comfort of our own homes with our family and friends. Each one of us must ask ourselves, Is this normal?" (Renner, p. 480)

Mr. Renner did some further research and found that since 1940, worldwide, one Billion deaths have occurred from abortions. He said, "...it is more than the combined populations of the United States, Central America, South America, Canada, Australia, England, France, Italy and Greece. The greatest and most extensive killing in human history was not done by Nero, Domitian, Hitler or Stalin - it was done by medical doctors who have murdered more than one billion babies through the act of abortion in the past 100 years." (Renner, p.475)

The question is - Do you want a better__________? (life, community, state, nation, attitude, perspective, etc.) Some are desensitized until they get that proverbial slap-in-the-face or miraculous salvation like Lot. You who know better cannot wait around for these spur-to-action events. We, Christians, must draw-a-line-in-the-sand and be the ones helping others wake-up.

The key is to substitute the "garbage" in the phrase Garbage in garbage out with not just positive things but Godly matters. So, my encouragement is "brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Philippians 4:8) Pay attention to your surroundings and the company you share. As Proverbs 4:23 says, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." - because all this begins by knowing The Inputs And Outputs Of Life.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

STAYING HAPPY


I want to speak an encouraging word into your life today. I desire to remind you, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that happiness is attainable even in the face of challenging life-moments of sadness and the like. But if we treat them right, that is just what those challenges are - moments; lessons to learn, feelings to feel and this too shall pass. "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

I watched a three-part movie series recently called "Death Comes to Pemberley" (attached to the "Pride and Prejudice" story). In the final installment, the female lead, Anna Martin playing Elizabeth Darcy was speaking with her beloved about perspective and said, "Let's look to the past only as it gives us pleasure. And to the future only as it gives us hope."

The Hebrew people did this eons before Elizabeth Darcy arrived on the scene. As God's people would travel from place to place experiencing the many facets of God's favor - protection, food, direction, a life-manual (The Law) and so on - altars of stone would be built to commemorate or commit to memory what The Lord had done for them there. In addition, they would not only build the altar, they would name the altar, like The Lord is My Shelter (protection).

The should'ves, could'ves and would'ves of life are enemies who target our joy and progress. Unfortunately, our society focuses on what they do not have and has an I deserve attitude. However, with the help of The Holy Spirit, we have the means to stay happy. Mr. Rick Renner stated in his Sparkling Gems From the Greek 2, "Thankfulness is a prerequisite to happiness because only a thankful heart can be a happy heart." (p.467) Acquiring and keeping a grateful and thankful attitude not only reminds us of past and recent blessings, but of God's promises - His projected blessings yet to come. A focused perspective is the key. Keep your focus on God's Faithfulness (God's Track Record) and your attitude and future will immediately brighten beyond belief.

"If society focused its gaze on God and kept Him in their minds, it would be more difficult for Satan's deception to work its plan in the world. But when man becomes unthankful - ceasing to acknowledge God and to be thankful for His abundant blessings - that is when he begins to sink into decadence." (Renner, page 468)

"You see, a Christian may not slide into the same sins to which the world quickly succumbs, but ungratefulness, bitterness and other heart-hardening attitudes will worm their way into your soul if you do not maintain an attitude of thankfulness and constantly recognize God's goodness in your life." (Renner, page 469)

Learn from King David, as he said, "Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits." (Psalm 103:2) In this command to his own soul, David had the right mindset, the right attitude and proper execution to Staying Happy.