Monday, February 29, 2016

ANOTHER STONE ROLLED AWAY


So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father,I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him. (John 11:41-57)
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After reflecting on this passage of the Lazarus account, the Holy Spirit desired that I look through the lens of the Pharisees. When I did, this is what I found - another stone that needed to be rolled away.

This miraculous healing, this resurrection, seemed to push the Pharisees plan to kill Jesus into overdrive. Their pride damaged and their position threatened they reacted to retain their job security by looking for the first and best opportunity to arrest and kill Jesus. 

In aligning myself with the Pharisees, it is interesting how my own comfort zones, positions of authority and pride in whatever form are defended even to Christ Himself when The Messiah’s reign in my heart, rest for my soul, and victory I can claim in Him are all available. If I just allow His Kingship/Lordship over my life, permit the stone in front of my heart to be rolled back and believe Jesus can resurrect me, then I would have picked up on what the Pharisees missed. I would have been blessed beyond measure. I would gain or regain life. For there is no true life outside of living, moving and having our being in Christ. Just as Lazarus received the breath of life back into his body to live again, I could receive The Spirit's breath of life within me if only Another Stone Rolled Away.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A SONG ON MY HEART

SEND SOMEBODY MY WAY
Words By Chad Pritchard

Chorus 1
Send somebody my way my Lord,
Send somebody my way
Get my face out of the clay, oh Lord,
Send somebody my way

Verse
Lord, I feel so worthless, I don’t feel like moving at all
Yet you counted me worthy to love, as far as death and beyond
You call me to live, you call me to move, you call me to have my being – in you

Chorus 2
Send somebody my way my Lord,
Send somebody my way
Get my mind straight, oh Lord,
Send somebody my way

Bridge
Even the dependable need encouragement at times
They are not immune
So send a Comfortor, send a Counselor, send a Revealer of what to do…But

Chorus 1
Send somebody my way my Lord,
Send somebody my way
Get my face out of the clay, oh lord,
Send somebody my way


*Maybe I will have the music or somebody else will have the perfect music that goes along with what I am trying to communicate. The whole time I was writing I kept hearing Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" in my head. Interesting I know. Beautiful song though. Hope these lyrics bless you somehow.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

BALANCED MULTITASKING

You have heard it said – everything in moderationdon’t burn your candle at both endsdon’t put too much on your plate. All these bits of advice are wise proverbs born from experience. King David was a man blessed in many areas of his life. Those same areas are where he gave back to The Giver. David was a poet, an athlete, a dancer, a shepherd, a warrior, a singer and a musician – oh yeah, and King.

Do you think he might have stretched himself a little thin at times? I believe it was possible. However, I write this message to encourage us that with God’s help, His strength and peace, our lives can be poured out, in many different facets, as a love offering unto God (The Giver) and people.

Don’t be afraid to be all you can be with the talents, treasure and time you have been given/gifted. Being given or gifted something means there was a Giver. If you are a wise and considerate person, you would desire to see the gift used to the optimum in order to honor the Giver and maximize your potential. However, Balanced Multitasking can be an excellent way to glorify God. “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)

Personally reflecting on this I see myself as being given the talents of an author, teacher, singer/worshiper and blogger/writer. There is probably more to come and I am interested to see how God gifts me to use me and those gifts.  For instance, God is stirring within me the gifts of being a mentor and delivering His Word in the move of His Spirit.

What are the multiple ways you are allowing God to branch your talents, treasure and time out for Him and His Kingdom? It is a smart thing to take care of yourself and not burn out on one thing or many things. However, don’t be afraid to seek how you can love the Lord with everything you have while executing that Balanced Multitasking.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Master Of All Emotions

Our emotions are a two-edged sword – they can help and hinder. In this instance I am equating weaknesses with emotions. I do realize there are other areas that have weaknesses (like attitudes, wrong thinking, negative speaking, non-helpful actions, etc.…). However, whenever we need emotional support, I know someone who can aid us – Jesus. God is not only love, but all other emotions perfected. Father God expressed those emotions through Jesus. The important observation is that Christ experienced all emotions, displayed all emotions and managed all emotions perfectly. Paul said it like this – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Jesus was passionate or excited in Matthew 4:10 and 16:23 as He addressed Satan. If you couldn't tell it by the words He used, just take a look at the punctuation - an exclamation mark - and you get the emotion.

In Matthew 8:10, Matthew actually records Jesus being astonished or amazed at the display of such great faith. Then over in Mark 6:6 Jesus is amazed at the exact opposite - their lack of faith.

Jesus expressed…….
  • compassion (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34),
  • sarcasm (Matthew 15:16),
  • thankfulness (Matthew 15:36),
  • disgust (Matthew 16:17),
  • irritation (Matthew 21:18-19),
  • appreciation (Matthew 26:10-13),
  • sorrow or distress (Matthew 26:37-38),
  • holy anger (Mark 10:14 and Matthew 21:12-13),
  • betrayal (Matthew 26:20-25),
  • being forsaken (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34),
  • approved (an inferred emotion in Mark 1:11),
  • aggravation or frustration (Matthew 17:14-18),
  • love (agapo style - to love in a social/moral sense in Mark 10:21),
  • and not pleased (Mark 16:14).
And of course He was grieved or moved from time to time. One instance being the death of His cousin, John the Baptist (Matthew 14:13).

I show you Christ's emotions to set before you Father God’s heart. Jesus was not only sent by Father God but also one with Father God, acting out only what He saw or heard Father God doing or saying (John 14:9-11). Why do I grandstand Father God's heart through Jesus? Because no other god of any other faith has come in human form and experienced all the emotions that all of us have and did not sin. Jesus Christ experienced these emotions perfectly and responded to them perfectly SO THAT we might find help in Him when they become a challenge or weakness to us.

Jesus is not just a man of sorrows, familiar or acquainted with grief as Isaiah 53:3 states, but He wept at Lazarus’ death, turned over tables in the temple in holy disgust, yelled at the Pharisees – calling them “A brood of vipers!” and He showed compassion by healing everyone who came to Him. He knows and is the Master Of All Emotions.

Monday, February 8, 2016

HEED RESISTANCE

Consider the next time you are delayed on your journey somewhere, literally or figuratively that God was involved. Perhaps God was protecting you from some kind of harm to your body or property. Perhaps God had an additional goal or opportunity in mind. The big take-away here is not every instance of resistance is of the Devil.

Remember the account of Balak, Balaam and Balaam’s donkey? (Numbers 22, 23, and 24) King Balak of the Moabites saw the Israelites as a threat to his kingdom. Balak sent for the prophet Balaam to come and pronounce a curse on Israel for him. Balaam rejected the first wave of entreaters after consulting with the Lord about their intentions. But after the second wave of officials came and invited Balaam, God gave him permission to go, but with a caveat – speak only what I tell you to say.

Something that is not documented must have gone wrong, because God’s anger burned against Balaam. God was so disgusted that He sent an angel to resist Balaam in his travels. The catch was that only the donkey could see the angel blocking the road and was not moving an inch. This caused Balaam to get irate and beat his donkey. Then God does a humorous and amazing thing to open up the lesson – He gives the donkey the ability of Balaam’s speech/language.

After holding a conversation with his donkey, the zinger from the donkey was – “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?’” (Numbers 22:30) Balaam’s answer was “No.” Then his eyes were opened so that he saw the resisting angel standing in the middle of the road and bowed down before him. The angel restated God’s mission for Balaam and Balaam followed through with flying colors – blessing the nation of Israel and cursing Israel’s enemies.


Even though Balaam was delayed, he still carried out his mission for God because God cared enough to supernaturally intervene and get him back on track. There are times in our lives when-it-rains-it-pours. The negative outweighs the positive in droves. It is during these times that we need to train ourselves to pause, step back and make sure we don’t “beat our donkey” or curse the vehicle of our delay. Abraham had a major pause with God asking for Isaack to be sacrificed – he passed. Job had a major pause with everything taken away from him and tempted to curse God and die – he passed. David received resistance from God not allowing him to build the temple but allowing him to design it. 

Again, we too must develop another sensitivity to challenges, delays, or resistance that comes our way. That developed sensitivity must consider the source, stop “beating our donkey” and Heed the Resistance.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Crumb From The Master’s Table


The Faith of a Canaanite Woman
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. - Matt. 15:21-28
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The obstacles that this woman overcame were daunting in my book.

1. She humbled herself socially and culturally so that she cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” What a desperate and passionate mother!

2. Receiving silence from Jesus has got to be the worst. She did not get a–"yes", "no" or "wait on it" - nothing but the sound of the wind.

3. The disciples are not on her side. “So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’”

4. Jesus answers that He was sent for a certain group of people. (The mother’s persistence - “Lord, help me!” - makes me believe she is trying to appeal even more now to Christ’s compassionate side.)

5. Jesus seems cruel when He associates her and her people with dogs next to the blessings coming to the Israelites. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
But the woman, taking Christ’s analogy and labeling, with desperation in her voice says, “Yes it is, Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” The mother in her, trying to find the healing for her daughter, is persistent. She would go after even a morsel of healing for her daughter.

This is an example of “great faith”. “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that moment.” She battled through social and cultural stigmas, silence from Jesus, resistance from the disciples, and two rebukes from Jesus. Why did she not quit half-way through and go looking for another healer? Evidently she knew His track record and believed in His power and will (desire) to heal the sick, diseased and demon-possessed. This reminds me of Peter in John 6:68 when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” I encourage you to persist in your prayers. Persist in your faith. The Canaanite woman was not leaving until she received A Crumb From The Master’s Table.

OWNERSHIP

There is an advanced level of maturity reached when one can own their mistakes as well as their successes. It is easy to take responsibility for the victories that come our way, but pride and possible embarrassment usually gets in the way of taking accountability for ill-advised actions or words.

Turning to Scripture, we see Adam being addressed by God after the woman and man had both eaten of the forbidden apple (Genesis 3:1-13). Adam passed-the-buck to Eve and Eve passed-the-buck or blame to the Serpent, also known as the Devil. So, our tendency to not take ownership of our mistakes goes back to the beginning. In this case, sin or disobedience caused both Adam and Eve to immediately get defensive and begin looking for someone else to take ownership of this mistake.

I ponder sometimes what history would have been like if Adam or Eve took ownership of their mistake. What if one of them said something like, "Lord, nobody told us we were naked. We figured it out by ourselves by eating of the fruit we were not suppose to. I knew it was wrong, but wanted to be like you knowing good and evil. It is my fault. I am sorry." I wonder what would have happened if those words or something like them were spoken. But they were not and it is up to us to speak words like that today. Of course not about a forbidden fruit, but specific to the the mistakes we don't want to own.

God has given humanity mastery over things. Being a master means having power and having power means having responsibility or ownership. God made Adam and Eve, plus the rest of us, stewards of this earth. To Abraham He made him caretaker of a lot of land. Time after time the Lord gifts us with talent, treasure and time. Whatever the Lord gifts us with, including our very lives, the time is long passed for us to take responsibility for the bad as well as the good. For all our thoughts, actions and words we need to take Ownership.

Monday, February 1, 2016

WRATH IS TO COME

The One True God is Righteous. He is Just. He is always right. His decisions are never wrong and His timing is never off. He does not tolerate sin or rebellion. Therefore, Lucifer and his fellow angels have been banished from Heaven and fallen humanity not permitted a relationship with Father God or entry into Heaven except through Christ Jesus.

As a result of the existence of sin - wrath is to come. The creation of The Lake of Fire was originally created solely for the fallen angels - “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41). The last Roll Call at the Great White Throne Judgment will determine one's eternal destination, but many will know their condition well in advance of The Book of Life that is revealed and read here - damnation in The Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). 

Before the final books are opened, wrath is to be administered by our Just God at certain times. Wrath will take the form of the execution of judgments in the future seven year Tribulation Period. The promise in Daniel 9:24 describes who and what the wrathful time to come is for. 
  • “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people [Daniel's people/Jews] and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place."
Wrath will be seen when Christ comes at the end of these seven years and judges the Antichrist, false prophet, nations, and the "Goats and Sheep" (surviving believers and unbelievers). Wrath will be finally observed after the Millennial Reign of Christ at The Great White Throne Judgment.

Colossians 3:5-6 lists some of the sins that God will be displaying His wrath in accordance - 

  • "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming."
Wrath is to come, however condemnation is already upon all those that are stubborn and unrepentant in heart toward accepting Christ - 

  • "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." (John 3:18

In addition, wrath is being reserved for those same individuals who reject His plan for salvation once hearing it (Romans 2:5, 8). This is inevitable. 
The Good News: all the results of these judgments can be avoided.  

  • "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Thessalonians 5:9) 

It is a matter of acceptance, declaration and lifestyle. "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9) This is how one avoids God's Wrath. Don't do it and you are already storing up judgement for yourself.

Salvation was not only from sin that separates us from a perfect relationship with God, but unto all the benefits that come with a relationship with God that sin touched - like a perfect natural system, a perfect biological system, a perfect spiritual world. If people choose Christ now, they do not have to experience these future judgments of wrath with Jesus as The Righteous Judge. Instead, they will eventually experience everything saved and restored from it's sinful nature to it's original state and glorified even more through Christ Jesus The Lord.

Paul, in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, told the believers many encouraging things he had heard about their local expression of Christ. However, one particular note of praise includes the promise of Jesus being the rescuer of Christians from a coming wrath one day.

  • The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10)
God loved humanity so much and paid the ultimate price for there not to be justice served on sin. He is Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer. The Devil is the Polluter. We are the Stewards and have been content with living in the pollution dished out since The Apple. But God sent Jesus so that we might have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). If you have not already, I encourage you to get out from under the condemnation of the sinful nature/tendencies and choose life. Choose Jesus because the prophecies or future promises have been made - His Wrath Is To Come.