Wednesday, September 19, 2018

THE MOST RELIABLE FRIEND


The Lord has stirred my heart, mind and spirit to write to you about the following subject once again. Please soak it in and I hope it blesses you.

Proverbs 18:24
"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

This verse speaks to reliability, dependability, steadiness, stability and faithfulness. It is what I call a Battery Verse - it has a Negative part to it and a Positive part to it. The Negative is the unreliable friend(s). The Positive is a particular friend that is more reliable than family.

The first part of this verse talks about the importance of the company you keep. The section states, "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,". Not only will bad company hurt you, but if you have people you call "friends" which are unreliable - the unreliability places you back by yourself when you need help and even ruins you.

I encourage us to be very selective in choosing our friends.
Friends are excellent sounding boards for each other (Prov. 27:17). Friends are great for studying The Word of God and growing together (Prov. 27:9). Older friends have gone through similar experiences and their advice is truly sweet because it can save a lot of headaches. If you have a true friend, honesty prevails at all times (Proverbs 27:6). Loyalty to the relationship is important (Prov. 17:17). Then John reminds us we can have no better Friend than one that would sacrifice His life for yours or mine. He says it like this - "No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) Perhaps we should capitalize on the wonderful counsel of Proverbs 12:26 which reminds us - "The righteous choose their friends carefully..."

There is someone who is known as Faithful and True. He is better than a blood relative. He is "a friend who sticks closer than a brother". To help explain this degree of closeness - Proverbs 17:17 says about the brother - "a brother is born to help in time of need." So, while the brother seems to be only noticeable in time of need - The Closer Friend trumps the brother by being around all the time and therefore dependable in more, if not all, things. There is no better person to personify this than God's Holy Spirit. 

I do not subscribe to the notion that parents are not suppose to be their child's friend as well as their parent. This is not Biblical. Because of our faith in Christ, believers have the best of both worlds. We are part of His Family, sons and daughters of God, and He is our Friend. As part of God's Family, Matthew records Jesus saying, 
  • "...whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:50)
Then about Friendship John remembers Jesus saying, 
  • "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15) 
We do His Will because we are Family and Father God knows best. We know His Kingdom Business because we are His Friend(s). Now a whole new freshness comes to the lyrics - "What a friend we have in Jesus..." and reassures me as it should every believer in Christ that we have The Most Reliable Friend.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A HISTORY OF ALTARS


Did God miraculously heal you? Did God save you from a perilous or dangerous situation? Did God rescue you out of a lifestyle that was destructive?

These are reasonable beginnings to a life of faith in Christ Jesus. However, my effort is for us to revisit the "altars", the trophies or memorials of God in our lives.

Altars in and of themselves are structures that were built to certain specifications and placed in a specific place for many different uses. Multiple cultures have integrated the use of altars in their society. The Mayans, Incas and Jews are just a select few that we know used altars.

For the Jewish usage of the altar the usual observation is that they dealt with all the many sacrifices brought before the LORD. However, not only was it a place of daily sacrifice, but much more. Consider the following about the Jewish Altar...
  • It was portable (Ex. 27:7)
  • A place of offering (Ex. 29:18) 
  • A place of consecration (Ex. 29:21) 
  • A place of seeking holiness (Ex. 29:37) 
  • A place of personal cleanliness (Ex. 40:32) 
  • A place of death (Lev. 1:11-15) 
  • A place of continual burning (Lev. 6:12-13)
  • A place of atonement (Lev. 17:11) 
  • A place of God’s presence (Judges 13:20) 
  • A place where you can worship the wrong thing (Judges 6:25) 
  • Where oaths are sworn (1 Kings 8:31) 
  • Where prayers and supplications are made to the LORD (1 Kings 8:54) 
  • Where the altar itself is cried out against (1 Kings 13:2) 
  • It was a place to take from and apply to (Lev. 16:12-13, 46-47)  
  • A place for seeking guidance (2 Kings 16:15)
  • It was a place that is cared for/tended to (Nu. 18:5) 
  • It was a place to worship before (2 Chron. 32:12)
  • Finally, what might be most striking but definitely gets you pondering is that the earthly altars were patterned after a heavenly altar (Isaiah 6:6; Revelation 6:9, 8:3)
But before this version of the altar, men like Noah (Genesis 8:20), Abram (Genesis 12:7), Isaac (Genesis 26:25), Jacob (Genesis 35:1-3), and Moses (Exodus 17:15) all used the altar as memorials to God’s great work in their life at that time. They would experience the intervention of God in their life in some way and then to remember it they would construct an altar and worship The Lord. They typically named or titled the altar to signify the miracle or provision God had granted (i.e. “The LORD is My Banner”Exodus 17:15). And the altar was made from stone not earth. Earth-made altars were for the purpose of sacrifices. Stone-made altars were for the purpose of honoring God. Exodus 20:24-26 is the basis for this idea -
  • "'Make an altar of earth and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and cattle. Whenever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. And do not go up to my altar on steps, lest your nakedness be exposed on it.'"
Men like Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, took this practice seriously. At every opportunity he built an altar to memorialize God's work in his life. He even decorated his stones when God continued to bless a specific area of his life. This is recorded in Hosea 10:1 -
  • "Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones." 
Now I am not asking anyone to go into their backyards and erect a stone altar to the Lord every time He blesses you. If you build a stone altar for the Lord at all - that is between you and God. However, I do desire to encourage all Believers in Christ to develop a system of remembrance, a plan in our lives that documents and possibly verbalizes to someone the reasons behind "Who You Say HE IS". This system or plan will crystallize in our heart, mind, and soul what we believe about this relationship we began with an invisible God that produces visible results. Your answer to - "Who do you say I am?" - by the testimony of all the altars in your life will fulfill 1 Peter 3:15 - "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,". Altars are a wonderful thing for reflection, a wonderful thing for thanksgiving and a wonderful thing for sharing with others your History Of Altars.

MY PRAYER OF GRATITUDE

Dear Lord, 

Thank you. You have been the anchor for my soul. You have been the wind in my sails. You have been my help when I knew I needed it and when I did not know. 

Lord, I apologize for dragging your Holy Spirit through my sinful mess. Savior, I request you forgive me and immerse me in a baptism of your Holy Spirit Fire-River. Empower me again, oh Lord, to be a mighty, positive influence for you. Help me to know The Shepherd's Voice more clearly and be able to carry out His Words.

I pray, there is no compromise in trusting you King Jesus. You have been so good, you have been so faithful to me and my family. Even when the answers have varied from yes, to maybe, to yes, to wait for it - I have always benefited from trusting you first. Help me to continue to live like this - always consulting you first in everything.

You know my first day from my last. You know every hair on my head or lack thereof. You know my thoughts before I perceive them. Your ways and thoughts are higher than mine and higher than the heavens above. You, who spoke everything into existence, knows everything about me and loves me.

Thank you Lord. You loved me first. Thank you, Yeshua Messiah for my Salvation at The Cross through your sacrificial death. Thank you Savior, for my victory at The Empty Tomb through your Resurrection! Thank you Lord, for the empowering Holy Spirit to now live this life for you until you take my life or come and get me yourself. 

Thank you, Lord, for continuing to Love me pass The Cross. Thank you for fulfilling all the wonderful titles that blesses my life. Your Grace still amazes me Lord. I am blessed beyond measure. Thank you again Lord.

Your son,

Chad  

Monday, September 10, 2018

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN


The Kingdom of Heaven is not just a supernaturally built structure, people or your true home. It is where creativity is nourished and grown. It is a limitless supply of potential, making you forever a work-in-progress. It is a fostering of leaders of Righteousness for His name's sake. The Kingdom of Heaven isn't just a place of citizenship - it is an atmosphere, attitude and person of Christ Jesus you always carry with you by the grace and power of The Holy Spirit.

HIS SHADOW AND HIS SHELTER (REVISED AND REVISITED)




"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of The Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)

Turn Psalm 91:1 backwards and paraphrase it and it states - anybody resting in the shadow of The Almighty has chosen to dwell under the shelter of the Most High.

It is a choice to know "The Secret Place" as the King James Version refers to "the Shelter" of God. For the Christian, the practice of a quiet time or personal time with The Lord is an awesome avenue to tap into the benefits of resting in God's shadow. The shadow of an object or person can only cast so far. To be in the shadow of something or someone is to be in very close proximity. Applying this to our walk with God speaks of intimacy and communion with Him. God's Shadow does not refer to darkness, doom or gloom but of shade, comfort and refreshing. In Psalm 91:1 we read that "The Shelter" is His and "The Shadow" is His. Those who journey to this locale "dwell" and "rest".

However, believers in Christ need to take advantage of His Shadow And His Shelter that is available to them constantly. His promise to never leave us and never forsake (Hebrews 13:5) us means we have God On Tap through The Holy Spirit at a moments thought or at the drawing of a breath to pray. The fault falls to us when we venture out from under The Shelter and find the benefits of His Shadow are diminished or at worst lost for a season. Our thoughts, actions, words, and prayers - governed by the Holy Spirit will keep us in intimate closeness with His Kingship. Paul reminds the believer in Philipi - "Finally, 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)

Praise God! Do you see how vast God's shadow is? His Shadow covers the entire area of "the shelter". His Word says, "whoever dwells in the shelter...will rest in the shadow". You come into His "shelter" you get His "shadow". You aim for His "shadow" and "the shelter" is already there. You receive both when you desire and seek for His Shadow And His Shelter.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

REMEMBER


Doesn't it mean the world to you when you have shared personal information with someone you trust and they check up on that subject with you later on, especially when you least expect it? This remembering shows they have paid attention to you and cared enough to commit it to memory for regurgitation later on.

In Scripture, the word remember is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament Israel had a cyclic issue of forgetting God and His blessings on the country.


  • "No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side." (Judges 8:34-35)
  • "Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember his power— the day he redeemed them from the oppressor, the day he displayed his signs in Egypt, his wonders in the region of Zoan." (Psalm 78:41-43)
  • "We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly. When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known." (Psalm 106:6-8)

In the New Testament my findings were as follows -
In Matthew 16:9, Jesus seems aggravated about forgetfulness. 
  • Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 
In 2 Thessalonians 2:5, Paul also exemplifies this air of aggravation. 
  • Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?
So, praise God we are not alone in desiring things to be remembered! Observing Jesus and Paul were disturbed about followers remembering - this matters! So, what are some things we need to remember about remembering?

Use remembering as a future source of gaining direction. John records in his Gospel,
John 16:4, Jesus telling us that remembering is key for His Plan later on in our life. 
  • "I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you."
Utilize your recall ability to retrieve the memories of people who have helped and supported you. This brings a great appreciation for the relationships God has blessed you with in your life. Paul describes remembering as a pleasant enough experience to thank God for that someone or group of people.
  • "I thank my God every time I remember you." (Philippians 1:3)
Practice remembering peoples needs in prayer. Paul describes remembering as a tool for prayer. 
  • "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you." (Colossians 4:18)
There are even certain people to remember in prayer. Paul emphasizes remembering your Christian leaders and imitating their faith.
  • "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." (Hebrews 13:7)
Then John touches on remembering in Revelation. He views remembering as a retro-spective measure to appreciate how much you have lost and gained. 
  • "Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first." (Revelation 2:5)
John also uses remember as a first step that then spurs one on to action. 
  • "Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent." (Revelation 3:3)
So, I encourage you, Remember what The Lord has done in your life So That the appropriate credit is given and the right attitude/mindset is kept. In addition, when engaged in dialogue with ANYBODY - do your best every time to make eye contact, pay attention, soak up what they are saying and Remember. Why? Because Remembering confirms to somebody they make a difference and you can positively influence their life by doing so. Remembering also ministers to the heart deeply. In the effort of "Loving God, By Loving Others and Serving God, By Serving Others", do your best to Remember.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

JOY COMES IN THE MORNING (This Too Shall Pass)


Psalm 30:5
"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."

"Anyone can give pep talks, but if God is who He claims to be, He sure as shootin' better have a word for the despondent. Self-help manuals might get you through a bad mood or a tough patch. But what about an abusive childhood or a debilitating accident or years of chronic pain or public ridicule? Does God have a word for the dark nights of the soul?

He does. The promise begins with this phrase: 'Weeping may last through the night...".

This is not news to you. But this may be: 'Joy comes with the morning'. Night might delay the dawn, but it cannot defeat it. Morning comes. Not as quickly as we want. Not as dramatically as we desire. But morning comes, and with it comes joy." (Lucado, p.118, Unshakable Hope)

One of the great Biblical examples of this journey through our nights of life to the mornings of life is illustrated through the life of Mary Magdalene and her relationship with Jesus. Mary had battled many demons in her life, but when she met Jesus those demons fled with just a few words of rebuke from Jesus. From that day forward, Mary devoted her time, energy, resources - basically her life - to Jesus.

Is it any wonder with the freedom she now experienced that she would stick closer to Christ than white on rice? We find her at the Crucifixion (John 19:25). She aided in the preparing of the body for burial after Jesus was lowered from The Cross. And Max says it best like this - 

"On Friday Mary Magdalene watched Jesus die. On Saturday she observed a sad Sabbath. When Sunday came, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to finish the work she had begun on Friday." (Lucado, p.119, Unshakable Hope)

As she approached The Tomb, to her, what was already a bad weekend - now got worse. The stone that only could be moved by strong men (plural) which was in front of the tomb entrance was now moved aside - shock to the system #1. No body on the slab inside the tomb - shock #2. Add to this two strangers, one at the foot of the slab and the other at the head of the slab (really angels) asked Mary, "Why are you weeping?" Now, come on, really? Where have you been these past few days guys? And why are you sitting inside this tomb? That would be me. 

However, Mary must have been so overcome with grief and despair that she answered the men/angels - "They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him." So, whoever "they" were - robbers, gardeners, practical jokers or whomever - they had taken the body of Jesus. But just as she had given that grasp at plausibility - Jesus showed up, unrecognizable, in the doorway of His own tomb. 

Mary and the rest of the Disciples don't quite get The Mission and who they are dealing with in Jesus until The Resurrection. Mary wants closure, so here she is with a stone rolled away, empty tomb, strange men inside asking questions and another one that just showed up at the door with more questions. The man asked, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She thinks - to be sure this guy knows something or is the culprit himself and says, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away."

"She didn't recognize her Lord. So Jesus did something about it. He called her by name. 'Jesus said to her, 'Mary!'. When she heard Him call her by name, she knew the source. In a second. In a pivot of the neck. In the amount of time it took her to rotate her head from this way to that, her world went from a dead Jesus to a living one. Weeping may last through the night, but joy...." (Lucado, p.121, Unshakable Hope)

She latched herself onto Jesus. Wouldn't you?!!! "We don't know how she held Him. We just know she did. And Jesus let her do so. Even if the gesture lasted for only a moment. Jesus allowed it. How wonderful that the resurrected Lord was not too holy, too otherly, to divine, too supernatural to be touched. The regal hero is relentlessly tender." (Lucado, p.122, Unshakable Hope)

So - "Do what People of the Promise do. Keep coming to Jesus. Even though the trail is dark. Even though the sun seems to sleep. Even though everyone else is silent, walk to Jesus. Mary Magdalene did this. No, she didn't comprehend the promise of Jesus. She came looking for a dead Jesus, not a living one. But at least she came. And because she came to Him, He came to her." (Lucado, p. 126, Unshakable Hope)

 Psalm 30:5
"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."