Friday, February 28, 2014

He Was Literally Standing

The black stallion halted in front of Mordecai. This is it. From atop his horse, Haman looked down at him. Mordecai heard a rustle of clothing as everyone else bowed, but Mordecai kept his eyes on Haman. That he had the audacity to look him in the eye only seemed to make him angrier. Haman's lip lifted in a snarl, "Bow to me, Jew."

Mordecai kept silent. This also seemed to provoke Haman. "BOW TO ME!"

"Just bow already!" Mordecai glanced to his right. The young man kept his head bowed, but his head was angled so he could make eye contact with Mordecai. "Bow down," he hissed again.

"Quiet," Haman growled as he slide from his horse. He took the few steps to the young man's side, and kicked him in the gut. Mordecai started to leap to his rescue, but two guards grabbed either arm. Haman's head snapped back to look a Mordecai. Seeing he had triggered a nerve, he kicked the poor kid, over and over again, all the while screaming, "Bow to me! I am a god compared to you. Bow down, fool!"

If Mordecai bowed down, he could stop the beating of this young, innocent man. However, if Mordecai bowed down, he would be betraying his Lord God. He would compromise his witness. Why, just a few days earlier he had told the people that he would not bow down because he was a Jew, and his people only worshiped the one true God. If he compromised now, how could they believe his testimony?

Mordecai did the only thing he could do. He stood and he prayed. Thank God, Haman stopped kicking the young man. He marched over to Mordecai and stopped with his face right in front of Mordecai's face. Nose to nose. "This isn't over. You will bow to me. Every last one of you." And with that ultimatum, Haman left.

Based on Esther 3:1-6

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

It would have been so easy for Mordecai to just bow to Haman. He would still love God, still be his servant, but he would bow down to this man. No big deal. Just paying this leader some honor. What would be the harm in it? It would have gotten Haman off of Mordecai's back.

Mordecai made a stand for God by literally standing. He would only bow to his God, and no one else. No matter how insignificant this stand seemed to those around him, it was his stand. He would not compromise.

We read this chapter, and we say, "Right on, Mordecai!" We bless him with our lips. We preach about it all the time. We tell the kids to be faithful in the little things. We know this. We respect it. Do we live it? Those little compromises that we bow down to, how little are they really? Have we put them before God? Do we hide who we are, what we are, and Who we believe? Mordecai didn't just spiritually stand for God; he literally stood for God. He didn't hide who he was or what he believed. And yeah, Haman was offended by that. Deal with it Haman! God took care of that problem. We have no excuses.

I think Joshua said it best in Joshua 24:15, "...Choose this day whom you will serve.....But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

No more compromises in the little things!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Marching Orders"

"Then God saw their works, that they had turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. Jonah 3:10

I know that as soon as you see the reference, Jonah, you know that we are talking about the city of Ninevah and its 600,000 citizens. Usually when talking about the book of Jonah I'm usually focused on Jonah but today my thoughts are turned toward the 600,000 men, women, and children that God was trying to reach. Jonah, for some reason, was hand picked by God to be the one to take a message of repentance to this great city. Actually, God went to a lot of trouble to get Jonah to do what He had asked him too.

In chapter 1:1-2 we see the assignment ...Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me." Seems like a pretty reasonable request for a prophet to get to me, but Jonah was already on his way in the opposite direction by the end of verse 2. You know the story, God pursues him, finds him in the belly of a ship, puts him in the belly of a fish, he repents, gets spit out, and he the receives the same marching orders, ...Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you." Jonah 3:1-2

Why the people of Nineveh listened I don't know, because its pretty apparent that Jonah's heart wasn't really into reaching them, but according to verses 5-9, they did. It says that they believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. It says that even the king, got off his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. It also tells us that as they all fasted, from the king on down to and including the livestock, that they all cried out mightily to God, turning from their evil ways in the hopes that God would relent.

Jonah must have been the right man for the job because 600,000 people were left crying out to God. 600,000 men, women, and children believed the words that he cried out and were on their knees with hearts full of repentance. A whole city was saved, because God cared enough to make a way for them. 600,000 souls saved. Why? Because, as Jonah put it, "God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm." Jonah 4:2

Jonah was asked to arise and go to Nineveh and because he went, lives were saved! How about you? The Lord may not have assigned you Jonah's marching orders, an exceedingly great city that takes you days to get through, but... He did say ... "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" ... and believe it or not, lives depend on it!   

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Clenched Fists and an Angry Glower Stand

The heel of the soldier's hand slammed into Teresh's back, and the force sent him sailing towards the ground. Teresh held out his hands to brace himself, managing to catch himself before his face smacked into the rocky ground. Again.

He heard Bigthan grunt in agony next to him. The soldiers were ruthless. They had been beaten, kicked, and spit on by the king's men. My former friends, Teresh thought ruefully. Now he and Bigthan were despised. All their friends and family had turned their backs on them. Teresh had spotted his son watching from the crowd. The expression of betrayal and anger on his son's face almost killed him right there.

If only we had killed the king! If they had succeeded, this whole death business might have been worth it. Maybe. For the first time, he was really wondering why he had gotten carried away with this sordid affair. How did it start again? Oh, that's right; the King had made them angry. Nothing out of the ordinary. But when they left the king's presence that day, something inside Teresh had snapped. He chose to be angry. To stay angry. To get angrier. He chose to plan an assassination with Bigthan. An assassination he would have done, had they not been caught. Because he was angry. Why, even thinking of the king, made him furious. Teresh let loose a ferocious growl, one born from spite and pure hatred.

The guard shoved him down again. But when Teresh picked himself up this time, he saw the gallows looming before him. The jagged, sharp stake was an eyesore against the beautiful blue sky, and giant cottony clouds. Forcing down his fear, he allowed his anger to fuel him. Straightening to his full height and snarling at anyone who looked at him, Teresh stood before the gallows, his choice made.

Based on Esther 2:21-23

Guys, I don't know if these men were refusing to let go of stupid offenses, or if they had been mistreated. I do know that they made some choices. Choices that led to the gallows. They chose to let their anger fuel them. They stood for anger.

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-27

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20

Do we choose to be angry? When you choose anger, you stand with anger, hate, revenge, and all his friends. We've all done it, even if it's a silly spat your picking with someone. I don't know about you, but when I consciously allow myself to be angry, I feel it. It feels unnatural and crushing. Truly, any form of evil will crush you. Don't allow that soul-crushing evil a place in your life. It will not promote God in your life. Instead of standing there with clenched fists and an angry glower, stand in God's forgiveness and freedom.

P.S. Isn't it amazing how God used Teresh's and Bigthan's evil for good by inserting His servant Mordecai? God's stand will always be greater than evil!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"The Sign Of The Sandal"

Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was an attestation in Israel. Therefore the near kinsman said to Boaz, "Buy it for yourself." So he took off his sandal. Ruth 4:7-8

I don't know about you but I've always thought that handing someone your shoe was a weird way to 'sign on the dotted line' as it were, and to make this whole agreement legal and binding. As I read the book of Ruth last week I was struck once again with this thought, "Why the sandal?" As I pondered this question the last few days the Lord began to unfold the answer and has showed me an amazing truth. The sign of the sandal is all about authority.

Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebonon, from the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you. Deuteronomy 11:24-25 In Joshua 1:3-5 we find a repeat of this promise from God. "Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.

The sign of the sandal in this exchange with Boaz and the unnamed kinsman is all about their understanding of their authority to posses the land where they tread. This custom of exchanging a sandal came about because of their knowledge of the promise of God, and that property was taken possession of by treading upon the soil; and therefore taking off the sandal and handing it to another was a symbol of that transfer of possession, the right of ownership, and the authority that goes with it. So, in this case, the passing of the sandal symbolizes Boaz's right to walk on the land as his property!

Both Moses, in his burning bush encounter (Ex. 3:5) and Joshua, in his face to face encounter with the Commander of army of the Lord (Joshua 5:15) were commanded to ..."Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." Not because the ground in and of itself was holy but because the Presence of God, standing there made it holy, made it His possession. Removing ones sandals was a sign of respect to a superior. It acknowledges their authority. John the Baptist alluded to this when he said, "He who comes after me is mightier than I, whose sandals strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. Mark 1:7 Interesting little tidbit here is that, a disciple was to do all the things for his master that a servant/slave would except this one thing that was considered too menial a task, loosing the strap of a sandal. Yet John felt he was beneath even that in Jesus' presence as he acknowledges with his declaration, Jesus as the Supreme Authority.

One last thought ...Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; ...Ephesians 6:14-15 Interesting to note that you and I, the New Testament believer have been given sandals to tread ground with! We too have, not only the responsibility to carry the gospel, but the authority to go forth and do as Jesus said when he sent out the disciples, ..."And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." Matthew 10:7-8

So, tomorrow morning, as you reach down and tie your shoes getting ready for your day, know that, wherever you tread you have the authority to claim ground for the kingdom!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Subtle Stand

Hegai studied the young maiden walking towards him. There was something different about her-always had been. She certainly wasn't the youngest of the lot, and while she was beautiful that wasn't what set her apart from everyone else. The more Hegai thought about it, the more he was convinced. It was her spirit. Her pure and beautiful spirit. Something magnificent hovered there.

Esther stopped in front of him, and dipped her head in respect. She took a deep breath and calmly stated, "I'm to see the King."

Hegai smiled at her nerves. "Indeed you are. You can pick any of the jewels and finery here for your night with the King. Anything you want, Esther, and I will see that you have it."

She nodded slowly, brow furrowed. "I wouldn't know what to pick. What would you recommend? I trust your advice. I will do whatever you advise." 

His heart squeezed. She wanted his help? He'd guided her and shown her favor since the beginning, but this was entirely different. None of the other maidens had asked for his help. They had greedily grabbed jewels and fine linens, already imagining themselves as the one and only queen. Esther had treated him with respect, never assuming she would be queen. 

This precious woman would make a wonderful queen. Hegai, determined to do everything in his power to help her, swept his hand towards the right. "I have just the thing for you, Esther. Something fit only for the future queen."

Based on Esther 2:5-15

I've always viewed Esther as a woman with a pure spirit. She treated people with respect and dignity. She asked Hegai because she trusted him. He had shown her favor, and she was showing him respect. If Esther had been walking around, looking down her nose at every servant and person around her, do you thing she would have won favor in the eyes of all who saw her? Goodness, no! She could have been mad that she was ripped away from her family, her life, and her chance at finding love with a normal man. Did she go around acting like an angry teenager? Thank Heavens, no!

"The second is this; 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Esther chose to love those around her. She chose to let God's pure love shine through her. And because she chose to stand in love for others, Hegai chose to stand for Esther. 

Our choices and attitudes towards others are groundwork. If Hegai had hated Esther because she was a snob, do you really think she would have still had his favor? Hegai made a stand for Esther because she had earned his respect. She was swept closer to her destiny because she chose to walk in love. It's a subtle stand, but it's a stand that makes a difference. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"A Wondrous Thing!"

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts Him! Psalm 34:8

Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes that I might see Wondrous things from Your law. Psalm 119:17-18

The answer is Joshua. I know you might be wondering what these two verses and today's message have in common and the answer is Joshua. Joshua got a taste of God. He tasted, saw that God was good, and then He simply trusted. We don't know where or when that happened. Maybe he was in the front of the crowd and he got to see first hand that moment when Moses stretched out his staff over the waters. The wind started to blow, and the waters started to move back, to heap up, and become as walls on either side. I tend to think that would have been a good moment to taste and see the faithfulness of God, what with the cloud and the Angel of God behind them, guarding them as He made them a way of escape, and the waters heaping up in front of them. (Ex. 14:19-22) Yea, that was a good moment to see a wondrous thing, the faithfulness of an amazing God!

Again, we don't know how or why but we do know that He did get a taste of heaven and it caused him to trust and serve God to the point that throughout all his days, God dealt bountifully with him and showed Him so many wondrous things. Actually, the first time Joshua is mentioned in scripture is in Exodus 17:9 were Moses puts him in charge of choosing some men to take into battle against Amalek as he, Arron and Hur stood on top of the hill holding the staff up so that Joshua and his men might prevail. The word also tells us in this account in verse 14 that God told Moses to write it down and to make sure to recount or rehearse it in the hearing of Joshua so that he would know and remember that God would blot out Amalek. It seems Joshua was being called, chosen, and prepared for the wondrous events to come.

The next time we see him is in Exodus 24:13 ...So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up the mountain of God. Joshua at this point is known as his assistant. Interesting to note. Most people think Moses was up there all alone, this verse tells us that he wasn't. Joshua went as well.  In chapter 32:17 it says that he heard the noise of the people as they came down. He wasn't part of that whole making an idol scene, he was up the mountain with Moses and God. How about this next moment in Exodus 33:11 ...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. Talk about a taste for God. He didn't even like to leave God's presence and go home. All these events took place as he was being raised up and prepared to be a leader, a servant of the most High God.

My point is that Joshua got a taste of something good, God. He trusted and served God all the days of his life. He experienced God dealing bountifully with him. He saw so many wondrous events throughout his life, from walls being destroyed with a shout, the sun and moon standing still at his word, a face to face with the Commander of the army of the Lord to name a few.

Actually, I've said all this to come to this moment, when I get to show you this wondrous thing that the Lord showed me. It can be found at the end of Joshua's life. Joshua 24 verses 14-15 is Joshua's famous quote ..."Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." In verse 21-24 we see the people's response ... And the people said to Joshua, "No, but we will serve the Lord!" So Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him." And they said, "We are witnesses." "Now therefore," he said, "put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel." And the people said to Joshua,"The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey."

I'm not sure if you see what I do here but it is pretty significant. Joshua didn't choose for them. As the leader he could have declared and made law this that and the other thing trying to force them to serve God as a nation. He didn't, He put it to them. Choose. Choose this day!  They did and here is the wondrous thing ... They did, they served Him all on there own.

So Joshua let the people depart, each to his own inheritance. Now it came to pass after these things that Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Serah, which is in the mountain of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. (Here it come, the most wondrous thing) Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. Joshua 28-31

Can you imagine - Joshua, tasted, trusted, served, saw and impacted his generation with the knowledge of a God who deals bountifully with His people to the point that they stayed faithful! They kept their word to serve and obey Him even after they were away from Joshua's presence. They stayed faithful even after his death. They continued to keep their promise to the very last one of them, to their very last breath.

A faithful nation - now that is a wondrous thing! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

No Other Reason

Queen Esther fidgeted on the lovely couch, afraid she would damage the exquisite silk. She was still getting used to such finery. She exhaled in relief when she saw Mordecai stroll into the chamber. Immediately brightening she exclaimed, "How wonderful to see you! I've missed you dearly!"

Mordecai held his finger up to his lips, but after glancing around, stole a quick hug from the cousin he had raised like a daughter. "Unfortunately my dear, this is not a social call. There is a plot to kill the king."

Esther gasped, "We must tell the king at once!"

"You must go, dear Esther, you are the queen. Tell his majesty that the traitors are  Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guard the threshold."

Esther sent a note to King Ahasuerus immediately. When he summoned her, she told him all that she knew of the plot, and gave Mordecai full credit for the discovery.

"When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king." Esther 2:23

Based on Esther 2:21-22

When Mordecai discovered this heinous plot, he told Esther immediately. He didn't stop to ponder if this would help his social agenda. He didn't wonder if this would make him well known in the kingdom, or if he would be granted some title like, "Mordecai the Heroic." For crying out loud, he didn't even tell the king himself; Esther did. He did it without want of recognition or gain. He did it because it was the right thing to do. Mordecai didn't get recognition for his good deed until later (Esther 6). Truthfully, the king forgot. Mordecai was eventually recognized with a humorous twist that only God could ordain.

"So Haman came in, and the king said to him, 'What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?' And Haman said to himself, 'Whom could the  king delight to honor more than me?' Esther 6:6

God sees everything we do, and He sees our hearts. If we have a "Me! Me! Me!" attitude like Haman, then we will fall.

"So the last will be first, and the first last." Matthew 20:16

We make so many decisions based on how people will perceive us afterwards. That's never been the point. When did doing the right thing turn into a glory fest? Have an unassuming attitude like Mordecai. The heart that says, "I'm not doing this for me."

Rage surged through him. Haman wanted to spit at Mordecai. After escorting him through the city, proclaiming his praises, he wanted nothing more then to see him dead. The end of the Jews couldn't come fast enough. Haman hissed, "How did you know?"

Mordecai raised an eyebrow at him. "How did I know what, Haman."

He bristled at the use of his name by this piece of scum. "How did you know this would win you favor with the king?"

Mordecai shook his head, "I did it for the king. No other reason."

Let's do it all for our King. No other reason.

Friday, February 21, 2014

"Fingerprint Moments"

You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. Psalm 139: 5-6

I have a word written in my Bible next to this verse. That word is, fingerprints. You might ask, "Why?" Why would I write the word fingerprints here. The reason is simple. Its a reminder! A reminder that I matter to Him! This verse has in it this statement, 'And laid Your hand upon me.' If you lay your hand upon something, then you also leave something behind. A fingerprint. Its not always visible to the naked eye but it is there just the same. If you want to, you can dust for them and then they become visible.

All of Psalm 139 is about God knowing us intimately. He knows what we are doing and thinking. For example in verse 2 its says, "You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off." He knows us, loves us, and plans for us! Again, a perfect example is found in verse 16 ..."Your eyes saw my substance, yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them." In verse 1 it says, "O Lord, You searched me and know." and I guess that's my point! He loves us and He knows us to the point that His fingerprints are all over our lives. If you take the time to look you'll be able to see and recognize them.

Here is an example of a fingerprint moment in the life of Moses. Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn." So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." Exodus 3:1-5

This is a fingerprint moment in the life of Moses. God knew exactly were Moses was and what it would take to get his attention. A bush that burns without burning! He could have just appeared to him like He did with others but He didn't. He used a burning bush that caused Moses to make a conscious choice to go investigate, 'How could this be possible?' It was in that moment of choice that God spoke and made Himself known. It was in that moment that He proved Himself Holy and declared Himself as the great 'I Am.' This is were He makes it clear to Moses that He has been with him all along, that He knows him, has seen what he has been through, and declares to him that He will continue to be with him in the days and events ahead.

God's fingerprints are all over the life of Moses from the moment he was born and kept alive by midwives that feared God (Ex. 1:17) to his mother putting him in a basket to be found by Pharaoh's daughter. (Ex. 1:5) He allowed him to be nursed by his own mother (Ex. 1:8) and raised in the royal household as Pharaoh's daughters son.(Ex. 1:10) He was also given the name Moses which means; 'one who draws out' because he was drawn out of the water. His name, a fingerprint from heaven, after all what did God plan for him? That he would draw out and deliver from bondage a people belonging to God. Fingerprints, unseen at the time, but there nonetheless!

For Moses it was a burning bush, that burned without burning, with me it was a song, with you? God knows what will lead us to Him. His fingerprints are all over the events of our lives and they will always bring us to the place of His presence. The place of getting to know Him back.

I hope you take the time to read Psalm 139 today as it will help you to start dusting for His fingerprints in your life! You will find them even if they weren't visible at the time.  O, and don't forget to keep an eye out for them today and all your tomorrows!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"All Consuming Fire"

And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.

Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!" 1 Kings 18:36-39

                    God honors those that honor Him. 1 Samuel 2:30

In the verses preceding these starting from 1 Kings 18:17 when Elijah meets Ahab and is called the "Troubler of Israel" by him, to the moment of this sacrifice we see Elijah setting the stage for this moment when God shows up and the hearts of the people are turned back to God. He invites all the people including all the prophets and priests of Baal and then proceeds to set up the fire challenge. They both get a sacrifice ready. The one consumed by fire wins. He then, just to show them his faith in God and how awesome our God is makes His sacrifice harder to consume with a trench and lots and lots of water. Here is the thing.

God will show up with the all consuming fire if we will make the stand! If we will present Him, Honor Him then He will show up with the fire and turn the hearts of the people. Elijah went to Ahab because God told him to in verse 1. Elijah was obedient to God's word. Whatever He tells you to do, whomever He tells you to go to, be obedient. Speak His Word. Do what He has called you to. He shows up! He will back you up! Honor Him with your sacrifice of obedience and He will show up with the all consuming fire that causes this response. "The Lord, He is God!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Every Stand We Make...

King Ahasuerus raised his glass, "Men, there is no compulsion here. Do whatever you'd like! Drink as much as you'd like! Enjoy the feast!" Shouts of agreement rang out from the merry men. King Ahasuerus swallowed the remainder of his wine, and motioned for the servant to get him more. He had lost track of how much he had drunk today, but he had stopped keeping track days ago.

King Ahasuerus' thoughts were kind of muddled from the alcohol. There were no women at this feast. Queen Vashti had given a feast for the women in the palace. A woman would be a lovely sight in the midst of all these men. Queen Vashti was lovely to look at. Perhaps he should send for the lovely Vashti. Yes, that seemed to be a perfect idea....

 "He what!" Vashti gasped. She scanned the parchment again, hoping there was some mistake. She turned away from the King's messengers, clutching the note in her hands. "They've been drinking for days." She moaned. The blood drained from her face as full understanding grasped her. What if...goodness, no! Surely he would not disrespect her in such a way...but then again, he was very drunk.

For a moment, Vashti considered going with the King's men. The very thought made her physically gag. There was a stirring in her soul. No. She would do what was right and moral.

She turned back to the King's men. "No."

"But His Majesty will be angry!"

"Then I shall deal with the consequences." And there would be consequences; her spirit knew that to be true. But she also knew, that this was bigger then her or the King. There was a purpose behind this. "Now go." She glowered at them, being queen had taught her that much.

Based on Esther 1:1-12

It is my opinion that Queen Vashti is an unsung hero. There are a lot of theories about what would have happened had she gone before the king, and until Heaven, whose to know who is right. However, I think that a bunch of drunk men and a beautiful woman ...well, I don't think it would have been good!

To me, Queen Vashti is an unsung hero. When I read this, I see that she stood up for her morals, despite the consequences. But her consequences might seem severe from what we see in Esther 1:19, "If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the law of the Persians and and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she." It would appear, she lost it all.

Her decision to stand for good, led to Esther becoming the new queen, which led to Esther playing a key role in preventing a mass genocide of the Jewish people.

"For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Esther was put in the kingdom for that time, but what we gloss over is how she got there. What if Vashti's decision was for such a time as well? What if she was led by God, too?

We may take stands for God and His Word, and feel like we are losing everything, but we don't know the big picture. If we are doing what is right according to God, then we need not fear. Our stand could make the difference. Every stand we make is for such a time as this because it opens the door for God to work.

The River of God

The Heavenly man brought me back to the door of the temple. But...there was water flowing from the temple! It looked like a little stream, but as the Holy man led me closer to it, I noticed it was much bigger. The water shimmered and twinkled, constantly rushing by me and towards the world.

We had been going eastwards, when the Holy man stopped. Using his ever-present measuring line, he measured a thousand cubits (18,000 inches). Waving his bronze colored arm, he urged me to follow him into the river. The crystal clear water only came up to my ankles. The Heavenly man measured another thousand cubits. The water was up to my knees now. He lead me through another thousand cubits of water, and by now, it had reached my waist. How much longer were we going to wade through this water? The Heavenly man paid my questioning glance no attention, and he measured out another thousand cubits. By the time we reached his destination, I had to swim to keep my head above the water. The little stream had grown into a mighty river!

The water felt lovely. Revitalizing. The kind of water that goes beyond the physical, and refreshes the soul. I dunked my head under the surface just for a few seconds, feeling it caress me and take me into it's current. Breaking the surface, I blinked my eyes a few times, looking to and fro for the Holy man. There he was! Seeing he had my full attention, he raised an eyebrow and said, "Son of man, have you seen this?"

Based on Ezekiel 47:1-6

The man went on to describe this incredible river and how it would affect the world around it. Take a look at verses 9 and 12:

"And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes." Ezekiel 47:9

"And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of tress for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing." Ezekiel 47:12

I just see incredible parallels for the church from this river. This river started flowing from the temple; Incredible, Godly works should be flowing from the church, God's people. It started off as just a trickle, but turned into a mighty, rushing river; The more we start reaching into the things of God, the more of it we will see. Just like Ezekiel we need to keep going deeper and deeper, a thousand cubits at a time. Don't just read this and say, "Yeah, that's us. We are a mighty, rushing river. We flow with the things of God," and then just go about your day. A mighty river of God does not behave like a still-water, man-made pond! Wherever God's river goes, it is supposed to give life to all creatures. Do we do that? There is supposed to be fish in this river. There is supposed to be strong, healthy trees on either side, always bearing fruit for food and leaves for healing. Where is it? Where are our souls to be saved, our strong witnesses, our fruit of the spirit, and our physical and spiritual healing ministry?

Don't read this and not live this. We are supposed to be His river with all the fixings. And that requires more from us then just thought. It requires us to take a step into the river. And then another one. And then another one. Step after step, until we are fully immersed in God.

God is asking us, "Have you seen this?" Yes or No? Or is that finally going to change?

Monday, February 17, 2014

"A Life Redeemed!"

And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." Luke 19::5

We all know the basic story of Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector in Jericho. The word  tells us that he was rich. Zacchaeus himself tells us that he wasn't always honest in his dealings when he tells Jesus that he will restore fourfold to anyone he had cheated. The other thing that we know is that he was short enough so that the crowd prevented him from getting a good look at Jesus. In verses 3-4 it says, "He sought to see who Jesus was." And so he ran ahead, climbed a sycamore tree in order to get a good view. Then comes that moment, the moment that I'd like to take a minute to look at today.

It was Zacchaeus's life changing moment. It was the moment when Zacchaeus made a choice to respond to words that Jesus spoke to him. It was the moment when, in the midst of all that chaos of the crowd, that Jesus, does the most amazing thing. He stops, turns his gaze away from the crowd and looks straight up at Zacchaeus in that tree and then, He calls him by name. He knew  him by name. He didn't say, "Hey, you there, short guy, in the tree." He didn't even say anything that alluded to his reputation or his lifestyle like, "Hey you, cheating tax collector get down here." or  "Sinner, come here." No, instead He knew Zacchaeus was searching for something more and He did what He does best, get to the heart of the matter with a look and a few words.

...And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." Luke 19::5 See, this is the thing that He showed me that really touched my heart this morning. He called him by name. His name, Zacchaeus, it means pure; and it comes from a root word that means to be transparent or clean (physically or morally); to be transluscent. Zacchaeus knew what his name meant. He knew his past and his present lifestyle wasn't pure or clean. He knew that he had been being deceitful in his dealings. Jesus, the Savior, called him Zacchaeus (pure and clean.) "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, today I'm coming to your house!" The word tells us, "So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully." Luke 19:6

See. What a terrific moment! The moment a man's life is redeemed! A life transformed! It says that his heart changed and that he was going to live his life differently, restoring back what he had cheated. I believe that from this amazing moment on Zacchaeus lived up to his name based on the next words Jesus spoke about him! ...And Jesus said, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:9-10

We all have this amazing moment! The moment when He calls us by name and asks us to come spend some time in His presence! So, anyways, Make Haste! He is waiting!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Do You Hear What He Is Saying?

John tripped on a loose rock. Huffing in frustration, he pushed himself to his knees and brushed the dirt off his chest. James stopped beside him, and silently extended his hand. John took it, and hoisted himself up. 

"He sure seems to be in a hurry to get there," John said to his brother while waving his arm towards Jesus. His steps were swift and precise, with Peter right on his heels. James nodded his agreement.

Jesus had asked Peter, James, and himself to accompany Him. He had led them away from the people, and up a high mountain. They were almost to the top. Just moments later, they were there. It was almost like reaching the top triggered some Heavenly switch because supernatural things started happening. 

Jesus was transformed right in front of them! His face shown; his clothes shown. It was like looking into the sun. Two men were talking with Him. John didn't know how, but he knew it was Moses and Elijah. Peter started babbling about making three tents for each of them, but then a cloud of light overshadowed them, and a beautiful, majestic voice said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." And with that, we all fell down.

Jesus told them there was nothing to fear, and soon they were on their way down the mountain. Jesus urged them not to tell anyone what happened until He had been raised from the dead. They were a little bit confused, and finally worked up the nerve to ask Him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" 

"Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands."

They realized what he was saying all at once. Exchanging looks of awe, John whispered, "He's talking about John the Baptist."

Based on Matthew 17:1-13

Peter, James, and John realized who Jesus was talking about because of a conversation they had in Matthew 11:11-15, "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Check out this gem in Luke 1:17, "And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."

Jesus was saying that the one who prepared His way, John the Baptist, was to come in the spirit and power of Elijah. The power of God Almighty. But when John came, everyone missed that little tidbit. 

Notice how in Matthew 11:15 Jesus says, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." It wasn't said in a snotty, figure out my riddle attitude. Jesus said it like one who cries out, "Wait! I need to tell you that I love you!" With all of His heart, he was longing for them to see the truth, like He was saying, "I'm begging you guys to listen. Open your ears to God's voice. Think about what He has said. It's all there. Please see it."

In Isaiah 30:30a it says, "And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard." If God's got something to say, it is going to get said. The Bible is full of little children proclaiming, men and women prophesying, donkeys speaking, and angels delivering. The question is, are we the sheep who hear His voice? When God says something, do we nod like we are paying attention, or are we actually paying attention? Do we miss what He is saying?

When Jesus was among God's people, they missed so many things. Things that were all right there. Things they weren't listening too. Has anything changed? I hope so.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Supremely Blessed"

And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!" But He said,"More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" Luke 11:27-28

The word blessed here means; supremely blessed; fortunate, well off. People all over the world are seeking the very thing that, according to Jesus, simply comes as a result of hearing and obeying the Word of God. We see this truth over and over again in Scripture. James 1:25 ...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. Matthew 7:24 ...Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. Joshua 1:7-8 ...Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Psalm 1:1-2, Psalm 112:1, and Psalm 119 is full of this truth. Obedience to His word reaps a reward; being supremely blessed, fortunate and well off.

I was thinking about 'good intentions.' When Ruth and Orpah went to Naomi declaring that they would go with her they both meant it. Orpah was persuaded by Naomi's arguments to turn back to her people. Ruth refused making her famous declaration, "Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God." Both these young women had the 'good intention' of staying with Naomi at first, but only one followed through and reaped the reward of her faithfulness. If you read the parable of the sower you see that there are always going to be things in life that would try to persuade us from hearing and obeying His Word. Good intentions are not enough to see us through to the end. We must not only hear the word we must keep it! It is not enough to just hear the words, we must apply them. If you do blessings will follow!

Actually, it is interesting to note that the one who bore him and nursed Him also believed it!

His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it!" John 2:5

Friday, February 14, 2014

House Against House

Why was he talking to me?

Now he was repeating the question. "Could you give me a drink of water?" He motioned towards the well beside him.

I studied this strange Jew for a moment. I was a woman. He was a man. And if that didn't count against me, add the fact that I am a Samaritan into this mix. Then throw in my five ex-husbands and the man I was living with now. No Jew would ever just start talking to me. No one talks to me. That's why I am out here now, away from all the scornful looks and the malicious gossip. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I especially didn't want to talk to this Jew. It just wasn't done. Samaritans and Jews do not do anything together.

"Why are you asking me for a drink of water? You are a Jewish man. I am a Samaritan woman." Sometimes you just need to state the obvious for the logic impaired.

He smiled like he knew something he was waiting for everyone else to figure out. "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink," you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

And with that statement, a line in the sand was dusted away forever.

Based on John 4:1-10.

That statement was one of the most profound, denomination-crossing statements ever. The Jews and the Samaritans had some differences of opinion. Because of that, they didn't socialize with one another. It is a good picture of how the different denominations treat each other today.

"The woman said to him, 'Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.' Jesus said to her, 'Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know, we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4: 19-24

We are going to have differences of opinion, and that's okay. However, it's not acceptable when the church treats each other scorn and contempt because we have a difference of opinion. I'd be willing to bet my right leg that we will all get to Heaven, and find out we were wrong about something we fought other believers tooth and nail about.

"And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand." Mark 3:25

Our different views are meant to strengthen us a believers, not tear us asunder. So we can see all the different facets, and amazing truths of God's Word.

Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman was profound in many ways. But when He started talking to her, it was to send a message. He didn't care about the feud between them; He cared about making sure this woman knew the Living Water.

How about we all love God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit? How about we all worship Him in spirit and truth. How about we be true worshipers, true believers? How about we love our neighbors? Let's stop focusing on who is with who, and our arguments. Let's focus on Jesus, our Living Water, and sharing Him with everyone we know. Let's be a united house for God.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"No More Skirting Around"

And the Lord spoke to me, saying: " You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward." Deuteronomy 2:2-3

As I was reading today these words jumped off the page and landed here. "You have skirted this mountain long enough, turn northward." God has a time and a season for everything. His presence led them very specifically where they were to be and where they were to go each day. It was at His word that they moved or stayed. If you continue on and read this whole chapter you see that they are at the point where He is about to bring His word to pass and bring them to the place that He has given them. The thing is they are not quite there yet. They had been skirting a mountain for a while and now it is time. Time to stop skirting the mountain and move Northward towards the intended destination.

As you read this chapter you see that they were just beginning the process of entering into the place that He has prepared for them. In the verses following He gives them very specific directions on which way to head, how far they are to go, and what to do as they pass by certain places. For example, "You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully. Do not meddle with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. Deuteronomy 2:4-5 He tells them what to do and what He will do or not do.

I love how what they did in the natural applies to us today in the spiritual. I believe that His word to us today is really simple, "Its time. Time to stop skirting the mountains in our life. Its time to move with renewed purpose into the things of God." He has given us very specific directions as well. We too have His word on how to live a life of faith. He has told us that we are in this world but not of it. He has told us not to be not conformed but instead to be transformed. He has told us to believe and to receive by faith in His word and His ability to bring it to pass. He has told us that He will be with us always! It is time to stop skirting mountains. He is saying, "It is time to move out. The skirting around has been long enough! It is time to move out in Him!"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Oxygen Mask

"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statures and be careful to obey my rules." Ezekiel 36:26-27

There's a sickening crunch under my feet. I think I just crushed a femur.

"Can these bones live?" the Lord asked.

A valley of dry, dead, dusty bone. My first instinct is, "No!" However, my Lord has a way of surprising me. "You know, Lord God."

"Prophesy to the bones. I will put muscles, flesh, and skin on them.  I will cause breath to enter them, and they will live."

I started speaking to the bones, declaring His word. At first all was quiet, so I kept speaking God's command to the dry bones. It was faint at first, like a stampede in the distance, but the more I spoke, the louder the noise became. It reached a crescendo, a rattling, an earthquake. I watched in awe as each bone connected with another bone, forming an army of skeletons. Then layers of organs, muscle, fat, blood vessels, and skin formed on each dry skeleton. They were no longer without form. They were a body.

But the bodies remained still.

"Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and tell the breath to come from the four winds. Breathe on these slain, that they may live," the Almighty God said.

So, I prophesied as He commanded me. The breath rushed into them. It filled them. Their chest started moving, color came to their cheeks, and one by one, they stood up. The breath gave them life. The valley of dry bones was gone. In its place was a living, breathing, fierce army of God.

Based on Ezekiel 37:1-10

Please jump back with me to Genesis 2:7, "Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."

Adam was just an impressive pile of dirt until God breathed His breath of life into Adam's nostrils.
Then, he lived. Same thing for the army in Ezekiel. They were dry bones, then bodies, and once the breath of life entered them, they were alive. They lived only after receiving the breath of life from God.

Same goes for us spiritually.

It doesn't matter how many muscles of Christianity someone has. Without God's Spirit in them, they are dry bones. You need God's breath of life guiding you, forming you, and revealing to you. It inspires us, and helps us see a spiritual truth with amazing hues of color that we've never seen before. It will nudge or slap in the face depending on what's needed. It gives us joy and laughter. Most importantly, it gives us life.

In order to live, you need a Breath of Life. Are you living? If we need to ask that, then we need to get a spiritual oxygen mask on right now.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"A Servants Heart"

Then the Lord came and stood and called as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears."  Samuel 3:10

As a youth pastor I have often used this account of Samuel's call to show my young people that God can speak to those that are young. He doesn't just save His words for the old. But that really isn't the point of today's message. Today I would like to take a quick look at something else. Samuel's heart. Maybe it was because he had been serving the Lord since his mother dropped him off after he was weaned. Maybe it was because his parents had dedicated him to the Lord before he was even born, or maybe it was ? Who knows why Samuel had a servants heart, but he did. We know that he did  because the three previous times that he had heard his name called, he immediately went each time to Eli to see what was required of him. See, the thing about a servant is they do whatever task is asked of them by their master. When Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant hears." He meant it. The words hears, in Hebrew means to hear intelligently (often with impl. of attention, obedience.) He wasn't just saying, "Speak." He had every intention of doing what was asked of him.

God gave Samuel a hard message to deliver to Eli. Samuel, obeyed, even though he was young, and even though this was the first time that he had heard God speak. Jesus so often ended one of His teachings with these words, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Wasn't His point, pay attention and apply these words to your life? Don't just hear them with your ears but obey them with your life. The real truth is, every time we are in His Presence it is His heart to speak to us and it should always be our heart to listen and obey!

"Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears," were the words this young man and his servants heart uttered. Are they the words you speak as you enter His Presence and answer His call? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Spiritual Standpoint: Leprosy, Screw-ups, and Tough, Tough Questions

In 2 Kings 5, Naaman the leper was healed of his leprosy. However, giving into his greedy flesh, Gehazi maneuvers payment from Naaman. He hides his stash, and denies it when Elisha confronts him. However, the Spirit of the Lord is not to be deceived. God had already revealed Gehazi's sin to Elisha. Gehazi's punishment was generations of leprosy.

In 2 Kings 8, we see Gehazi again. He was talking to the king, who was desperate and curious enough about Elisha that he was actually talking to a leper.

Gehazi did something incredibly stupid, and he was punished accordingly. There were consequences for his sin, as there always are, however, does that mean you don't repent and run from God?

I can't say Gehazi's heart in 2 Kings 8. I can't say if he had repented, or even if he was living in shame. I do see that he was miraculously talking with the king, and that God used that conversation to help His servant, the Shunammite woman. Gehazi's spiritual standpoint was so full of questions at this point in the Bible. After we sin, what is our spiritual standpoint? What about in four months? What about in seven years?

The crackle and pops dropped the log's remains into another pile of charred wood. The fire was burning out. There was the smell of raw fish, cooked fish, and the salty sea breeze. Peter breathed in the mixture of smells, trying to calm his frantic heartbeat. Jesus was looking right at him! And although he had been overjoyed to see Him, he had even jumped into the sea and swam to Him, now he was terrified of what He would say.

"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"

Not so bad. "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you."

"Feed my lambs," He said. But then he asked him again. "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

Uh-oh. "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you."

"Tend my sheep." But then He asked a third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

Peter felt his heart twist.Three times! He asked him three times! The significance of this number was not lost on him. He was being offered redemption for his sin. His denial. This time, there would be no turning back. No hiding. This time, he would follow Jesus to the end. A tear burned it's way down his bearded check. He nodded, "Lord,You know everything," Peter's voice broke, "You know that I love you."

Jesus nodded back. "Feed my sheep." Jesus went on to tell Peter the cost of following Him. It could have been frightening. Probably would be frightening at some points. But he would not run from God. He would follow Jesus.

Based on John 21:15-19.

Peter went on to do some incredible things. (Check out Acts) You knew where he stood with God. You knew he had repented. You knew Peter's life was in God's hands, and that God would use it for His glory.

Don't ever run from God. Repent. Ask His forgiveness, and give yourself into His hands. He can still use you. Look at Peter. Look at Gehazi. God used them both, despite their screw-ups. Difference is we know who was right with God. Don't let spiritual leprosy eat you away. Don't run in shame anymore. Repent and let your heart be known, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Touching Heaven"

And Jesus said, Who touched Me? When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, "Master, the multitudes throng You and press You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'" But Jesus said, "Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me." Luke 8:45-46 (NKJ)

I like to look at the disciples reactions to the things that Jesus says. In this case their reactions tend to reveal a few things. "Master, the multitudes throng You and press You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?' seems to be a reasonable question to me. After all they were there probably trying to do some crowd control to help Jesus get through the throng of people. They felt the press of the people as well. "Who touched Me, was obviously a ridiculous thing to say in their minds. "Who touched Me?" Everybody! Everybody was touching or trying to touch Him.

So, out of all the throng of people their was one touch that was different. What made this touch different? Jesus said that He perceived power or as the KJV puts it, virtue going out from Him. He felt the transition of power. The word virtue means; force (lit. or fig.) spec. miraculous power (usually by impl. a miracle itself) and it comes from a root word that means; to be able or possible.

So with that in mind when is the last time you, like this woman approached Jesus with the purpose of receiving, not hoping, not a 'maybe' in your mind, but a knowing in your heart attitude! When is the last time you put a demand on the anointing with the purpose of receiving your miracle? In the telling of this account in the book of Mark we see that that is exactly what this woman did. 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." Mark 5:27 She touched Him with a purpose in mind. She didn't say, "I might be healed." or "Maybe I will be healed. She said, "I shall be healed." She went after that touch because she believed her miracle was possible! She went after her miracle knowing the possibility of it happening was going to be found in Him.

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The same heavenly virtue that Jesus walked in is still available to the person that will reach towards heaven knowing in their heart that their miracle is possible. The virtue, the power makes it possible. The word touch means to attach oneself to; to fasten. Reach out, touch, fasten, or rather attach yourself to your miracle. Jesus could say to people, "All things are possible to him who believes," because He knew and understood the power of God. Do you? Will you touch heaven knowing your miracle is possible?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Don't Do It Like Pharaoh

Deep in the forest, there rose a tree, unlike any other tree. It towered above them all, touching the clouds. It's sturdy branches and thick boughs of vibrant, green leaves cast a lovely shade for all who sought refuge under it. The trunk was dark and lovely, and as strong as any boulder. The tree was fed by the deep river around the tree. All the birds of the heavens sought to make their nests among it's branches. Many a creature would make it's home under the tree and give birth to their young. The roots of this tree went deep, all the way to the underground springs. This tree could not be moved. It had no equal- not even in God's garden! Indeed, this tree was majestic.

Then the Lord God spoke from Heaven, "Because it towered high and set its top among the clouds, and its heart was proud of its height, I will give it into the hand of a mighty one of the nations. He shall surely deal with it as its wickedness deserves. I have cast it out. Foreigners, the most ruthless of nations, have cut it down and left it. On the mountains and in all the valleys its branches have fallen, and its boughs have been broke in all the ravines of the land, and all the peoples of the earth have gone away from its shadow and left it." (Ezekiel 31:10b-12)

This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, declares the Lord God...

A growl escaped Pharaoh's lips, as he spit on the letter sent to him by Ezekiel, son of Buzi. An Israelite. Ha! They certainly won't defeat me. No one will defeat me! My kingdom will stand forever. A smile played on Pharaoh's lips as he tossed the crumpled letter to the ground. Let the nations try. With that last thought, Pharaoh walked away from Ezekiel's letter. His warning, and his last chance.

Based on Ezekiel 31.

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom their is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17

Pride will destroy us. It really is that simple. All our perfect gifts come from our Father above. Our strengths and talents. Our junk. Our homes and cars. Our jobs. They are from God. If we sit here thinking that its all in our own strength, then we are going to be chopped down. 

Get this, "Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army. I have given him the land of Egypt as his payment for which he labored, because they worked for me, declares the Lord God." Ezekiel 29:19-20

I doubt Nebuchadnezzar was saved at this point in his life, but God still used him to do His will. But not only that: God gave him the land of Egypt, and all the other kingdoms that Nebuchadnezzar had defeated! But in Daniel 4 we see Nebuchadnezzar fall into the same "How great am I?" attitude.

Thank God for all His perfect blessings in your life! Don't forget. Don't praise yourself. Pride leads to some very bad destruction. 

It really is that simple. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

"Equal Billing"

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying," I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.'" So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. Exodus 16:11-14

Don't you love the whole concept of manna? Provided fresh and new every morning! No worries about if, or how your going to provide food for your family. I love that God heard the murmurings of the people and that He did something as amazing as manna in response. I love that there was always enough! Always the right amount for everyone. He even made a special provision for the Sabbath. He not only gave a double portion the day before but made it so that on this day it would last and not have the smell or the worms. He is such an awesome God! He provided it new every single day, with out fail, just as He said He would. Every single day a new supply of manna in the morning and quail at night.

Believe it or not but today's message isn't about the manna even though that is what this account is usually about. The manna always gets top billing because of the question the people asked when they first saw it, "What is it?" It was new and unknown. So that was the question that they all asked each other and the reason it was called manna. But the thing He showed me today was not about the manna but about the quail. He didn't just give them manna for the morning. He also gave them meat every evening just as He said He would.

People tend to overlook the meat in favor of the something new, but His provision of the meat in the evening was just as important and that is the thought that He shared with me this morning. Yes, the new is terrific because it tests us, it challenges us to trust, and to obey. It seemed as though they forgot about the provision of the quail because of the manna. We can't lose sight of the meat of the word. The meat nourishes us and keeps us strong in a way that bread can't. We need a balance of both.

I think that the manna got top billing because it was new and amazing. The quail was taken for granted because it was already known but the thing is, God provided the quail every evening as well! So today's point is simply this, just because its an old truth in your life, don't loose sight of it. Don't forsake it in favor of a new one. Let them both have a place in your walk with him. He sent them both. Quail at night and manna in the morning. Equal Billing!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Free to Twirl (Or Leap)

I couldn't believe my eyes. It was finally here. The Ark was really here, in Jerusalem. It looked beautiful. Incredible. Majestic. In the years that passed, the gold hadn't tarnished at all. Really and truly, it radiated holiness.

The Ark would be brought through the city, by the palace, and into a tent King David had had pitched especially for the Ark. I was squeezed into a crowd of excited on-lookers, all straining for a peak of the Ark. They were headed this way. The pole-bearers walked carefully. While their expressions looked as excited as we felt, their eyes were somber, knowing full well the significance of what they were carrying. King David rode behind them. He was practically bouncing on the horse, he was so excited.

I'm not sure when it started, but somewhere in the crowd, someone started playing the tambourine. People on either side of the street started clapping their hands and stomping their feet. Young men and maidens began to sing songs of praise, while the elder generations loudly proclaimed their thanks to Yahweh. King David slowed his stallion to a halt. He leaped down, and joined in the praise. He leaped and danced with all his might. Little children ran out to join him, before their petrified mothers could stop them.

I clapped my hands above my head, singing loudly. I threw my head back, laughing with joy. A figure in a window caught my eye. Why, it was Queen Michal! She looked angry. Everyone out here was rejoicing, laughing, and praising God. Queen Michal stood by herself in front of that window. Alone. Looking trapped in a prison.

King David looked free. Free to praise his God in any way he saw fit. He did not care that he was dancing like a fool before his kingdom. He cared about none of it. Just that he was dancing before his God. Truthfully, I think the people would respect him more for it.

 With a shout of my own, I twirled to the beat of praise.

Based on 2 Samuel 6:16-22

"For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

Christ has set us free. That is a reason to dance and sing praises to God. There is nothing more freeing then knowing the reason you are dancing, twirling, and doing jumping jacks like a fool. The reason is because you are free. The people who are on the sidelines are trapped. Stuck in their own prisons. The Queen Michal's of the world will try to tell you that you look foolish. So what? You know you are dancing before your God Who freed you, Who picked you.

"Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!" Psalm 149:3

I know I am free to twirl in unashamed wonder before my God. Are you? (Dudes out there, you don't have to twirl. You can leap.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Today's Snow Message"

I have to admit I'm am definitely pleased to have a snow day today! A day without rushing off anywhere. Doesn't that sound great? All because there is an abundance of snow falling from the sky. That being said I decided to take a look at snow in the Bible. Did you know that it is used 23 times in scripture and once in 1 Chronicles 11:22 where it describes the head of David's body guard killing a lion in a pit it on a snowy day. It is used mostly as a description because of its color to describe leprosy, garments, and even the Ancient of Days in Daniel and Revelations.

Who knew a word like snow could teach us such amazing truths about our sin and the Word like the ones found in Isaiah 1:18 and 55:10-11..."Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." Both, powerful life changing truths made clear because of the word, snow.

So I thought today might be a good time to take a look at the very first time the word snow is found in scripture and see what truth it could reveal to us. It is found for the first time in Exodus 4:6-7 with God's calling of Moses to go to Pharaoh. ...Furthermore the Lord said to him, "Now put your hand in your bosom." And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, "Put your hand in your bosom again." So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh.

This is the second sign that God showed Moses to convince him that He was with him. Moses had asked God this question, "What if they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you.'" Ex. 4:1 So the Lord showed him the sign with his rod becoming a snake and then the sign of the leprous hand. Here we have God showing Moses His Stuff! Showing him what signs to use. Showing him that He will do signs and wonders on his behalf. Still in all that Moses does the unthinkable. First, he offers an excuse about his lack of ability to speak. God responds to that with, "I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." Moses then says," Send someone else." vs.10-13

I think it is interesting to note that someone like Moses had doubts about his calling. Someone  who we often think of in 'great man of God, larger than life' terms had doubts about his ability to fulfill God's call on his life. God turned his hand leprous, as white as snow, one minute and back again as a sign, not only to convince the people and Pharaoh of His ability to free the people of Israel from the bondage, but also to convince Moses that He would be with him! This sign was personal. It wasn't a stick on the ground, water to blood sign. It was Moses's own hand, leprous and than not. I think that this sign is important because it was performed to show Moses himself that God was with him to perform exactly what He said he would.

There are those who are reading today's snow message and you are afraid that you are not up to the tasks that God has called you too. You see your weaknesses as bigger than His call. Your wrong! You need to know that God has "stuff" for you as well! He will equip you! He will keep  His word and the same way that rain and snow water the earth and bring forth fruit so will His word not return void. This leprous hand sign was personal and so is this word. He has called you. Trust Him and go in the power of His might, the power of His Word. Answer His call to set people free from sin and death.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Speak It, Sing It, Chant It, Declare It

The throne room was magnificent. The cavernous room seemed unending. The was no end to the ceiling, but at the same time, it seemed to glow. The golden floor sparkled. There were four, terrifyingly beautiful, living creatures who faithfully declared, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" 

A noise started to rumble the very floor underneath my feet. I looked a and great host of angels joined the living creatures, the elders, and I. The angels numbered ten thousands times ten thousands, thousands upon thousands. The sea of Heavenly host let forth a great cry! "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" Another great multitude joined into the praise. Every creature in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, and all that is in them, they declared, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" The living creatures cried, "Amen!" The elders fell down and worshiped!

Based on Revelation 4:8, 5:11-14.

I have always loved this passage. There is an energy in these words that come alive, and when you read or speak them, you come alive. I was trying to convey that Holy energy to you today. 

Can you imagine? How lucky John was to be there! Surrounded by angels, esteemed elders, and Heavenly creatures, and in the presence of the Lamb Who was slain. How could you not be overcome with praise and worship?

Have you ever felt like praise, worship, and being in His presence was a boring necessity? That's because we are sidetracked with everything around us. It's because we don't stop and remember. Imagine yourself there, in the throne room. Imagine the magnitude around you. Let it come alive. Can you hear their praise? Join in with them. Worthy is the Lamb! He was slain! He rose again! He saved us all! He is worthy to receive all and everything that we can give Him! Speak this, sing it, chant it, declare it. Let His praise fill you up. His presence will never be boring, it will never feel like something you have to do. It will be something you get to do. 

Our Jesus, our Savior, He is worthy. Let the energy, let the passion, let the praise fill you completely! Then shout it from the rooftops! 


Monday, February 3, 2014

"Talitha Koum!"

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said, "Why bother the teacher any more?

Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe."

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with Him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!) Immediately the girl stood up and walked around. At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:35-43

I'm not quite sure who this is for today but I feel like it is a specific word for someone special. You feel like your faith has been dead for a while now. You feel like all is lost and everyone around you are speaking words of death into your situation. But you need to know that Jesus sees it differently! He says, "Not dead, just sleeping!"  He also says that it is now time to wake up, to get up!  So, "Talitha koum!" or "Little girl, I say to you arise!" He would say to you, immediately, right here, right now. Stand up! Exercise your faith. Walk it around a little. Nourish and strengthen it by feeding it something good to eat. Something with lots of Hope and full of possibilities!

How about this verse? "I CAN DO ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 Chew on it. Meditate on it, apply it, and remember that Jesus said, "Don't be afraid; just believe!"

He has a hope and a future for you that is full of His blessings, don't despair, instead, "Talitha koum!"

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The "Crazy One" Who Does God's Work

Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! They are saying of me, 'Is he not a maker of parables?'" Ezekiel 20:49

"Look, it's crazy, old Ezekiel again."

"What's he doing this time?" We were on our way to work, but at the sight we stopped to watch. Ezekiel was trying to dig through the wall! "Will he get in trouble for that?"

"I don't think anyone even cares what he does anymore. The guy is sprouting off doom and gloom, claiming he is some prophet of God. If he was a prophet of God, then why is he the only one saying this stuff? The other prophets are preaching peace and prosperity." My buddy huffed.

A crowd of mocking spectators was starting to form. An older man spoke up, "This morning I saw him bring luggage out of his house. I asked him were he was going, and he said it was exile luggage. He claims it's a message from God."

I laughed. "So, now we are going into exile?" Shaking my head, I dropped to the ground. "I think I'm going to watch. This is much more entertaining then work!"

My buddy shrugged his shoulders and left. Propping my chin on my fist, I studied the man we called deranged. For the most part, he ignored us. But occasionally, he would look up. His held pity, his pursed lips told of frustration, and the shake of his head told of deep sadness. He dug through the wall, and at dusk, he hoisted his luggage onto his shoulder, and carried it out.

The next morning, the crowd waited outside of his house. We laughed, yelped, and threw small stones at door while we waited. At last, he came out. For a long moment, he just looked at us, with that sad look. "The Lord hoped you would understand...I am a sign for you. As I have done, so shall it be done to you. You shall go into exile. Into captivity."

The crowd roared. This fool and his foolish stories were a hoot! We laughed about this tale for quite some time.

But the crazy old man was right. Because here I sit, so far from home. Broken. Alone. Everything I had, everyone I love, is gone. The thing that keeps going through my head, the thing that plagues me the most is: what would have happened to me, if I had listened to him?

(Story is based on  Ezekiel 12:1-11)

Ezekiel was a prophet to God's people. And they mocked him. We all claim to be Christians, but do we behave like God's people did then? Ezekiel had some rough days, here on this earth, but the place of esteem and honor he must have with God now that would be worth it.

"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" Ezekiel 18:23

Ezekiel put up with all this junk because God wanted as many people saved as possible. Isn't that the same today? As His people, we should be the crazy ones, telling people about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Do we want to be the person saying, "He was right! The nut was right!" Or do we want to be the nut who is speaking what God is saying?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

"His Favorite Creation"

... And my delight was with the sons of men. Proverbs 8:31

When I was a whole lot younger I had a favorite pair of jeans. They fit perfectly! I wore them as much as possible, much to my mother's dismay. Every time they were in the laundry I would nag her till I got them back. I think that is why she actually first taught me how to do laundry. It became one of my 'chores' after that. I didn't mind; it meant I was in charge of how quickly I got my jeans back! Needless to say if they were clean, I was in them and 40ish years later I still remember them with a fondness in my heart.

I tell you that so that we can talk about this thought I had today about favorite things. Mostly about us and God's love for us, His favorite creation!

I told you I loved them, I didn't tell what happened to them. Because I wore them at every possible moment they wore out! They had holes in the knees. I patched them. They got holes in the seating area - I patched them. They got holes around the patches - I patched the holes and made the patches even bigger. I patched on top of patches till they couldn't be patched any more. (Much to my mom's dismay I might add!) I loved those jeans! I didn't care what other people thought about them or how I looked wearing jeans made up of patches. They fit perfectly. I loved them. That was all that mattered to me. I think back now and have to shake my head, and say, "O Man," what a sight I must have made. No wonder my mother wanted to burn them.

Again, I tell you all that so that we can talk about this thought I had today about God's love for us, His favorite creation.

Think for a minute about your favorite things. We all have them. Favorite clothes, foods, TV shows, books, stores, activities, people, chairs, etc. One of my first graders loves to ask, "Whats your favorite color?" In other words which one is special to you? Which do you like best?

The other thing about favorites is this question. To what extent will you go to get it, and to keep it, or to keep using it? My favorite book in the Bible - Mark. You can tell because I have had to tape the pages back in and you can't read parts of chapter four anymore. They are gone! I put multiple layers of patches on top patches to keep and use my favorites. What about you?

Anyway, I tell you all that so that we can talk about this thought I had today about God's love for us, His favorite creation.

How do I know we are His favorite creation you might ask. I know because His love shows us that! I know because of the extent He went to, to keep us in His presence. My mom was forever trying to get rid of those jeans. I fought to keep them because they were my favorite. Look at what He did to keep us. His actions are proof of His love for us. His word also tells us why. He created us and he loved us!

Read Proverbs 8:22-31. It paints a picture of His heart for us right from the beginning and in Psalm 30:5 it tells us that ...His favor is for life!

So, again, I have to say it, I tell you all this because I had a thought today about His love for YOU, His favorite creation and it is this... He loves you ... Have you spent time with Him yet today?