Wednesday, July 26, 2017

JULY 26 "DON'T BE STUPID!!"

     I was quite encouraged to finally read about a King who is doing well and serving God. "Jehoshaphat, you are the man", I thought....until....until out of nowhere we read, "1 Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage."  You must be kidding?! Out of nowhere....isn't this how it normally happens. We see people doing "seemingly" so well and then "out of nowhere" they make a blunderous, stupid, ungodly decision.  And we think, "where did that come from?".  It proves that any one of us, can tomorrow make a decision that will totally throw us of course if we are not honest with ourselves, with others and foremost, with God.  The story gets worse as Ahab eventually convinces Jehoshaphat to go to war against Ramoth Gilead, even though, the very prophet Jehoshaphat requested, prophesied against it.  And on top of that, Jehoshaphat also lets Ahab to convince him to dress up as King of Israel.  We don't know if Jehoshaphat is enamored with the King of Ahab and his daughter or what is at work here, but Ahab seems to have more influence over Jehoshaphat, than God does, at this point. For all the good that we have read about Jehoshaphat, we begin to see him take a turn for the worse.
     Thank God that we have an opportunity to have a relationship with God in lieu of just some impotent religion because nothing supersedes a relationship with God.  Although Jehoshaphat is in the midst of some kind of stupid, spiritual fog, he knows one thing and that is to cry out to his God. I'm sure he knows he's gone of course, I'm sure he knows he's made some decisions without seeking God or even wanting God's opinion, we've all been there and done this!!! Jehoshaphat's motives in this series of bad decisions are even known to God, but never revealed to us, but yet when he cries out, God rescues him nonetheless. Verse 31 "So they turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him. God drew them away from him" .  By all means, they should have killed Jehoshaphat right there, but for no other reason than God, they do not. Again, nothing can take the place of a relationship with God. We see in this story, that even though this man is very kinked and screwed up, God continues to have a relationship with this man and vice-versa and when he cries out God........God answers him and saves him
     There's no excuse for all these bad decisions Jehoshaphat makes, he wanted to do what he wanted to do, whether he was obsessed with Ahab's daughter or infatuated by her and the family dynasty, is all unknown to us and irrelevant, in the end he did wrong. We will all have our day "in the fog" and in wanting to do our own thing, but the key in all of this is never give up your relationship with God, never give up on God, he will always be there to help you, rescue you and save you when you come to the revelation that you have royally messed up and cry out to him for help. I don't believe God would have automatically intervened and saved Jehoshaphat had he not cried out.
     And last, ....nothing comes out of nowhere. Christians who seem to be doing well and then all of a sudden begin to make a series of "off the wall" decisions, as Jehoshaphat does, had issues lurking in their heart that they were not being honest about.  They were not honest with God nor were they honest with their spiritual mentors or headship about the issues.  Always be honest with God and your spiritual mentors and headship about the struggles in your heart, this is the first step, in the right direction, in getting help. God knows your heart whether you confess to Him or not, so why not just be honest with him and then let a trusted friend know also, that will pray for you and help keep you in check until you get these issues resolved through a process of time, prayer and accountability.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

JULY 25 "WHAT'S WRONG WITH SWEET 'OL GRANNY?!"

What’s going on with Granny setting up obscene poles that Asa has to cut down and destroy. Question we should ask ourselves is….does becoming old make us naturally virtuous? Does becoming old make us honest, pure and decent people? Is it a staple for grandmother’s and grandfathers to be human beings that are pretty much angelic & sweet? Or are they simply human beings, like you and I; that have aged in their sin, not grown out of it. No doubt, I hope grandpa has grown out of smoking weed and grandma has grown out of dressing to seduce men, but that doesn’t mean that they have metamorphosed into some saint like character. Perhaps some of the surface sins have diminished, but the deeper sins are entrenched. Hatred and bitterness are as strong as ever. I have seen old, nice grandma’s pouring gasoline on the fire of bitterness that has kept the family divided for years, even right up until their death. I have seen old people, right before their death getting vengeance on their families through their Last Testament & Wills.  I have seen men, that once were handsome, winsome, perverted groping youth, making girls blush, but now that same spirit, in that same man, who doesn’t have the handsome, winsome personality to go with it, repels and disgusts the woman who have to work with this “old pervert” in the nursing home.  With all that Asa has to deal with, you’d figure the last person he would have to add to that list, is his own sweet grandma. We read about Gideon having to take care of some house cleaning in his day and who does God mention to him that he is going to have to deal with….his Father! Gideon’s father has also set up, ungodly shrines that God tells Gideon he’s going to have to bring down and destroy. This frightens Gideon and I’m sure this frightened Asa as well. I’m sure grandma was not one to be reckoned with. I’m sure there was going to be family backlash for both Asa & Gideon for “messing with the family”.  Gideon and Asa I’m sure were assaulted for their stance, the family would come against them saying things such as, “some things you just look the other way at, you’re going to disrespect your grandma, you’re going to disrespect your father like that! Is that what they teach you at your church, is that what you call a Christian? Doesn’t the bible say, to honor your father and mother! Is that what you call honoring your father and mother, making a humiliation of your grandmother, for God’s sake, boy, what’s wrong with you!”. That would be when Asa, Gideon, or yourself, walk away wondering if you really heard from God. We’ve all been there; we’ve all had to do the hard things that brought us much reproach from our families. If it is not hard enough just trying to live for God, live clean and do right; often God also throws into the mix, dealing with family strongholds; and sometimes we feel like that’s more than we can handle. A lot of times it can be a family member with a lot of clout and influence in the family, other times it’s an ungodly, tradition that has been held in the family for years and now God has raised you up, to bring it down and we say, “I can’t, who am I, find somebody else, they will kill me, they will laugh me out of the family, kick me out of the family…etc…etc..”   And you know what; some of those statements are not so far off from the truth. Many Christians have been banished from their families for standing against grandma or grandpa, mom or dad. You may feel like you’re not “the one”, just like Gideon, “I am the least in my family” but you’re exactly the one God has called and sometimes we must do the hard thing, for the benefit of others and future generations to come.

Monday, July 24, 2017

JULY 24 "WHO ARE YOU FOLLOWING/ATTACHED YOURSELF TO?"

"for many had traveled from Israel to Judah during Asa's reign, when they saw the Lord was with him". The truth of the matter is, we can tell when God's Grace is on someone's life and we can tell when it is not. There is a drawing that comes towards those that have God's Grace on their lives. People want to rally behind a winner in the secular world and the same is true in the Kingdom of God, Christians want to rally behind a person who seems to be a winner for God, we call it a "man or woman with God's favor and Grace upon their lives" or as we read in our text, "The Lord was with him". People traveled quite a distance to be with Asa. It wasn't as simple as going to the next block to choose Burger King instead of McDonald's, This was a big move and there may have been family that did not follow. This will no doubt alter their lives, Israel and Judah were at war, opposite spectrum's in life. Was this a wise decision? I would say, yes! Who you follow really can make a big difference in your life, your future & destiny. The reality of life is that we do not all have an equal amount of God's Grace upon our lives.  And God does not pick and choose who He wants to pour more grace, more favor on, we are the ones that choose that. "If you will draw near to me then I will draw near to you". An individual that has a special Grace of God upon their life is not "a lucky individual" it's an individual that has sought God out, in the secret places. "you will seek in me secret but I will reward you in the open". The idea of following and attaching yourself to a man with God's Grace is not just so we can be where it's happening, but it's also the hope that it is contagious, that we will catch on, that we will acquire some of that Grace and Favor and that we to can partake, we can learn and be inspired by this leader (Asa) to do the same. Many congregation members have assigned themselves to a church, that is being led by a man that has resigned himself to retire in that church, to coast, to live and die there, accept a paycheck, accept his parsonage, do his duty to preach that one sermon on Sunday and maybe a Sunday School. That man is simply functioning as any other employee that goes to work in that City, from day to day. The people that have attached themselves to that leader, will suffer the same fate. A slow and dieing faith, a lack of favor and Grace. There's always an exception to the rule I know, but most will not rise above their leaders. Our text today reveals to us a man with God's Grace upon his life, is worth following and attaching yourself too, no matter what the cost, it can affect our future, our lives and sometimes our destinies. Who are you following? Who have you attached yourself to?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

JULY 23 "SO DEVOUTLY RELIGIOUS WE ARE"

We have areas in our lives that are so obedient to the Will of God and we have other areas in our lives that are so flagrantly disobedient to God. As I read about Solomon bringing this heathen women back to Jerusalem with him and building her her own house, I am nauseated. Either in disgust, because God had told him not to marry foreign women because they would turn his heart away or I'm nauseated because it reminds me of my own life, at different seasons, or maybe it's a little of both. And of course, as with you and I, to appease his conscience he does something devoutly religious, after being devoutly rebellious, "Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the Lord on the altar of the Lord".  I wonder if Solomon had read about when Samuel rebuked King Saul with these words, "Obedience is better than sacrifice". I remember as a young Christian going out of town with a foreign woman. We stayed over night in a city, I got a hotel, requested twin beds and kept it clean; but regardless, I was in screaming rebellion to the Holy Spirit who hammered me not to take this trip. The first thing I did when i got up in the morning was I read my bible and then knelt and prayed at the foot of my bed. When we are in rebellion, we become devoutly religious. Problem is, God doesn't honor our sacrifices and/or prayers in this time, "for obedience is better than sacrifice and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft". Not only does God not hear our prayers but we look like fools to those that look on at us, trying to be pious in the midst of sin and rebellion. Imagine how foolish I looked, praying at the foot of my bed that morning. Even though nothing happened, she knew, she was not a Christian (a backslider she was) and she knew I was (or at least supposed to be) and she knew, "do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever". As Solomon brings this heathen woman to his city, the next order of service for him is to offer burnt offerings unto his God.  His God that he only listens to when it appeals to him. However, before we throw stones at Solomon, let us recognize that this lures in each and every one of us. Not only have I seen it play out in my own life, I have seen it play out in many other Christians that I know and many Christians in my Church. We can be so perfectly obedient in some areas of our lives and so flagrantly disobedient in others.  If ever you find yourself, being super, devoutly, religious, you may want to step back and ask yourself, "what sin am I trying to cover up for here?"

JULY 23 "SO DEVOUTLY RELIGIOUS WE ARE"

We have areas in our lives that are so obedient to the Will of God and we have other areas in our lives that are so flagrantly disobedient to God. As I read about Solomon bringing this heathen women back to Jerusalem with him and building her her own house, I am nauseated. Either in disgust, because God had told him not to marry foreign women because they would turn his heart away or I'm nauseated because it reminds me of my own life, at different seasons, or maybe it's a little of both. And of course, as with you and I, to appease his conscience he does something devoutly religious, after being devoutly rebellious, "Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the Lord on the altar of the Lord".  I wonder if Solomon had read about when Samuel rebuked King Saul with these words, "Obedience is better than sacrifice". I remember as a young Christian going out of town with a foreign woman. We stayed over night in a city, I got a hotel, requested twin beds and kept it clean; but regardless, I was in screaming rebellion to the Holy Spirit who hammered me not to take this trip. The first thing I did when i got up in the morning was I read my bible and then knelt and prayed at the foot of my bed. When we are in rebellion, we become devoutly religious. Problem is, God doesn't honor our sacrifices and/or prayers in this time, "for obedience is better than sacrifice and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft". Not only does God not hear our prayers but we look like fools to those that look on at us, trying to be pious in the midst of sin and rebellion. Imagine how foolish I looked, praying at the foot of my bed that morning. Even though nothing happened, she knew, she was not a Christian (a backslider she was) and she knew I was (or at least supposed to be) and she knew, "do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever". As Solomon brings this heathen woman to his city, the next order of service for him is to offer burnt offerings unto his God.  His God that he only listens to when it appeals to him. However, before we throw stones at Solomon, let us recognize that this lures in each and every one of us. Not only have I seen it play out in my own life, I have seen it play out in many other Christians that I know and many Christians in my Church. We can be so perfectly obedient in some areas of our lives and so flagrantly disobedient in others.  If ever you find yourself, being super, devoutly, religious, you may want to step back and ask yourself, "what sin am I trying to cover up for here?"

Saturday, July 22, 2017

JULY 22 "WAS PAUL A LOUSY CHRISTIAN?"

You would think, that by reading Paul's writing today, that he was the worse Christian. The type of Christian you sure don't want in any kind of leadership position in your church. You wouldn't want Paul in any ministry where he is supposed to be an example to anybody else. "And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is , in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't.  Let's just stop right there! What do you mean you want to do what's right but you can't?! What is that Paul? You're an example here to all these converts you have won over. Paul goes on to write, "I want to do what is good, but I don't".  Paul, you're the one that has started all these churches, you're the one who wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and now you're sitting here saying, "you can't do good". Paul continues in his writing, "I don't' want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway".  Well, Paul, I don't know what you're going through, we will pray for you, but you definitely need to be removed from ministry, from leadership, maybe you need some time off, maybe you need a sabbatical, but you're not fit for ministry or leadership at this time. This scripture has been the license to sin for more Christians than we will ever be able to count. The mantra will go something like this, "well hey, if Paul said the bad things he didn't want to do he did and I sure am not Paul, so....". Was Paul a lousy Christian? Is Paul the consummate example for every Christian that just wants to give in to temptation and excuse it away as, "hey, I'm just weak like Paul". The question is, was Paul as weak as he humbly describes himself to be? Paul also wrote, "in my weakness I am made strong, through Christ who strengthens me". Paul wrote three quarters of the New Testament. Paul went successfully on 3 missionary journeys and pioneered most of Asia. If Paul never did "the things he wanted to do" then he would never have accomplished all that he did. As a matter of a fact, Paul also writes, that he has labored more than all the other disciples. I would say, for every Christian that wants to use Paul as an example to justify their fleshly indulgences, they should read the rest of his epistles. The truth is, and facts are, that Paul was the strongest Christian that ever lived. I believe the reason he was the strongest Christian that ever lived is because Paul thought he was so weak. Whether Paul was right or not, in his estimation of himself is irrelevant, the point is, Paul's humble stance drove him to his knees praying daily for strength, to do what he should and not give in to his fleshly desires. Paul's admittance of his weakness and "no good within me" is what ironically enabled him to overcome great odds and be the most productive Apostle that ever lived. So if you want to use Paul as your example of weakness, then follow Paul's other example by praying incessantly for God's Grace and Strength, to cause you to be an over-comer and begin quoting some of Paul's other writings, ie: "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me".

Friday, July 21, 2017

JULY 21 "CAN YOU GET GOD TO CHANGE HIS MIND?"

I'm always reminded when I read my Bible that "we are made in God's image". How often, I as the authority in my home have been persuaded by the children that I love so much to be persuaded against what I have said. I clearly laid down how things would be, it was set in stone (or maybe not) how things were going to be, what we were going to do or where we were going to go and how long we were going to stay, but yet, as I look back, somehow, these little kids were able to influence me, the great authority in the home, to do otherwise. How does a child, who knows really nothing about nothing, influence an adult who has been living & experiencing life for 40 years? It must be this thing called "love" that allows us to be influenced by a lesser "species" (if I can use that term). Take the example I have just given you and multiply it to the Nth Degree and you have some sort of resemblance of us, a much, much lower species, influencing the Almighty Omniscient God of The Universe. How can that be, how can that happen? The only answer I can come up with is another component of the Creator that was installed in his creation and that is, Love. Love compels us to be influenced by those that we love, this can be good and it can be very, very bad. History has recorded unbelievable and inspiring stories of those that were allowed to be changed and influenced, by Love. History has also recorded some of the most worse acts committed by people who were influenced to commit heinous acts, against their better judgement, by the one(s) they loved, only to find their lives ruined because of it. Solomon himself, testifies that this awesome God, creator of the universe had Himself said that "O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. Now I have built a glorious Temple for you, a place where you can live forever".  Solomon is showing his ignorance here and displaying to us how gracious this God is that Solomon serves. Some of the plans I have allowed, that my children thought were glorious, but yet their understanding was so limited and the things I had to do behind the scenes so that my children's "great & glorious" plans wouldn't actually get us killed or completely mess us up. I never told them, I just worked behind the scenes and at the end they said, "dad, aren't you glad you listened to us and wasn't that a great idea".  My answer...."yes, yes, it was great".  Imagine Solomon telling God how glorious his Temple is! "Now I have built this glorious temple for you". In the eyes of Jehovah, that Temple looks, at best,  like a kids doll house, it's "a cute and modest structure". Obviously Solomon has had no visions of Heaven as John did.  Secondly Solomon exposes his ignorance by stating that it is a place
 " a Temple for you, a place you can live forever!".  In Solomon's eyes, this is the greatest thing on earth. And he's probably right, greatest thing "on earth", but to think that it's so great that God, the Omnipotent, Sovereign God can dwell there forever?! You can't help but laugh at this thought, and this is coming from the "Wisest Man that ever lived". Solomon testifies that God had said He would not dwell in any place, God had said that Israel would not have a King, but yet Solomon is quick to say, "ahhhhhh, but we do have a King now and you have chosen a place to dwell".  In this Solomon is right. Solomon is correct in testifying that this God of the universe,  has allowed, this species, this much lessor species, called Humans, to influence him to do and/or allow, what He said he would not. It's one thing that my children can do that with me, but to think that we, mere mortals, can do that with this Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omni-present God is quite something else. God's love for you allows you to have influence over Him, in a way most don't understand and probably never use to their advantage. We have access to the Throne of God, we can petition this God that loves us so much and He can be moved by our petitions and pleas. A God who will and can cover us in our botched and often, ridiculous plans and make sure we still land on our feet rather than on our head. And last our reading shows us, that even the best of us, have so much more to learn about the God that we serve. Solomon is the knowledgeable one to his people, but here we are, as 21st Century believers and we, who are not as wise as Solomon, can look at Solomon and say, "wow, Solomon, you had a lot to learn about God, I know more about God than you did". The opportunity we have as New Testament Christians, with the Bible, with the Holy Spirit is unprecedented, but yet do we realize it and do we take the opportunity we have to get to know, this Omniscient, Omnipotent God of the Universe? Do we take the time to petition Him for ourselves because of the knowledge we have,  of his great love for us? Will the next generation look at us and say, "we were ignorant, we knew nothing?" Will they look at us and say, "they had more knowledge, but that knowledge they had was in vain, they never used it to their advantage!"