Wednesday, December 14, 2016

THE PLANTER OR THE WATER-ER


Seeds in the lives of people are crucial for the opportunity of major, positive change later on in life. If there is not a word of encouragement, a gesture of consideration or act of love toward anybody, especially unbelievers - how can anyone water each of those? How can someone come along and continue that seed of encouragement? How can anyone build upon that gesture of consideration? How can anyone maintain the abundance of God's love? The seed(s) must be planted first.

Paul writes to the believers at the church in Corinth, "the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow." (Corinthians 3:5-6) 

I personally believe every Christian is a Planter and every Christian is a Water-er. Which one God desires you to be is situational. Each priceless opportunity God places in front of us, we must diagnose quickly with sensitive, spiritual ears and then either Plant or Water. After our part is done, we continue to pray for them and God takes it from there - God makes it to grow. He is the one who nurtures the seed. He is the one who anoints the water with life-giving meaning and application.

Let me share Matthew 9:37-38 in reverse for the both of us - 
"Ask the Lord of the harvest, to send out workers into his harvest field. [Why?] The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." An issue in The Church right now is what to do about the few harvest workers or those willing to testify and share God's love in the hope of gaining another soul for God and His Heaven. The answer is right here in the same breath that is used in describing the problem - "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field." The "field" is "His". What are we waiting for? I say we enlist as workers, if we have not already, as we ask the Lord to send out more workers.

I used to think there was some Denominational Formula for witnessing on the highways and in the hedges. In the right environment those have their places. However, many times I observe God's kindness, love, consideration and compassion flowing through me to others - to be an effective Seed. In addition, these Seeds are not only for unbelievers but Christians as well. Galatians 6:10 states, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." 

One more important point is this cannot be seasonal. Just as Jesus has a heart for people and relationships everyday, so should we. Christians should actually pray for opportunities everyday to be The Planter Or The Water-er, God will do the rest.

Monday, December 12, 2016

ALIGNMENT (PROVERBS 3:5-6)


Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 

For those challenging times in our lives, whether they be earlier this year or right now, this verse has come into my line-of-sight. I am now going to dissect it so that we might gain direction for our lives before, during and after the challenges arrive.

"Trust" comes from the original Hebrew word Batach (baw-takh) which means to be confident, sure and make to hope. This kind of dependency comes from a proven history or track record with a person. In this case, the person is the Lord and the encouragement is to Be Confident in all that the Lord has done, is doing and will do for you.

The "heart" is the original Hebrew word Leb (labe) meaning all three parts of a personality - feelings, will and intellect. The phrase heart is in - "all your heart" means everything you are made-up of should "Trust in the Lord". This leaves no room for doubt or speculation. All your eggs are in His basket. All means all.

"Lean" comes from the original Hebrew word Shaan (Shaw-an) meaning to support ones self or rely on ones self. Here we are told what NOT to do. The exact opposite of what we were just told to do is - to rely fully on ourselves and cut God completely out of the picture. The Holy Spirit makes it a point to mention this through David in the next breath - that this degree of leaning should NOT rule how you understand matters.

"Understanding" comes from the original Hebrew word Biynah (bee-naw) meaning knowledge and wisdom attained; also the way one thinks; the way one processes information. So, not only are our ways, what we have already learned, to be subject to Him, but our very thought processes should change to reflect His. As it says in Isaiah 55:9, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." 

"Ways" comes from the original Hebrew word Derek (deh-rek) meaning a course of life or custom. Notice that for the second time we have a prepositional phrase - "in all your ways". The teaching on "all" applies here once again. So, God desires to be a part of everything you consider customary, normal or part of everyday life.

"Sumbit" means to link by way of acknowledging someone else's strategy is superior than yours and including that someone in your plans (in this case, "Ways"). Yielding. Original Hebrew word is Yada (yaw-dah). Be careful the next time you say, "And yada, yada, yada." In Hebrew, it means you are yielding, yielding, yielding. It is the kind of yield that scrubs All that you might have planned then acknowledges and replaces your own plan with God's because you realize He was not in your Planning Meeting in the beginning.

So, if you....

  1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart
  2. Lean not on your own understanding
  3. In all your ways submit to Him
"He will make your paths straight." This implies that your paths were crooked or needed God's input at some point. As said before, better to have God included at the onset for a straighter path. God does the straightening. It is hard sometimes to wait upon the Lord during this straightening period, but His timing is perfect. The Holy Spirit stated through Paul,  "But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son..." (Galatians 4:4-7). This was not a split second to early or a breath to late - He was right on time. God was right on time for His Son, He will be right on time for His sons and daughters adopted through Christ Jesus. 

So, be confident in the Lord's track record with every fiber of your being. Do not rely solely on your customs and thinking but include God from the beginning of each day with all your plans and nuances submitted to Him. With this done, God will make sure your direction lines-up with where He wants you to be. (Pritchard Paraphrase of Proverbs 3:5-6)

Monday, December 5, 2016

COVERED IN INTERCESSION


I have great news! We are Covered In Intercession! I have for the longest time singled out Christ Jesus as my intercessor. Paul declares in his letter to the believers in Rome - 

  • "It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Romans 8:33-34)

However, in the same chapter just a few verses before these, Paul names another Intercessor - The Holy Spirit.
  • "...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." (Romans 8:26-27)
So, not only do we have divine representation in Heaven (Christ), but we have divine representation on earth within our bodies (temples) via the Holy Spirit, mentioned twice. 

What is even better is that nothing catches God by surprise. He sees and hears everything. 
  • "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31)
Why does God need Intercession if He knows everything? Believers in Christ are not perfect, yet. Christians have to live out a Christ-like life in a God rebelling world. In the meantime, during our falls, failures and hardships we have God the Son interceding on our behalf.  

In addition, both The Messiah and the Holy Spirit were promised. The prophet Isaiah foretold Christ Jesus' first appearing in the 53rd chapter of his book. Then when Jesus arrived, He assured His followers that unless He leaves, the Advocate or Holy Spirit would not come, but if He leaves Christ will send the Holy Spirit to us (John 16:7).

So, with Father God ever watchful, our Savior always intervening for us and the Holy Spirit appealing to God "with groans that words cannot express" - my initial perception of one Intercessor was incorrect. Hallelujah! I am Covered In Intercession! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

GOD'S LAMP


I have come upon a place in the trail that looks like others have forged ahead for me. Major obstacles have been moved to the side, but little challenges remain to overcome. The juncture in my path is much like the moment you are just about to cross the top of a hill that bends on your side of the hill and the other side. You can see a little bit of the other side, but not any of the oncoming traffic from the other part of the bend in the road and downslope.

I hate not knowing. There are some mysteries in life that are intriguing enough to leave as mysteries, but when life is so foggy and short-sighted – it bothers me. I am not a fan of curves in the road, much less uphill blind-spot turns that leave you guessing about a lot of things. I like flat and straight roads. And when the curves come, I like them wide enough to see around the bend to take care of my speed as I go around and prepare for what is coming at me.

King David said that God was his "lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path" (Ps. 119:105). I feel like I am learning to really trust in God’s lamp first, His close range perspective, before turning my gaze upon His long-distance light/view for my path. If God has not changed the situation, He is arranging for His purpose(s) to be accomplished. He has a reason for all the questions that I have for where I find myself right now. He has a reason for this season in my life. In both cases, the lamp and light are God's Word and need to be consulted, then applied appropriately.

I see possibilities of what this danger zone in my life-road could be, but they are just that – possibilities. It is like turning on your high beams on a car and getting a glimpse of what is ahead, but then you must turn your high beams off in consideration for others coming your way. I look in God’s Word and see Scripture that may give me insight toward my place on this path right now. But then I find myself concerned with serving or distracted or back to wondering.

The encouraging things are: (1) God is with me, (2) He knew I would go through this, (3) He has a plan for me and (4) will enlighten me in His perfect timing. In the meantime, as I travel the path of my blind-spot curves and hills I cannot see over, I am so blessed by God with an incredibly supportive wife, family and friends that love me. For now, I can see the path in front of me and this is good because you know how I hate indecision. I have God and all my people by my side, plus, I am loved. When you know that you are loved, have felt that and experienced it too, the boost to one’s spirit is amazing.