Friday, May 31, 2013

Dancing King

"As the Ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart."  2 Samuel 6:16

David was called a man after God's own heart. We all want that and strive for that. We should try to take the lessons learned from David, and apply them to our own lives. However, one lesson we should really apply is often ignored.

Dance like David danced.

When we are in God's presence, we should be free to let loose. We should be able to jump, twirl, and wave our arms in any way we choose. And we should be able to do it without fear of what other people think.

We can't stop people from thinking and saying what they want to say. But we can free ourselves from our personal prison.

We can stop worrying about what they think.

Goodness, who cares what they think?

If every Christian in the world, from the little children to the old timers, if we as one, stopped worrying about what the person next to us thought, and just praised God, awesome stuff would happen.

David didn't care about what people thought. "It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord--and I will make merry before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this...."  2 Samuel 6:21-22a

God has chosen us to be princes and princesses. The least we can do, is truly praise Him.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

"The Basic Steps Needed"

When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment; for she said, 'If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.'  Immediately the fountain of her blood dried up, and she was healed of her affliction.  Mark 5:27-29

Here we see a woman who had been struggling for years with her issue with no help in sight. She hears about Jesus and decides that He is her only hope. She pushes and presses through the crowd till she gets close enough to touch the hem of His garment and in an moment she is immediately healed of her affliction.

In Matthew 14:36 it says that ...they begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.  In both verses, lives were changed because they touched the hem of His garment.  Sometimes I think we feel that we need to do some great act of faith like surviving a fiery furnace, some hungry lions, or even to slay giants in order to receive His anointing in our lives. How often do we make faith a whole lot harder then it really is?

According to these verses all we really need are a few basic steps. First we need to hear about Him and then we need to confess with our mouths that we believe His presence is enough! We need to believe that touching the hem, or rather the outer edge of His presence brings His anointing flowing into our lives! The last step, be in His Presence!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mr. Universe

"It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; Who stretches out the Heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;" Isaiah 40:22

Do you ever have those moments where you just look around, and all you can think is, "Wow, I feel really small."

This verse does that to me.

We are pretty insignificant when compared to the God of the universe Who uses the earth as a footstool. Who uses the whole universe as His tent. We are like grasshoppers compared to him: small and annoying.

God is the Mr. Universe.

For God to call us His own. For God to make us significant, well, that's pretty awesome.

"Our God is an awesome God, He reigns in Heaven above, in wisdom, power, and love, our God is an awesome God!"

Adds a lot of extra meaning.

God is awesome in His mega-awesomeness.


Monday, May 27, 2013

"Seeds Of Faith"

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are three young men who stand out as heroes of faith.  Look at the stand they took! "We won't bow to your idols!" They made a choice to serve God no matter the persecution or the cost. They made a commitment to God that they lived with their lives. So, where does that kind of commitment come from?  It begins when someone shares the Word of God and plants seeds of faith.  The beginning of their faith, and the stand that they took started with the people in their lives who had the responsibility of "Training them up in the way they should go."(Proverbs 22:6). It's possible that it began the first time they heard of the goodness of their God and His faithfulness to those who had come before them. Maybe faith began when they were "church kids" listening to the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It could have been when they learned about Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, or of Joshua and The Lord of Hosts taking Jericho with a shout. The possibilities are endless. Noah, Gideon, Samson, Deborah, Joseph, Samuel. Maybe faith was stirred in their hearts when they heard of a shepherd boy taking on a giant to defend the name of the Lord. Commitment started for them in the same place as it does for every believer. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

The kind of faith that stands before idols, when all others bow, doesn't begin when the music starts to play. Faith that takes on a fiery furnace doesn't begin with the strike of the match. Faith like that begins long before the test comes. It begins when someone shares the Word of God, a decision is made, and a willing heart receives. It is in that moment that the seed of faith begins to grow!

We don't know when these young men made their decision, but we do know that they made one. We know this because of what we read of them in Daniel chapter 1. In the very beginning of their captivity, the very first thing they did was show us that their commitment was to not leave God out of their circumstances. These four young men were not the only ones to be taken captive and brought back to Babylon, but we read in Daniel 1:19, "That among them all none was found like them." This declaration was made about them because of the commitment they made at the start of their testimony. It says in Daniel 1:8,9 that, "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portions of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and good will of the chief of the eunuchs." According to the Strong's Concordance, the word "purposed" is the primitive root, siym(7760), which means "to put." This tells us that a determination to not be defiled was placed in the heart of these young men by an act of their will. They made a choice to walk according to the Ways of God. Ways that someone, earlier in their life, had taught them were the will of God. They put a choice not only in their heart but also in their actions.

These young men seemed to understand a truth that many believers today seem to forget. "God honors those who honor Him" ( 1 Samuel 2:30)! How did they know this? They had just been invaded, taken from their families, and brought as captives to another land. Their circumstances should have brought doubt and unbelief. They should have been feeling like God had abandoned them. Instead, they were "purposing," God first! How? How did they know to, "Walk by faith, and not by sight?" (2 Corinthians 5:7) How could these four young men, under these circumstances, have so much faith? Or rather, Who? Who had made this testimony possible? Someone had understood and obeyed Deuteronomy 6:4-7 "Hear,O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Someone had prepared them in their "beginning years" for what was to come. Someone had equipped them with a God who was REAL.

So, question for us today is this: Are we as His servants being faithful to plant seeds of faith that equip heroes to stand? 

Sunday, May 26, 2013


When Hezekiah and his people were dealing with the Assyrians, God kept saying, "I will defend this city." It's pretty awesome. Over and over in these chapters, this is said. "I will defend this city to save it."

God was resolute. He WOULD save this city. He WOULD defend this city. God WAS FIGHTING for this city.

God's claim was on that city. He would protect it. And protect it He did. Even when the king of Assyria said that God would let them down because all the gods of the formerly conquered nations had let their people down.

It's pretty awesome having a living, breathing God.

God fought for His people. God saved them. Using His awesome God techniques. Assyria's king died. Slain in his own land by his own sons. And Hezekiah's people were safe.

God did the same thing for us. He even continues to do the same thing for us. He fought for us by sending His son to die for us. The climate sacrifice was made on our behalf. He fought the devil's forces to claim us. And today He continues to fight the devil's forces to keep us safe. He claimed us. We are his. He will defend us to save us, like a man fighting to set his loved ones free. That is how God fights for each of us.

This isn't to say that life won't be hard or that we won't have trials. This is to say that God will defend us, and because of His defense, we can withstand whatever the devil's army tries to throw at us.

God is resolute-He will defend us in order to save us. Safe and saved.


"The Next Step"

In John 11:1-44 we find the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. There is so much that happens in these forty-four verses that we could talk about. How about Lazarus getting sick and Jesus waiting two days before He heads his direction? His conversations with His disciples, Martha, and Mary or even the actual raising of Lazarus from the dead itself, a pretty amazing event when you consider that we are told by Martha  in verse 39 that he had been dead for four days already!  Any and all of these events in this encounter would make for excellent points for us to learn from, but we are going to skip right to the end of this account in order to see what He has for us today.

... "Lazarus, come forth!" And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go." John 11:44  Can you imagine what it must have been like. The anticipation of the people as they watched the opening from where the stone had been rolled away. The exclamations as Lazarus appears and stumbles out, face and body still wrapped in his graveclothes.  It had to be an incredible event to witness!  Although, someone, we don't know who, did more then just witness it. They took part!

Jesus said to THEM, "Loose him, and let him go." Can you imagine? Someone stepped forward and started to unwrap him. Would you and I have?  Don't forget, this was basically a mummy type event.  He was coming out of a tomb, still wrapped in graveclothes, after being dead for four days. Martha exclaimed to Jesus, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days." when He had told them to roll the stone away in verse 39. Can you imagine being the one to have to actually touch the graveclothes and to unwrap him!

The point here is, it wasn't enough to just raise Lazarus up. It required the next step, to unwrap him and to loose him from the graveclothes! I don't know who the 'them' were in this account, but in my eyes, 'them' are to be commended! They obeyed and dealt with the stench of the graveclothes. Which leaves us with this thought, would we have been a part of them, or even better, will we?  When we see people, 'called forth out of darkness into His marvelous light' do we notice that they might need us to stick around long enough to help with a few graveclothes?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

God's Got This

In Isaiah 36 we see Jerusalem, Hezekiah, and the people of Israel being harassed by the people of Assyria.

One of Sennacherib's top military men went to the edge of Jerusalem and started tell the people how Sennacherib was coming. That he was going to take city, their land, and everything they held dear.

When Hezekiah's men came and asked them to stop preaching doom and gloom to the people on the wall, Sennacherib's men proclaimed their evil tidings more and more, louder and louder.

There are people in life, who can't ever say anything good.

You can't let the Doom and Gloom People control you. Hezekiah told his people not to talk with them; God charges us to do the same thing. Don't answer them. Don't engage in a conversation.

Guys, God has got this. He more then took care of Sennacherib. He will more then take care of the doom and gloom in our world today.


Friday, May 24, 2013

"Overtaking Chariots"

Today our key verse is found in Acts 8:29-31. Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot." So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "How can I unless someone guides me?"

I have always loved reading about this amazing divine appointment! I love it because it reminds about how important it is to be available to the directions that the Holy Spirit gives. If He tells you to go take a walk in the desert like He did to Philip in verse 26 then its because He has a plan. After he gets Philip in the right location He then points out the right person when He tells him to overtake the chariot. Why? Why would He tell Philip to go to a certain place in the desert? Why would He have him run and catch up with a certain chariot? He had a plan. He knew that there was a man whose heart was ready to hear about Jesus!

When Philip catches up to the chariot he hears the man reading scripture and and he asks the question, "Do you understand what you are reading?" He receives this answer, "How can I unless someone guides me?" So he proceeds to explain the scriptures to him and when this divine appointment is all said and done the man accepts Jesus, is baptized, and Philip is off to his next assignment in Azotus.

The Holy Spirit knew that this man was looking for answers! He knew that his heart was ready to hear and receive the message of salvation through Jesus. He knew his hunger to know! He also knew that Philip was listening and available. He knew that he would be obedient to His directions and that he was open to be led to the right place and the right person. He knew that Philip would respond to the question, "How can I unless someone guides me?"

If we want have amazing divine appointments then we too need to be willing to listen for instructions. We need to be willing to take walks in the desert and to 'overtake chariots' if necessary! If we will listen and be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit then we too will be led to those whose hearts are ready! We too will get to be a part of His amazing plan to have divine appointments 'overtaking chariots' so that the lost can be found!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Way of Holiness Highway

"And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness." Isaiah 35:8a

This is kinda a cool verse.

A highway. God's got a highway.

The "fast track" to Heaven, isn't necessarily faster. But it's a fast moving track. Where holiness is the gas for the your car. Mile by mile, holiness takes you toward you destination: God.

Exits are everywhere. And people speed toward them. In fact, the on ramp is positioned right before the off ramp. For most people, it is easier to just get right off again.

It's not an easy drive. It's a long one. It requires filing up at the right gas stations, and avoiding all detours.

But the Way of Holiness Highway is one you want to take, it's one that will lead you to your destination. This will take you to God.


"The Bigger Lesson"

"Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. Matthew 14:27-29

 I know that this is usually about the next verse where Peter screwed up, took his eyes off Jesus and sank but for me it is about how Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water. He is the only person on the planet aside from Jesus to have such an experience.

Can you  imagine what it felt like. That moment when he heard Jesus respond and say, "Come."  His heart must have skipped a beat. The excitement, the anticipation he felt as he stepped out of the boat and his feet hit the water.  Or how about the awe he felt as he took step after step till he came within an arms reach of Jesus. It had to be an amazing thing, to walk on water and Peter did it!

The rest of the disciples were still in the boat while Peter was walking on water. He was the only one that got out of the boat.  I think that all too often we take the safety of the boat and we miss out on the 'cool God stuff'' or we don't even think to ask Jesus to, 'bid me to Come.'  They all heard Jesus say, "Its me, don't be afraid." They all heard Peter say, "If its you, tell me to come to You."  They all heard Him respond with the single word, "Come."  They all watched while Peter got out of the boat.  They all watched as he walked away from them on the water. They all watched while Peter was doing.

I think we need to focus on what Peter did right! He got out of the boat and he walked on water! When he started to sink his first response was to cry out to the right source for help, Jesus, not the disciples back in the boat.   He took the risk and He trusted Jesus. Then, when he got afraid, he turned to Him for help. 

I think the bigger lesson for us here isn't that he looked at the storm, got afraid and began to sink, after all, we all 'miss the mark' at times. I think the bigger lesson is that he dared to believe in the first place, and that as soon as he was in trouble, he turned to Jesus for help!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Battle Prep

"O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble." Isaiah 33:2

In movies, there's a major emotional and spiritual climax before the battle when the hero says, "Everyone, to arms! Take up your arms and fight!"

To me this is a battle prep kind of verse.

To me this is our daily battle prep verse.

Everyday we should go to God, and ask Him for His grace. Focus ourselves on trusting and waiting on our Father.

But also, recognize that God is The Hero of our stories.

And because He is The Hero of our stories, when we reach those climax moments before our battles, we know that the outcome of the battle is not on our small, weak shoulders.

We can petition The Hero. We can ask Him to take up arms on our behalf. And He will be there in all the battles. With arms.

He will take up arms for us.


Monday, May 20, 2013

"The Little"

"Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little." one of His disciple's, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?"  Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in the number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish as much as they wanted. John 6:5-11

The disciples response to the question, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" is one that we should seriously take a look at and consider how often we look and respond to circumstances in our own lives in the same way.  Phillip's  response reveals just how overwhelmed he was at the enormous task of  feeding such a large crowd of people and the lack of funds needed for such a job. Andrew's response was a little different because he at first acknowledges that there are five loaves and two fish available BUT he then decides that it isn't enough.

Have you ever felt that the funds available would never be enough or the little you have isn't ever going to be sufficient for the task at hand? I think it is important to remember that Jesus knew what He planned to do before the question was asked.  He knew that a little boy in the crowd would be willing to share his bread and fish. He knew that Andrew would see a glimpse of possibility even though it didn't last.  He knew that He would use the little He was offered and multiply it to where it was enough to meet the need. He knew that the crowd would be fed!

We need to remember that He is the one that has called us. He has a plan and He will equip us to get the job done.  It is our job to look to give "The Little" we do have and then to look to heaven to do the rest!

I will lift up my eyes to the hills --From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Self-pity vs. Peace and Rest

I wanted to talk a little more about Cain today.

"But for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell." Genesis 4:5

Ah, self-pity.

I know him well.

That feeling when we know, we've let the most important person down, in this case THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON, and we know they weren't really happy.

And you would be seriously messed up if you didn't feel even a little bit awful about that letdown.

You hate yourself, and then self-pity comes. He comes and tells you just how awful you are at, well, life.

He tells you that you will never measure up. That you stink. That you are not good enough. That nothing you ever do is good enough.

See, Cain listened to that evil little guy standing on his shoulder whispering the lies.

And his face fell. Because he believed the lies.

And he kept listening to that evil little guy on his shoulder, and that voice convinced him to do something awful.

Please keep in mind, I am not saying Cain didn't mess up to begin with, and that he didn't keep messing up. We all know he did.

The point is, we can't sit and dwell. We can't dwell on what we've done wrong. Because it goes from bad to worse. We need to let it go. Learn from your mistakes, but please, let them go.

I'll confess, I'm bad at not wallowing in my self-pity.

God lets our sins go. He casts them as far as the east is from the west. He's washed us white.

We don't find peace and rest in the ugly.

To quote Casting Crowns, "In the arms of Your mercy I find rest."


"What A Terrific Plan"

"The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest."  Matthew 9:37-38
In both Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39 we find the same account of Jesus setting a man free from demons. It was well known that he was so bad that he had to live in the tombs and they tried to contained him by binding him with chains.  After Jesus set him free of the demons it says that when the crowd came to see what had happened to him they ... found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind and they were afraid. Luke 8:35

Instead of being amazed it says that they ...begged Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned. Luke 8:37  In the next verse it tells us that the man begged Jesus to let him go with Him. Jesus' response is a little surprising since everywhere else He is using words like, "Follow me."  Instead, in this case He tells him, "Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you."  And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39

We know that he was obedient to what Jesus had asked him to do, not only because of what it says in this verse about him going his way and proclaiming but because of the effect he had on the whole area.  In Matthew 14:34-36 we see that when Jesus returns He receives a different reaction.  In both the Mark and Luke accounts the people begged Jesus to leave because of their fear, but here in Matthew15:35-36 it says, ... that when the men of that place recognize Jesus, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

We know that he was a faithful witness just as Jesus had asked, because this time when Jesus showed up they didn't 'show Him the door.' This time they recognized Him and spread the word to get anybody and everybody with a need to come!  Even though this man would have preferred to get in the boat and go with Jesus, Jesus had a different plan for him! He sent him home to a place he hadn't been able to be for a long while. His plan not only set the man free but it restored him to his family and in the process a whole region was impacted for the kingdom!

"For I know the plans that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11  This man reaped a harvest because he was obedient to Jesus' plan and became a walking, talking, living testimony of what Jesus had done for him in his own hometown!  What a terrific plan!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Knock, Knock

"But for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain. "Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:5-7

We all have bad days.

And I'm pretty sure we have all been jealous before.

The devil man likes to use jealously to pick on us.

He sees an opportunity, and he will plant those seeds in our heart.

And then he waits.

Sin is crouching at the door.

Its desire is for us.

But, through Jesus, we must overcome!

Everyday we have the opportunity to act like Cain, and stab our brothers/sisters, physically and spiritually, with a fork.

Sin waits at the door of our hearts. Knock, knock

He whispers words of revenge and self pity. Knock, knock.

Don't ignore it--it will be back to ruin your life.

Don't overreact to it--don't hurt anyone.

The temptation to sin stays at the door of our hearts, waiting. The devil man's desire is for your souls. Knock, knock.

He waits, so he can try to steal us.

Let's not give him the opportunity.

When those feelings start to bother us, let's give them to God. Hey God, can you deal with this salesman? He's not worth it.



"Filling The Waterpots"

Today's message is just a little something I noticed in John 2:1-11.  Jesus, His mother, and his disciples were all attending a wedding in Cana of Galilee.  It  reached a point in the celebrations that they ran out of wine and Mary, like any other mother, looked to her son to help with the situation. In verse five we see the words that she spoke to the servants before he did just that. "Whatever He says to you, do it." At this point in the account Jesus simply looks to the six, 20 to 30 gallon waterpots that were nearby and said to the servants, "Fill the waterpots with water." They did! Then He said, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." They did! It was no longer water but according to the master of the feast it was 'the good wine' and there was nothing inferior about it!

Verse eleven ends this account with this statement, 'This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.'  Jesus took water and turned it into wine which is such a cool God thing to do!  John used the term,  'this beginning of signs' to describe this miraculous event. Signs have a purpose. In this case they manifested His glory and caused His disciples to believe! Signs point us in the right direction.

The little thing I noticed is 'this beginning sign' happened because His mother spoke these words, "Whatever He says, do it." and because the servants, who had no choice, obeyed! Servants don't get to choose what orders they obey.  If we, His servants, want to see His glory manifested in our lives so that those around us will believe then we need to listen and whatever He says,do it! Even if it means filling the waterpots!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stop Putting Yourself In The Corner

Who ever heard of putting yourself in a time-out?

We do it, though.

When we are ashamed. When we are upset. When we know we have screwed up, and we are trying to fix the mess. When we see just how unworthy we are. When we go into I-am-a-terrible-person mode.

A couple songs by V. Rose (I recommend her. Especially for teenagers.) really touched me this week (they are very much in tune with this topic), and they just really spoke to my heart about how I don't need to put myself on a time-out with God. I don't have to imagine I am wearing a paper hat that says, "FAILURE," on it. I don't have to hang back, like I'm standing in the corner.

I don't have to be perfect to come to God. I don't have to hide from Him because I am ashamed.

"And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." Genesis 3:8-10


Instead of trying to hid our vast failures from God, just lay them all out there. Let Him see it. Let Him deal with it.

Stop holding onto those things.

Stop going to the corner.

"A Few Simple Words"

... And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day ... Genesis 3:8

A few simple words that paint such an amazing picture about God and His love for man.They give the impression that this was an outing that they all enjoyed, God included!  I love the thought of God, the Creator of the universe, taking the time to come and meet with them.

In Daniel 6:10 it tells us that Daniel would kneel and pray three times a day and give thanks before God, as was his custom. This phrase, 'as was his custom,' always comes to mind every time I think about or read these words in Genesis about how God would show up in the garden in the cool of the day. It was His custom to come and be with them. We know this because in the rest of verse 8 it tell us that when they heard the sound of Him in the garden, they went and hid themselves from His presence. They were expecting Him to come and they recognized the sound of His approach.

The next verse also consists of a few simple words, but they paint a different picture! ...Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"

It was the first time they didn't come running! They didn't come calling out words of greetings, full of laughter and smiles. The joy at His presence was missing and instead they were hiding behind trees, ashamed and afraid of Him.

God loves us! He made a way so that we don't have to be ashamed and to hide from His presence. We don't have to live our lives afraid. He made the way for us to come into His presence and spend time with Him because its His heart spend time with us. He loves us!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Immediate Change

Jonah goes to Nineveh, and starts shouting, "Yet in forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" And the Bible says, "And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes." Jonah 3:4-6

The king even issued a proclamation to the people, telling them to fast because, "Who knows, God may turn and relent and turn from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish." Jonah 3:9

What always gets me here, is that their response was so immediate.

They knew that they had screwed up, done some serious crap, and had lived in total and complete sin. They knew they had lived their lives for only themselves. Sin ruled them. The God of the universe was sick of it, and He was calling them out on it.

And their response was immediate.

Now whether that had something to do with the imminent threat of fireballs careening into their homes, I don't know.

I imagine that would be a strong motivator for all of us though.

But despite all that, they turned from their wicked ways. And it touched God's heart.

There were no fireballs that day.

Point is: our response should be immediate.

I, personally, want to do better than the people of Nineveh. In all areas of life. And that includes repentance.


"His Presence"

One verse, two men, and the key as to why God was able to use them in leading His people in such amazing ways! ...So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.  Exodus 33:11

In verse 7 it tells us that Moses brought his tent and set up a meeting place with God. Then in verse 9 we are told that God would show up with a pillar of cloud whenever Moses would enter. Moses was a man that was used by God in a big way because he made a place for the presence of God. In verse 11  it says that God would show up in person and speak to him face to face the same way we talk with our friends.

Verse 11 also gives us some incite into Joshua's relationship with God when it tells us that even though he was young, Joshua would stay in the tabernacle when Moses would leave. There was a reason that God picked Joshua to take over after Moses.  Joshua had the same love for God's presence that Moses did.

In verse 15 Moses said, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here." These two men loved being in His presence. They made a place for His presence on a daily basis. The key to being used in a mighty way by God is to love His presence!

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory;No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!  Psalm 84:10-12

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Electric Free Heaven

Friends, we all hate paying the electric bill.

But be of good cheer.

God's got good news.

"Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for the Lord of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders." Isaiah 24:23

No electric bill in Heaven!

Now, while that is funny, lets take a deeper look at what this means.

This is a nice glimpse of Heaven. One our minds can comprehend, but at the same time not comprehend.

The moon is going to be confused for two reasons: a. The crazy amount of light. b. The crazy amount of light that WILL NOT STOP.

The sun is going to be ashamed at the shear amount of light.

God's GLORY is that bright. That overwhelming. That amazing. That intense.

That is God and His glory.

If  that alone was a deciding factor, then God would get all the glory. Forever. Anyone who IS so much glory, should get all the glory. And there is only ONE who is like that.

All glory is due to God. He deserves it.


Friday, May 10, 2013

"Make Haste"

Zacchaeus was a man hiding in a sycamore tree with the sole purpose of getting a glimpse of Jesus. He knew the route, ran ahead, climbed the tree and waited to see who Jesus was. When Jesus came by, He called out to him and said, ... "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.  Luke 19:5-6 

The Word tells us that he was a man that was short of stature.  I vaguely remember a Sunday School song that uses words like "...was a wee little man, a wee little man was he."  For a wee little man he certainly has a couple of important lessons we all need to know and understand. The first lesson is we are not inconspicuous to Him. He sees us and He wants to spend time with us.

There he was, up in a tree, hiding in the background. He was watching, waiting, trying to find out if the things he had heard about Jesus were true. Jesus, looked him in the eye and told him that he needed to "make haste" and come join Him because He was going to spend some time with him. Zacchaeus, without any hesitation immediately made haste, came down and received Him joyfully.

The second lesson is, how do we respond to Him? Every day life can sometimes make us feel that we are watching the things of God take place from a distance when in reality Jesus always has the time to speak our name and to call us so that we come spend some time with Him. Jesus wants to spend time with us every day, so the question is, "Do we respond the way that Zacchaeus did? Do we make haste in order to give Him a place in our lives?"

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Valiant Ones

Psalm 108:13 "With God we shall do valiantly; it is He who will tread down our foes."

Notice it said, "we SHALL do valiantly." With God, we shall do valiantly. It doesn't say that we might, or that we will if we do this and that first.

It's not something to second guess. It's not a question mark.

IT IS something that is supposed to be automatic.

With God, all things are possible. That includes being valiant and doing valiant things.

And get this, God will also tread down our foes.   ;)

Go and do valiantly, people.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Don't Forget To Do"

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

Now here is the question? Who seriously looks in the mirror and goes away and forgets what he looks like? We all  look in the mirror on a daily basis. We all know how a mirror works. It reflects our image back at us. We use that information to do what needs doing. We fix our hair, our make-up, and our clothes. We make sure that we are presentable to the world and it is something we do every single day.

This verse is using something in the natural that we do everyday to reveal to us a spiritual truth. That truth is simple.  The Word is a mirror that reflects. It reflects God in relation to man. It speaks to us and reveals what needs fixing so that we become  presentable to God.

James tells us to be a doer of the word.  We don't look in the mirror in the natural and walk away and forget what we look like. Its not something we realistically forget. James is telling us that if we don't treat the Word of God the same way we treat our mirror, then we are deceiving ourselves. Every time that we read the Word, God  will reveal truth to us. When we don't apply or do what it says we are forgetting what we look like.

James gives us more than a warning here, he also gives us a promise.  He tells us that if we will look into the perfect law of liberty and we do what it shows us to do then we will be blessed. Obedience to his Word will always bring blessing to our lives.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

God is here; God is there; God is everywhere.

"In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 17:7

My heart has been desperate for God these days. Desperate to see Him like a couple in love is desperate to see each other. I need to see you God.

"Where shall I go from you Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to Heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me." Psalms 139:7-10

I have been ignoring how much God is around me already. He is everywhere. The earth is His footstool. The clouds are the dust of His feet. You can hear His army in the tree tops. You can feel His presence in the still small whispers during the day. And the way He hears and answers the cries of your heart is like no other.

 Don't ignore the fact that God is already here. Don't be ignorant of it.

When you are aware of how much God is already here and there, then as you seek His face, you're not desperate because you haven't seen Him, but because you want to see more of Him.

And then you will be able to look at the Holy One of Israel, like never before.


Monday, May 6, 2013

"Pay What To Whom?"

...Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money." So they brought Him a denarius, And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?"They said to Him, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.   Matthew 22:15-22

Once again we come across an encounter where the religious leaders are trying to test Jesus. First they try to cover up their motive 'to entangle Him in His talk' by using flattery.  They tell Him that they know He is true, that He teaches the ways of God, that he is honest and doesn't play favorites or as they put it, 'he doesn't regard the person of men.'  They pretend to be asking for His opinion with the question, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?" when in reality they are trying to get Him to answer in a way that they can use to accuse Him. 

It says that, Jesus, knew what they were up to, and answered them in a way that had them marveling and going on their way.  Once again Jesus passed the test!  

Sometimes, as we get caught up in the everyday, day to day of things, I think we forget that the world, and the things of the world are a means to entangle us.  A way to test and distract us from giving to God the things that are due Him.  Romans 12:1 challenges us to be ...a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. It then goes on to tell us in verse 2 ... be not conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The world, or the "things of the world" are always going to try and pull us away from giving to God that place where He is at the very center of things. It said that Jesus perceived their wickedness and I pray that we too will perceive and recognize those things in our lives that would distract us from giving our all to God. Challenges in life will come. We will be tested. I pray that we will pass the test and that we will render to Him all that He is due.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Door

"And those that entered, male and females of all flesh, went in as God commanded him. And the Lord shut him in." Genesis 7:16

It's really, really cool how God shut them into the ark.


God gave Noah this whole list of very specific instructions. But according to these instructions, where was the crank to pull the door shut?

It wasn't there.

What do you think would have happened if Noah built his own crank thing, instead of following God's plan completely?

While God shutting the door Himself is an awesome thought, there is a symbolic lesson in here too.

Sometime, God gives us plans that don't make complete sense. Now, we know He has a plan. We can see the plan. We can see where He is going with this plan. But it seems like He is missing a step. Like we need to help God out, and add the crank so to speak, because He forgot it. And we will never be able to fully carry out God's plan, until we add a crank, so we can shut the door, and the whole boat doesn't get swept away with all the evil of the world, right?

We see this "over-eager-to-help-fix-God's-plan," attitude many times in Scripture. Just one example is Saul deciding to keep some animals instead of killing them and offering the sacrifice before Samuel got there.

We need to remember that we don't need to try to fix God's plan.

Basically, we need to ignore that "practical" voice in our heads that says, "We need to do this, or how else will God's plan be fulfilled?"

God's plans were planned out a long time ago. So when He gives us a plan, we don't need to do anything except what He wants us to do to enact this plan.

If Noah had built a crank, he would not have been fully trusting God's plan to provide and make His plan perfect.
And if Noah had built a crank, we wouldn't have noticed how awesome it was that God shut the door Himself.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

"The Last Man Standing"

Today, as we take a look at John 8:1-11 I'm reminded just how wonderful it is to know Him! That He came to seek and to save the lost, and that somewhere along the way, He found me!

...The crowd watched in silence as the scene played out before them. Moments earlier they were sitting, listening to the words of the teacher. Now they waited expectantly for His response. The challenge hung out there waiting. Would He handout the judgment that Moses, in the law commanded? Would His next words be “Stone her?”

The object of the challenge, a woman, huddled in fear as she sat whimpering at the feet of the Teacher. The Scribes and Pharisees stood behind her, facing Him, waiting, backs straight, anger, judgment and condemnation filled the air as they spoke and pointed at the woman on the ground in front of them.
Jesus standing calmly before them met and held the gaze of the Pharisee who had asked the question, “But what do you say?” The longer His silence lasted the more you could feel triumph fill the group of men who had issued the challenge. Now they would be able to discredit Him with the crowds of people who followed Him. Their trap was set.

Jesus began to move, He stooped to the ground and the crowd held its breath as His hand moved towards a rock. Many of the men standing accusingly before him bent, grabbed up stones, thinking they had won. Instead the Teacher just moved the stone out of the way, brushing his hand back and forth on the ground, clearing a spot. Then he began to write as though the question hadn’t been heard. The stunned men grew angrier and more indignant at both his actions and His continued silence. Once again they demanded that He be the one to handout judgment upon the woman.

Jesus reached out, took the largest of the stones that He had brushed aside and set it next to the sobbing woman. He stood and finally spoke for the first time since the arrival of the angry men. He pointed at the stone and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone.” He then stooped back down and continued to write.

The oldest of the group, standing directly in the front, looked up from the writing, to the stone, and then met the penetrating gaze of Jesus. His body told the story. The anger, the judgment, the condemnation, and all his righteous indignation at the actions of Jesus, left his body. His shoulders slumped and his gaze turned to the ground as he turned and made his way slowly through the crowd, avoiding eye contact with the others as he went.

Amazement passed through the crowd. They pushed forward trying to get a glimpse at the words written in the dirt. Slowly, one by one the stones dropped as the reactions of the first man echoed their way through the crowd of angry men until no one was left except Jesus and the accused woman. Jesus rose and looked at the woman. Once again, He spoke. “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” With relief and amazement she responded and said, “No one, Lord.”

It was then that, Jesus, as the last man standing and the only one among them who was without sin, bent, picked up the stone and with love and compassion reached out and gently placed the stone in her hand. She looked intently at the cold stone she now held. Her grip on it tightened as her glance turned, and she looked fully into the face of Jesus, tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more."

He had been asked to speak judgment and condemnation and instead, as His next words were uttered He gave her a new life, now filled with hope. The onlookers watched in amazement as she turned to leave and instead of a seeing a broken woman, full of shame and humiliation, they witnessed the transformation as those incredible last words took hold in the her heart. The forgiveness she had been given and received gathered strength within her and became evident to everyone as she left the scene
Who knew that such a simple statement could wield enough power to change a life! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Screw Up

"You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me." Isaiah 12:1

I'm really bad at giving myself guilt trips, and I have been ever since I was quite young. And when I did/do something wrong, I feel awful, and have a hard time forgiving myself. I say, "I'm sorry," so much that I have to start saying, "I'm sorry," for saying, "I'm sorry." I it breaks my heart when anyone is upset with me.

I don't kid myself; I'm sure I make God angry on a many-times-a-day basis.

This verse, Isaiah 12:1, gives some comfort, especially for those of us who apologize more than enough for several lifetimes.

God, turning from His anger, and comforting me. Awesome.

It's like when you're a little kid, and you know you screwed up. Your parents are MAD! You realize what you did was awful. Then you say you're sorry. You are so upset with yourself that you don't even realize that your mom has come up beside you, and is giving you a hug.

That's how it is with God. We are His children, but when we screw up, and we are sorry, God will turn aside from His anger, and comfort you. Incredible!

We may have a lot of times where we will be very stupid, but God does. and always will, comfort us and love us. Just go to Him, or let Him come to you. Don't look at this as an excuse to sin. It's meant as an incentive to go and sin no more.

God loves us, despite the fact the fact that we can be stupid. And during our repentance, He will come up to us, and just love on us some more.


"This Amazing Scripture"

I did warn you I had a lot to say on this amazing scripture. I hope your ready for part III. ...But now, thus says the Lord who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior." ... Isaiah 43:1-3

In part I we talked about, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you."  In part II we looked at "I have called you by name." and now in Part III we are going to hit, "You are mine."

As a youth pastor for the last 33 years I have had the privilege of having a KA-BILLION (meaning more than I can count) young people in and out of my car. What that means is I have had the privilege of dealing with the effects of a KA-BILLION young people in and out of my car. What that translates into is trash, dirt, stains, damage, etc.  Why? Simple, it was not their car.

I also have had the privilege to be around when those same KA-BILLION young people became old enough to, pick out and purchase their own car.  Suddenly a car is something to take care of!  Suddenly, they don't allow eating in the car. Suddenly they care about the trash and the muddy feet.  Suddenly a car is to be treated as a prize possession. It is amazing how the word "mine" changes your whole attitude toward taking care of something.

It is not an accident that he goes from saying, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name; You are mine:"  to giving us some examples of how He has and will take care of His own, His prize possession! We all know that Noah and his family made it  through the flood waters. We all know how He heaped up the waters so that Moses and the whole nation of Israel could pass through.  We all know about how He protected Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah when they were thrown into the fiery furnace to the point that when they came out it says that they, ... came from the midst of the fire. And the satraps, administrators, govenors, and the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them."  Daniel 3:26, 27 They were not burned or even scorched. He showed up to protect them because they were His own.

They had been fearless and hadn't allowed their situation to be bigger then Him. They acknowledged that they belonged to Him and that it was up to Him to do with as He chose.( Daniel 3:17,18) It is also my belief that He didn't show up and call them Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, their Babylonion names. I know, because I know, because I know, that when He showed up in the midst of the fire that He knew their names, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  He had called them.  He was their Lord, their God, their Savior.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name; You are mine!"