Sunday, February 23, 2014

Of Fools and Wise Witnesses

In our Daily Bible Reading this week, we came across Psalm 53 which opens with as clear a line of truth as any statement made anywhere by anyone at anytime.

The fool has said in his heart “There is no God”.

There are times when the command Jesus gave His disciples to “go into all the world” hits square up against the reality of those who choose NOT to believe.

Should we shake our heads and walk away?
Should we argue with them, point by point?
Should we regale them with stories of miracles until we have no breath left?
Should we tell them they are foolish?

YES!

and NO!

Speaking the truth in love comes in very handy right at this time. 

After making every mistake in this area, here’s what I’ve learned, and I hope it helps you when you run across a fool.

We are to LOVE as Jesus loves.  He wouldn’t argue.  He wouldn’t declare them a fool and walk away.  He wouldn’t waste his breath or time sharing truth endlessly, either.

He would TRUST that the TRUTH, spoken in LOVE and infused with the POWER of the Holy Spirit would work in the heart of the most hardened fool who says in his heart there is no God.

Share truth.  Share it lovingly, as an offering given in grace.  Share it as the Holy Spirit leads you to, with gentleness and all meekness.  Leave them with a blessing of some kind.  A smile, a kind word, a caring reminder that “it’s all food for thought, isn’t it?”

Then walk on, but not “away”.  Not away, because YOU know that the truth is if they don’t receive Christ as Savior, they will spend Eternity in Hell. 

So you pray for them.  Pray for their salvation.  Pray for their deliverance.  Pray for Gods goodness to draw them close to Him, to open their eyes to His love and mercy, to open their hearts to His salvation gift.

In this way, you are at peace, they are at peace and the Holy Spirit is free to move.  He is very good at His job – convicting hearts and leading souls to salvation.

With a little practice, we can get very good at our jobs – speaking the Truth in Love!

Pour a little LOVE on the next fool you meet, and then  let us know, so we can join with you in prayer for their salvation. 

Bear in mind the words of our Savior:


Matthew 18:19  “Again I say to you if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven.” ~ Jesus

Sunday, February 16, 2014

*F*R*E*E*

Free
Freedom

Heady words that conjure all kinds of thoughts, feelings, images and ACTIONS.

Deceived.  Deceit.  Lied to.  Led astray.  SIN

Also words which conjure all kinds of thoughts, feelings, images and ACTIONS.

There was Eve, in the garden of Eden.  There was Jesus, in the wilderness.  There is ... me...you.  Having stumbled.  AGAIN.  Having fallen to lusts of the flesh.  AGAIN.  Thinking we were FREE we made choices which we are now very sorry for.  AGAIN.  We hurt people we love.  AGAIN.  We hurt those we care about.  AGAIN.  WE HURT OURSELVES AGAIN.

How does that happen, over and over?  One day we've got it all happening for us, everything in our favor, we can't seem to make a wrong move.  We are praising the Lord, we feel lighthearted and FREE.

Then out of nowhere it seems, we stumble, we trip, we say things we wish we hadn't.  We do things we can't even believe we did!

One thing brought you down every time.  Deceit.  You were deceived into thinking a certain way which then caused wrong actions resulting in sin.

One thing delivers you every time.  TRUTH.

"I am the Way, THE TRUTH and the Life."  "He whom the Son sets free is free indeed."  "Having been set free from sin..."  "The FREE GIFT which came from many offenses resulted in JUSTIFICATION." 

JOHN 8:32 ~  And you shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall make you FREE."

God offers true freedom.  No gimmicks, no tricks, no hidden agenda's, no cost. 


 HE PAID ~ YOU RECEIVE.

God bless you today in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Savior and deliver!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This mess a SUCCESS?

Genesis 39:  Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Just prior to this verse, Joseph had been thrown into a pit by his brothers.  They were going to kill him, but Reuben talked them out of that.  He intended to rescue Joseph from the pit after the brothers had gone on their way.  However, Judah saw an opportunity for financial gain and convinced the rest of them to sell Joseph as a slave to some passing Ishmaelites.

Imagine how Joseph would be feeling about now.  How would YOU feel, having your own brothers, in a murderous rage, throw you in a pit, then fish you out only to sell you as something worthless to them, like  something of no more value than a used cart or mule, to perfect strangers who don't care about you at all?  How would you be feeling about now?  Depressed?  Angry?  Miserable?

In Egypt, the Ishmaelites sold Joseph as a slave.  It was obvious they also saw little to no worth in the dirty, beat up and unwanted boy they had purchased.  They didn't see the strong, handsome 17 year old young man he'd been just prior.  This leaves me with the impression they hadn't treated Joseph very kindly on the trip to Egypt.  By the time he arrived there, he probably looked no better than any other slave available for sale that day.

I am of the opinion that this is how most of us are viewed by others as well.  Of little to no worth.  Beat up and beat down by the worries and cares and concerns of this world.  Sadly, this is how most of us view ourselves as well.  Nothing in our countenance or posture indicates we are any different than the next guy who has been used and abused by the uncaring attitudes of this world.

BUT the man who purchased young Joseph saw something that set Joseph apart and made it clear that Joseph was no ordinary slave.  He did not see the circumstances that had brought Joseph to that auction block that day.  He saw the "state" that Joseph was in, but he saw something more, something deeper.  

In Joseph's face, in the way he held his head, the look in his eyes, the way he stood revealed that Joseph had something more, something far better than despair in his heart.  Whether he recognized that God was with Joseph or he just recognized the something different, he bought Joseph that day. 

Potiphar took Joseph into his home and gave him rule over all that was in his house, over all the slaves he already owned, who had been with him longer, some of whom may have even been born in his home. (In this culture, slaves, especially if born in your household, were considered members of your household.)  He gave Joseph a position of value befitting what he saw in Joseph.

Take another look at the verse in Genesis:  The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man;

This does not describe a beaten down, unwanted, abused, hungry, sad, confused and angry boy.  This description of Joseph doesn't show us a downcast, destitute and desperate man.   Not at all.  We are given a description of Joseph as seen through Gods eyes.

The Lord was with Joseph and he was a SUCCESSFUL MAN.  In Gods eyes, Joseph was already a successful man.  Not that he was going to be a successful man.  That would mean the opportunity afforded him by Potiphar would be the influential factor in his success.  Not that he was becoming successful, as if Joseph by his own actions and behaviors would make a success of himself eventually.

NO! God declares that the Lord is with Joseph and therefore Joseph IS - right now, this instant, while in the process of being sold as a slave, while poorly dressed and dirty and hungry - JOSEPH IS IN GODS EYES ALREADY A SUCCESSFUL MAN.  Why?  Because Joseph had a dream in his heart that God had given him, and he believed what God had given him would come to pass.

Because Joseph's success would never be about whatever "state" he was in.  It is and would always be about his "status".  WITH THE LORD, in agreement with God Almighty.  His faith guaranteed that the Lord would favor Joseph, and therefore, no matter what "state" he is in, in the eyes of God he is successful.

How much more are we, children of the Living God, born again of His Spirit, washed in the blood of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit and possessing CHRIST IN US, THE HOPE OF GLORY, "with" the Lord?   He has promised He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Is our faith firmly founded on that truth? 

Take your eyes off the state you are in.  Fix your eyes firmly on your STATUS as a son or daughter of the Most High God.  

Stand up straight, shoulders back, head held high, looking others right in the eye, with a smile of gracious love on your lips and let your STATUS speak for you.  

YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL.    If Christ is your Savior, then regardless of whatever state of sanctification you are in, in the eyes of God, you are already completely and totally SUCCESSFUL.  Whether you see it or not, others will see and respond accordingly. 

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean NOT to your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.  Proverbs 3: 5-6

Be encouraged, brothers and sisters.  Our God is FOR us, and not against us!  Perhaps you haven't ever really given your status with God the Creator much thought.  God reveals Himself to each of us in ways He knows will speak to our hearts.  Answer that tug, that pull on your heart today.  Acknowledge you have sinned and been separate, out of the will of God.  Repent and ask God to forgive you.  Call on the name of Jesus, declare with your lips that He is the Lord.  Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead to redeem YOU from the consequences of your sin AND YOU SHALL BE SAVED.

God is not concerned with the state you find yourself in.  He knows what you truly need is a change in STATUS.  

From wounded and worthless to LOVED and CHERISHED child, in Gods eyes a SUCCESS.






Sunday, February 2, 2014

Filling vessels without measure

WE HAVE FAITH WITHOUT MEASURE
BUT WE MUST OPERATE IN FAITH
WITHOUT MEASURE!
There's an interesting story in II Kings about the Prophet of God and an incident with a widow woman.  I've read it before, heard different viewpoints on what it illustrates and appreciated the lessons learned.

Last week in my private prayer time, the Holy Spirit led me to that story again, only this time, I read with different eyes, with a different heart, and saw something I hadn't seen before.

Don't you love when that happens to you?  Tutoring, straight from God the Father to you - could anything else be as exciting?

Take a look with me and let's share this lesson together:

II Kings 4: 1-7
 A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.”
So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.”
Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few.And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.”
So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.”

And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.”

The first thing I saw was that Elisha, representing God, did not try to define her problem for her.  He asked her to define it and be specific about what she wanted from the Lord.

Secondly, God did not cause her debt to magically disappear.  He provided her a way to participate in the answer and settle her debt properly.

Thirdly, God met her need and went above and beyond her immediate request and provided for her ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL THAT SHE ASKED.

Relationships, in order to truly be successful, require give and take be involved.  God, who created us, understands this principle and illustrates how perfectly it works in this 7 verse story.  He is the only One with the means to meet the need of this woman.  He is the only source and resource.  But this is her life, and God gave each of us FREE WILL.  So solutions and life decisions must include her participation in order that the relationship work properly.  She, choosing obedience and worship, God giving generously and according to His perfect will.

So she is responsible with her sons to go gather empty vessels.  God would fill as many as she gathered.  

BUT SHE DID NOT KNOW THIS BEFORE HAND.  SHE HAD TO OBEY IN FAITH, IGNORANT OF WHAT WOULD HAPPEN OR HOW GOD WOULD MEET HER NEED.  SIMPLY ACTING IN FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE AND TRUSTING THAT HE WOULD.

They gathered all the vessels they could.  EMPTY VESSELS.  God doesn't "squeeze in" along with the rest of the stuff of our lives.  He won't come occupy a tiny corner or half a vessel.  God requires a whole, empty vessel, ready and willing to be filled by His Holy Spirit for His Holy purposes.  (For what fellowship has darkness with Light?)

Then God filled every single empty vessel to the absolute fullest.  Enough not just to pay her debt and keep her sons from being taken into slavery, which was her request, but more than enough, to keep them fed and cared for until the sons could begin to provide for themselves and their mother.  Abundance.

When we cry out to the Lord, He will fill as many vessels as we are willing to provide and empty in preparation of His abundant answers in our lives.

How many vessels are you willing to gather, in FAITH, and empty in preparation of Gods filling them according to His will?

Practical application of Biblical principle will change your heart and life every time.  Our God is mysterious but the working of His principles in obedience are no mystery.  When we walk by faith and not by sight, we see His provision time and time again.  When we cry out and are obedient to Him, we reap mighty benefits.

Wherever you may be in life right now, saved, unsaved, growing with the Lord or just beginning to wonder if that is even a possibility - God has a plan and purpose of wonder for your life!  It isn't late, it isn't early. 

 IT IS JUST EXACTLY THE RIGHT TIME.  NOW is the time for salvation, for no one is promised the next moment.  Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.