Friday, August 31, 2012



“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” – 1 Kings 3:5

Picture this.  You are quietly sleeping, and suddenly the Lord our God invades your dreams and says “Ask! What shall I give you?”  What’s the first thing that comes to mind to ask for? 

The question, coming from the God who has everything to give, holds the excitement of a kid in a candy store!  But that’s exactly what happened to King Solomon.  As he slept quietly, God entered his dream and wanted an answer as to just what gift was on King Solomon’s heart.

Solomon found favor in God’s eyes from the day He was born.  When his father David sinned with his mother Bathsheba who was not his wife, God took the child from that affair as punishment.  But then to comfort her grief David slept with her.  From that loving act came Solomon.  In 2 Samuel 12:24 it says “the Lord loved him.”  I cannot imagine a more blessed thing than to know that the Lord loves your child.  And as Solomon grew, God stayed with him, watching over his life and caring for him.

Years had gone by, and now Solomon, still only a boy, was thrown into the throne room as king.  Being contentious about doing the job well and pleasing God, he worried that he didn’t have all the smarts he needed to do the job.  Being raised in the admonition of God, I would say Solomon had already been praying about it.  And then God comes to him in a dream and says “Ask! What shall I give you?”  Solomon had the answer readily at hand.

“You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant AN UNDERSTANDING HEART TO JUDGE YOUR PEOPLE, THAT I MAY DISCERN BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” – 1 Kings 3:6-9

Look at how Solomon talks to God.  First he gives praise for all God has done for his father and the father that He gave Solomon, He gives him praise for allowing him to sit on the throne, and then he presents a problem, and answers the question.  But he didn’t just say “God, give me all the answers I need when I need them.”  That would have been a solution to the problem as well.  But he asked for an understanding heart.  Not an understanding mind – but to understand at the center of our emotions – the heart.  He asked so that he could discern, or have strategic insight, to good and evil. 

God was impressed, and rightly so.  When he could have asked for wealth, fame, fortune, or things that would rot and rust on this earth, he didn’t.  When he could have asked to be removed from the job to hard for him, he didn’t shirk.  He had already analyzed his weakness and narrowed down the problem to what he truly needed to resolve it – a change of heart. 

It’s often misquoted that Solomon asked God for wisdom.  He did not.  Wisdom was a bonus prize – the gift God chose for him.  1 Kings 4:29 says “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and LARGENESS OF HEART LIKE THE SAND ON THE SEASHORE.”  He gave him what he asked for – a heart change.  To do so, it says God ENLARGED his heart.  I believe when it was enlarged, it was filled with the love of God.  1 Corinthians 13:2 says “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I am nothing.”  God knew what it took to make Solomon a mighty man, and a wise man.  He needed love. 

Sometimes we let problems overwhelm us and we cry out for wisdom, for answers, or to just have God remove the problem.  We struggle with the problem from our perspective, when we need to see it from His.  Knowing that God looks upon our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7), maybe we need to ask for a change in our hearts.  Maybe we need to ask for an enlarged heart.  It worked for Solomon.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Making God Real to the World


You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

When my daughter was around 3 or so she had two imaginary friends – Tony and Vivian.  They started out being friends on TV.  They hosted a little Disney channel show, and they would talk to their audience as if they were there with them, looking directly at them through the TV camera lens.  Before long, Gabby would talk back to them as if they could hear her.  And then one day when the TV went off, they just remained. 

I remember one day looking outside and she was running around our circle gravel driveway, around and around and around.  She was laughing and running so hard she could barely get her breath!  When she came in the house I asked her, “Gabby, why are you running?” She caught her breath just enough to say, “Because Tony and Vivian are chasing me!” They were so real to her that sometimes I felt like I needed to set two more plates at the table!  I had to be careful where I put her stuffed animals in her bed because “That’s where Tony and Vivian sleep.”  At bath time, I’d hear her in the tub talking to them, and laughing.  It was an eerie feeling as if they really were a reality to her.
It occurred to me as I thought of how real she made Tony and Vivian that we should make God that real to all around us.  What if instead of feeling like we were talking about a God so far away, those we came in contact with began to know the Holy Spirit that is God within us?  What if we revealed God and His reality to those around us?  What if when He performed miracles or when He gives quiet peace, or when He simply shows Himself in some new way we were open enough to share it?  Would it be possible to bring those around us to an understanding of who He is?  Would we be able to uncover who He is in our lives in such a way as to make others feel Him in the room?  Well, that is our duty as Christians.

When Jesus walked the earth, many knew Him first hand.  They saw Him, they touched Him, they ate with Him.  He healed them, He taught them, He got in the boat with them.  He was real to them because He was visible and they felt His presence.  In John 9:5 Jesus said “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  He was shining a way back to God with His presence. 

But Jesus is no longer in the world in flesh.  Instead He is in the world in Spirit.  We Christians have been given His Holy Spirit within us.  We are the light to be shined in the world now. 
Matthew 5:14 says that now we are the light of the world - a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.  You cannot go near New York without seeing the city’s skyline and all of its lights.  Notice that it doesn’t say we “are to be the light” but says “You ARE the light”.  You don’t get to choose if you shine or not, just like we don’t get to choose if people make us their role model.  But you do determine if you are a good role model, or not.  You do determine how brightly your light shines. 

So the question is how bright do you want to shine?  When you talk about God, do they know He is in the room?  When you mention your friend Jesus, do the feel like He’s sitting at the table with you?
Reveal God to those around you.  Acknowledge Him in your life and in your daily activities.  Let them know what He does for you to change your circumstances and your struggles.  Let them know the prayers that He answers, and the peace that He gives.  He’s not a far-away invisible God.  He’s inside you.  Shine your light on Him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Not to Reason Why


being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” – Philippians 1:6
There’s an old saying that goes “Yours is not to reason why, but to just do or die.”  This is how life is under God’s control.  He rolls the dice, we make the moves.  He steers the car, we sit quietly and ride.  He establishes our steps along the path of life in front of us, and we just walk.  It’s a long process with many turns and stops along the way that are uncertain and sometimes hard.  But it’s worth it.

Today I’m 49 years old.  That’s 49 years of blessings no matter how you look at it.  17,885 mornings that I’ve waken.  That is enough in itself. If God had stopped right there, I would be completely blessed.  But He’s been so very good to me in every way possible that I can’t help but love Him and trust Him.  It’s not about the people, events and things He’s given me to enjoy.  It’s about my relationship with Him.  Each year as I learn more of whom God is I know that my steps are not set by myself.  Nothing in this world is out of His infinite control unless He allows it through our own free will.  And I trust Him to only allow it when it will bring glory to Him.
Paul was talking to the church at Philippi when he spoke of the “good work” that God had begun in them and said that he would complete it “until the day of Jesus Christ”.  It’s important to note that he did not say “till the day of your death.”  He is still completing their “good work” that He started with them today. Their faith in Christ and their love for each other was used to build something bigger than themselves – something that would last.  And the foundation of the body of Christ has been preserved by God for thousands of years now.  Were their daily struggles worth it?  When the congregation of Philippi looks down at those of us who are saved now, I’d bet they think it was.

Things happen to us in this life that we will never know the full use of in God’s kingdom.  Looking back on my life, there were lots of uncertain times when I just cried out “Why God? Why is this happening to me?”  I’ve come to understand that I don’t always need to know why, and that good and bad things happen to us to hone us into the tool that He can later use to help someone else.  He’s beginning and completing a GOOD work. 
Let the sharpening of your life as a tool in His hands happen.  Don’t fight it.  The greater work is in His long term plan, not your temporary discomfort.  Each day is a building block in what He is creating.  We just see blocks.  But He will not stop creating until Jesus comes.  Our job is just to be a building block, and not a stumbling block, and be ready when Jesus comes. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It is Hard to Understand


“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”– John 6:60

 Teachers have to be the most patient people in the world.  To explain a thing, then explain again, then grasp for new words and new angles to explain it again and again would pluck my last nerve right out of my body!  And yet, Teachers do this gladly, and do it daily.  Truly this is a Christian trait, as it was portrayed by Jesus in John 6.

Jesus had gathered quite a few followers.  His fame unfortunately, was not all due to His being the Son of God, but somewhat due to His being the David Copperfield of the day.  He turns water into wine, He makes the lame walk, gives sight to the blind, walks on water, raises the dead, feeds thousands with a few morsels and more! Every day there’s a new miracle, a new event that is beyond belief.  Because of that everyone wanted to be there to see what He would do next.  And even though Jesus explained it as God working through Him, they only wanted to see more miracles.

John 6:22 begins the story of how Jesus suddenly appears in Capernaum without having travelled by boat.  Poof! And He was there.  When the followers saw Him their conversation was that of a child begging a parent for a new toy!  Picture this as played out in a movie and you’ll see the child in these followers.

Followers: “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

Jesus: This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Followers: “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus: Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Followers: (still thinking bread would fall from Heaven again) “Lord, give us this bread always.”

Jesus: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Followers: (grumbling among themselves) “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Jesus: Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me UNLESS THE FATHER WHO SENT ME DRAWS HIM; and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT BY GOD.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and LEARNED FROM THE FATHER comes to Me.  Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are DEAD.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and NOT DIE.  I am the LIVING BREAD which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Followers: “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”

Jesus: Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

Followers: “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”

Jesus: “Does this offend you?  What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?  It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe. Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me UNLESS IT BE GRANTED TO HIM BY MY FATHER.”

From that day forward, some of the followers turned back and didn’t follow Him anymore.

Have you ever tried to start reading a book in the middle?  It can be confusing and you can get the entire story turned around, the characters confused, and miss the entire plot!  That same feeling must have been what these followers felt that day.  They no doubt felt confusion, mistrust in what He had said, and some no doubt thought he was a lunatic offering to feed them His own body and blood! 

But God had not drawn them.  They had not “learned from the Father”.  God had not prepared the ground of their heart to understand so that they could believe.  These followers were not seeking a Savior, but a man who worked signs and wonders.  God in His wisdom decided it was not time to draw them. 

There may be people in your life that you want so badly to see God give the gift of salvation.  You beg for Him to draw them, to make the gospel clear to them, and to open their hearts to receive it.  Yet years may have gone by without their understanding of God’s plan.

Here in John 6 a large group of people were right in front of Jesus.  What an opportune time for God to give them understanding and draw them to Himself, as we would see it.  And yet God decided in His infinite wisdom that it was not time to draw them. 

If we truly believe that God is all knowing, we have to trust Him to know when it is the right time to draw them.  Pray without ceasing, keep teaching the Gospel, answer all the questions, but know that God will draw them at the RIGHT time.  Until then the message will be hard to understand, and there will be questions that may cause you to want to give up.  But Jesus never gave up trying to explain to them what was a “hard saying”.  We can’t give up either. 


Monday, August 27, 2012



you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 2:5
There’s a mistaken identity among many Christians that we have somehow arrived at a place of goodness.  We’ve overcome sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.  His saving grace has allowed us to overcome death and have eternal life.  But…brace yourself for this…we’re not perfect.  We’re still under construction individually and as a whole in the body of Christ.  And, we have been since Christianity began.

We sometimes look around at our brothers and sisters in Christ and the traps they allow themselves to fall into for long periods of their lives and wonder “how could they do that?”  We sometimes even question their salvation and the genuineness of their faith.  Then there are those momentary lapses into our carnal being that occur just in the nick of time for someone to see us fail.  It’s a cuss word, an angry tone, a temper tantrum, or something that makes the eyebrows of the bystander raise in questions of whether we’re as close to Christ as we should be, or whether we’ve backslidden into our old ways.  We begin to see each other as sanctimonious actors, and fakes.
Then there’s the self-incrimination we place upon ourselves out of disgust at our actions.  How could be fall back into that trap that Jesus delivered us from?  Will we never learn?  We begin to doubt our own salvation.  We hear the voice of satan whispering in our ears “you’re not good enough to be a Christian.  A Christian wouldn’t do that.”  Be careful how long you listen to a liar.  The longer you listen the more time they have to convince you that their lies are truth.

Maybe before we go handing out ridicule and judgments on our Christian brothers and sisters, we should read what 1 Peter 2:5 says: “you also, as living stones, are being BUILT UP a spiritual house, a holy priesthood”.  We are under construction, and we will be under construction until the new priesthood of Heaven convenes.  The only good in us is that which God sees: the saving blood of Jesus Christ that covers our sins.  And if that’s good enough for God, shouldn’t it be good enough for each other? 
Allow each other the grace that God has given you freely. 

We all fail from time to time.  It’s what you do with it that matters. 

We all are judged from time to time.  It’s whether you believe it that matters.
People will talk about you from time to time.  It’s easy to live up to their expectations when they set them so low.  Get back up, and strive to be who God says you are.

The true definition of failure is falling and refusing to get back up.
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8





Sunday, August 26, 2012

This Day


Give us this day our daily bread.” – Matthew 6:11

When my son Lev was a little boy around 3 or 4 he had a hard time comprehending time.  The same day was good explained as “in a little while”, or “after supper”, but when it came to events in the future, he couldn’t grasp the amount of time until then.  I would say things like “tomorrow we are going to see MeMaw” and he would say with excitement “This day!!!”  I can still hear the way his voice would sound when he said it and see how his eyes would light up.  I’d then have to explain it as “no, one more sleep, and then we go”.  He lived in the NOW.  He had no cares, no plans that he himself made, no concerns of what was next, and he was happy. 
When Jesus was showing the disciples how to pray in Matthew 6, He instructed them to pray “Give us THIS DAY our daily bread.  He didn’t tell them to pray “...and every day after that” or “…and enough that I can retire”.  THIS day.  Just one day at a time.

God can be trusted with our future.  It’s not ours to worry about.  He still has our time in His hands.  We need to learn to trust Him for THIS day.  Living with your mind on the future will cause you to miss the present, and worry over the future will spoil and rot the days away.  THIS day is a gift to be enjoyed, even more so because it is the Sabbath day.
When God fed the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness, manna would fall from Heaven six days a week.  On the Sabbath day, no bread would fall from Heaven. But on the sixth day twice as much would fall from Heaven so that He provided for the Sabbath a day ahead. 

When they gathered bread, they were instructed to take enough for only that day.  If they took more than they needed and tried to hoard it away, it would stink and be filled with worms.  But on the sixth day, they were instructed to gather enough for two days.  And that bread, on the seventh day, would not stink or be filled with worms.  Even in the wilderness, God was teaching them to take a day to rest, and trust Him with their future needs.  But some of them just couldn’t stop gathering.  We’re not much different today.
In Exodus 16:27-30 we read, “Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.

Every day for 40 years God did as He promised and fed them, and gave them an example of resting on the Sabbath.  God didn’t need rest, but He knew we did.  Don’t let His example go unnoticed. 
THIS day…rest.  Take off your watch.  Stop worrying over the week to come and years to come.  Those have yet to be given to you.  Today, just rest.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Clay Ointment


Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world”. When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.  And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.” – John 9:3-7

Blind since birth, that was his burden every day of his life.  And every day, the religious people that passed by only saw a blind man.  They wondered, did he sin in the womb?  Did his parents sin?  What caused God to make this man blind?  Isn’t that just like religion to focus on crimes and punishments rather than the soul?

But this day was not like any other in his life.  This would be the best day of his life, the day he would always remember.  He heard the footsteps shuffle by.  He heard the questions again about his sin and his parents’ sin.  But then he heard a voice that was not familiar.  It was a voice of authority that answered the question.  Jesus knows our sins, and he understands our circumstances.  He understood this man’s circumstances.  He had been made blind for the sole purpose of allowing God’s power to be seen and understood by the religious people.

Not all bad things that happen to us in this world are satan’s doing.  In fact, none of them are done to us without God’s instruction or consent.  God is Almighty.  To think that satan would have any power that would not be given by God would be to make him equal to God.  God created satan just as He created man.  The created is never equal to the creator – simple as that. God is ALL powerful, the God of Heaven, Earth, and Hell.

Jesus said “I must do the works of Him who sent me”.  Even Jesus was under God’s authority while on earth.  He was fully God, but also fully man, bridging the gap between human and divine.  On this day, the One who sent Him had work for Him to do.  Though Jesus understood the blind man’s circumstances, He desired to change them. 

But why? Why did Jesus want to heal the blind man?  Believe it or not, it wasn’t about the blind man.  It wasn’t about His compassion on this man that had been blind from birth.  It wasn’t even to shut up the religious people and their stupid questions.  It was simply to reveal God to them all.  The things He does in our lives are often done for the same purpose. 

If God were to unveil all His power at one time to us, we would no doubt become frozen and stricken with fear!  Think about it. 

He can part the sea. 
He can speak things into life. 
He can impregnate a woman with His Spirit. 
He can send food falling down from Heaven. 
He can write on a wall with an invisible hand. 
He has power over death.
He can open tombs and bring people that were dead out walking among us. 
He can speak in an auditable voice from His throne to our ears. 
He can turn water into blood.
He can turn water into wine. 
He can cause water to come from a rock.
What if you were to see all that happen – and more - at once? 

On this day, God knew that if He just simply allowed Jesus to tell the man, “See!” these poor religion stricken people who were so use to working for their purification and sanctification would never understand it or believe it. 

Spit and clay, what an ointment!  Was it necessary for healing? Absolutely not.  Was it necessary for their belief?  I think so.  He certainly had the power to just speak sight into the blind man’s eyes, but His desire was to create belief in God, not just to heal.  

When I was a little girl, I pondered this story and this ointment quite a bit.  Was there some mineral in the clay that his eyes needed?  Was it not activated until it was wet with His spit?  Was it activated with the pool water at Siloam?  It’s easy to get distracted by God’s methods sometimes and not see what He’s trying to reveal to us.  I’d bet these same religious leaders went around spitting into clay every day trying to reproduce the ointment instead of recognizing the Power of God.

Don’t miss what God is doing by being focused on His methods.  In everything He does, He seeks to reveal Himself to us. 



Friday, August 24, 2012

Genuine Prayer from a Contrite Heart


For this is what the high and exalted One says, He who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” – Psalms 57:15
Growing up there were many powerful Saints in my life, and I thank God for every one.  Some I thank God for because they were role models to follow.  Others gave me an example of what not to do.  One such example was an elderly gentleman who when asked to pray, would recite the same words every time, word for word.  As I grew older, I saw this was not from his heart, but from his head.  This wasn’t a conversation with God, but a recital to God.

My grandmother, on the other hand, would pray in her bed every night.  When I spent the night I would sleep in the bedroom behind hers and hear every word.  I waited anxiously some nights to hear her say, “Father God…”  Her prayers were often interrupted with periods of silence when I know she was letting Him talk to her in return.  And there were times when the words would sound broken and she spoke them through tears.  She didn’t just pray, she talked to God.  Were her prayers effective?  He healed her of cancer twice.  And the third time He gave her comfort and joy in knowing first hand that she would soon see the love of her heart.
Intimacy with God comes from a contrite spirit.  He desires to see us be genuine in our conversations with Him – broken, wounded, crying out in tears, expressing our pain and our inner needs in desperation.   He desires to see us humbled in His sight when we pray to where even praises are spoken through tears of gratefulness. 

We often hear people say, “I’ve prayed and prayed and I just don’t feel like God is listening.”  Either this comes from missing step one, Salvation, or the heart is not yet genuine and intimate with God. 
1 Peter 3:12 says “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer”.  Righteousness comes through salvation.  Until we are saved, the only prayer God can hear is the one of salvation. Habakkuk 1:13 says that He cannot look upon sin.  We need that covering of Jesus’ blood to make us sin free.  James 5:16 says “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  It is not our own righteousness that makes prayer affective. We have no righteousness outside of what Jesus gives us.  But because His righteousness covers us, our prayers can be affective, and accomplish many things.

Psalms 57:15 tells us that God not only lives in Heaven, but with those that are broken and lowly in spirit, and He seeks to revive their hearts.  In a large family, a mother can always hear the child that is crying out above the chatter of the others.  God’s ears are tuned even more so through His love for His children.  He will hear us when we cry out. 
Don’t just pray - cry out.  Have no fear in allowing yourself to be broken for God is faithful to revive you.

Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” Says the Lord.
“But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.” – Isaiah 66:1-2

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let the Holy Spirit Speak

And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.” – Acts 2:6

The day of Pentecost was 40 days after Jesus’ death.  During those 40 days He walked the earth and was seen by many people.  He visited with Mary and Martha, He visited with the disciples, and on the day before Pentecost He ascended in a cloud.

As necessary as His death was for our salvation, His ascension was equally important for us to receive the Holy Spirit, our comforter.  With Jesus being in the flesh, His Spirit was encapsulated within His body.  As we are all too sure of, a body can only be in one place.  For us all, world-wide, to be able to have the Holy Spirit within us, Jesus had to return to Heaven.  In John 14:26 it says that the Father will send the Holy Spirit in Jesus name.  He says “My peace I give to you, My peace I leave with you”.  The Holy Spirit has a purpose, and it’s to provide us with the peace and guidance we need to be believers.  He is our Helper, our Comforter, and our Guide.

There’s a lot of confusion as to what happened when the believers received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and how we receive Him now.  The difference was that they were already believers before the Holy Spirit had been sent by God.  When He did send the Holy Spirit, they incurred a “baptism” of the Holy Spirit – the indwelling.  It happened to them all at once because He was sent all at once. 

Today when we are saved, the Holy Spirit moves into us and lives in us.  In Ephesians 1:13 it says “having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise”.  He is the guarantee of our salvation.  When we receive Him today, that feeling of a mighty rushing wind is sometimes felt, and sometimes not.  We don’t all feel the same way at salvation.  Not all births are the same, nor re-births.  Some come with great pain, and some come easy. 

But on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was with so very many people in the same place at the same time.  His power was strong, and they spoke in languages they did not know, but that were understood by those watching who spoke many languages.  The Jews, the Greeks, the Galileans, the Gentiles – all understood those sounds being uttered in their very own languages. 

This reminded me of another time that all the people could understand what was being said in one language.  In Genesis 11 all the people of the world were together in the land of Shinar.  From the time of creation until that day, they all spoke one language.  Because they were able to understand each other, they began to work together and built a large tower of stones that was reaching to Heaven.  But God didn’t want us to be all in one place on the earth.  We needed to be scattered around the earth.  One spot could not sustain us for the centuries we are to be here.  So God used language as a means to cause us to disperse.

“And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do [build the tower]; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” – Genesis 11:6

Fast forward thousands of years to the day of Pentecost when again, the speech is made known to all languages.  Why?  Because the message of the Holy Spirit needed to be heard by all that was present.  And what was it that they heard?  Peter explained it to all who were questioning this by quoting from the book of Joel, the prophet, who long before had prophesied of this very day.  He said

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’ – Joel 2:28.32

The message is clear.  It’s a message salvation through Jesus Christ: Whosoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.  The whole world still needs to hear it today.  Luke 12:12 says not to worry what we should say, because at that time the Holy Spirit will teach us what to say.  And by the Holy Spirit that is within us, they can all hear it.  We just have to open our mouths and let Him speak. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Programs and Growth


And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:47

The first church is rarely talked about anymore.  Sure, we talk about how Jesus gave His Holy Spirit to them on the day of Pentecost.  We talk about them all speaking in tongues because that is mysterious and interests us.  But what about the growth of the first church?  I can’t think of a single church that isn’t concerned today about its growth in numbers, and yet, the first church’s example isn’t used as an example.  And yet, in one day 120 people grew to over 3,000.  Do you know another church that has a 2500% growth rate – in one day?

Our efforts are good.  We develop program after program to get the people in.  We organize special dinners, song services, ice cream socials, children’s programs, youth events, activities aimed at mothers, activities aimed at young couples, activities upon activities, and advertise them everywhere we can.  Yet time and time again, the programs we create may bring people to church for a short season, but then they’re gone. 

So the question comes, what are we doing wrong?

The answer lies in Acts 2:47.  Read it (at the top), and ask yourself, who added them? 

John 6:44 says No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”  DRAW as used in this verse comes from the Greek word “Helco”, which means ‘to draw by inward power, lead, impel’. Each and every soul that comes to God in salvation must be drawn inwardly, led by Him, impelled by Him.  We cannot change a person’s heart.  No fancy words, no sad or sentimental stories, no scare tactics will work.  God has to do it. 

I’m not saying programs in church are wrong.  That’s not the point.  The point is I think we may have missed step one.  We forget to pray the most important pray of all, which is simply a heartfelt “Father, draw them, and save them.”  We pray that their lives be turned around, pray that they become humble, pray that their addictions leave them, that they become better parents, that they are healed, that they change their ways, but we’ve forgotten to pray for God to inwardly lead them.  We can get them there, but without His work in their hearts, they’re not staying.  Without His work in their hearts, it was nothing more than a way to occupy their day.

And maybe, just maybe, our motives are wrong.  It’s not about how many we can pack into a building, and about how big our membership role can get.  Jesus isn’t concerned with whether our church membership grows.  Jesus wants to grow the Body of Christ through soul being saved.  He didn’t come to build mega churches, but to seek and to save.  In fact, when the number of the crowd following him got too big, He went elsewhere. 

Instead of looking at the attendance numbers as a means of growth, what if we were to turn our eyes to the growth of souls?  If that was how we judged our churches, how many more would be added to the “walking dead” list?   

Jesus looking out at one of the largest crowds that had gathered to hear him had compassion on them and said to his disciples in Matthew 9:37-38, The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore PRAY THE LORD OF THE HARVEST TO SEND out laborers into His harvest.”  Again, He has to send the laborers into the harvest.  Not everyone is equipped to preach or teach.  The Lord has to send them.  Our part is to pray.  Never underestimate how powerful prayer can be when it is in agreement with God’s plan.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Investing in the Kingdom

For He is the living God, and steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,
And His dominion shall endure to the end.

He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel

from the power of the lions.” – Daniel 6:26-27

If there’s one attribute about Daniel that points to his success I think it would have to be faith.  Even when the hottest trial came, the most death defying crisis, Daniel was unshaken.  You can see how much faith a person has when trials come and their foundation is shaken.  Daniel wasn’t running away from God for any reason.  And he didn’t have to run to God when trouble hit because he was already there – with God – on a daily basis.  The closer you are to God, the harder the enemy has to work to shake your foundation.  Daniel’s was unshakeable.

Praying three times daily to the God you serve will change your life.  The most common reason we hear that people don’t serve God more is that they don’t have time.  Our most precious investment on this earth is not money – it’s time.  You can earn more money – but you can’t spend it if you run out of time.  Time trumps money.  Your days are numbered. Because time is so precious, it is important to think about how we are investing each day. 

Louie Giglio made a statement a few days ago that has stuck with me.  He said, “The degree to which we believe in heaven is mirrored in the amount we are investing in the kingdom work of God.”

We all have to work, that’s a given.  Food doesn’t mysteriously appear in our pantries, we have to earn it.  But we do all have free time.  The issue is how we spend it.  If we truly believe eternity is coming, it shows up in how we spend our time.  Are you spending hours on something that doesn’t matter?  Or are you spending hours on something that doesn’t matter eternally?  I think from time to time we all do.  We get wrapped up in “today” and we don’t think about how precious time is. 

Daniel’s life is an example of someone who invested in the kingdom work of God.  He didn’t sweat the small stuff – and he didn’t sweat the big stuff like a den full of lions either.  He just prayed, and served.  Daniel’s faith and service to God had eternal value.  He may have never preached, but his life did. King Darius’s statements about Daniel’s God show that Daniel was sharing his faith.  From his statements, he already knew that God was steadfast, protecting Daniel, in control, and that He delivers his children, and works signs and wonders.  Daniel’s life was invested well.  He profited from his relationship with God both here on the earth, and he will profit eternally from it as well.  

Today is a special day.  For many, today is their final day.  But even as you read that, you no doubt didn’t apply that to your life personally.  We don’t consider that this could be our final day.  But what if it was?  What if at the end of today God were to ask the same question that our family sometimes asks at the end of the day? 

“So, what did you do today?”