Thursday, August 17, 2017

HIGHLY ESTEEMED

I love Jesus and try to follow and emulate my Savior. However, if there is another person in the Scripture that resonates with me, that person would be Daniel. One of the huge characteristics that Daniel had which I aspire to is to be esteemed. 

Because of what King Nebuchadnezzar set as his criteria for those brought out of Jerusalem in his siege of the city, we can deduce that Daniel was of the royal family or at least nobility, young and without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. (Daniel 1:3-5) However, it is what the angel Gabriel proclaimed three times about him (Dan. 9:23; 10:11; 10:19) that catches my attention.

Daniel was esteemed by both the citizens of heaven and earth. Oh, forgive me, he was "highly esteemed". Here is what those three verses state - 

"As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed." - Dan. 9:23

"He said, 'Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.'” - Dan. 10:11

“'Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,' he said. 'Peace! Be strong now; be strong.' When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, 'Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.'” - Dan. 10:19

The original Hebrew word for "esteem" used in all three accounts is chamad (khaw-mad), meaning greatly beloved, desired, delight and/or precious thing. A proclamation from an earthly king or his herald that you are highly esteemed is one thing. To hear that you are "highly esteemed" from the Chief Angelic Messeger of the Lord Most High - Gabriel - is another thing. The declaration is slightly more meaningful (sarcasm included) coming from The Throne of Heaven. Observe what happened to Zechariah when he was visited by Gabriel with the news of his wife's ability to finally have children.

"Zechariah asked the angel, 'How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.'

The angel said to him, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time
.'” (Luke 1:18-20)

Now back to Daniel's visitations. First, try to imagine being visited by Gabriel. Then as he calms you down to deliver his message to you, he informs you that you are greatly beloved, desired, delighted in, a precious person - "highly esteemed" in the courts of Heaven. Wow! And on top of this Daniel has his three friends, is young and without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. I don't know if I qualify for the additional stuff, but I know that through Christ Jesus my Lord I am Highly Esteemed!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

THINK ABOUT IF WE DID THE SAME


My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we can be better believers than Gideon (Judges 6-8). Although the Lord, visits him as "the angel of the Lord" and calls Gideon "mighty warrior", Gideon meanders around with his belief in who just visited him and his charge to conqueror the Midianites. 

Gideon followed through on teaching us the lesson of doing what God has told us to do with what God has given us. The Lord told Gideon He would be with him in addition to his obedience. 

"The Lord turned to him and said, 'Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?'

'Pardon me, my lord,' Gideon replied, 'but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.'

The Lord answered, 'I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.'” (Judges 6:14-16)

We need to capitalize on this lesson, but we also need to learn from Gideon's blunder(s). 

In the end, there were forty years of peace, BUT Gideon took the spoils of his victories and made an ephod. An ephod is a richly embroidered, apron-like vestment having two shoulder straps and ornamental attachments for securing the breastplate, worn with a waistband by the high priest. Ex. 28:6, 7, 25–28. This is not a bad thing by itself. However, Judges 8:27 records,  "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." Sound familiar? It should. Aaron, the brother of Moses, did the same thing, except it was a golden calf that was made. Aaron also was called to use what God had given him to deliver a mighty blow to the Egyptians - God's Voice through him.

My encouragement is to not mess up God's visit(s) into our lives, not mess up God's charge over our lives and continue to stand on God's promises to us, especially to always be with us. Sure we will have slip ups now and then, but let us not take advantage of God's grace/favor and mercy in our lives. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, ask for forgiveness and move on. 

With Israel "prostituting themselves by worshiping it" (the ephod and not God), the nation was headed back into spiritual bondage. In fact, after Gideon died the situation got worse - Israel turned away from God and forgot Gideon's contribution also. "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. They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in spite of all the good things he had done for them." (Judges 8:33-35)
Israel overcame their physical enemies with a leader, Gideon, who trusted and obeyed in The Lord who promised to be with him. But Gideon's misplaced desire and/or treasure in the end meant future doom for his family and country.

Think about IF Gideon did not put The Angel of the Lord through those hoops to prove the authenticity of His visit. The definition of the word Trust would have been on full display. Think about if we did the same. Think about IF Gideon obeyed without second guessing The Lord. His faith may have grown stronger, faster and the reward may have been richer. Think about if we did the same. Think about IF Gideon continued to live with God's promise that God was with him. There would be no need for all the gold or spoils to be made into anything; The Lord would be enough. Think About If We Did The Same.

Monday, August 14, 2017

HE HAS ENTRUSTED YOU


Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I encourage you to continue using or moving in the gifts, talents and skills God has blessed you with now. God has told me through a recent message from the pulpit to trust Him with what He has gifted me with at this time in my life. Whether I think my contribution small, not significant enough or just-getting-by, the Lord has said in His word to me  “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much," (Luke 16:10). Be patient and faithful in your ministry.

Many times I have gotten caught-up in the fascination of another ministry, another part of the Body of Christ. I would observe the wonders of the healing ministry or prophetic ministry and pray, "Lord, will you grant me those avenues of service also?" So, far the Lord has answered in part. He has used me in both praying for healing and seeing it come about. At other times, He has given me a prophetic word for believers. However, the Lord has not granted me those ministries as a full-time ministry. I operate in another vein. So how can the hand of a body also be the elbow of the body at the same time? It cannot.

When feeding the 5,000 plus people, Jesus told His disciples, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." (Matt. 14:16) Twelve men had food for a stadium full of people?  Riiight! The lesson of the Loaves and Fishes was two-fold....

  1. Observe what you have been blessed with (fishes and loaves for the disciples in this case)
  2. Observe Who is with you to bless you, your efforts and "the fishes and loaves" - Jesus. His Holy Spirit for believers today.
The disciples still did not learn this lesson. It took a mandate, a means and yet another menace to get the point across. Jesus commanded they go across the lake - the mandate. Jesus ushered them to the boat - the means. Jesus came walking to them on the water in the middle of the menacing storm. Jesus was walking on the water and about to pass them when they saw Him and cried out in fear. After Jesus calmed their fears, He stepped onto the boat with them and Scripture says, "...the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened." (Mark 6:51-52)

The disciples had still not understood that Jesus was in control. The Son of God had an awesome plan for their lives.

  1. They needed to trust in what God had given them - the boat and the charge to Go.
  2. The difference maker - Who gave the mandate, Who supplied the means and Who provided deliverance from the storm - Jesus!
The challenge is keeping focus of the gifts, talents and skills the Lord has entrusted to us. I am sure without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord will develop additional skills as He sees fit in all of us. However, until that time and skill is revealed, I encourage us to trust God with what He Has Entrusted You.

Friday, August 11, 2017

HOLY SPIRIT CONFIDENCE


Sometimes the concept of boldness can come across pushy or arrogant. This attitude or perception all stems from who or what is the source of one's boldness. If you are bold in yourself, this can only go so far. However, if you are bold because you are aided and deliver credit where due then you will go far. As a Christian, by myself, I can do some "good" things. However, with the Holy Spirit by my side I can do marvelous things. Christ said, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (Matt. 14:12) Now that is a boldness builder in the right perspective!

To me, Confidence is a slightly better word for boldness. How do believers acquire this confidence? Believe in the Finished Work of Christ Jesus. Trust that Jesus has fulfilled every aspect of The Law. As our High Priest, He has supernaturally experienced everything, especially the hardships, without reacting/responding incorrectly or sinning. Christ has paid the price for our confidence in all that He is and can do by dying for us and taking back His life from death, Hell and the grave.
  • "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 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 4:14-15)
The next verse begins with the encouraging, allowing words - "Let us then...". This beginning phrase calls us to action. These three words say, Because of what Christ has done. It has a challenge not to shy away from all that God has provided through Jesus, which Paul mentions we can come confidently before Father God and petition Him about.
 
  • "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
The word "confidence" in this verse, according to my research, is a combination of two Greek words - meta and parrhesia. Meta means accompaniment. Parrhesia means out spokenness due to assurance; confidence. You combine these two and the believer has Holy Spirit Confidence or Accompanied Confidence to "approach God's throne of grace". Talk about your Blessed Assurance!!! 

Observe what the believer finds by being confident in Christ - mercy and grace "in our time of need". Furthermore, Paul elaborates on what the believer can obtain from confidence in Christ six chapters later in Hebrews.
  • "Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Observe....
  1. Confidence allows us to draw near to God with a sincere heart. ("let us draw near to God with a sincere heart")
  2. Confidence allows for assurance in what we belive. ("the full assurance that faith brings".)
  3. Confidence in Christ eliminates a guilty conscience. ("having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience")
  4. Confidence in Jesus assures us of our purification. ("having our bodies washed with pure water.")
  5. Confidence in our Hope, Christ Jesus, attests to His faithfulness in our lives. ("Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.")
  6. Confidence helps us help others. ("And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another")
All of this is available to us because of what Christ did for us. So, do not be shy. Do not be timid, scared or apprehensive about approaching Father God directly. Jesus is The Way and The Truth and The Life (John 14:6). No one comes to Father God except by Christ Jesus and He has provided us the means to do so with Holy Spirit Confidence. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

HE WATCHES AT ALL TIMES


In 1984 there was a song released by a singer named Rockwell called "Somebody's Watching Me" (featuring Michael Jackson). It was a very popular song then and on 80's channels now it remains so. The lyrics touch on the negative or schizophrenic side of that phrase. I desire to reveal a more positive outlook to that idea.

Many times you and I play the role of the watcher. You might observe somebody singing in a car at a traffic light. You might examine how parents care for their children in a restaurant or park. You probably pay attention to the body language of others to discern if they are a threat or not. Being more aware and discerning your environment is key to being a good watcher. However, no matter where the venue, public or private - whether in full view of others, partial view of others OR all by yourself - somebody is always watching. This time, I am not talking about Big Brother (the government). Today I am speaking about God, God's angels and everyone else.

For those with limited view - humanity - what are you displaying to the world? When you are seen by your family, friends, co-workers and others - who do they see? Do they see who you think they should see? Trying to play the social view of you. Do you put on a self-made "mask" and hope people like it? Or do you trust in who God has made you thus far and is continuing to develop - in order to draw others to Christ? I hope your choice is this last option.

Why? Why should I hope your choice is God's watch and care over the development of your person? "His grace is sufficient for us, His power is made perfect in our weakness(es). Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (2 Cor. 12:9)

When you decide to follow Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior, one of His benefits is the care of His angelic host. There are many angelologists who believe in the Guardian Angel, especially after Jesus stated,  “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." (Matt. 18:10) There are not only accounts of angelic observation occurring in Scripture, but intervention also. This personal watch and care, 24/7, by the Holy Angels of God for His believers is just another example of Father God's loving-kindness toward us.

For everyone, Proverbs 15:3 says God has His eyes on both the "wicked" and the "good""The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good." God has promised No Privacy. Everything lies exposed before God and nothing takes Him by surprise. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:13) 

My favorite Psalm, Psalm 139 speaks to the unavoidable presence of God - 

"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." (Psalm 139:7-12)

However, my God promises He does more than just see me wherever I am. God promises He is alongside of believers holding our hand as a Father would in times when we need comforting. David says the following - "Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand." (Psalm 73:23). God promises to be help in trouble, a refuge and source of strength to rely on and tap from when needed. Again David sings - "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1). In the good times, in the challenging times and all moments in-between I am ecstatic He never sleeps, He never slumbers - He Watches At All Times.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

HIS VOICE


The Voice of God - many of us have associated a god-like voice with a good baritone or smooth bass voice, compliments of the movies and t.v. (i.e. James Earl Jones and the like). However, if you were one of the individuals who lived during the time of Christ you actually got to hear the voice of God in human form. They heard the Word of God, the Logos, made flesh, speak. That which Father God uttered as words before creation, now was flesh and speaking. Wow!  Get your mind around that!

In 1 Kings 19:11-13 the voice of the Lord is described as "a still small voice" or "a whisper". However, most of the encounters with God's voice leave the recipient and the reader of God's Word quite awestruck.


Still Small Voice

Have you ever heard loud, powerful, shattering thunder?  Imagine hearing the wings of an army of eagles fly overhead.  Have you ever heard the crackle and sizzle of lightening as bolts attempt to find their mark?  Have you ever been in the presence of a strong trumpet blast or volley of notes?  Imagine yourself standing beside Niagara Falls and hearing that deafening roar. Have you ever been in a large crowd and just stopped and listened to the murmur of the mob?  Ever wonder what the voice of God sounds like?  The previous questions are Biblical descriptions of God's voice.


Voice Like Thunder


God's voice has been linked in Scripture to the breaking of Cedars, the shaking of the desert, the twisting of the oak, the shattering of Assyria, speaking from a cloud, and even the dead hearing His voice.  The locations and descriptions of the voice of God that were alluded to above and more are listed below. 

  • "Speaking to him form between the two cherubim..." - Nu. 7:89
  • "spoke to you out of the fire." - Dt. 4:12
  • Discipline related - Dt. 4:36
  • "a loud voice" - Dt. 5:22
  • "resounded" - 2 Sam. 22:14
  • "roar of His voice" - Job 37:2
  • "majestic" - Job 37:4
  • "thunders in marvelous ways" - Job 37:5
  • "is powerful" - Psalm 29:4
  • "breaks the cedars" - Psalm 29:5
  • "strikes with flashes of lightning" - Psalm 29:7
  • "shakes the desert" - Psalm 29:8
  • "twists the oak" - Psalm 29:9
  • "mighty" - Ps. 68:33
  • "will shatter Assyria" - Isa. 30:31
  • "sound of their wings was like the voice of the Almighty" - Eze. 1:24
  • "was like the roar of rushing waters" - Eze. 43:2
  • "was like the sound of a multitude" - Dan. 10:6
  • "a voice from the cloud" - Matt. 17:5
  • "the bridegroom's voice" - John 3:29
  • "all who are in their graves will hear His voice" - John 5:28 (Wow!)
  • Gives intructions - Acts 10 and 11
  • "the voice of the archangel" - 1 Thess. 4:16
  • "trumpet blast" - Hebrews 12:19
  • Heaven and earth will be shaken by His voice - Hebrews 12:29
  • From heaven while on a mountain - 2 Peter 1:18
  • Trumpet like - Rev. 1:10
  • Rushing Waters - Rev. 1:15


Voice Like Lightening

Zephaniah 3:17 says, "...he will rejoice over you with singing."  Talk about The Voice! (Reference to t.v.singing program that searches for the ultimate singing voice). And He is singing over you! 

However, I think and believe one of the most important things ever said about God's voice was stated by Christ in several places throughout John 10. But one passage will suffice to sum up the thought - John 10:27-28 says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand."

So, if you are a "sheep of God" figuratively, a son/daughter of God through Christ Jesus literally, then you are one who...

  1. listens to His voice, not just hears Him
  2. follows Him, is not just a fan
  3. has eternal life, not only of existence but vitality too
  4. shall never perish, not only not be destroyed but not take loss either
  5. is forever secure in God's hand, not only protection but provision of everything else is here
Especially by reading The Bible out loud, Christians not only hear The Word of God they also become active, spiritual listeners. Next, by serving God and serving people the Christian can hear God's Voice, follow God and not be a fan on the sidelines. God says in the midst of our listening He will "know" us.

The original word used for "know" here is ginosko, meaning to know absolutely; be sure; to understand in a great variety of applications and with many implications. The word implies an intimate, developing relationship that God knows everything about. Jesus adds to this wonderful relationship that these same people who listen to my voice will not only have everlasting life, but the quality and/or spunk of life will be upgraded forever.

Also, Christians will never perish. Well, will we not "never perish" because we will have eternal life? Yes, but it gets better for believers. Those with Christ will not experience any kind of loss. Every tear will have been eliminated. Those who did not accept Christ as Savior will be damned to experience loss over and over in The Lake of Fire forever. However, if you have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are not only protected in the hollow of His hand, but you have His provisions as well - whatever that entails, because "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17) All of this because God's sheep listen to His voice.

God has a magnificent voice and has used it many times to acquire the attention and obedience of nature and humanity. Where God's voice was unmistakable in the past, His voice is a matter of faith, diligence in His Word and Godly Discernment today. Especially since Christ's visitation, God's voice is built on a relationship with Jesus by accepting His sacrifice for our redemption. However, it is within this relationship that even though His voice is Distinguishable, we seem to lose His voice at times.

I believe this spiritual deafness is not because God stopped speaking. I believe it is either because we are talking too much OR our receiver is not tuned to His voice and is on a self or worldly frequency. There is a great song performed by The Terry Blackwood Singers that supports my point beautifully, it is called "We Are The Band, But He Is The Music".

Verse 1
We are the band, but He is the music
We are His lips, but He is the voice

In His service, through His mercy, by His grace, His compassion

We are the band, but He is the music

Verse 2
We are the song, but He is the lyrics
We are the means, but He is the source  

Through His Spirit, by His timing, by His will, His perfection

We are the band, but He is the music

Verse 3
We are the strings, but He is the harpist
We are the notes, but He is the melody

If He tunes us, He must love us, when He tunes us, stay in key

We are the band, but He is the music


His voice will one day, once again be undeniably unmistakable to all. Meanwhile, God says, if you are part of the fold, you will want to and need to stay tuned into God's frequency for discernment of all things. To help in this effort, remain a man or woman of integrity. Also, continue to pray to Him, allowing for some listening time. Finally, permit the Holy Spirit and Word of God, when you read it, to guide you in all truth because this is His Voice.


His Voice (read, listen and follow through)