Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Served God Mightily, BUT...

The young servant grabbed the horse's reigns from the outstretched hand of King Jotham. The King smiled, and nodded. "Thank you." King Jotham's kind eyes looked sincere. The king strolled out of the barn, surely off to consult with his advisers some more about the building of the upper high gate for the Lord's temple.

The young man patted the horse's strong, lean side. Pulling a fig out of his pocket, he held it up for the horse to see. "You want it?" The stallion huff and kicked some dirt up at him. "Then you need to follow me." This was no new tune, and the horse followed easily. He changed the water, and latched the stall door.

"Ah, the king's stallion." He turned to see Zek, an elderly servant coming into the stable. He nodded his head, and checked the water of the mare in the next stall. "The King's morning worship ran long today." Zek said this as an observation more to himself, but it caught his interest.

"The King's morning worship?"

Zek nodded. "Indeed. He goes out into the wilderness to worship Yahweh."

"Why doesn't he just go into the temple? I mean, that's why it was built." That was rather blunt. He looked sheepishly at the floor.

Zek didn't seem to care. His head bobbed again. "That's true, but ever since King Jotham's father was cursed with leprosy when he tried to burn incense to the Lord, King Jotham has been afraid to go into the temple."

He stood there with an empty water pail in his hands. His brow furrowed, taking in Zek's words. "So, that's why he disappears every morning!" He cocked his head to the left. "Why is he spending so much time trying to have the upper gate for the temple built?"

Zek took the empty pail and dunked it into the water trough. "Yes. King Jotham is a good man. He loves the Lord, fears Him, and worships Him. However, he has let his fear keep him from the temple." Zek handed the dripping pail back to him. "That is why he has refused to tear down the high places, so the he and the people could worship Yahweh in safety. But now, some idolatrous people  are using those places to worship their false gods." Zek shook his head sadly.

"What will King Jotham do to stop them?"

Zek placed his hand on the young man's shoulders. "I don't know. Our King Jotham is wise and loyal to God, but there is something within him, holding him back from Yahweh."

He nodded. "We must pray for him."

Based on 2 Chronicles 27:2

"Jotham was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jerushah the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord according to all that his father Uzziah had done, except he did not enter the temple of the Lord. But the people still followed corrupt practices."  2 Chronicles 27:1-2

Have you ever been on a blind date? I know that took a really bizarre turn, but go with it. I have a point.

So, your sitting there, and your friend is like, "He's really nice, sweet, handsome, and smart. He plays guitar in church every Sunday, and teaches the preschool kids every other Sunday, so he's definitely future father material." She's working really hard to sell the deal, but she gets to that point. The awkward silence hangs there for a couple minutes as you try not to offend her with a blunt no, so you decide to help her out. "But he's what?"

Your friend sighs and says, "But he has a pet cobra that he wears like a scarf... But he doesn't communicate... But he has no sense of humor... But he dissects frogs for a living... But he's likes his hamburgers raw... But he doesn't wear socks with sneakers... But he saves his toe nail clippings in a jar..." A pet peeve you can't live with, a lack of compatibility, or some freaky habit keeps you from spending the rest of your life with this person. The infamous "But," seals the deal.

King Jotham had a "But." He did what was right in God's eyes, and 2 Chronicles 27:6 says, "So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God." However, he would not tear down the high places, so the people continued in their idolatry, AND he wouldn't go into the Lord's temple. He is forever remembered for those things. Instead of being a king who demolished the idolatry, or a king who loved to be in God's presence, he gives the impression of being scared. He would serve God, BUT he's not going to stand up for God.

Think about the rick young ruler who came to Jesus in Matthew 19:16-22. It's the same thing! The young man came to Jesus seeking something more in his walk. Jesus told him to give up all he had, and follow God completely. He could have become a mighty man of faith, BUT this rich man walked away.

What is your "But?" What keeps you from serving God to the fullest? Fear? Doubt? Anger? Love of money?

"Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24

Serve God completely and with your whole heart! Spend your whole life with Him, choosing Him, and serving Him! We can choose to give it all for God, be an example, and leave a legacy. We can choose to hold back, and always be remembered as, "(Your name here), served God mightily, BUT..."

Don't have a "But" on your record!

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"The Only Work That Matters"

Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

"Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."

Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"

Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." John 6:26-29
This is a rather interesting discourse between Jesus and the people who had sought Him out when they noticed that He was no longer on their side of the sea, just after He had multiplied the bread and fish to feed the multitude. While in the process of this conversation about bread and being fed, Jesus makes a pretty interesting statement that we should all take notice and grab hold of.

Jesus answers them and tells them that the only reason they are there; the reason they are seeking Him out isn't because they believe in Him but because they ate and were filled. They came for more bread and fish. He then tells them they shouldn't labor for food that perishes but for food that endures to everlasting life which, (He) the Son of Man will give them. He then tells them the reason it is possible is because God the Father has set His seal upon Him.

Jesus as the Son of Man left all that was God behind. He, as the Son of Man (our example of how its done) is able to give us everlasting life because the Father has set His seal (The Holy Spirit - Eph. 1:13) on Him. He is saying that God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are about providing everlasting life.

The people understand what He is saying when He referred to Himself as the Son of Man; they seem to understand that He was telling them, this is how its done because they then ask, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" The word work here means; toil as a task, by implication, effect, or to be engaged in or with. So, In other words, what do we have to do, what task do we do to do the works of God the way that He does?

Jesus responds with this truth: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."  This time the word work means; toil (as an effort or occupation) by implication an act.  The occupation of God is to ...? You and I wake up and go off to work or rather our occupation. The thing we focus on to meets all our needs. Our job or our work, the thing we toil at in order to put bread on the table etc. We understand the concept of an occupation is to provide. God's occupation is that we would believe in Jesus, the Son of Man, who is equipped with the Holy Spirit to provide to us everlasting life.

God's Task, God's work, God's occupation, all His effort is towards this end - that you and I believe in Jesus!  All His signs, All His efforts are focused with that one thing in mind. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. It is that simple and if we truly want what these people were asking; to do the work of God, then that is our focus as well. To believe! To believe everything He said and everything He did was to this end, everlasting life. If we want to work the the works of God than we need to know and understand that every sign, every miracle, every act, every deed, and every word was with one purpose - to point to Jesus that we might believe in He whom He sent!

So what should our occupation be? What work should we be about? The same as Jesus, after all He is the Son of Man, our perfect example. Luke 2:49 " Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business." According to the Vines's the words 'about My Father's business' literally means "in the things of My Father." We too must be 'in the things of God.' We too must be in the business of believing in all things that pertain to Jesus that we too might have everlasting life! We must be about Believing in Him! Believing in Him is the only work that matters! It is what provides us with the bread of Life! 

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Set Apart People

Abram stood on a hill overlooking his shepherds. One of his shepherds was feeding a newborn lamb milk from an old wine-skin. Five or so older sheep were walking in the pasture. The leader was a old sheep who was on the edge of becoming a cripple. He stumbled over a branch, and the other sheep just walked right into him. Abram chuckled. Dumb sheep.

He turned away, walking in the opposite direction. Out of sight and hearing range of his shepherds was a little rock with a magnificent view of the sky, stretching endlessly before him. He loved to come here, and talk to God.

Abram sat on the rock, humming a melody that had been echoing in his soul all day. He wasn't sure how long he sat there, but a mighty breeze stirred the grass.


He breathed deep. The Lord was here. "Yes, Lord?"

"Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you."

Abram felt disoriented. It was one of those moments where the words you are hearing are either too good or too awful to believe.

"I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

He stood up and started pacing. What did all this mean? He turned sharply on his heal. Leave? His father was here. His friends whom he had know for his whole life. He had his living made here. His wife had settled here. His nephew was working steadily to build his own household. How could he just announce they were leaving it all?

He rubbed his face. A great nation? All the families of the earth will be blessed? If he set his family apart for God, God would use them mightily. 

Has the Lord ever led me into a place of harm? He has always taken care of me. 

Abram would do as God had said. He would go. He didn't know what God would do, but he did know this. He was willing to follow God to the end of the endless horizon.

As he was running towards home, he laughed to himself. A seventy-five year old man picking up his family, and moving to God only knows where. How am I going to explain that to Sarai?

Based on Genesis 12:1-4

Imagine waking up. It's just like any other day. Coffee, shower, work, home. Repeat. But today, your getting your morning coffee, barely even awake, when you hear something.

"Hey, Gus. It's God."

Shaking your head, you attribute the voice to your lack of coffee. However, an hour later, you're showered, dressed, caffeinated, and ready for the day.

"Gus, I'm still here."

You realized God is speaking! Awesome! Right?

"Leave your country, your family, your nice house, and go to a land that I will show you."

Say what?

Abram had two choices. He could go and do as God said, or he could ignore God's message. He was being asked to leave everything he knew. As we know from Genesis 12, Abram chose to follow God's leading. Choosing this path led to something very significant. He became the patriarch of a new nation. A nation that was set apart for God. Through that nation, all the families of the earth were and are blessed with Jesus' saving grace.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had no received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10

Do you hear God's voice saying, "I'm calling you to leave behind everything you know. Choose me." God asks each and every one of us to leave all that we know, and follow him.

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life." Matthew 19:29

God asks us to be a holy nation for Him. To truly set our lives apart for His will. His work. His plans. He cannot force us to do this. However, before you say, "Yes, Lord!", you need to understand what you are doing.

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were brought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

If you give your heart, soul, and mind to Jesus, it is more then just words. It is the spiritual demonstrated through the physical. Everyday, we face the same option as Abram. We can go and follow God, or we can ignore Him.

Abram did something incredibly difficult, but remember, through his sacrifice, through his willingness to set himself apart for God, God gave him a son. Then grandsons. Then a nation. Then the Savior, Who offers salvation to all the families of the earth. It all started with one man being willing. So, what might God do with your willingness to be a part of God's holy nation?

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Chunks of Ice Cream!"

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand. Psalm 139:17-18

I just got home from doing an over night event with our youth group and I have to tell you I am so blessed! God has been so good to me! I don't know about you but I know because I know because I know that I am in the very center of my heavenly Father's will. I have such a feeling of contentment and I am feeling so blessed! I just want to take today to stop and just rest in His presence. Maybe its just because I'm 53 and I just spent the night sleeping on the floor but all I want to do right now is to just sit here resting in Him. I want to close my eyes and just speak a very contented, "Thank you Lord! Thank you for all the ways you bless me!" 

When I was a child there was this one time that I remember my mom did something that was different and unusual. It was just some random act that I've never forgotten. It was a hot summer day and my brother and sisters and I were outside playing. It was a regular routine for my mom to send us outside to play in the afternoon when the baby was napping.

We were outside playing when my mom called from the kitchen door. We went running to see what she wanted. I thought maybe we were in trouble because we were over in an area we weren't supposed to be but when we got close we could see she was holding something. As we arrived she smiled and started handing us ice cream. It wasn't normal ice cream in a bowl or a cone either. She had taken a half gallon and cut it into four square block chunks and put a fork in the middle so we could carry it. It was like having ice cream on a stick only it was a big square chunk on a fork. I will never forget it because it was pretty rare for us to get ice cream. It was a treat for special occasions because we didn't have a lot of money growing up and here we were getting this huge chunk, out of no where, for no reason other then it was a hot day and she wanted to bless us.

I have never forgotten that moment of surprise and pleasure when I realized we were getting this rare treat and in such a cool and different way. I remember feeling special and loved!

This is where I get to use some of my favorite words, "Gods like that!" Jesus was always pointing at something, like a mustard seed, telling about it and then saying, "God's like that" to show people about the love of God. So every chance I get, I do like Jesus and say, God's like that. My mom blessed her kids with a special rare treat out of nowhere because she loved us. She looked out the window, saw us hard at play on a hot summer day and blessed us. Just because she loved us. Think about all the times your parents bought you a treat, food or a toy just cause. No other reason then they thought you'd like it or it was something you needed so they got it for you. Think about all the times your parent thought about you!

God is your heavenly Father and as the verse above says His thoughts for you are too many to count ...more in number than the sand. The thing is, I remember being so excited about our special treat that I kept thanking my mom over and over. You know one of those, happy excited, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Mom!" moments.

Do we notice all the ways that God, our heavenly Father, blesses us each day? Do we take His acts of blessing for granted or do we remember to notice that He is loving us and sending blessings our way. I guess my question is, do we, His children appreciate Him for all the times He notices and blesses us with 'chunks of ice cream?"

Do we have an excited, "Thank you, Thank you Thank you, Thank you, LORD!" moment or are we too focused on the HOT SUN to notice He just blessed us with Chunks of Ice Cream?

So how or why would I be thinking about all that coming off an over night event that I didn't even get to do any of the teaching for? (the thing I love most in all the world to do) The reason is because the four adults that work with me as my youth leaders did an amazing job! They were born into the kingdom and raised up here in this ministry and now they are passionately serving the Lord to train up and equip and bless young people as well and seeing that last night has brought such a feeling of blessing! I am so blessed!

All I want to do is sit here saying, "Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, LORD"

My best advice - take time to notice His blessings in your life today. They are more numerous then you can count but its worth the effort!

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Faithful to God's Call

"He's trying to do what?" Azariah gasped in horror.

The young priest bobbled his head in agreement. "He went through the streets saying, 'Your King can offer his own incense.' He kept saying it was his right. When someone said, "Yahweh had ordained the tribe of Levi only to offer incense," he waved his hand and said, "Nonsense."

"NONSENSE!" Azariah's anger boomed and echoed throughout his small house. I can't let him disgrace Yahweh's laws! "Go gather the priests. Direct them to the temple. Right now!"

"Master Azariah," the young man looked daunted with the task, "That's eighty priests. It would take hours to gather them all up."

He leveled the man with a look. "Get them there. Work together, but as sure as Yahweh lives, I will not let the King commit this abomination against Yahweh."


Azariah ran into the temple, praying they weren't too late. Uzziah stood before the alter, just a hair's breath away from carelessly dumping the incense on the alter.

"Stop right there!" Azariah's shout echoed throughout temple.

King Uzziah looked startled, but not angry   yet."What seems to be the problem?"

Azariah took a deep breath. His pulse was racing, there was a chance he could be killed for this, but if he didn't act, who would? He must be faithful to Yahweh first. "It is not for you to burn incense to the Lord, King Uzziah. It is the job, the responsibility of the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary. You have done wrong, and this action will bring you no honor from the Lord." 

King Uzziah's face turned beat red. Azariah could practically see the anger radiating off of him, like a pot of water boiling over the rim. He had a censer in his right hand to burn incense, and he raised the censer, preparing to bombard them all! Azariah stood, waiting to receive his punishment for going against the king, when he saw something.

Gray, deathly flesh upon the King's forehead. 

"King Uzziah, your forehead is leprous!" A collective gasp sounded among the priests. Uzziah stood completely still at first, registering the words, then unsheathed his sword, trying to see his reflection in the metal's gleam. He gasped and dropped his sword. Taking a step backwards, he examined his arms and hands. He wailed in agony when he saw more gray spots! "Oh, Yahweh do not judge me so harshly!" He violently tried to rub the spot on his hand, but to no avail. He looked terrified.

Azariah felt heartbroken. "My lord," he croaked, "You must get out of the temple this instant."

King Uzziah nodded his head dumbly, dazed by the surreal events happening. He practically ran out the door.

Azariah and his band of priests followed him out, spilling onto the street like a small tidal wave, flowing around a rock, the leprous King Uzziah. People, who had missions to complete, tasks to finish, and things to do, stopped and stared at the King. Azariah sighed. Gossip spreads like candied figs. He had no doubt that the people knew of King Uzziah's recent leprosy. Many of them looked scared by what they saw, and a few ran away.

His heart mourned for King Uzziah. The man keep looking at his arms, trying to rub the spots off. He then tried to approach the people, and the priests standing nearby kept waving him back, reminding him to shout, "Unclean!"

Azariah knew there would be long lasting consequences to King Uzziah's sin. Some people would even use it as a reason not to worship Yahweh. This is going to drive the people further away from You, Yahweh. Maybe I shouldn't have interfered with the King... Azariah looked at all the priests around him, young and old. The righteous indignation, the burning desire to serve the Lord evident on most of their faces. He felt a peace that only Yahweh could bring in his soul. He had done what was right. It was his responsibility to protect the temple, keep it sacred for Yahweh. 

Yahweh would handle what comes next.

Based on 2 Chronicles 26:16-20

King Uzziah was a good man. In 2 Chronicles 26:4, it says he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He died a good man, for in 2 Chronicles 27:2 it says that Uzziah's son, Jotham, did what right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father, Uzziah had done. Uzziah was a man who made a stupid mistake. In 2 Chronicles 26:16, the Word tells us that when Uzziah grew strong and mighty, he grew proud. That led to his destruction, for he was unfaithful to God. His mistake, his sin had lasting consequences. He remained leprous the rest of his life, and the people, including his own son, Jotham, were afraid to go into the temple (2 Chronicles 27:2).

Have you ever been trying to tell someone about Jesus, and then something like this happens? We don't see a lot of leprosy anymore,  but there are earthquakes that decimate entire countries, hurricanes that destroy millions of homes, cancer and Aids, madmen with guns who will walk into a school or movie theater and just start shooting, and regular people who make bad choices. We live in a world with all these things. Those who don't know God, cry out around us saying, "Were is God in this? Why would He allow this?"

In the months that followed, when the temple stood empty, do you think Azariah doubted his stand for God? What about us? What do we do? How do we respond? Sometimes, we struggle with doubt, wondering why these things have happened.

But we have a duty. Our call.

"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." Mark 16:15

We will not get most of those answers in this lifetime. We have a focus, sharing Jesus with everyone. So we respond with God's love.

"But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15

Our responsibility is to be a light to those around us. Protect what is holy. Walk and work in love.

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3

Azariah was faced with a difficult choice: Do what God had called him to do? Or stand by and let the King dishonor God? God has made you a watchman. God has made you a warrior. God has made you a speaker of truth. God has made you a bearer of the Gospel. Everyday, in every circumstance, we have the choice to do what God is calling us to do, or try and reason our way out of it. "This person won't let me tell him about You if I call him on the carpet for his sin." Or this, "She won't turn to You. She says you allowed that earthquake to happen." There are all kinds of "reasons" to keep our mouths shut. People will make their own choices, and God can work in any stony heart. Those things are in God's hands. However, at the end of the day, will you know that you were faithful to God's call?

"And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here I am! Send me.'" Isaiah 6:8

Who will go for Him? Will you? Be faithful to God first. Let Him handle everything else.

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Through His Eyes"

And the Angel of the lord appeared to him, and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" Judges 6:12

I love every time I notice  an exclamation point in the Word because it tells me something really important. It tells me, or at the very least it reminds me that the one speaking is saying whatever he is saying with conviction and strong emotion. There is some passion involved. Here in this verse the Angel of the Lord is the one speaking to Gideon, and judging by the exclamation point, He meant what He said.

So, I'm going to put the punch line right up front that way you can decide early on if you want to continue reading. Today's message isn't about Gideon. It is about you and how you perceive yourself compared to how God perceives you. It is time that we as believers look in the mirror and see ourselves through His eyes!

In this case the angel of the Lord is declaring to Gideon exactly how God sees him, as a mighty man of valor! Gideon on the other hand is busy feeling sorry for himself, his circumstances and declares about himself ... "Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my Father's house." 6:15 Gideon is busy looking at himself through what he perceives as his weaknesses, while God looks at him through His presence in Gideon's life. After all, wherever He is, the might of heaven is sure to follow! "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" If we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior and are submitted to the Holy Spirit then we need to stop seeing ourselves as weak and inconsequential or as anything less them mighty in the kingdom because we have a job to do!

In James 1:22-25 it tells us to be doers of the word! It tells us that we are to not be hearers only, because that would mean we looked into the mirror and then walked away and forgot what kind of man we are. It says ... 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. Gideon went beyond being a hearer, but a doer of the word that was spoken to him. He became the man that God saw him as because he applied the word in His life. He became a man who was mighty and valiant and won victories for the kingdom.

In Luke 21:1-4 We see a scene that is familiar to us all. It is where Jesus is sitting, watching the people in the temple. He watches some who 'think they are all that' giving out of their abundance and making a show of it. He also sees a widow give her last two mites and because of His statements we know who He perceived as the greater in the kingdom. Did the widow giving her two mites know that he saw her as one who "Gives it all?"

Do you know how he perceives you? Do you walk like a mighty man of valor or one who gives it all? Do you live as someone who reads the perfect law of liberty and forgets what kind of man you are because its easier to believe your 'all that' then to change what needs changing? The rich young ruler walked away sad because he wasn't willing to give up what the words of Jesus (The mirror) confronted him with. His love of money.

It is time. Time for His people to take His words to heart! Time to see who we are in Him and live like it! It is time to see the victories because He is with us instead of seeing only our weaknesses and problems. It is time to walk in His might and in the power of His word in our lives. It is time to be doers of the word, believe what He says about us, and Go in the power of His might!


There is a young lady reading this that is afraid to step into out in ministry because your worried about your past. Look in the mirror. It will show you that your all washed and cleaned up. Stop worrying about what others say. The past is past. Jesus washed the past away when you said yes to Him! Stop looking back. He sees your future! When He came to Gideon He didn't acknowledge his present, or his past, just his future ... "as a mighty man of valor."  Why? because that's how He sees him. He sees us for who we are in Him! "The Lord is with you. You mighty man of valor," or rather in your case, "You mighty woman of God." He is with you. Step out!

There is also a young man and He wants you to stop worrying about what your father and your brother have to say and start believing and trusting in Him. He says you have a field set before you. Get up on your feet. Step into the field and get your hand to the plow! Its harvest time!

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Outcast of Society

He would finally meet him, the man they called Jesus. He trudged along. Alone and forsaken. And if he was lucky, forgotten.

He had heard that Jesus was teaching out in the country side. He had carefully traveled day and night to get there in time to hear Jesus. He had been disappointed to learn that Jesus had gone up to the mountain, and they didn't know when he would come and descend from his hilly retreat.

People were rushing past him on the path towards Jesus. Every one had their reasons for wanting to see Jesus, but he had a need. Without Jesus, he was as good as dead.

Take a step. Keep on going. Get to Jesus. He fought through the pain. The leprosy ate away at his body, and no matter how much he tried to pretend otherwise, the constant, agonizing pain was a brutal reminder that he was unclean, and thus, unloved.

He dragged his foot along awkwardly behind him, in too much pain to lift it. A sharp rock in the path snagged his bloody, rotting limb. With a scream of agony, he stumbled. He didn't need to look to see that the sores on his foot were cut open and bleeding profusely.

Looking around carefully, he put the bell used to announce his presence in his robe pocket. Using his teeth, he tore off the edge of his sleeve. He tied it around the majority of the wound. He stood up slowly, and continued on his mission.



It was a warm day. The slight breeze played with the edges of his robe, and he looked around uncomfortably. I wonder if anyone can smell my rotting flesh. There were people everywhere. Everyone wanted to hear Jesus.

He pressed through the crowd, trying not to draw attention. In his desperation to get to Jesus, he was breaking the law. His bell was tucked into his pocket, and he didn't dare yell out his uncleanness. If the people realized a leper walked among them, they would riot in terror, and then, stone him in anger.

At last, he could see Jesus. He was sitting on the ground like he wasn't a marvelous prophet and healer, but just like any other man. People sat around him in a large semi-circle. They listened intently, hanging on every word he said.

Maneuvering around the clusters of people, he stopped at the edge of people, and started at Jesus. He felt his heart leap as Jesus turned, and looked at him! In that moment, everything was perfect.

A shrill scream pierced the perfect quiet. "He's a leper!" The accusing woman grabbed her son, and took off running down the path. He gasped, inspecting his clothes in a desperate attempt to cover the offending area. Oh, no! His temporary bandage had come loose, exposing the grayish sores around his left ankle. All at once everything exploded. Everyone scrambled to get away from him. A big man about ten feet away picked up a rock, and hurled the stone at him. "Why didn't you announce yourself, leper?" A young boy peeked out from behind the big man as he shouted, "Stone him!"

Stones started pelting him, and he dropped to the ground in a crumpled-up ball, trying to protect himself. As the rocks rained down on him, he sobbed. He had been so close! Now he would die a leper. An outcast. A man unloved in society.

Suddenly, the rain of rocks stopped. He opened his eyes, trying to see what was happening. The sobs still racked his body, seizing his breath. Jesus stood not three feet away! His hands were held up, palms facing away from him. Some of the people looked ashamed. Most of them looked angry that Jesus had stopped them.

He just continued to cry. A broken man. Years ago, he had been forced to leave his family. He never even got to tell them why he had to go! He just disappeared. The laws dictated that he avoid people, and if he came across any human being, he must yell "Unclean!" while ringing his little bell. Day after day, he had spoken that curse into his life. Everyone looked at him with scorn and contempt. They hated him, and they didn't even know why. He left them alone. He followed the rules. He lived in a garbage pile for crying out loud! At night, he would sit in the spoiled food, and look into the city...wishing for a life he could never have. He was all alone. A real and true outcast.

"Lord," he stretched his hand towards Jesus, "If you will, you can make me clean." But why would Jesus want to do that? He was worthless scum. Unclean. Unnecessary to life. Hot tears burned down his face. Why would he want to heal me?

"I will; be clean."


He looked up at Jesus. He had knelt down beside him, and was reaching out his hand..."I will. Be clean." With that statement, Jesus touched him. Put his hand right on his shoulder! Then Jesus wrapped his arms around him in a huge hug of love, redemption, and healing. He clung to Jesus' embrace with every fiber of his being.

Jesus pushed him back a little bit so that he could look into his eyes. "I love you," Jesus whispered. "The Father loves you, too." His eyes were so full of compassion and love!

Lovely, healthy flesh caught his eye. Gasping, he realized it was him! Jesus had healed him!


Based on Matthew 8:1-4

Leprosy was the biggest, terrible, painful, and devastating disease in Jesus' day. He had to keep away from everyone. He couldn't give hugs or get hugs. He was empty and broken. Every day he had to speak a curse into his life, "Unclean." How would you like to go around yelling your biggest, most painful secret to everyone?

Do you ever feel like you are on the outside looking into the happy family? Do you feel unclean or unworthy? Do you feel unloved? Do you look around and see everyone else thriving, strengthening in God, and developing in their gifts, yet you feel stuck, broken, and backsliding? Where are your gifts and talents? What's wrong with you?

I think we all feel like that, probably more then we want to admit. Jesus wants to heal your heart of that pain.

The leprous man made a very heart-wrenching statement. He said, "If you will, you can make me clean." He was saying, "Only if you want to heal me. You may not want to heal me. I know that you can. You have that power, but I'm trash. You may not be willing to heal me."

Jesus said, "Of course I am willing!"

Jesus wants to heal you. He wants to love you. He wants you. You may think I'm crazy, but it is very true!

"For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers." Hebrews 2:11

When Jesus is Lord of your life, you are sanctified through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. We are all cleansed and redeemed from our pasts. From that point on, we are part of Jesus' family. Jesus isn't ashamed of that. He isn't ashamed of us! He wants us! He's going around saying, "This guy is my awesome brother!", or "This is my sister!". He is not ashamed to call you family. He loves you!

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?" Romans 8:25

Can anything separate us from that love of God? No! I think we forget just how much God loves us sometimes! He is more then willing to heal us! More then willing to help us! More then willing to love us with all His heart! In fact, He is desperate to love us.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39

"The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." Jeremiah 313

Jesus has an impassioned love for you! His love is everlasting and faithful. Nothing can destroy His love for you. He is filled with that love, and He shows that love for us in so many ways. He is willing to love you! You don't ever need to let other people's scorn and lies wound you. You don't ever need to feel like the outcast of society. You are a conqueror of those! They have no place in your life! You are the healed of the Lord! Allow God to heal your heart and soul. Allow His impassioned love to flow through you.

His love will heal you through and through!

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"A Willing Heart"

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?"

Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." Isaiah 6:8
This one verse contains some pretty powerful words. Words that have the power to change a person's life. Powerful because they are the words when God is asking, "Who?" and Isaiah is answering the call to go and to speak for Him with words of surrender. I think its pretty safe to say that most all of us have used the words that Isaiah spoke back to God. I can pretty much guarantee that at some time you've sung them in a worship song or cried them out to Him from the bottom of your heart in prayer. I know I have on more than one occasion over the years, after all isn't it the hearts desire of every Christian to be used of God and to bring glory to His name?

When I was a brand new baby Christian, and I read Isaiah 20 I was amazed that Isaiah obeyed! ... God spoke saying, "Go, remove the sackcloth from your body, and take the sandals off your feet." And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the Lord said, "Just as My servant Isaiah has walked around naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. Then shall they be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory."

At the time I knew that if God asked me to be that kind of example to my nation I would have struggled in my listening and my obedience. Isaiah was to dress just as a prisoner of war would have, naked and bare, for three years speaking the word of the Lord. For three years he was being a living prophetic sign to the nation to, "Not to put their trust Egypt as their source. His words, his actions, even his dress were all to be a sign that said, "Look to the Lord for your help!"

Isaiah had used the words, "I am here. Send me!" He used them because he meant them. He chose to surrender all. He proved it with his obedience to every word God spoke. We've used these as well, but do we, just as I did as a baby Christian, put qualifiers on that vow or do we truly count the cost and surrender? Are we willing, no matter the assignment, to be obedient to His will? Are we willing to be a living prophetic sign, maybe even naked to the nations we live in? Are we willing to be thrown into pits and made fun of like Jeremiah? Are we willing to lay on our sides for days on end like Ezekiel? Are we willing to be sent to speak to kings like Daniel? Are we willing to go to the nations? Are we willing to be called into service as an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, or Teacher? Are we willing to be holy and set our affections on the things above?  Are we willing to truly be surrendered to His will? Are we willing to surrender to the leading and teachings of the Holy Spirit?

Did you know the word surrender isn't in the Bible so you can't go to the Strong's and look it up to see exactly what it means? The concept is there all over the place in actions; and even in so many of the words that Jesus spoke, but the actual word, surrender, it isn't there. There is a favorite expression of mine in Exodus 35:5, 21, 22, 29. 'Whoever is of a willing heart let him bring it as an offering,' 'everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing brought the Lord's offering for the work of the tabernacle,' 'They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought offering to the Lord, and 'The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the Lord, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the Lord, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.'

To surrender requires a willing heart to bring your words, your deeds, your actions, your will as an offering to the Lord for the purposes of serving Him. Jesus said in Luke 14:28 to count the cost. We need to make sure we are truly willing when we tell Him, "Here am I. Send Me!" Why? Because He may want you to lay bare your passion for Him before the nations as sign and a wonder. He may require you to declare before all mankind, "He alone is God. Put your Trust in Him."

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

He's Waiting for You to Choose Him

A hand grabbed his shoulder, and rocked him back and forth. Eli growled and tried to roll over, but the persistent person just shook him even harder.

Eli growled and rolled over. "What?" Young Samuel loomed over him, looking eager to please.

At two in the morning, no less!

"You called for me, Master Eli. You did not hear my reply, so I came to speak with you directly." Samuel grinned triumphantly, surely thinking this was a test, and he had passed.

Eli sighed. Samuel meant well. "I did not call. Go back to sleep."

Samuel's brows furrowed together in a look of confusion, but he didn't argue. Eli rolled over again, and smirked. Yahweh let him sleep!


"Master Eli."

Oh, not again! This was the third time Samuel had woken him up, claiming Eli had called him. He was at a special breaking point reserved for sleep deprivation victims. 

"Here I am, for you called me." His exasperated tone portrayed just how frustrated he was with the situation.

Eli sighed. He was about to dismiss Samuel again when a thought popped into his sleepy brain. Who is calling Samuel? Could it be Yahweh? Suddenly Eli was certain. It was Yahweh. He was calling to Samuel, waiting for Samuel to hear Him, and respond. "Samuel, go lie down. Next time He calls you, answer Him." Samuel's eyebrows shot up with realization. He smiled reassuringly. "Say, 'Speak Lord, for your servant hears."


Samuel laid on his makeshift bed in the temple. He wiggled around, trying to get comfortable. Everything was quiet. The flame of the lamp of God still burned brightly. Shadows flickered on the wall as the flame flickered in it's fiery dance. Perhaps Samuel had been dreaming, and no one was calling him. He was exhausted. Anything was possible.


Samuel's heart started beating rapidly. This was no dream. The Lord was calling him. He felt the heat from the burning lamp on his face. Eli told him to answer the Lord.

Would he? Could he?

The mighty, powerful I Am wanted to talk with him. Why? Samuel couldn't shake the feeling that his decision to answer God would be life-changing.

The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He felt a presence in the chamber with Him. Samuel looked around the room. He couldn't see anyone, but as surely as he knew grapes were disgusting, he knew Someone was standing in this room, speaking to him.


The Lord was here, in the room with him. He was calling to Samuel, waiting for him to answer, and come to him. A passion welled up in his soul. He wanted to serve God. This was what he had been working towards his whole life. He had spent countless hours ministering to God in the temple. It was actually astounding to even be hearing Yahweh's voice. The word of God was very rare. Many of the priests had never heard his voice. Samuel shook his head in wonder. Here he was, just a young boy, hearing God.

In that instant, all his doubt vanished. God wasn't forcing this on him. He was giving Samuel a choice. A choice to choose Him, or reject Him.

"Speak, for your servant hears."

Based on 1 Samuel 1:1-10

The first time Samuel heard God's voice, He didn't have a clue what was happening. He thought Eli was calling him. It took being woken by Samuel three times before Eli realized, Who was speaking.

Have you ever wondered why God didn't just say, "Samuel, it's Me   God, the Great I Am. I have some stuff I need to tell you."? God waited for Samuel to say, "Speak, for your servant hears."

I don't believe Samuel repeated those words out of an obligation to Eli. When they realized God was talking, Samuel was faced with a choice: go to God, or go to sleep?

"Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision." 1 Samuel 1:1

Samuel had a heart to minister to and for God. He wanted to serve God. Ultimately, that's why he spoke up, instead of pretending not to hear, like we so often do...

God didn't speak because He wanted Samuel to come to Him. He wanted Samuel to choose Him.

"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

God has always been saying, "Pick me. Choose me. Love me." He has always been yearning for us to look His way, acknowledge His voice, hear Him. He was never supposed to be a wallflower in our lives. He was supposed to be front and center. I'm not quoting the lyrics to a country song, and this is more heart-wrenching then any Taylor Swift song. Our God loves us, and He wants us to want Him. To choose Him. To love Him.

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

Who will you choose? Will you pick the Lord, our loving, amazing God Who chose you?

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Monday, April 21, 2014

"A Step Into Agreement"

Now so it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and He saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.

Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitude from the boat. Now when He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."

But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. Luke 5:1-7
The thing that the Lord would have me share with you today has to do with the words "At Your word I will." Peter spoke these words in answer to Jesus telling him to go out to the deep water and throw out a net. These are the words that held the answer to a miraculous change in all their circumstances. They went from a place of complete lack to a place of over abundance in a moment all because Peter spoke them. They weren't great words of faith but rather a few simple words spoken out of obedience. The truth is they were actually spoken in the midst of other words that revealed both his doubt and his hopelessness, "we have toiled all night and caught nothing." Translation to today's vernacular, "Been there, done that, tried that, it didn't work, it can't be done." and in truth while they were spoken from that place of doubt they were also linked with another word which spoke of his obedience. That word was simply the word, "Master." And here is the thing as I see it, one always hears the voice of ones master and is obedient to do His bidding, no matter what. Even if it is something that has been proved useless. The Master's bidding is all that is necessary.

Did you know that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God? Romans 10:17 Peter's circumstances changed from a place of toiling and hardship in a moment in time because He heard the words that Jesus spoke and he was obedient to them. In that moment of  'at Your word I will' he put himself into agreement with the words that were spoken by his Master and faith was born. Faith came to Peter's heart. He not only heard with his ears but declared in his heart, 'Master, at your word I will.' Faith comes when we act on the words we hear him speak and despite what we see with our eyes we trust that His word will come to pass! Peter put action to his declaration. He launched out and dropped his net. The result, a catch that almost sank two boats and the birth of a 'fisher of men.'

In their minds they were finished for the day. They had toiled and fished all they were going to. They had left their boats and were washing the nets to put away. Jesus had other ideas, a different plan. For Jesus the day wasn't over yet! For Jesus your day isn't over yet either! And just to make this clear, this is a word for all the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers out there who have toiled and toiled and toiled and you are just plain tired of toiling. Your ready to give up but the Lord would say to you, "Your day is not over yet. Get up, Go back out. Cast another net and get ready for the miraculous! Get ready for the possibilities to open up!" Peter spoke the words, "At Your word I will." and experienced the miraculous! Will you?

It only takes a one word, spoken by the Lord, to take you into the realm of 'possibilities!' Peter
answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So Jesus said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on water to go to Jesus. Matthew 14:28-29 Jesus spoke only one word, the word "Come." and at that one word Peter got out of the boat walked into the realm of the 'all things are possible.' Why, because he calls Him, Master and Lord. Because at the bottom of his heart is this declaration, "At Your word I will!" He walked where Jesus did and in a way that no one else has because his hearts cry was "Lord, tell me and I will." Even when it was a single word and it meant something as impossible as walking on water.
Jesus said, "For assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

So, the question remains, will we, like Peter, respond with, "At your word I will?" Will we step into agreement with our Master and speak to mountains? Will we be a people of faith; hearing His word and responding with actions that reveal our heart towards our Master? Will we launch out into the deep for the catch of our lives? Will we get out of the boat because His word to us is "Come."

Will we take a walk with Him into the realm of "Possibilities?" Will we take a step of faith by taking a step into agreement with His word? Will we declare, "All things are possible!" and "At Your word, I will!"

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Be Resurrected!

Mary held up her had to shield herself from the brilliant light. Two men stood before her and the other women. They looked dazzling, like God Himself had snapped his fingers and graced them with a cloak of Heavenly beauty.

What do we do now? Mary and the other women had risen before dawn to take the spices they had prepared the night before to the tomb where Jesus' body lay. However, when they arrived, all that awaited them were two unconscious Roman soldiers, a large stone casually rolled away from the mouth of the tomb, and instead of a body, an empty tomb and burial clothes!

The man on the right was slightly taller. He briefly studied them and spoke. "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

At their blank expressions, the man on the left smiled and said, "He is not here...but has risen!

"That's right," spoke up the first man. "Don't you remember how he told you the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men? They would crucify Him, but on the third day He would rise again!"

A cool, yet warming breeze stirred the leaves, distracting them for just a moment. The tingling chill gave her goosebumps and a rush of excitement through her body. Mary swung her gaze back to the men, a question on the tip of her tongue, but they were gone, too.

But their words echoed in her head, resounding in her heart.

He is risen!


"You're crazy." Thomas glared at her disapprovingly.

Mary jutted out her chin, her old defiance rearing it's ugly head. "I know what I saw. The tomb was empty! The two men told us he had risen! He's alive."

He dismissed her words with a flick of his wrist. "Did you stop to think that it might have been two men who were part of the plot to steal Jesus' body? You just blindly believe whatever any man tells you, don't you?"

A collective gasp went through the room at the horrid shot at Mary's past. "Ask James' mother and Joanna. They were there, too. Or do you plan to accuse them of sharing in my heinous activities?"

"Mary!" James' reprimand quieted her next comment. She bristled at Thomas' words, but she respected James enough to stop yelling. For now.

"She's right." Everyone looked at Joanna, and Mary breathed a sigh of relieve. "The tomb was empty, and those men, those Heavenly beings, said he was risen."

There was calm and quiet as everyone digested the revelation. Then Peter and John looked at each other, and bolted out the door.

Thomas opened his mouth, doubting words pouring out as he completely ignored the warning look from James. "Prepare yourselves for the likely possibility that his body was stolen." Mary felt like her lungs were being crushed. The invisible weight grew heavier with each word. "I would love nothing more then to see him again, but he's gone. I saw him die. We all saw him die." Thomas' voice caught as he swept his hand around the room. "It's time we sought God's counsel, and figure out what's next."

Slowly Matthew and Bartholomew nodded their agreement. Mary couldn't take it anymore! With a cry, she ran out the door, back to the last place Jesus had been.

The tomb.


Mary stumbled over a small stone. She got up and started running again, barely noticing the blood on her hands. Her only thought, her only focus was to get back to the tomb. Once in sight, she slowed her pace, the path in front of her becoming a blur of green, brown, and gray. Stopping in front of the tomb, she couldn't bring herself to look inside, in case they were right. What if some fanatics really have stolen his body? She couldn't bear the thought!

Collapsing in front of the tomb, Mary wept. Her fears coming through in gut-wrenching gasps. Her failures and worthlessness tracing their way down her face in hot, burning tears. Her emptiness and confusion squeezing the beat out of her heart.

She didn't know how long she lay in front of Jesus' tomb weeping, but eventually her sobs eased, and she sat up. Looking straight into the tomb, she saw the same two men sitting where Jesus' body had lain.

"Woman, why are you weeping?" The taller man asked with a smile on his face.

"They have taken away my Lord, and I don't know where to find him." Annoyed with the mysterious men, she turned around. A man smiled at her gently. "Woman, why are you weeping?"

Maybe he's the gardener. Which means he might have heard something! He might have seen who took his body! "Sir, if you have carried him away, or if you know who did, please tell me where he is. I will take his body." Mary was begging, but she no longer cared. She would do anything to retrieve his body.

"Mary." Her name rolled off his tongue and caressed her heart. Her eyes were opened. It had healing and life. Hope and joy. It was the greeting of a friend she had thought was lost. It was Jesus. Alive!

Joy bubbled up inside of her and spilled out in a single word. "Rabboni!"

Based on Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-10, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-18.

Today is a very special day. It is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We know that. We believe that. We celebrate it with candy, special church services, and maybe a honey-glazed ham. We know that today is about Jesus being raised from the dead.

But wait, there's more.

Many moons ago, our souls were raised from the dead. Jesus stormed the throne room of hell, and took us back!

"We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."  Romans 6:4

But are we dead?

When Mary told the disciples what she had seen, and what the men had told her, they didn't believe her. It crushed her. She started doubting herself. Pretty soon, she had given up all her hope.

Jesus didn't take back the keys of our souls for us to voluntarily live in bondage.

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

When you let someone's unbelief beat you into a weakened stake, that's death. When you let fear choke the joy out of you, that's bondage. When you let anger rule your life, that's slavery. Jesus has freed us from all those things.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36

This Easter, think about Resurrection Sunday in all it's glory. Jesus has saved us from a dead life. However, every time you let one of those doubts into your heart, then you are letting yourself be locked into a living tomb. Jesus conquered so that wouldn't happen.

Let your faith be resurrected! Let your souls be revived. Despite the naysayers around you, look to God, and believe.

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

In all you do, remember to be resurrected in your faith, in your life, in your soul.

Happy Easter and Resurrection Sunday!

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"His Cup To Bear"

And coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done."
Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation." Luke 22:39-46
I don't know about you but one of the first things I notice as I read this section of Scripture is ...He went to the Mount of Olives, as was His custom, and His disciples followed Him. When He came to the place... Did you see the words 'as was His custom' and 'when He came to the place?' These words show us that this time with the Father was something that He did often and that this spot in the garden was a regular meeting place for Him to hang with His dad, Almighty God.

When I was a kid, I know that my all time favorite thing in all the world was hanging out with my dad. I have three sisters and three brothers and my parents were also foster parents so time alone with my dad was hard to come by. Actually, I figured out a way. When there was work to be done the others preferred to be off playing while I took advantage of that and it became  my time with him. I became, 'his helper.' I remember when he was building an addition to the house being right there beside him carrying boards and handing him nails. I worked along side him in the garden, raking leaves, and any other projects he had going. I loved those times even though they involved some work because it was time that was filled with laughter and 'talks' that I still remember to this day. I treasure those memories because it was time spent loving and being loved by my dad!

Jesus had that and more with His Father. He reveals His love for the Father every time He speaks of Him. He reveals His confidence in and His knowledge of His Father's love for Him with the words He speaks as well! He never, never, never, NEVER has thoughts of doubt about His love for His Father or His Father's love for Him. NOT EVER!

I say all that because you need to know and understand that turning to the Father was what He did. He was in this place crying out to the Father because what was about to happen was something that was inconceivable to Him. He was having a really hard time with this something; this cup that was about to happen.

It says that once they got there He separated Himself from the disciples and knelt down to pray and the words that He spoke were these, "Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done."  Between being a youth pastor for 34 years, a teacher for 14, and a foster parent for 7, I've heard, "Do I have to?" a million times. Jesus is here in this place doing what He does, turning to the Father, because He knows He needs help to do the thing this cup represents and its something the Father has obviously told Him needs doing. I know that there have been times in my life that my dad has asked me to do something that was outside my comfort zone, and I've gone to him with the attitude of, "I really don't want to ... but if you really need me, OK, fine, I'll do it, I won't like it, but, I'll do it."

These words, ...not my will but Yours, be done." are used so often that I think that we forget that when He spoke them they weren't spoken in some monotone tone of voice so that we would have cool words to quote about surrendering but that they were spoken with all the emotional agony that He was feeling. It says that as soon as they were spoken an angel came from heaven to strengthen Him. His Father knew and understood his suffering. He sent an angel to Him to help so that He would be able to bear the cup that was to come.

Next it says ..."And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground." Being in agony; agony here means struggle, anguish and this is the only time in the NT that this words is used. It says ... being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. He was in agony - He was struggling and it was so great a struggle that He prayed even more earnestly. I keep saying it so that you see He was still looking to the Father for help. He was still talking with His Father. This thing was huge to Him. It says that He even began to sweat drops of blood. According to Wikipedia it is called - Hematidrosis - It can occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress. So what was this thing, this cup that was so hard for Him that it caused Him such a struggle, such extreme stress?

I know what I think. You may not agree but I don't think it was the beating, the scourging, the spitting, the punching, the betrayal, the crown of thorns, the struggle He felt as He carried the weight of the cross up the hill, the ridicule, the spikes being pounded through hands and feet, or even the hours hanging on the cross trying to breathe through the pain and agony. I don't even think it was a combination of all those things. As horrible as all that is I think He would be able to endure and face all that. People did. The other two thieves did. I think it was more; or rather a different 'cup' to bear.

I think we see the answer here, in this particular moment found in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46...And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" I believe that the thing that caused Him such agony; and so much stress that it had Him in the garden crying out to His Father for help was what took place right here in this moment. The word forsaken means to leave behind in some place, to desert, and it comes from a root word that means to leave down, i.e. behind, by impl. to abandon. Personally, I believe this is the moment that Jesus was dreading. This moment when He felt abandoned and deserted and left to bear the weight of all our separation from His Father all by Himself. Remember, Sin separates. This was the real horrific moment, when the sins of the world, our sins were laid on Him (2 Corinthians 5:21) and the He was for the first time, no longer in that place of resting and abiding with the Father. He no longer felt His Father's love. I believe that this was the cup He longed not to have to bear!

If you look at Adam and Eve and their lives after they left the garden; the place they had been abiding with God you get a very real sense of their hardship as that they carried the 'weight' of that separation all the rest of their days. I think that we, as human beings, all too often don't appreciate the price Jesus truly paid on our behalf because we don't fully grasp what He sacrificed in those moments while He was under that weight of our sin, our separation, from the love of His Heavenly Father. After all, don't forget it was His custom to hang with His Heavenly Father, Almighty God and I don't say that because I am in any way belittling what He went through physically; the beating, the scourging, the spitting, the punching, the betrayal, the crown of thorns, the weight of the cross, the ridicule, the spikes through hands and feet, the hours of suffering as He was hanging, the pain, the agony, The Cross. I'm not!  I get what He suffered! I do; I just think that the hard part, the struggle, or rather the cup that He took to His Father in the garden was the harder part. The weight of the spiritual separation from the love of His Father.

"My God. My God. Why have You forsaken Me?" paints the picture of the agony He felt at the moment He felt the loss of His Father's love; It was the moment His Father turned away!

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's Your Own Accord

Onesimus was so nervous. He was sitting on a rock, with his head in between his knees, trying to ward off the dizzy sensation crowding his vision. It was a warm day, and the breeze should have been soothing to his soul. He wanted to toss his lunch of lentils into the bushes, though.

He was only ten or so minutes from his former, and technically current, master.

Onesimus had tried to ignore the nudging in his spirit to go back to Philemon's household and make things right. He'd tried to tell God that it was unnecessary, that Philemon wouldn't care anymore, and that his place was studying under Paul.

However, God must had given Paul some insight into Onesimus' situation, because Paul started asking him questions. Then, Paul started teaching about forgiveness. Eventually, Onesimus broke, but how do you feign ignorance against the Almighty and His stubborn apostle?

Onesimus sat there for a long time, trying to delay the inevitable. Sooner or later, he would need to face his past. He was done running away. God had called him to so much more then that sorry excuse of a life. He pushed himself off the rock. Onesimus checked the small traveling sack for the most important thing he could have taken on this journey. He bypassed the bread, dried figs, and wine skin filled with water. He sighed in relief when he saw it was still there. He had double checked this sack a hundred times, always fearing it had fallen out somewhere.

However, Paul's letter to Philemon was safe and sound.


Philemon couldn't believe it. He didn't believe his ears when a servant tending the livestock had come running through the house into the room where the majority of his family and servants were having devotions. He didn't believe his eyes as he watched him finish the remainder of his trek to the side entrance. He didn't believe it when he had stood before the younger man just moments ago. After all this time, there was Onesimus.

Before Philemon's mind could comprehend anything else, Onesimus had shoved a letter to him. Excusing himself, he took the letter into the abandoned devotional room so he could read in private.

He scanned the letter.


The letter started off okay. It was from his dear friend, Paul. Paul had traveled through this city several times, and one day, thank God, they met. Paul had just started teaching in Philemon's home when Onesimus had disappeared.

Philemon shook his head ruefully. He had been a terribly cruel master. He was stubborn, and rough. His bark was just as painful as his bite.

A lot has changed. 

Paul started off thanking him, and singing his praises. Then, Paul switched gears. He explained that Onesimus' path had crossed his, and later on, Onesimus was saved. Apparently, Onesimus had grown in the Lord in leaps and bounds. However, it became clear to the both of them, that the Lord was leading Onesimus to return to Philemon, and make amends. 

Only Onesimus wasn't making amends. Paul was on his behalf.

Philemon reread the letter. "But I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion, but of your own accord."

He clenched his jaw shut. He tended to grind his teeth when he was irritated, and right now he was plenty irritated.

"So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it   to say nothing of your owing me even your own self."

He snorted at the subtle reminder that Paul's obedience to share the gospel had literally saved his life.

"Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say."

Philemon sank onto one of the couches, the letter floating to the floor beside his feet. Running his hand through his salt and pepper locks, he fought a war within his spirit.

I should forgive him...but he did betray me! However, Paul wants me to forgive him, and it would disappoint him if I harbored anger towards Onesimus...but Paul said he wanted this to be my choice...

Philemon left the safety of the room without really knowing what he was going to say to Onesimus. Would he kick him to the sycamore tree at the end of the road? Would he forgive Onesimus, but never really trust him again, holding onto that anger and distrust? Or would he forgive Onesimus, completely, totally, truly?

For once and for all?

The man in question was surrounded, giving hugs, answering questions, and asking questions of his own. Some of his servants saw him though, and within a breath, everyone had parted, leaving a clear path from him to Onesimus.

Onesimus looked terrified, and yet at peace. His nervousness was evident, but there was something in his demeanor that spoke of change.

"In order that your goodness might not be by compulsion, but of your own accord..."

Paul's words floated through his mind once again. He had a choice. A choice to extend love that mirror his Savior's, or to backslide into his old self.

He inhaled deeply. "Onesimus..." All eyes were glued to them, but Philemon didn't care. "Welcome friend!" His voice broke on the last word. He meant it! In the instant, God had given him a love for Onesimus.

One that would forgive betrayals.

Based on the book of Philemon.

Philemon was in a difficult position. A betrayal from his past was made fresh. Onesimus had returned! Philemon was faced with a choice that we have all battled ourselves. How/Can/Do I forgive this person?

We all know this verse, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

And we know this verse, "For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you." John 13:15

We know what we should do.

But do we want to forgive? Is it in our heart? Or do we feel the "Christian compulsion" to forgive?

Paul told Philemon that he didn't want to force him to forgive Onesimus. He wanted him to do it of his own accord. It needed to be his choice. God is telling us the same thing. It is our choice to forgive. It is of our own accord. Otherwise, is it really forgiving?

Forgiveness is an act of love. Pure love that is one of the truest reflections of Jesus Christ. He is love and forgiveness.

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." Luke 6:35

"Then he adds, 'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.'" Hebrews 10:17

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

It is our choice to love someone like Jesus. It is our choice to forgive with love like Jesus. No one can force you. It's not always easy. It's certainly not fun. God would not give us more then we could bear, and He forgave the world for so much...

Jesus loved by forgiving, and He forgave by loving. You get to choose just how much you will reflect Jesus in your life.

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"According To Your Faith"

When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." And their eyes were opened. Matthew 9:27-30

In this encounter with Jesus we see two blind men pursuing Jesus because they were looking for an answer to their need. He asks them a simple enough question. "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" and their response of "Yes, Lord" was the evidence of their faith.

It was a simple question? "Do you believe?" and an even simpler answer. "Yes, Lord?" Sometimes we make receiving our answers way too hard. We think that it needs some big action or some huge profession of faith when really all it needs is a confession that means we have aligned ourselves with Him.

I used to think that the use of the word 'according' here by Jesus meant that it had something to do with the idea of 'depending' on your faith. Not the depending of your leaning and trusting on something, but the depending that has to do with a response of yes, no, maybe? The idea of not being sure which way to lean or when the answer is still waiting on your response? But, and it is a big BUT, in reality it was a statement, not a question. Jesus said, "According to your faith let it be to you."  He was stating a fact not still asking the question! The Strong's says that the word according here in this statement, is the word kata (2596) and it is the preposition down (in place or time). It is used in varied relations according to the case with which it is joined.

In this place and time it is where these men's "Yes, Lord" was joined with Jesus as He touched them and down came the power of heaven to bring sight to their blind eyes! There is a reason that Jesus said, "It only takes a mustard seed." It doesn't require a big hard task or huge speech. It only requires a little tiny mustard seed, "Yes, Lord" to mark down the moment we join with Him, and we too receive what we need in faith!

A simple question. A simple answer. An amazing outcome!

Check out

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!