Thursday, April 28, 2011

APRIL 28 WILL YOU RISE FROM THE DEAD?

     Imagine for one who was the Alpha and Omega, according to John He was the word who had always been.  Never was death even a concept to Jesus until this moment. He was going to let himself die and BY FAITH believe that he would not remain dead, the God, the Father, would raise him from the dead.  100% of all those reading this blog will one day have to face death.  Some of us will die quickly, not having a chance to even think about it, but others will die a death they know is coming, whether through cancer or some other fatal disease or even old age; they will have time to contemplate and think over their death.  They will know that in a few weeks, a month or a few years they will close their eyes one last time and the question they must ask themselves is will my eyes ever open again and if they do open again, what will be the next thing that I see...Heaven or Hell?  Death is the scariest event any human being will ever have to face.  Every human being must face his own mortality and ask, "is this the end of my existence?" Is it the beginning to eternal punishment which I will never escape?  Jesus' last words to God, the Father (paraphrased by me) were, "okay, here it is, I feel death creeping up on me and I am committing my spirit (that lives forever) to you now and believing this is not the end. I am going to close my eyes now Father and I believe after I close them, they will open again on the other side!".  Are you afraid to die?  I believe part of the agony Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane was not just over the torture He would have to face but also He agonized that He would have to face death!  Yes, we will each have to face death one day and face our greatest fear and the question to you and to I is.....WILL YOU/WE RISE FROM THE DEAD and where will you be and what will you have to face if you do awaken after you close your eyes.  Death is the one thing that is coming our way, that we know is coming our way, that we should spend our lives preparing for. Do not neglect this event. We know Holidays are coming, we prepare. We know summer is coming, we prepare. We know retirement is coming, we prepare. We know death is coming and we....we.....DON'T PREPARE... and I ask you again, will you RISE FROM THE DEAD and if you do, what will you see when you first open your eyes?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

APRIL 26 WHERE'S GOD!!!

     "4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help."
     The easiest (but dumbest) thing to do is step into any bad situation and without knowing the history or the facts, lash out and say, "where's God in all this? If he's so wonderful and powerful why is this happening?".  It would be easy to look upon Israel's plight and ask those same questions, as a matter of a fact, Gideon does ask that question, 13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?   FIRST thing that would be beneficial to know is God does not have to answer to us and you'll notice He doesn't immediately answer Gideon's question; however later on he does bring insight on the situation, "go and destroy your father's idols and altars that he has set up to worship Baal" (Baal of all gods!) God reveals to Gideon, when He is ready, why Israel is going through what they're going through and the issue is not God, the issue is with the people; their own sin and rebellion that has brought these horrible times on them.  It's easy to look at our family, our friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ and jump to presumptions that God somehow has been unjust, unfair and uncaring with those whom we love.  Gideon never considers the fact the perhaps they are going through what they're going through because of his father and the generation that lived before. Gideon just assumes that his Father and his generation has been faithful and somehow God has not held up his end of the bargain and it is the exact opposite that is true.  Be careful about letting people draw you into their sappy stories about God; how they were faithful but yet God failed them in their greatest hour of need. Many people have an attitude with God not necessarily because of what he failed to do for them, but what "supposedly" he failed to do for another "supposed" faithful brother or sister in Christ, but as the scripture says and warns us, "let God be true and every man a liar". If ever you are forced to chose between the righteousness and faithfulness of God verses your brother or sister in Christ, a family member or friend, it would be wise to stand on God's side. Standing on God's will save you much embarrassment in the end, when all the facts come out and then you will not need to go back  and ask God for his forgiveness for ever doubting his faithfulness and goodness.

Monday, April 25, 2011

APRIL 25 WHEN DARKNESS REIGNS

     "But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” We know Jesus is physically speaking to the Roman Soldiers, but who is He really speaking to? Is He speaking to the demonic world, is He speaking to Satan himself who has been at him for quite some time....probably all of the above! This is the hour when darkness reigns. We sometimes sing this song in church "he's under my feet, he's under my feat, Satan is under by feat"  I sing that song cautiously and not to bragadociously. Fact is, there are days, weeks, months when darkness does reign and Satan is not under our feet. It is not your triumphant hour! It can be a time of darkness, oppression, depression and very few victories to speak of other than you have not giving up your faith in Christ and you have not jumped off a bridge, but other than that, darkness reigns. This is your hour Satan, go a head and enjoy it (and Satan thoroughly enjoyed the inhuman scouring and beating of Jesus). However, remember this, for darkness' hour of reigning darkness/evil has since suffered centuries of defeat.  Never was darkness more defeated than when Jesus died sinless and rose from the dead 72 hours later.  And I believe that God will also honour our hours of darkness reigning over us; if we will not give up on Christ. I believe the recompense is incalculable compare to the suffering. For every hour that darkness reigns over us, God will recompense us many more in victory.  What a miserable 48 hours Jesus endured, where darkness had its moment.  The demons were exuberant with sadistic, uncontainable pleasure as they watched Jesus brutalized.  Just recently watching "The Passion of Christ", the suffering that Jesus endured is freshly embedded in my memory, I was horrified at what was done to him in those 48 hours but I couldn't help think, 48hrs of the most excruciating pain and humiliation a human could ever endure, but for how many hours of victory as a form of recompense. We are in the year 2011, there are 8,736 hours in a year. It as been 1,978 years since Jesus Christ endured that agony but He has had victory over the devil, death, darkness  and sin ever since!! For 48 hours of agony, God recompenses 17,279,808 hours (approx) of victory and continuing on into eternity. THE POINT, darkness will reign at times, whether it be for an hour, 48 hours, a week, a month or a year, but know this, if you endure, God will recompense you for every hour you endured when darkness reigned, but yet, you kept your Faith in him. Remember that, next time darkness reigns in your life, than when you come out, when you make it through, there will be an immeasurable amount of recompense and victory, that is coming your way!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

APRIL 23 FIGHT NOW OR PAY LATER

     I'm not sure which 1/2 of the tribe of Manasseh this is that "did not drive out the people of Beth Shan.....for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land".    God's response, "You have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you".  Who was it that thought we will just stay here, and not cross the other side of the Jordan?   1 The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. 2 So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon— 4 the land the LORD subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. 5 If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”  Numbers 32:1
     Now if you read on, you'll find out that the tribe of Manessah is involved in this too.  "don't make us cross the Jordon", of course not, don't fight, don't make us fight, we just want to settle for medicrocy, we just want to settle for what we don't have to fight for, so is it any surprise that when they do have to fight, they don't. They leave the Canaanites there. God says in verse 3 "therefore I will not drive them out" in other words, had they fought, wholeheartedly, God would have taken care of them. Manasseh's excuse is.."they were determined to stay"  Really?! No duh!  Your sin is determined to stay too, the enemy of our sou (never mind our land) is determined to stay too, I guess that's why so many Christians live victoryless lives today. It's so much easier just to let things remain as they are rather than fight.  God's prophecy here is in verse 3 "they will be a thorn in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you".
Their response was probably, "yeah, yeah, we'll deal with it".  And that they would and that you are. Let's not be like manasseh, fight for your finances, your marriage, fight against your flesh and remind God that you don't want to be like Manasseh and that you beleive that if you fight, he will drive out the enemy on your behalf!

Friday, April 22, 2011

APRIL 22 ARE YOU RELIGIOUS?

     It's hard to imagine Abraham ever serving any other God but Jehovah, but he did and so did all his family.  “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods."  Often people look at our families and can't imagine us being anything other than Christian. Some of us grew up Christian as our heritage, the rest of us served the gods on the other side of the river, so to speak. We have seen what it is like so serve a false god or give ourselves to impotent religion. In our text we are not sure why these people are holding on to relics of their past gods and religion; while trying to serve the true God.  And when challenged by Joshua to throw down their idols and relics there is no argument from them.  "throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  OF course this scripture is quoted all over the world, posted on the doors of many homes, but the reality is, it was only Joshua that would actually follow through. The moment Joshua passed away they would go back to their false gods.  No doubt a Leader makes a difference, but we must be able ourselves to make the distinction between what it is like to be involved in impotent religion and serving false gods verses having a living, vital relationship with God.  Perhaps to the majority of those following Joshua they couldn't really see or better yet, hadn't really experienced the difference between the two, ie: false god vs. true God.  This is why perhaps Jehovah Witnesses marry Catholics and Catholics marry Mormons and Mormons marry Pentecostals and Pentecostals marry Baptists and Baptists marry Atheists because in their minds, all we are talking about is religion, and one religion is just about as good as another. I can just hear this group of people saying to Joshua, "On the other side of the river we served these gods, but we can serve your God too, Joshua, we have no problem with that, right guys?"  As the very popular cliche of today goes..."it's all good".   Is it all good?  Human beings are by instinct, very religious in nature.  Find any tribe in any part of the world and you will find them worshipping some kind of spiritual deity. These people were living out what came naturally to them, being religious, however Joshua had an encounter, a relationship with God.  If we are not careful, we can sit in the church and revert back to being religious, even those of us that saw what it was like to serve the false gods on the other side of the river (so to speak). It is your natural tendency to revert back to being religious. Abraham never went back to being religious, Joshua never went back to being religious but there are many who do.  Our prayers can become religious repetition (Jesus said, "do not pray in vain repetition as the pagans do"), our mindset in church can be religious repetition, blessing our food can become religious repetition, worshipping can become religious repetition (our right hand is raised, but we are looking away from the screen and our minds are a million miles away) and our walk with God becomes more of a religious experience than anything else.  In my home one of the greatest insults we can throw at each other is..."you're religious" sometimes we through this around in jest, my daughter will laugh and say, "oh dad, you're so religious" but sometimes it is good to just sit down, be quite, be still before the Lord and ask yourself, " am I losing my relationship with God and reverting back to being religious", take an assessment, an evaluation of your self today and answer that question.  I've often wondered about putting that scripture on my front door "as for me and my house....." but my experience from the past 20 years has been that many times the homes I have walked in to that had that on their front door are simply the people who nodded their heads with Joshua on that day and said "amen", carved it out of wood, put in on their doors and became incessantly religious from that day forth. Joshua carved this principle in his heart, not on wood or a plank, he probably carved it on his heart every morning, taking time to be with God, I'm still tempted, at times to put that scripture/plank  on the front door of my house and this should only serve to remind me how important it is that I use that as a reminder of how prone I am to becoming religious and how much more so I should seek God and make sure that scripture is carved in my heart, not on a wooden door. I would much rather people walking into my home, with no advance declaration on my front door and then be wowed to see Christ Like people living in the home, then to see a declaration on the door (that often the folks living inside forget is there) walk in with great expectations of they type of Godly people you would run into, only to realize, that the only sign of God in that home is hanging on the front door.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

APRIL 20 NO LOVE LOSS FOR JESUS

     THE group of Pharisees hated Jesus, there was no love loss between the Pharisees and Jesus. There were other groups who loved Jesus and were open to what he had to say and with them he sat down and talked.....nicely!  Jesus is no respecter of persons and neither should we, but you cannot deny that Jesus had various methods for reaching various groups of individuals. Jesus knew who is target audience was and that affected how he responded. It is written in scripture "do not cast your pearls to the swine", but yet we see Christians do this everyday.  No doubt, we will be persecuted, that will come naturally but do we really have to subjugate ourselves to it?!
     We cannot discern whom God is leading to himself and who He isn't (although sometimes it is quite obvious) but we can discern the mocker vs. the serious seeker.  We cannot discern who will be saved and will not, it could be the mocker who one day gets powerfully converted and the serious seeker goes on to seriously seek in another faith. The point is not to try to discern who is going to get saved and who isn't, the point is that we should have various methods for various audiences. Should we respond to the mocker the same way we would the open and broken down sinner, Jesus didn't!  What are your methods if any? We really do want to "just love them to Jesus", it is far less confrontational, but is it really the method to reach all? The love 'em to Jesus was a complete failure with me. I needed a harsh word, I needed to hear the truth about my sin and where it was taking me. When told that Jesus died for my sins, my response was, "to bad, I never asked him to".  Jesus was gracious with the woman at the well, but he was unashamedly to the point about the fact that she had been with five other men and the man she was now living with was not her husband.  Towards Mary Magdalene, his method was compassion and mercy, towards the Pharisees he was very harsh and straightforward, even to Nicodemus who came seeking him out in the middle of the night, he rebuked him by saying, 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?  Jesus is not being rude, but He is being blunt.  To be an effective witness you have to have more in your arsenal than just "love 'em to Jesus", you have to be able to discern your target audience, are they sincere or are they only there to mock? Then change your method of reaching them, don't cast your pearls to the swine, save that for the broken and contrite heart. Jesus does win over Nicodemus, but loving him to himself was not enough, he would have to bluntly expose this man's hypocrisy. If you will take the time to study the life of Jesus and you will find a man that loved all humanity but yet used different methods to reach different groups and this is how He was most effective and it will be how we are most effective in our witness and effectiveness for him, follow the way of The Master! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

THE ONE YEAR CLUB: APRIL 18 IT'S MONDAY & I'M TIRED!

THE ONE YEAR CLUB: APRIL 18 IT'S MONDAY & I'M TIRED!: " Unlike the world, we do not just find ourselves physically tired, we also find ourselves spiritually tired. Not onl..."

APRIL 18 "I'M SOOOO TIRED!"

     Unlike the world, we do not just find ourselves physically tired, we also find ourselves spiritually tired. Not only are we having to deal with issues at work, home & school but we are also having to contend and deal with spiritual issues, issues we are struggling with and then trying to help others with spiritual issues they're struggling with and I'm tired, are you? \
     I have to say that while I was shocked to read that the tribe of Ephraim did not get rid of the Canaanites [ 10 They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor. ]  I have to also say, that I'm not so surprised. What the Ephraimites don't realize, is that if you don't fight now, you will have to fight twice as hard later.  The worse words Jesus ever spoke were "go the extra mile". Is there a principle in that admonishing that we have yet to understand? Why didn't they "dislodge" the Canaanites? Obviously because they were tired and exhausted. One more battle, one more fight, is it really necessary? What are the options? Eventually they regret the day they let the Canaanites live there amongst them. And who suffers....their children!  The older generation is not so much influenced as the younger by the ways of the Canaanites, but their children get ensnared.
     I'm tired, I'm exhausted, but if I knowingly walk away or avoid a fight now, I will have to deal with the issue later and now there will be damage.  The Ephraimites are a good tribe to study and learn from. I believe they represent our lives more so than the other tribes.  Their motto and ours is....."the least I have to fight, the better. The Ephraimites by nature, take the path of least resistance. The Ephraimites have a mindset of "this is good enough", the Ephraimites have a mindset of "I'm tired, let's just settle for this", "I'm tired, please let's not make a big deal out of this".   The Ephraimites are the Post Modern, American, Nuclear Family.  Many folks this year are going to fight in a battle that they were avoiding years back and now even if they win, it will only be a partial victory, it will only be a "lessor of two evils" and should they (we) have fought at the onset we/they would have won a full victory. The other tribes may have fought longer and harder than Ephraim but at least when they were done, they could relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. It's your choice, fight now, fight harder, go the extra mile and get complete victory, or fight later, fight twice as hard and end up with a partial victor or the lessor of two evils, the choice is ours. God allow Ephraim to do this, even though He knows it will not go well with them, it's their choice and that same God leaves the choice to us today.

Friday, April 15, 2011

APRIL 15 ARE CHRISTIANS ALTRUISTIC

     ARE Christians altruistic? There's a questions that deserves some thought! I personally don't know the answer to that, but I do know that Jesus was. I am amazed how many times Jesus helped and healed people, without first negotiating with them whether or not they would follow him. "If I heal you will you follow me, If I heal you will you repent, if I heal you will you be my disciple, will you join my group", these were never words heard from Jesus. Jesus healed and helped (and some may be scandalized by this) without even preaching to them. So why did Jesus heal, without first getting a commitment? Why did Jesus heal, knowing full well he was just being used? The answer of course was because Jesus was truly altruistic, he was the epitome of selflessness. What are the motives of Christians today? Are we helping others and being nice, pretending to care when really all we want is for them to join our church and the moment we realize they have no interest in our church or our God we drop them like a bad habit! If this is the case then we are no different than those trying to sell us
make-up and products; they are nice, loving and helpful until it is made clear that we are not interested in buying their product, once that becomes clear, you would be lucky to even get a return phone call, never mind any help. Jesus heals the lepers in our text without asking them to pledge allegiance to him, He heals them without preaching to them, he heals them knowing full well he is being used. In a separate story in the Gospels, Jesus stops a caravan of mourners for a young man that has died. Jesus says a few words to the widow, then raises her son from the dead and simply moves on with his day not asking anything of this woman. That has always amazed me!  He fed the thousands simply because they were hungry.  I wonder how truly altruistic we are?  Are we caring, are we loving because, like the beauty product saleswoman, we are really hoping to get something back.  Would you invest in someone you know will soon move away? Will you love and help those that you know will probably never join your church or study group? Or do we only help those that we can foresee "joining our group".  Many outside the church say Christians are not truly ALTRUISTIC because ultimately they have an ulterior agenda in being nice.  Are they correct, is this true, are Christians truly Altruistic? Jesus we know was, the question that remains to be answered, is our his disciples?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

APRIL 14 ARE YOU RIGHTEOUS?

     OUR idea of righteousness is not even close to what "righteousness" truly is.  I was at a convenience store this morning, bought a refillable coffee cup cause I'm sick of paying for a cup every time I go (I digress) so the clerk offered for me to go in the back of the store to rinse the cup. I looked around and there was tons of goods lying around that I could have easily slipped into my pocket; any thief would have taken advantage of the situation.  "But you are not a thief" you would say. That's right and I could walk away feeling quite smug that I was not even remotely tempted to take anything for my gain; I could feel quite smug about my righteousness....UNTIL I read today's reading. Let's be honest, WE would have broken this oath as quickly as we made it.  You deceived me and there's no way I'm going to honour this oath!  "but you gave me your word, you promised", they would say, and we would reply, "I don't care!!!". We would have broken our promise and not have felt an ounce of guilt.  Joshua and the leaders honour their oath and this is amazing to me, or maybe stupid, not sure which one it is. Was it stupid or righteous for them to keep that oath?  Apparently it was "righteous" because God let's it be and years later when the oath is broken and the people are slaughtered God judges Israel severely for breaking the oath.  I have broken many promises/oaths/commitments/pledges etc....etc....etc....and many times it was not because I was deceived either! It was simply because it was more convenient to break it rather than follow through. Surely it would have been more convenient for Joshua to break this oath. Joshua and his men are deceived yet still believe they have an obligation to honour their promise. We are a very, very long way from righteousness in our society today. We buy goods, signing a piece of paper (a contract of sorts) allowing us to the leave the store with the goods in promise to pay them later. It's called credit. What happens...we don't pay, or we pay late or we don't pay in full. We make promises and pledges, to God, our children, our peers, our business associates, our spouses and we break them on a whim. Divorce is at an all time high, another broken vow (well he turned out to be a jerk, he deceived me!). On a scale of 1 to 10 how righteous ARE WE REALLY!  Compared to Joshua and his crew how do we measure? Jesus said, "those that hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS, they shall be filled". To suggest something be filled is based on the premise that it is empty. If you were busy talking and I asked to re-fill your cup of coffee, you would look down assuming to see it empty or mostly empty, otherwise I would not have asked.  Thence, Jesus is not recommending that we yearn to be filled with righteousness because we are, but rather because we are not. Did you ever file bankruptcy or have a discharge on a credit card? Hey, hard times happen, the issue is, did you return the stuff? I gather you didn't. It's one thing to go through hard times and have defaulted, but we default and we keep the stuff. In essence we end up with the goods without having paid for them even though we promised we would, "but I couldn't repay" then return them! "ughhh, well........" How righteous are Christians today compared to our predecessors?
     One lesson we could learn from Joshua is if we would seek God before making spontaneous promises we would find ourselves in less situations where we are tempted to break them. Never did Joshua seek God before he made this HUGE oath, a huge blunder, but yet Joshua, being a righteous man, HONOURED HIS OATH, regardless. I am convicted and challenged by Joshua's righteousness and perhaps that's exactly why God put that story there for us to read.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

APRIL 13 CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!

     I'm not so sure if "catch me if you can" is the best policy to follow in life.  There is a mindset that says, "it's a win win situation", if they catch me me oh well, what will they do and of course if they don't, I get away with it, so why confess?".  I'm sure Achan is thinking, "man, I almost got away with it, this is embarrassing, oh well, the risk was worth it".  Achan says, "yeah, it's in my tent, you found me out, go get it" (paraphrased by me of course).  Imagine his surprise  when Joshua says, "take him outside the camp and stone him TO DEATH, and his wife & sons too".  Now the RAMIFICATIONS of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN have been amped up. Now it's no longer a game of cat and mouse chase.  God cannot stand the "catch me if you can" mindset.  If we confess before we are caught, there will always be Grace and most of the time there will always be leniency with those you confessed to.  That being said, there are very few decisions in life, that I can think of, that are harder than turning oneself in.  I've been there and I'm sure so have you too.  There are times I have conjured up enough guts to turn myself in and other times where it was going to be a "catch me if you can". I can tell you EVERY TIME I have turned myself in, there has been Grace and EVERY TIME I have not, there has been severe ramifications. Probably the best deterrent for this is to think before you commit the deed, "would I have the guts to turn myself in, later on, if I do this" and if the answer to that question is "no way, I would never be able to admit to this" then you'd better run for your life!!!  Ted Haggard many years ago committed some heinous sexual sins that he knew, he would never be able to admit to anyone. Even when rumours started to come out and he was confronted, he lied and lied and lied. There was no way he would admit to what he was involved in, it was the truest case of "catch me if you can, I will never admit to this!"   Long story short, he was caught and the ramifications were great and our still playing out in his life 'till this day and as with Achan, his wife and sons have suffered with him. There is nothing in the world that is harder than turning your own self in, but you must; otherwise you will get caught, but when you do, there will be little Grace if any and the ramification will be far greater than you ever imagined. I doubt that Achan ever imagined that his family would be killed because of his "catch me if you can" game.  King David also lost his son playing this game with God.  POINT: If not for your own sake, then for those you love, if you are involved in a game of "catch me if you can", turn yourself in today and you will greatly decrease the damage and ramifications of your sin AND you will find GRACE with God.  If not, you will eventually get caught and others will suffer beyond your imagination because of your unwillingness to confess.

Monday, April 11, 2011

APRIL 11 WHAT CITIZENSHIP ARE YOU?

     I was coming in from Mexico this morning; after being held up for over an hour in line, I was quite anxious when I saw the border and the immigration officer in sight, i would any minute now and I would be through! Little did I know it would not be so. The immigration officer started to question me quite though roughly about my status as a U.S. Citizen because I handed him a Canadian Passport. Having come back from Canada only 8 months ago it is understandable that I would still have my Canadian Passport and not a U.S (or so I thought).  I told him, "first of all, it indicates on my Passport that I was born in the U.S. specifically Burbank, CA. and aside from that, let's say I am a Canadian, I still have a right to get in to the U.S. just based on that. Well...that did not go over so well....after being interrogated by the 3rd Immigration officer I lost it with his comment, "you Canadians..." (not that there's a problem with that). I said, #1, I am not a Canadian I was born in Burbank, California and I served my country in the United States Marine Corps and slapped my Veteran's Card down on the table (thank God I had that on me). That was the end of that whole scenario, they quickly let me go.  I was furious, I wanted justice, you cannot know how irritating it is to be harassed and interrogated and prevented from entering your own country. I'm an American for crying out loud, I'll sue, I'll get your badge, I'll...I'll, and that's when I thought about the Apostle Paul, who was whipped and beat by his own, even when he was a Roman Citizen. The soldiers perhaps assumed that Paul was not a Roman citizen because he identified himself with a lower class of people (at least in the Roman's eyes). Imagine their shock and fear when Paul told them he was a Roman Citizen!
"37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”  38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison".
     Instead of Paul using this great injustice to serve his own gain, to sue them, to vindicate himself, to get someone fired, Paul used it as an opportunity to get to witness to people he would otherwise never have come in contact with. Paul appeals to Caesar.  Paul never thought about the injustices done to him (like his Savior) as something worth lamenting over, but rather how he could use them as launching pads to preach the Gospel and save souls. I couldn't help but be convicted once again by Paul's stellar Christian Character. I couldn't help but be convicted about  how spiritual Paul was and how spiritual I'm not.  What is my true Citizenship? What Citizenship should I boast of the most, should it not be that I am a Citizen of Heaven, of the Kingdom of God. It's so easy to lose sight of this. I wonder what injustices done to you have cause your blood to boil, caused you to want vengeance and vindication? What lawsuits are you involved in, who are you suing? Who are you seeking justice from, in the large scheme of life and eternity, does it really matter? Paul was an incredible man of God, can I get an Amen?! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

APRIL 27 PLAN B

     GOD must be one of the most gracious entities we will ever know.  Bosses, go off on workers because they have failed or messed up their plans, family members cast us off because in their eyes, we have failed, friends lose respect for us when we fail or under achieve, but yet God, who's plans are Divine and have eternal ramifications is able to work with us when we fail him miserably and mess everything up.  He is able to get over his anger and still love us and even more important, still want to work with us in other endeavors. WOW!!  How gracious God is with Moses in this text, he simply tells Moses, "you messed up, you're not going in, now go up to Mount Nebo and there you will see the Land I am giving to the Israelites, but you won't go in because you failed me at the waters of Meribah Kadesh." [paraphrased by me].  When people fail us in our plans we want to "rip their heads off" (so to speak), read them the "riot act", "how could you, what's wrong with you....etc...." we go off, we condemn, we belittle, we swear we will never use them again, after all, our plans they have royally messed up.  I am grateful that we have a God that does not deal with us as we deserve! I am glad we serve a God who gives GRACE.  Grace is what I need, and I am glad he gives it to me ( question is do we give it to others as much as we expect it from God).  PLAN B is something (unbelievably) that God works with and he does not condemn us (though he could) that we are in PLAN B.  I have a harder time with PLAN B for my life than God does, yet it is his plans I messed up. So why am I more upset, why am I less capable of dealing with a PLAN B for my life, than God is? Why does He accept PLAN B when I cannot?  Each of us, or I should say most of us have messed up PLAN A. Most of us have failed and let God down. Thence, God has had to re-arrange things around for us. It was God's will for Moses to lead his people into the promised land. It was God's will that Moses enter the promised land and be blessed, but it will not be so, it's going to be Joshua.  However, be that as it may, God in his compassion and grace works with Moses in his failure.  We can become consumed with self pity and depression knowing we are in PLAN B, or we can get a proper perspective about it, move on and avoid a PLAN C!   It is good to reflect upon our mistakes and learn from them, but when we choose to dwell there in self pity we have crossed the line. God will allow us our time of mourning, but eventually he says, "okay, you have had your time to mourn, now it's time to get up and move on and continue to walk with me, I have more for you if you will get up, humble your pride and throw off self pity. Peter wanted to be the perfect disciple for Jesus (don't we all), Peter wanted nothing more than to make Jesus proud of him, but he failed miserably. Where would we be if Peter was not able to accept that he failed miserably, would always have that scar against his record, but yet had to get up and press on with his imperfect, flawed and failed attempts. Chances are you reading this blog have messed up your tract record, your record, as with most of us (including Peter, David, Moses, etc..etc...) has quite a few mess ups but yet the hope is, God is more than willing to re-arrange and re-create and work with us in a PLAN B, the question is, are we?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

APRIL 6 AM I CURSED?

     I could not get over this line and move on to the remainder of the text... " 19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The LORD will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the LORD will blot out their names from under heaven."
     THINKING...that we do and we do allot of it.  We do think to ourselves and we often think wrong. We are often biased in our thinking towards ourselves and we form wrong assumptions, wrong conclusions and then we march on with those false assumptions and conclusions not knowing we are cursed.  When I think of this scenario, it almost defines most people I know, and that is scary. They think, "I'm going to persist in my ways and somehow God's still got my back, greasy grace is what many call it. "I will not forgive them", says the Lord...many think that between the Old Testament and the New Testament God got saved...He went from this angry, short tempered God to this wonderful, nice & meek God. But He is ONE AND THE SAME GOD.  The principles remain the same from Old to New, what did change is the dogma, the rules, but the principles being taught endure thru out. To think that we can persist in our defiant ways and somehow think that because we have invoked a prayer, a blessing upon our lives that we are simply covered and we will be alright, is a completely false and idiotic assumption. You will be cursed in your ways and should you die in that state you will be eternally lost. " I will blot out their name from under heaven".  In Revelations, this supposed God who has so changed according to many, reiterates his disposition on those that will not correct and repent of their ways and He confirms that He is the same God (Old & New Testament) and once again mentions, " I will blot out your names from the Book of Life".  The great thing here is God mercifully exposes the wrong thinking/mindset of these people in hopes that there will be an opportunity for those people to be confronted, corrected and hopefully saved, but for the rest of us who God will probably not expose our thinking.  And sadly, we will not expose our thinking, our thoughts to anyone and we will continue to march in a certain direction, a certain frame of mind, based on our false misconceptions about God and we will walk right off a cliff and some will be eternally lost. You have thoughts, you have a way you think, a theology you have formed and you are not willing to share that with others....the word of caution from our text today is you could be in grave trouble, you could be living not a blessed life but a cursed life.  It is up to us to read the scripture and learn and then share, our thoughts and what we are thinking with a  mature & spiritual man/woman, that we can Trust will tell us the truth so we can be corrected, even as God, who is merciful (yes even the God of the O.T.) was wanting these to be corrected and not continue on in their false assumptions. Likewise he is wanting us, we, you..to be corrected so you, we, I... can be blessed and not continue on falsely thinking you will be alright when you will not, as a matter of a fact, he goes so far as to say, "you will be cursed and not forgiven".

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

APRIL 5 ARE YOU SPIRITUALLY MATURE?

     WE know that a mother gets her loving and nurturing instinct from God, but here's where God and the mother differentiate; a Mother ALWAYS comforts, God DOES NOT always comfort. I know we hear Chrisitan songs that make us wonder, "what's wrong with me" where the vocalist sings out, "everytime I call upon God he wraps his arms around me" but I don't find that in scripture. What I read this morning illustrates to us a man, a desperate man, who is crying out to his God and he is not being comforted.  "at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted."  Then the Psalmist goes on to write, "6 I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
 7 “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
      I ADMIRE this man because he is able to be honest enough to say, " I cried out to God and he did nothing for me, he did not comfort me, I feel rejected by him, his favor has left my life it seems" but he's end conclusion is not, "I guess God isn't real then or he's wicked" his conclusion is, "I will continue to appeal to him, this is bound to change".  Here's a mature believer, he has determined that God exists, no if, whens or but's about it and he has also determined that God is good. This is not a man that is "tossed to and fro in his faith, like a flag in the wind", he is not a man that is "unstable in all his ways" he is man that has determined, God exists and He (Jehovah) is good, end of story, nothing to debate or ponder upon.  For us, it's different, everytime God doesn't comfort or answer we go into this whole debate in our minds, "is God real, is his nature good". BUT not this man. If only we would all come to the spiritual maturity this man has come to. He can admit, "God is ignoring me, God is not comforting me, his favor has lifted and then say, "oh well, i will continue to appeal to him".  I hope my son knows that he can appeal to his father, that although I may ingore him at times, I hope my son knows that I do love him and he can continue to appeal to me, and that for whatever reason I am ingoring him at the time, that eventually, his continuous appeal to me and my good nature, will come together. Our opinion of God should not continuously change based on his response or lack of response. David said, "these are things to lofty for me to understand", God is to big for us to fully understand. Why God is ignoring him he does not know and he does not try to figure out, he simply says, "oh well, I don't know why God has rejected me and not comforted me at this time, but I will mediate, think upon all the good things he has done for me in the past" and then I will go to sleep and wake up the next morning with a right heart and attitude towards this awesome and glorious God, to which I can never fully understand or figure out.

Monday, April 4, 2011

APRIL 4 IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU BABY!!!

     Mary and Martha, this has always been a peculiar story to me.  As one that has hosted many social gatherings, I know and can relate to the stress of hosting.  While everyone else is enjoying themselves, you are left with the responsibility of the dinner, the preparation, the serving and timing of all. You don't have the leisure to just sit around and chat, ie: Mary!  At first we can think Jesus is being insensitive to Martha's predicament, after all, why isn't Mary helping? Wouldn't we all love to be able to just sit down, relax and be served. I'm sure Martha was relying on Mary's help. My impression of this story is that Martha is right in being vexed with Mary. Mary is in the wrong and should have been helping her friend out. However, Jesus does not agree with my assessment, so then I must go back and re-examine because I would think, Jesus' assessment is the right one, not mine. If you just make a judgement by what is being displayed anyone would make the same assessment, but Jesus is looking past the exterior, into the heart of the matter. Mary did slack off, no doubt, but her heart was right and Jesus is always concerned about the heart.  Mary was guilty of not helping, but why was she guilty? Is it because Mary is lazy? If that was the case, Jesus would have rebuked Mary for not helping. So we know Mary didn't leave Martha to herself because she was lazy, she left Martha to herself because she was consumed with Jesus. Somehow Jesus' being there just caused Mary to forget about everything else, nothing else really mattered.  Somehow, even with Jesus being in her home, Martha was able to put that aside and concentrate on what was more important. What could be more important that Jesus? According to Martha, her meal, what she was preparing. What was more important than Jesus to Martha? Martha was more important!  41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
     Honestly, I've had guests in my home where I was more concerned with impressing them than I actually was "with them".  In other words, in the end, it's about me, not them. This is about Jesus, not Martha, but she is trying to turn it around. Remember, Jesus had the ability (and still does) to see right through us, to see our true motives (blessed are the pure in heart).  Sometimes we do things for others, but are true motive is to turn it around to make us look good. Martha is more concerned about how she looks, how she impresses Jesus; Mary could care less about how she looks in front of Jesus (even risking looking lazy), Mary has no hidden agenda but to be with Jesus and Jesus is able to see Martha's heart in this situation and he is able to see Mary's heart and he makes a judgment call.  "Yes Martha, you're doing allot, you're working hard (supposedly for me) but really it's all about you and I'm sorry, though on the outward it looks like you're in the right and Mary is in the wrong, I'm going to side with Mary on this one" and what a shock that must have been to Martha! What a shock it may be to some of us one day when Jesus tells us, "it was all about you", you made it seem like it was all about me, but in all reality, you and I know both know...., it was ALL ABOUT YOU!