Monday, July 30, 2012

JUST AS I AM

The following is my paraphrase of Joseph Prince's July 22, 2012 Devotional "Imperfect Faith Not A Barrier To God's Grace".

There are those who teach that because you have doubt in your heart you can't receive from God, but that is not true.  I will admit, we are creatures which have hearts that believe easily, but a head or thinking process challenges our hearts and gets in the way of our faith sometimes.  However, this does not stop God!

Take for example the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:24-34).  She did not seek to know Jesus.  Her faith was selfish, desperate, and ignorant.  Selfish and desperate because she had been in her bleeding condition for twelve years and was ready to try anything.  Ignorant because healing power flowed from Jesus not the garment of Jesus.  But if you read the story you will see that Jesus did not mock the woman's faith.  He did not give her a lesson on where the true power of healing comes from.  No!  Instead Jesus met the woman where her imperfect faith was at in her life and dealt with her there.

There is a song that is called He Came Down To My Level and the chorus goes like this.......

He came down to my level
When I couldn't get up to His
With a strong arm He lifted me up, to show me what livin' is
He'll come down to your level
If you'll open up the door
He wants to make your life worth livin', that's what He came down for

Another example that Mr. Prince does not mention in his devotional that I feel applies is found in Mark 9:24-29.  A father brings his possessed son before Jesus quite distraught because His disciples can not heal his boy. Jesus finds out the situation, status of faith, gives a word of instruction on faith, then heals the boy.  The Scripture reads like this - "Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From childhood," he answered. 22 "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." 23 " 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." 24 Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief !" When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out."

Jesus did not say, "Well, my disciples should have taken care of this matter, sorry, I can't help you."  No!  Jesus was very interested in the details of this parent's need.  This healing was a great package deal - it meant glory for God, healing for the boy, and increase in the father's belief in God's power through Jesus.

The answer to our imperfect faith is just to simply come before God despite our misgivings, lack of faith, or lack of anything.  He is a God that will forgive the doubt and answer the Faith.  Never be afraid to come to God.  The greatest mistake or the greatest opportunity missed is not to come to God.......imperfect faith and all.  So, if you are a True Believer in Christ, don't allow anyone to condemn you for your lack of faith, remember - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," - Romans 8:1  God may require persistent faith, but you are a child of the living God through Christ Jesus and condemnation comes from another source.

Remember also.......
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." - Hebrews 4:15

Here is part of the Devotional if you would like to view it.......

Friday, July 27, 2012

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Sin - rebellion or disobedience, by a free-will creature, which destroys the relationship to The Authority on Life and of Life that has established a rule or rules by which to live by. (Chad's Dictionary)

When did the cancer of sin begin?  
Let us back track.  Today, we know we have rebellion, disobedience, and defiance of God's free gift of love, salvation, and Standard - Jesus Christ.  Rewinding the clock to The Law of Moses, Romans 5:13 says, "...for before the Law was given, sin was in the world." The wickedness of Noah's days displayed this sin.

"When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD." (Genesis 6:1-8)

So "man's wickedness...had become" means sin must have been around before Noah's days.  It was.  "...death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses..." (Romans 5:13-14) And all Believers know that - "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) So sin was around because according to Scripture, sin entered humanity and creation through disobedience to a command of God.

"And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'" (Genesis 2:16-17)

What caused the disobedience?  Enter a Narnia-like World with me where, before The Fall, Adam had the privilege and responsibility to tend the Garden of Eden and name all the animals God brought before him (Genesis 2:15-20). Evidently creatures could speak to humans before The Fall because Eve was not shocked when Satan manifested as OR inhabited the body of a serpent (see also Matthew 8:30-31) and spoke. Then Satan, as the catalyst for sin, succeeded at his temptation of Adam and Eve into this dead relationship with God.

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?  The woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is n the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'  You will not surely die,' the serpent said to the woman.  'For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'" (Genesis 3:1-5)

Interestingly Satan did not appear as an angel of light - "for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14). Again, he appeared as OR inhabited a serpent. Lucifer had fallen from his lofty position (Ezekiel 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:12-14; Revelation 12:3-4) by the time of this encounter with Eve. This interaction means that Sin lay (past tense of lie) with the Father of Lies or Lucifer in the beginning.

So, when did the cancer of Sin begin? It began sometime after the angelic host were created. It began with an angelic being named Lucifer, who is symbolically referenced as the "King of Tyre" in Ezekiel 28:12-19. Disastrously, Lucifer's miscalculation, delusion, and/or illusion not only caused his own demise but the violent plummet of one-third of the angelic host (Rev.12:3-4) and the death of humanity's relationship with God (Genesis 3:1-5).  

This explanation of where Sin came from is in no way meant to divert taking responsibility for one's actions. The Devil made me do it is very circumstantial. There are times where there is a direct co-relation to one's behavior due to demonic influence. However, it is my personal belief that we are so bad off on our own, before we TRULY accept Christ, that we do not need this excuse the majority of the time.

We call Lucifer - Satan or Devil most of the time. His fallen angels we call demons or evil spirits. BUT GOD.......loved us so much - He sent His angels to help us in times of need, but that was not enough. He loved us so much - He sent great Prophets, Priests and Kings to rule the people and help the fallen condition, but that was not enough. Then one day, God loved us so much He gave us His own Son that whosoever would believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The mistake was started by one of God's angelic host and continued through our disobedience but it was ended by the Word of God Himself in flesh - Jesus Christ! That victory is manifested in our lives when we accept what Jesus did for us on the Cross and out from the grave. For - "if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)

If you have Not followed the Roman 10:9-10 Path, I encourage you to do so today and then tell me or a local church pastoral team that you trust about your decision.  God bless you all!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

DON'T HAVE A BOXHEAD

True believers in Christ have at their disposal the Bible to read and study.  They also have a plethora of resources to compliment their study of any particular passage or verse they are focusing on.  Last, only in mentioning, true believers in Christ have the Holy Spirit within them to "lead them into all Truth" (John 16:13).  When all three of these are combined in one sitting the experience can be very enriching.  However, the enrichment could be so much more and that is what God recently taught me.

In the light of a variety of reasons, I don't have a big enough picture of my God.  I have assigned to Him parameters that I feel have been defined in His Scripture.  However, while the The Bible speaks Truth about God that I accept as such, I believe the Holy Spirit is telling me He is even bigger.  I am reminded of John 21:25 - "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."  With Jesus being the Word of God in flesh, the Creator of all things, and with Him doing as many more wonderful things that are suggested in John 21:25, how much more can I expect my God to keep me in amazement.  I have got to get rid of my God Box.

Two men that I have read about recently who illustrate this point well are Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.  Both stay in the shadows of the Scripture until their part to play in the story of Christ is revealed.  Let us place Joseph under the magnifying glass first.

"It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body." - Mark 15:42-43

An introduction to Joseph of Arimathea....
  • He appears on the scene "as evening approached" on "the day before the Sabbath".
  • He is from the city of "Arimathea".
  • He is a well respected member of the Sanhedrin ("Council")
  • He is a man actively "waiting" (prosdechomai - Greek) "for the kingdom of God", personally looking into the affairs of this man called Jesus of Nazareth.
  • He "went boldly to Pilate" suggests he bravely went because of the opinion held of Jesus by the rest of the Sanhedrin.  It also can be applied to how Joseph approached Pilate - firmly, but with respect.
  • He "asked for Jesus' body" reveals that he loved and believed in Jesus and His teachings.  The King James Version says that Joseph "craved the body of Jesus", reaffirming the strong desire he communicated to Pilate for the release of Christ's body to him.  For a prominent member of the Council to ask for the body of Jesus and then place him in his own tomb was a high risk move to his reputation.
Now let us place Nicodemus under the magnifying glass.

"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." - John 3:1-2

An introduction to Nicodemus....
  • He was a Pharisee.  Pharisees believed in the supernatural, Saducees did not, that is why they were Sad-u-cee.  (A little Holy Humor for today)
  • He was "a member of the Jewish ruling council" which you can imagine made him a prominent, influential, and wealthy man just like Joseph.
  • He was secretive concerning his relationship with Jesus for "He came to Jesus at night..."  Still focused on his reputation Nicodemus was not ready to lay it all down yet.  However,........
  • He made a great stride toward true freedom and he showed his hunger and flexibility in receiving it when he called Jesus "Rabbi" or Great Teacher.  "For Nicodemus to call Jesus 'Rabbi' was remarkable indeed.  The Jewish leader would never have used that title unless he had already heard Jesus interpret the Law and thereby judged His ability to do so."  (Sparkling Gems From The Greek, p.278, Renner)
"Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds." - John 19:38-39

Now the two become a dynamic duo for the Lord.

"Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.  At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.  Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there." - John 19:40-42

I love how Mr. Renner said it....

"This is an amazing story of two men who dearly loved Jesus.  Although Joseph and Nicodemus lived in circumstances that made it difficult for them to publicly follow Jesus, they chose to follow Him to their fullest capability.  When Jesus died, they continued to demonstrate their deep love for Him, treating His dead body with tender care and using their personal wealth to bury Him with honor.  As far as they understood at the time, this was their last opportunity to show Jesus how much they loved Him, and they were going to take full advantage of it." (p.279)

"This means that Nicodemus, like Joseph of Arimathea, was open-minded enough to receive from people who were 'outside the circle' of what most religious people viewed as acceptable.  In fact, Nicodemus was so hungry to find a touch of God that it appears he himself visited Jesus' meetings that had just been conducted in the city of Jerusalem." (p.278)

God had men inside.  Joseph and Nicodemus just had to play everything out to find out "the men inside" were them.  I feel certain that they both knew The Law of Moses like the back of their hands.  But where The Law dropped off and left Joseph and Nicodemus still feeling lack, The Holy Spirit prompted them to seriously consider - Jesus of Nazareth.  There had been many false messiahs that had come through Jerusalem and the surrounding areas.  So, this Messiah who fulfilled every prophecy of their Bible and fulfilled every letter of The Law seemed to be a wonderful candidate to place their reputations on and hopes in.  They kept their options for God to move in a fresh, new way open and judged Jesus by the fruit of His actions.  They did not close off their mind and heart to Him simply because Jesus was new and maybe a threat to their little click.  No, just the mere possibility that Jesus could be The One outweighed all risks and Joseph and Nicodemus were handsomely rewarded for Not Placing God In A Box. 









Monday, July 23, 2012

What Do I Know Of Holy

What Do I Know Of Holy
Addison Road


Verse 1
I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all, no
If You touched my face would I know You
Looked into my eyes could I behold You

Chorus
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean
Are You fire, are You fury
Are You sacred, are You beautiful
So what do I know, what do I know of Holy

Verse 2
I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
But those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/a/addison_road/what_do_i_know_of_holy.html ]
Chorus
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean
Are You fire, are You fury
Are You sacred, are You beautiful
So what do I know, what do I know of Holy

Bridge
What do I know of Holy
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame
And a God who gave life it's name
What do I know of Holy
Of the One who the angels praise
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love

Chorus 2
So what do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean
Are You fire, are You fury
Are You sacred, are You beautiful
What do I know, what do I know of Holy
What do I know of Holy
What do I know of Holy

Music Video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QyVvkTBTTw 

OUR CONDITION.......HIS LOVE AND PEACE

Romans 5:1-2 says -

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand."

This verse can only be understood in the light of the pre-condition of having "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ".  That pre-condition is a "warring" relationship.

B.C. or Before Christ reigns in our hearts and minds - Romans 5:6 calls us "powerless" and "ungodly".  Romans 5:8 calls us "sinners".  Romans 5:9 calls us condemned to "God's wrath".  Romans 5:10 calls us God's enemies.

BUT....

Romans 5:6-8 says,
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

I once saw a bumper sticker that said it really well....

No Jesus, No Peace
Know Jesus, Know Peace

And that my friends is God's Truth!  Thank you Lord for your Salvation and your Peace!  Amen!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

MESSAGES FROM GIDEON... SUMMARY


  1. Gideon had a "Doughnut Life".  This is a life that starts off weak, has a strong middle with the Lord, then ends on a weak note once again. (Judges 6:15; 8:22-35)
  2. Gideon could not rightly identify God.  It looked as if he might miss God's visitation. (Judges 6:13, 17)
  3. Gideon had to have an "Ah! Sovereign Lord" moment in order to recognize God's visitation. (Judges 6:19-23)
  4. Gideon executes God's commands with wrong approach (wrong spirit/attitude). (Judges 6:27)
  5. Gideon - a man heavy into signs. (Judges 6:36-40)
  6. Gideon starts to be a "Yes Sir" man.  In this section of the story we see more of God dealing with Gideon than Gideon. (Judges 7:2-10)
  7. Gideon Gets Guts from God. (Judges 7:15 - 8:21)
  8. Gideon lost his God-focus.  He returned to his weakness and his ways.......and so did Israel. (Judges 8:22-27) 
  9. Gideon ends his "life's song" on a "sour note". (Judges 8:28-35)

MESSAGES FROM GIDEON...Part 9 (Last Individual Part)


Don't you want to go out in life on a high note?  Don't you want to finish the "race of life" strong?  If you do not heed to steering away from the old, unsuccessful ways and not learning from your mistakes then the "end note(s)" or the note you go out on in life (i.e. your relationships, ministry, legacy etc..) could be soured or even forgotten.  In Gideon's case, after forty years of peace (and quiet) Gideon dies and with him the memory of what he provided for Israel and the memory of God was forgotten by Israel.

Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon's lifetime, the land enjoyed peace forty years. 29 Jerub-Baal son of Joash went back home to live. 30 He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelech. 32 Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 33 No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god 34 and did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. 35 They also failed to show kindness to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) for all the good things he had done for them. (Judges 8:28-35).

Take Away:  End on a great note!  I challenge you, do not only be remembered, but have a desire to be remembered as making a great contribution into the lives of others.  Make a difference, even if you say like Gideon - "My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." - God can still use you as stated before in 1 Corinthians 1:27 - "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."  He tends to use the weakest to make the most difference!  So, go with God and in His confidence!  God Bless You!

Friday, July 20, 2012

MESSAGES FROM GIDEON - Part 8


Ah yes, old habits die hard.  This was true for Gideon and Israel as well.

"The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us--you, your son and your grandson--because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian." But Gideon told them, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you." And he said, "I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder." (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)  They answered, "We'll be glad to give them." So they spread out a garment, and each man threw a ring from his plunder onto it.  The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels' necks.  Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family." (8:22-27)


Take Away:  Don't let negative history repeat with you!  Here, in this example above, the Golden Calf Syndrome (Exodus 32:1-35) struck Gideon, his family, and all of Israel and "it became a snare to them".  Anytime you are tempted to return to the old, comfortable, but unsuccessful ways of living, rebuke them and pray to God for His help in continuing in His ways.

In addition, be watchful, especially after a victory in life, of what you value.  Gideon turned down the opportunity to continue in the leadership role that God had blessed him with earlier.

"The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us--you, your son and your grandson--because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian." But Gideon told them, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you."

Instead of continuing to be a great Ruler for God, Gideon's focus was corrupted. His eyes got off the Provider and got on the Plunder. Gideon's focus was so much on the gold earrings that he made it into an idol where not only did it become "a snare" to him and his family, but because he placed it "in Ophrah, his town" the whole of Israel became snared or "prostituted" to it by "worshiping it there".

So, hear the message from Gideon - Keep in God's plan and presence. Your life and focus will be right where it needs to be when you deflect away the old habits, hang-ups, and history of your life and keep moving with God.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

MESSAGES FROM GIDEON - Part 7


Judges 7:15 through 8:21 sees Gideon working in the confidence he has gained from the Lord.  I believe the straw that broke the camel's back was the enemy's dream that Gideon heard.  This now fuels the fire for Gideon to fulfill God's purpose - to release Israel from their seven year oppression of the Midianites and the Amalekites (Judges 6:1).

Take Away:  When it is time and you know it (whether you hear it directly from the enemy's camp or not) - Execute God's Will In Your Life With His Confidence And The Right Attitude!  No "ifs", "ands", or "buts" - to borrow Nike's slogan, Just Do It!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

MESSAGES FROM GIDEON - Part 6

After God calls Gideon to be the warrior-leader of Israel who will lead Israel out of oppression and validates this by the display of signs (at the request of Gideon), God decides to whittle down the number of his troops, but tells him why.
 
"In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.' " So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained." (Judges 7:2-3)
 
Wow! Thirty-two thousand fighting men were at Gideon's disposal!  Then twenty-two thousand were allowed to go home simply on the basis of "anyone who trembles with fear".  Guess God doesn't want pansies in His army (another message there)!
But Wait There's More!

"But the LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go."  So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink."  Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.  The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place." (Judges 7:4-7)
 
300 - sounds like a good movie about small odds/amounts defeating overwhelming odds/amounts of soldiers.  Oh, wait, it is a movie.  Wrong era and wrong people for this 300.  If I was Gideon, my confidence would be a little shaky about now.  BUT GOD knows all of us personally, including Gideon, and says,  


"'If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.' So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp." (7:10) 

Gideon must have been afraid because he went down to the camp.  I would be too.  Especially seeing that I have 300 soldiers now, instead of the 32,000 I started out with and the enemy - "The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore." (Judges 7:12)  In today's lingo I can hear Gideon saying something like this....

Gideon is finally starting to get a little hmph, a little get-up in his get-up-and-go.  However, this increases when Gideon hears a dream of the enemy and it's interpretation that confirms God's hand in this matter and Gideon as the warrior-leader of little Israel.


Take Away:  The Lord knew what was needed for Gideon to follow through and for Israel's faith to flourish for a season.  God shared His strategy of faith-building for Israel with Gideon by explaining the "whittling process" of the troops.  God also supplied the means by which Gideon could personally get over the "fear hump" by instructing him to listen to the dream and interpretation of the very enemy he was to face.  Another way in which God supplied the "push" over the Fear Factor was to provide Gideon with a support team.  Gideon had his servant Purah and 300 men to witness to the dream and the interpretation of the victory yet to come. You really start relying on each other when the size of the group is relatively manageable. The Holy Spirit knows what we need in our daily lives. He knows what is needed for His plan(s) to be accomplished in our lives. Even in the face of tough circumstances God has been there, done that, has the t-shirt, and in fact has a new victorious t-shirt for us to wear! "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)  My favorite verse in the Bible (besides the standard John 3:16).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

MESSAGES FROM GIDEON - Part 5


All of the sudden Gideon receives a strong dose of the Holy Spirit and His confidence to marshal the troops.  Not only did Gideon gather up his own forces but local forces around him as well (Judges 6:34-35).  This was an all God moment, now back to Gideon.

The very next verse starts a section with Gideon requesting from the Lord two signs that God meant what He said about him being a warrior-leader.  God was gracious and merciful and answered his requests.

Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised-- look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said." And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew--a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. (Judges 6:36-40)

Yet another instance of not being confident.  This time Gideon was not stable in the specifics of the call (warrior-leader) that God had on his life. His dependency on signs was troubling to my spirit because I have been right there.

Take Away:  I believe depending on signs from God before you move on something in your life is situational.  This asking for signs, as Gideon did, should not happen every time one needs to make a major decision in life.  A sign for every major decision in life does not define the true nature of Faith.  "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)  If believers relied on signs all the time we would not move very far in life because God desires for us to learn and grow from life and each other.  A big part to this Faith Walk is prayer for leadership and guidance, obedience, steadfastness, and the rebuking of doubt.  The other huge factor in Faith is a life-long development process with God, it is called Trust.

Monday, July 16, 2012

MESSAGES FROM GIDEON - Part 4

After Gideon had his Divine Encounter and memorialized it, God returned to him that same night and instructed him to clean house of all his family's gods (their respective physical idols), especially the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole beside it (Judges 6:25-26). This is a message unto itself, but the story continues - Gideon's response was one of obedience, He did clean house BUT in the wrong spirit or attitude.

"So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime." (Judges 6:27)
 
God had been supporting Gideon by giving him signs and revealing Himself to Gideon.  Now, fear paralyzed his faith and confused his thinking.  Gideon could have easily followed God's instructions during the daytime.    There was the emotional response from the community, then the response from tradition.

"The men of the town demanded of Joash, "Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it." But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, "Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar." (Judges 6:30-31)
  
Their tradition told them that Baal could and would defend himself in the face of a challenge or opposition and it did not matter whether it was day or night. In addition, it was not even Baal that Gideon was "afraid" of, it was "his family and the men of the town". Maybe Gideon thought that was how Baal was going to manifest his violence on him, BUT that was Not the tradition.  Baal supposedly can put up his own dukes if he has to.
  
Take Away: Attitude matters! The spirit you use coming into a situation and while obeying God goes a long way in Faith and Character Development. An attitude or spirit of fear doesn't help anyone, even in obedience. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7) Heaven knows we all need God's spirit of power, spirit of love, and spirit of self-discipline. So, what are the ingredients of your attitude? Check it!

Friday, July 13, 2012

MESSAGES FROM GIDEON - Part 3

As Gideon prepares food for this special visitor, He is hoping that it will somehow be received as an offering. It is consumed by fire at the end of the angel's staff (Judges 6:19-21). The angel disappears (Judges 6:22) and then Gideon proclaims (Judges 6:22-23) who he really encountered.

"When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!" But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die."

In fact, Gideon was so impressed with the visitation that the next verse says he made an altar unto the Lord right there. "So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace." (Judges 6:24)

Take Away:
 Here is the catch (similar to the previous Message From Gideon) - Gideon recognized The Lord after the miracle of consumption and the Lord's disappearing.  Notice that Gideon was afraid of dying because of seeing God face-to-face.  Also, observe the Lord did not correct him about seeing Him (as opposed to seeing another angel), the Lord simply told Gideon, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die."  This proves that this was indeed the pre-incarnate Christ in the literary form of The Angel of the Lord.

We need to be observant enough in our life to recognize God visiting in the moment.  God may need to speak to your heart.  A praise session might be in order for that time.  We don't have to make some grand proclamation or build an altar, but we need to be sensitive to His presence so that we Honor Him when He manifests His presence strongly in our lives.  We can confide in a special someone and tell them about our time with God. We can also journal the experience.  But don't miss Him and don't forget the experience (memorialize it).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

MESSAGE FROM GIDEON - Part 2

Gideon was not very confident or sure about WHO was speaking to him.

"But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." (Judges 6:13)

Notice how Gideon addressed the angel of the LORD as "sir". I believe this angel came in human form and is none other than the pre-incarante Christ. Just verses later, after Gideon receives the charge to save Israel, Gideon says, "give me a sign that it is really you talking to me" (Judges 6:17). Gideon now has an inkling but doubts enough to ask for a sign.

Take Away: Don't miss God's visitation(s) in your life!  Notice how Gideon and the Pharisees of Jesus' day needed a sign for His presence or identification.  Today, if we as believers in Christ are in The Word, we will know His presence and all that He is to us.  It is important to know God's perspective on everything, but especially us and our relationship with Him.  However, in order to Get The Picture of His Perspective, we can't miss His Presence! So, get alone with God today and everyday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

MESSAGES FROM GIDEON - Part 1


The story of Gideon is found in the Book of Judges, chapters 6, 7, and 8.  The heart of this story, the whole God/Gideon experience is actually supported by a New Testament verse - 1 Corinthians 1:27.  It reads like this in the King James Version - "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;"

You see Gideon was a man that was not very confident in himself. "But Lord, " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." (Judges 6:15)

Take Away: Although it is healthy to have self-confidence, God is wanting to use an available, willing, humble "heart" to serve Him. If you hold the same view in your life right now as Gideon once did, try trusting in God's formula found in that 1 Corinthians 1:27 verse and start changing your perspective to His.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

SOMETHING'S AMISS

Helpful Prerequisite:  Read the Book of Numbers, Chapters 22 through 24.  This is the context of this blog.  More specifically, Numbers 22:20, 21, 22, 32.

Before we get to the meat of the situation I thought I would paraphrase the story to the best of my ability.

The nation of Israel, numbering MANY people, with the help of God - came out of the slavery of Egypt, defeated the Amorites, and took up residence right next to Balak, ruler of the Moabites, along the Jordan across from Jericho.  Balak did not care for his new neighbors and sent a message to a man who evidently was anointed with a ministry, from Yahweh, that allowed whatever he curses to be cursed and whatever he blesses to be blessed - Balaam.  This message from Balak acknowledged Balaam's special power and asked him to come from his home in Pethor, near the River Euphrates, and curse these new neighbors so that he might subdue them.

The first entourage of dignitaries were elders of Moab and Midian that were sent to convey the message. Balaam received the message and then said, "Have a seat over there for a while fellows while I go consult with God."  So, Balaam and God talked about it and God said, "Do Not go back with THESE men.  Plus, I have blessed and plan to continue to bless the nation of Israel."  So, the messengers returned without Balaam and with this news that Balaam would not be coming.  This did not stop Balak's persistance.  Balak tried again by sending "other princes, more numerous and more distinguished than the first." (v.15)  This did the trick.  Balaam responds again correctly and says that he must check with The Boss first.  Then Balaam speaks with God and here IT is...

"That night God came to Balaam and said, 'Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.' " (That is verse 20)

"Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab."  (That is verse 21)

"But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him."  (That is verse 22)

Do you sense something amiss?  In verse 20 God tells Balaam to "go with, but do only what I tell you".  Then in verse 21 Balaam obeys and gets up and prepares to go "with the princes of Moab" by saddling his donkey.  Balaam did something wrong.  It was so incorrect that "God was very angry" at Balaam and sent "the angel of the LORD" (some believe the pre-incarnate Christ) to stand in the road AND oppose him.  We find in verse 32, after the angel of the LORD speaks to Balaam that Balaam has a problem of recklessness.  "I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me." (Only one person can speak for God this way - God.  Confirming this angel as the Pre-incarnate Christ.  For Balaam did not serve an angel, but Yahweh!)  After researching this word reckless, I found the original Hebrew word yawrat to mean - rash (as an adjective, acting or tending to act too hastily or without due consideration.) or to rush headlong, which is a manifestation of disobedience.    


Maybe he should have waited to start out on his trip a little later in the day.  The verse says, "Balaam got up in the morning...".  From the definition of yawrat, I get the sense Balaam was rushing things and had not yet heard any more specifics from God as to "do only what I tell you".  


In addition, notice where the majority of Balaam's troubles came from - the donkey.  Balaam "saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab".  Did God tell Balaam to do this?  Even though Balaam might have thought this would be an automatic sequence of events to transpire - get up first thing in the morning, get the mode of transportation ready, and go, like supposedly told - he didn't listen very well or follow directions very well either.  Look at the results (22:22-35).  


     "But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road. 24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat her again. 26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, 2"What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?9 Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now." 30 The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" "No," he said. 31 Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. 32 The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her." 34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back." 35 The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you." So Balaam went with the princes of Balak."


Balaam was blinded to the Angel of the LORD and to his disobedience because he was still using his tool of disobedience - the donkey.  After beating the animal several times, the LORD gave the donkey the power of speech.  What really is a funny and interesting statement from the donkey to me is - "Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?"  This thought conveys the idea of a history between Balaam and the donkey, enough history to where Balaam should have known the behavior of this animal and acted upon it because Balaam's answer was "No" (you have not been in the habit of doing this to me).

Once the tool of disobedience was taken out of the way and Balaam could see The Angel of the LORD, the situation got better after that point.  In fact, The Angel of the LORD gave Balaam another directive to follow..."Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you."

Obedience/Disobedience Test #2 = PASS!