Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Missing Link

“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.“ - 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

I was recently asked to explain a prophecy spoken over me by someone who does not believe the prophetic word still exists.  The question was asked “But, how did he do it?”  It was as if the prophet had performed some magic act.  Questions like this are best answered by God’s word because they come from a desire to disprove God’s Man and God’s power.
We all have the spirit of man inside us from birth.  This spirit allows us to feel emotions, be made self-aware, be creative, individual, have intellect, and understand intentions and thoughts of other people. Through our spirit we can “read” body language, facial expressions, and eyes.  Some of us are more aware than others through levels of maturity, but we all have the spirit of man inside us. 

But those who are born again, who have believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, have received the Spirit of God.  Ephesians 1:12-14 says In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,  who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” The Holy Spirit is given to us as a seal of the promise of salvation.  And again in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 we read, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. He, God who anointed us, has given the Holy Spirit (notice the capital “S” in Spirit) in our hearts as a guarantee.
We did not receive the Holy Spirit as a guarantee because God cannot be trusted to keep His promises, nor because God needs a reminder of who is His and who is not.  The Holy Spirit within us has a purpose just as Christ had a purpose.  In John 14:26 Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit to come and says But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to first be our teacher, teaching us “all things”.  But we don’t need to be taught “all things” relating to man because we have the spirit of man inside us.  We are to be taught “all things” about God through His Spirit – His Spirit to the Holy Spirit in us.

The Holy Spirit is our missing link in understanding God and the ways of God.  While we were not born with the Holy Spirit within us, we were born to have Him enter our hearts and be our teacher and guide.  As 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 tells us, the things that God has prepared for those who love Him are not found in the heart of man, but revealed to him through the Holy Spirit.  Man, through the spirit of man, can understand himself.  But to understand God, to truly know Him, we have to possess His Spirit. 
Paul explains again the purpose of the Holy Spirit saying Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These “things that have been freely given to us by God” are the revelations of God, who He is, His Word, and His Voice.  His Holy Spirit is the only way in which we can understand Him fully.  He is Spirit, and only through His Spirit can we understand Him.

A quick word study on “revealed” will show that His Spirit reveals who He is, and who we are in Him.
“the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been REVEALED to His saints.  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory.” – Colossians 1:26-27

“how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already,  by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),  which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been REVEALED BY THE SPIRIT to His holy apostles and prophets:” – Ephesians 3:3-5
Even Simeon, the priest to who God had promised through His Spirit would live to see Christ born, spoke of the Holy Spirit.  In Luke 2:34-35 we read, “Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against  (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

The Holy Spirit knows the things of God because He is God, just as Christ is God, the Holy Trinity.  Yet He often takes a back seat to God and Christ, because His ways are not found without faith.  You can have the faith to believe in Jesus Christ, and yet not have enough faith to believe the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Faith allows for God to be revealed.  Romans 1:17 says “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the POWER OF GOD to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed FROM FAITH TO FAITH; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” From faith to faith, one level to a higher level, even greater things of God are revealed. 
So what about prophecy? What’s its place if we have the Holy Spirit in us to reveal the things of God to us?  From “Faith to Faith”, we can through the Holy Spirit understand the things He reveals to us about ourselves, our place in Him, and His plans for us.  But when our faith remains too weak to grow, or our disobedient spirit refuses to believe, the gift of prophecy can grow our faith to the level of belief needed to accept what God’s voice has already revealed. When the words of God’s voice are spoken over you from another believer, trust me, your faith is renewed.

Prophecy is no magic act. There are no smoke and mirrors, no tea leaves or cards to be read, and no crystal balls.  The Holy Spirit who knows the hidden things of God, who is all knowing and all powerful, is at work.  It is a revelation of God and has very little to do with the person who delivers it, and everything to do with the Spirit who reveals it.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hearing God's Word

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” – Hebrews 12:12-13

If there are any that still don’t fully understand how God can speak to us through His scriptures, I want to offer up the verses He lead me to today…the verses above.  These verses sit right in the middle of Hebrews 12 talking about how God corrects His children, and being renewed by pursuing peace, and removing bitterness.  The verses seem to have no connection, when I read them, to what is before or what is after.

But they do connect with me.  I don’t like to talk about my physical “issues” because I don’t believe in whining.  But so that you’ll understand…here goes. 

I have a problem with my left arm called cubital tunnel syndrome.  I’ve had it about 2 years now.  It’s a nerve issue in my elbow that makes my little finger and outside of my hand numb or ache if the arm stays bent for a while.  Previously, I had gotten shots in the knuckle of the little finger every six months or so.  But now I try not to do that.  How do I treat it to keep it from hurting?  I let it “hang down” from the side of my desk chair when I can, unbending the elbow.  I let it hang off the bed at night, hanging down straight.

I also fell and hurt my knee back in September, and a knot on the bone still hasn’t healed.  It hurts to kneel on it, and to bend it.  So…with my “feeble knee”, I haven’t been walking or trying to run since the fall.  In fact, I think I’ve walked maybe twice since then.

Now, with that knowledge…read the verses again:

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

God was telling me to get up off my butt and get some exercise while I still can!  It is NOT okay to let the earthly temple He has given me be destroyed from neglect. Without it, I won’t be able to endure the race He has set before me (which just happens to be what the first of this chapter is about!).  I just have to laugh when He speaks this directly to me, especially on a very cold day when I know He wants me to get out there.

Make no mistake.  He will speak to His children through His word.  John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  It just takes faith to hear it.

Faith sees it.

Faith accepts it.

Faith receives it.

Without faith when you read God’s word, it’s just words on a page.  But when you walk with Him, you know His ways to speak to you, and His words are sweet. And when you hear those words, your part is the end of John 10:27, “and they follow me.” 

I guess I’d better get bundled up and find a coat.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dancing With God

“And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep.  Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.  So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.“ – 2 Samuel 6:13-16

I never learned how to dance because I was raised to believe dancing was a sin. To explain the basis of that belief would take too much energy, so please hear loudly – this is not MY belief now.  But, having never learned to dance, even now dancing is one of those things I’m not comfortable doing in public.  I become self-conscious of my every move, with thoughts of “am I doing this right”, and “does this look funny” and “is this a 1970’s disco move”?  I’m afraid of the onlookers, the “Michal’s” that might be watching, and their condemning gazes that I would say that I don’t dance “right”.  Oh, to be able to dance like David – fearlessly!

It was a great day of celebration.  The Ark of the Covenant was being returned to Jerusalem.  This large box was not only a historical Holy element of worship, but the Mercy Seat of God, where God would meet with His people (Exodus 25:17-22).  Once before this day, they had tried to bring it to Jerusalem and when the oxen carrying it stumbled, Uzzah had reached out his hand to keep it from falling, and when he touched it, he fell dead. 

David had become fearful of the Ark at that point, and detoured to the house of Obed-edom, and left the Ark there. But after three months, David had heard of God’s blessings and the prosperity of the house of Obed-edom.  He decided to go back and again try to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. 

As the Ark entered the City of David, there was music and great celebration at its return.  David entered wearing a linen ephod, an expensive garment used in worship.  Sacrifices were given as the Ark entered the city! Horns and shouts were sounded! And David, King David, was so excited that he danced. He danced with ALL HIS MIGHT! He was whirling and twirling, and filled with the joy that can only come from doing God’s will and being in His presence.  He was dancing with God, and delighting in every move.

Yes, there was an onlooker as David danced.  It was his wife, Michal.  Prideful, she despised David, and said to him, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” Her concern was with how the King looked before everyone who saw him – not how he looked before God. 

When I go to church, I see people dancing with God.  The music is playing, and there is singing.  There’s a spirit of celebration when we enter God’s presence.  God is to be celebrated. 

Some will waltz, swaying back and forth, side to side, in a gentle embrace of His love. 

Some will shed tears, with faces lifted to Him and arms stretched open wide, humbled by His presence.

Others will be filled with a nearly inexpressible joy, jumping and shouting. 

Some will raise their hands in complete surrender to Him. 

Some will stand, heads bowed, hands down, listening for His voice, His every word.

But each one dances with God in his own way.  True worship is not dictated by anyone, but is a dance where God gets to lead. 

Have you ever watched a married couple dance? You will notice that she will humble herself to allow her husband to lead.  She may lean on him, as he caresses her back.  She may have a quiet whispered conversation with him as they sway.  She may shed a tear or two at the love they share, which somehow seems stronger or more evident as they dance. 

Yet another couple may dance together lively, each step less choreographed, as the wife frees herself to however the husband decides to move.  They make take up more of the dance floor than expected!  And yes, sometimes there is laughter! And sometimes there are loud shouts of love and encouragement!

But there will always be onlookers, the Michal’s.  Some will not understand what they see because they’ve never experienced it.  Some will even stand in condemnation of it, thinking it was all about putting on a show for those who watched.  Perhaps they have never felt the freedom of an intimate relationship, the pure love of acceptance.   Perhaps this just isn’t the way they think a mature married couple should act.

Often in worship, there are Michal’s that will not understand.  They don’t understand what they see with their eyes.  They don’t see God in true worship.  They don’t think this is how true worshippers should act.  They simply do not understand the dance, the movement of the worshipper in the embrace of God. 

We all dance differently.  Just because my way is not your way does not mean either way is wrong, as long as God is leading.

John 4:24 says “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  What your eye sees is not all that’s going on.  The spiritual truth of worship is unseen. Worship is an act of love, not duty.  Jesus said in Matthew 22:37, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”  You cannot see the heart.  You cannot see the soul.  You cannot see the mind.  

The only evidence of love you can see is in actions.  It has often been said that love is a verb, a verb being an action.  But yet we sometimes want to limit love to words when we worship.  What if in marriage we limited love to words, and not actions?  Would the relationship be as strong?

David’s reply to Michal explained his dance.  He said in 2 Samuel 6:21-22, “It was before the Lord, …. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight….”  David was not dancing for Michal, nor anyone else’s pleasure.  He was “before the Lord”. And his resolve to dance with God was the same before her criticism as after, because it felt good to be humbled before God, to let God lead.

When God leads you to dance, be humbled to submit to His move, whatever it may be.  Let Him lead, regardless of the onlookers.  Worship in SPIRIT and TRUTH is what He desires.  Don’t let anyone rob you of that.  Worship intimately.  Dance with Your God.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thank You for My Broccoli


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

It’s hard to find something to be thankful for sometimes.  Online I’ve been doing what many others are doing, and trying to give something new to be thankful for each day leading up to Thanksgiving.  But this morning I wanted to be thankful for the speaker phone I use for work. 

Yesterday I had to participate in over four hours of phone calls.  That wouldn’t be a problem except they were on tough subjects, with tension and conflict, and weren’t billable.  When your income is connected to your billing ability, losing a half day to unbillable issues is stressful.  And yes, my ear would have been in pain after all those calls had I needed to hold the receiver to my ear!

But as I tried to type “I am thankful for my speaker phone” God gave me the voices of children sitting around a table, whining to their mom with faces of sadness, “thank you for my broccoli, mom.”  Yes, I was whining!  I was about to pull out the good dishes, bring on the ice cream, and have myself an elaborate pity party!

But with every petition to God, with everything we cry out to Him, there is an opposing point of praise.  As an example, I can praise God that I had a job to go to yesterday – and I didn’t have to leave my home to get there.  I can praise God that I like the people I work with, including my clients as well as my employer and coworkers.  I can praise God for the health that it took to sit upright all day, because not everyone has that.  I can praise Him for closing out the day of work with real work, and the ability to feel the creative urge subside as I got to write software.  Being truly thankful in prayer will eat away at self-pity like an acid.  And let’s just admit it.  We all have more to be thankful for than we have to complain about. 

We can always look to our lives and see the dark clouds.  But if that’s all you’re looking to see, you heart will be like a lake, filling up that dark, thirsty cloud.  Eventually, all that pity you have is going to turn into a downpour with whines of (sniffle, sniffle) “thank you for my broccoli”.  When those feelings of pity start to roll in, please remember this: God never called a single person to be a complainer.  It’s not your gift.  It’s not your calling.  It’s not your right.  You were made to be something greater, and blessed with more than you deserve.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing”.  The two are related.  The only way you can “rejoice always” is when you “pray without ceasing”.  Prayer has a way of putting things in perspective.  When we take our problems to Almighty God, feeling the love of His presence, our little whines and feelings of pity die down.  It’s in the comfort of God’s voice that we can rejoice, knowing that “this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  His will for us isn’t always painless, but it is His will, and He knows what we need.  He will help us through our struggles, and as we learn to lean on Him we only become closer to Him.

This world is not Heaven and it’s not going to be Heavenly.  But everything gets better when turned over to God in prayer, and there is a Heaven awaiting us.  And personally, I believe in Heaven there will be no phones – and no broccoli!



Saturday, November 9, 2013

Living in the Shadow of His Hand: You Gotta Serve Somebody

Living in the Shadow of His Hand: You Gotta Serve Somebody

Bob Dylan said it best….”You gotta serve somebody.”  We all serve somebody, and I’m not talking about an employer or our families.  And it is by our own choice who we are serving.  Either we choose to obey God and serve Him, or we choose not to, and in doing so – we serve on the side of satan and all rebellion against God

Friday, November 8, 2013

You Gotta Serve Somebody


And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15

Bob Dylan said it best….”You gotta serve somebody.”  We all serve somebody, and I’m not talking about an employer or our families.  And it is by our own choice who we are serving.  Either we choose to obey God and serve Him, or we choose not to, and in doing so – we serve on the side of satan and all rebellion against God.
In Romans 6:16-19, Paul speaks to the believers in Rome and says, “ Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves SLAVES TO OBEY, YOU ARE THAT ONE’S SLAVES WHO YOU OBEY, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

All service has a reward whether it is tangible (such as money) or intangible (such as praise).  The reward for sin is “sin leading to death”, and “uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness”.  The reward for following God and His will is “obedience leading to righteousness” and to become “slaves of righteousness for holiness”. 

He has called us all to “Be holy, for I am holy.”(1 Peter 1:16).  Holiness is the goal.  Being servants of God by taking on His will over our own will, humbling ourselves to be His servant through submission, is the journey to holiness.  But it all boils down to this – choose this day who you will serve.  Then tomorrow, choose again, and the next day, repeat!  Each day, each minute, we are submitting to someone.  It may feel like we’re only submitting to ourselves, but if your will for that moment – that thing you are doing – those words you are saying – doesn’t agree with what God wants from you, you’ve joined the rebellion.  Holiness doesn’t walk the path of rebellion. 

Let me give a prime example, and use this as a point of confession too.  Yesterday and the day before something came about at work where I could be charged for some work that was done badly.  It was not done by me, but I was on the project in which it occurred.  I blew a gasket.  I refused to talk to my boss, who God has placed in authority over me (according to Romans 13:1-2 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is NO AUTHORITY EXCEPT FROM GOD, and the authorities that exist are APPOINTED BY GOD. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”).  Not only did I refuse to talk to my boss, but I continued spouting off my disagreement to everyone who brought the subject up, which just makes everyone feel disgruntled. 

In doing so, I disobeyed God – and I did so with full knowledge of that verse, yet without understanding till today what I was doing wrong.  But today, studying and writing this to you, my friends, God sliced into me with the sword of the Spirit!  It can feel so right when you’re fighting for what is rightfully yours.  But if it’s not God’s will – it’s still wrong.

Today I have to choose who I will serve.  This is hard.  I had to apologize.  Matthew 5:23-24 says “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  I don’t know if he’s my “brother” as “brother in Christ” or not, but for sure, it’s not God’s will for me to be angry and rebellious against the authority put over me. 

Obedience to God is minute by minute. As He reveals our shortcomings we have to rectify the problem when we can.  This too is serving Him, and it’s hard.  But He never said that serving Him would come easy.  It didn’t for Jesus, so it shouldn’t for me.

The apology has been written and sent even before you see this because this is my offering, my gift to God.  Now I can post this for you to read. 

I said this past Sunday that I was going to start taking His Word more personally instead of looking at it as just a textbook for learning.  Today, I choose to serve Him.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Guide

“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:13-16

If it were up to me, I’d move everyone to Mexico and we’d all live along the area called the Riviera Maya.  It’s a stretch of beaches from Cancun going up the coast to Tulum that was named after the Mayan Indians that once lived there.  The culture along the Riviera Maya is still rooted in Mayan heritage, and you can easily identify those that are of that heritage by large curved noses and wide eyes. The Mayan Indians are fascinating to me.  They were highly intelligent people who built massive structures in Tulum like El Castillo, and the ball court and pyramid named Chichen Itza in the Yucatan. 

They weren’t just builders thought, but had knowledge of sciences as well.  They developed their own mathematical system based on 20 and 5.  In fact they originated of the theory of zero in mathematics.  At Tulum they created their own clock based on the sun that told them the seasons, and in turn created their own round calendar which dated till 2012.  They had their own medicines, and even had midwives to help women bear children.  The structures they build bear hieroglyphics that show their beliefs in God, and some even are thought to show a time when they were visited by Jesus. 

It would seem I had read a lot about the Mayans, but in fact, I’ve not read a single book.  When I go to see the ruins, I always get a guide.  Yes, it’s optional.  But you can pay for a guide, and the guide will walk you through the ruins and explain the structures, the hieroglyphics, the history, and the demise of the Mayan people.  It’s through the words of the guide that the ruins have come back to life for me, as if you can feel their presence there when you walk through and see them going about their day to day activities.  I’ve tried visiting some of the ruins without a guide, and to be honest, I can’t even remember the names of the ruins today.  They just didn’t have the same effect on me.  They weren’t made ‘real’ to me and just didn’t touch me in the way the ones I’d walked through with a guide did.
God’s word is much like the ruins of the Mayans in that we need a guide to go through it and truly understand and feel that connection with it.  In 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 we’re told that a man cannot receive the things that are of the Spirit of God because he doesn’t have a spiritual connection to God.  But once we receive the Holy Spirit through salvation, our guide moves in to our hearts.  We are then recreated as new creatures, having a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26), and we are given the mind of Christ.  We then, through our guide, can understand the spiritual things of God’s word, and it becomes alive to us.

God’s word may feel flat and lifeless, and even become a task to read rather than a joy without the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  It’s like going through Tulum without a guide and walking out saying “wow, those Mayans really knew how to build stuff without tools and stack rocks!” Yet there is so much more to be understood and to be gained when you have a guide.

The Holy Spirit within us teaches us the scriptures intimately – one-on-one.  In John 14:26 Jesus said, But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” The Holy Spirit is to be our teacher, bringing God’s word to mind as we need it, allowing us to discern the deeper meanings of His word.  It’s a spoon-feeding of God’s word, as you need it.  In different times of my life God has made certain verses come alive to me, and bring me deep comfort that I couldn’t get anywhere else.  His words affected my spirit through His Spirit – deep touching deep.
Back in 1988 I was mugged, and held captive with the threat of being rapped for 45 minutes.  Thereafter I had intense fear that crippled me from doing simple things like getting out of the car at the supermarket, walking in to work alone, or even going into my own house.  During that time He made Isaiah 41:13 come to life for me.  It says “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”  In a time when I desperately needed a hand to hold, someone to be present and help me to overcome the fear, God told me through that verse that He was doing just that – holding my hand and walking with me, taking care of me, comforting me, and telling me not to fear the next step because He was there.  It was an intimate word, spoken directly to the heart, and through that verse I became strong again.

Today, as it has been for at least 5 years now, the verse He chooses is Isaiah 26:3, which I have posted by my desk to this day.  It says “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trust in you.”  Over these years, God has used His Holy Spirit to guide me through these words from one comfort to another.  Back when I fought depression and had a deep desire to move off the depression pills, the words “perfect peace” resonated in my soul.  I saw that His peace was PERFECT, needing nothing more, and was able to let go of the pharmaceutical hand up I’d clung to, and take hold of His hand. 
He then moved me on to “whose mind is stayed on you” through a time when I was afraid of what life was bringing to me.  Raising kids isn’t easy, and being a single mom isn’t either.  But through those words His message to me was not to take my eyes off him, not to look at my circumstances, but to look at His love.  It was a message like going across a swinging bridge and hearing, “Don’t look down – just look at me.  Keep your focus on me, keep praising me, and don’t be afraid of the circumstances I’m leading you through.”

Now it’s about worry, and His direct message to me through this verse is in the words “because he trusts in you”.  I’m learning from my guide, the Holy Spirit, that worry is a lack of trust in God.  I worry when I fail to trust Him.  If we truly can trust Him, knowing He has all power and authority, knowing He can and will meet every need and every want, there’s no reason to worry. 
Scripture comes alive through reading it with the Holy Spirit as our guide.  But He also instructs and teaches us the truth about scripture, and how to discern the truth so we cannot be misled.   In 1 John 2:26-27 it says These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him ABIDES IN YOU, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”  Our anointing, which teaches us all things, abides IN US.  He will teach us what is true and what is not.  Without His guidance, we can easily be misled into doctrinal issues that are incorrect, and theories about God that are untrue.  But His word reveals the truth, and His Holy Spirit helps us unwrap it, and find revelations of truth that natural man will not know.

His word is precious not only for the comfort and truth that it brings, but for those spiritual attacks that come.  Yes, I’m talking about spiritual warfare.  And although I don’t like to give satan and his minions my attention, I do like to give him a strong fight, and I refuse to be defeated by him or see my friends and family defeated by him.  Jesus Himself used the same book in which we have been given against him, saying three times in Matthew 4 when satan tried to tempt our Lord, “it is written”.  God’s word is  “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”  (Ephesians 6:17 ).  It is the weapon we have been given, yet it is often not rightly used.  Notice that it is NOT your sword – but the sword of the Spirit living in you.  Unless you read God’s word with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you won’t stand firmly before satan armed with what you need to defend your ground.  PRAY before you read it for guidance, meditate and let the Holy Spirit speak to you through His word, and don’t dare just do a verse-a-day nibble on God’s word.  His word is the BREAD OF LIFE – not a quick snack!
Hebrews 4:12 says For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Read that again.  It divides the soul of man and the spirit of man.  It gives discernment, understanding, of our thoughts and intentions.  That’s deep help.  God’s word is a surgical tool used on our spirit, our very soul.  It carves away our wrong thoughts and wrong intentions and changes us.  But again, it is the sword of the Spirit, yielded perfectly in the hands of the Holy Spirit, our guide.

When we got to Tulum on the day that I first visited it, I remember a row of guides setting off to the side.  They were sitting there, just waiting.  Our guide was a wonderful man who knew the Mayan heritage intimately because he was a Mayan.  In that same way, the Holy Spirit, because He is part of the deity of God, has intimate knowledge.  Is He waiting for you?
If your Bible study hasn’t been all it should be, if you feel that you’re missing some greater nugget of truth, or deeper revelation, ask yourself if you have the guide present with you.  Do you feel that hunger and thirst for God’s word, which comes from the joy of understanding and reading it with Him?  Or is it a daily chore to be checked off the list?  Prayer changes everything – EVERYTHING.  If you need the Holy Spirit as your guide, ask God for salvation.  If you don’t understand what that means, ask me or someone to explain it. If you have salvation, and still don’t feel His Holy Spirit as you read, I beg you to spend alone time with Him.  Get alone with God’s word, no clocks, no interruptions, and allow Him to speak to your heart in that still small voice of reason and love.  Pray for His guidance, and watch God’s word come alive in your very hands. 

If it were up to me, we'd all have a guide.  But it's not.  It's up to you.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

An Empty Peanut Shell


My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”- Psalms 5:2

I had an "OUCH" in my Bible study time this morning.  I was reading a book by Arthur Murray called “A Life of Obedience”.  In chapter 4 he’s talking about daily time with God, and he says:

"The SUPERFICIALITY of our Christian service comes from having so little real contact with God.  If it is true that GOD alone is the source of love, goodness, and happiness, and that to have as much as possible of His presence, His fellowship, and His blessing is our highest joy, then surely to meet Him alone in the morning ought to be our aim."

We can be superficial Christians with each other, putting on the cloak of right living and right attitudes.  We can walk around smiling, “God Bless You!”, “Praise God!”, and lots of Christian words and slogans pouring out of our mouths all day long.  But that gets us NOTHING when God looks at us.  If He looks at us and sees us living as superficial Christians, He can see through the cloak of our pretenses.  “If” He is the one we are truly living for and trying to please, being a surface-only Christian is not going to cut it. 
Hypocrisy is nothing more than pretending to be something we are not.  God wants our genuine attention, our genuine love, and our genuine obedience to His will on a minute-by-minute basis.

Being a superficial Christian is like an empty peanut shell.  It’s disappointing to find one, but when we go to one of those restaurants where peanuts are on the table in buckets, I’m always digging deep into that peanut bucket.  An empty shell looks like all the others.  But when I squeeze it to crack it open, there’s nothing inside to fight back and it cracks right open and crumbles in my hand!  The peanut grew to the same size as the others, looked no different on the outside, but it had NOTHING inside. 
When we’re superficial Christians and the pressure of life comes along, there's nothing in us to fight back, and we'll crack!  We’re a disappointment to God who intends us to live for Him, and with His words planted deep in us for comfort and strength.  We’re also a disappointment to those around us who thought we were what they saw. 

We have to fill that void up daily with His words of strength and comfort.  Morning Bible study isn’t an option for ‘when’ you think you will have a tough day.  You don’t eat only when you’re hungry, but you eat because you know you’ll need strength and food gives strength. 

God’s word is our spiritual food.  His voice from it is our nutrition.  Without it, we can grow to look like a Christian, but without any strength to overcome the world.  We can nibble on God’s word, taking time to read only a verse here or there, but it’s not meant to be a snack.  It’s the BREAD of life – crucial nutrition. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

God’s Power in Politics


Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is NO AUTHORITY EXCEPT FROM GOD, and the authorities that exist are APPOINTED BY GOD. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” – Romans 13:1-2

I don’t care much for government and politics.  They’re too temporary to worry about.   God’s word says that He is in authority of all power, and in fact is the highest power.  He puts into office whomever He chooses, and He also removes from office those He chooses.  I trust His decisions and His leadership.

This is the same God that put Saul into office as King of Israel - their first King.  And it was this same God that removed Saul from office when he disobeyed Him…and it wasn’t pretty!  Saul pretty much lost his mind! 

This is also the same God that put good kings such as Uzziah and Josiah, and Jehoshaphat, and rewarded them for their faithfulness, and the people through them. 

He has a plan for this nation, and His plan will be completed.  If we want His plan to change in our favor – we just need to be obedient to Him.  Read the books of Judges, and 1&2 Kings.  When the people honored God, they flourished.  When they choose to run after other gods and sin, they were punished with war, famine, diseases, captivity, and even worse!  If we don’t like the way things are going in this nation, maybe it’s we (individually) who are to blame instead of government.

Bottom line – trust God with the politics of this world.  After all, He is the ALMIGHTY, ALL POWERFUL God, and just as the verse says – He elects the authorities.  Trust Him with our government. He hasn’t left the job.  He knows what’s going on – publicly or secretly – and He alone knows our future.

For the record, I’m neither democrat, republican, tea party, communist, or any other I might not know to list.  I’m a Christian, and God is my supreme power.  My God trumps all other powers and authorities.