Monday, June 30, 2014
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Friday, June 27, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
David can’t help but Praise God with the heart of gratitude that he has. We get a glimpse of where some of his gratitude comes from in the Psalm, “Praise the Lord, who is my rock, He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.” How many times did David go into battle for
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I think we all know this Shunemmite woman. She exists in every church. She is that woman of extraordinary faith in God to move on her behalf; and you know what, He does! The Shunemmite woman believes God has given her the son she has and when he is taken away, she goes back to God, or at least her source to God and demands him back and Elisha raises her son from the dead. I believe her reasoning here, in our text is the same. She believes God is the source of all she has and she is right; therefore the land she had, that she has lost, was from God and she is believing God to give her that land back just like He gave her back her son. The only problem is, with her son, she had Elisha to go to, in this case who does she have? This is a woman who acts in faith, not logic. Logic would says, “she doesn't have a snow ball’s chance in Hell” of getting that land back, but with God all things are possible to them that believe. Her job as a believer is to motion forward and allow God to do the miracle. This is by divine orchestration that the moment she walks in to see the King, there is Gehazi, of all people, telling the King, the story about the Shunemmite Woman’s boy that Elisha raised from the dead and who walks in, but the Shunemmite Woman. The king not only restores all her land to her but also recompenses her for her crops. Once again, this woman walks away, with what God had originally given to her, but was taken away. How many Christians do you know that have had God give them blessings over the years, but today, they don’t have them. Those blessings have been taken away and they have accepted that and moved on, but they are not the same. They wonder, “why did God give me that blessing, only to take it away?”. Maybe there is a lesson to learn from this little woman. Sometimes we must fight for what God has given us. Sometimes we must go after, by Faith, what the enemy has taken away from us. Jesus said, “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly, but the thief, comes to steal, kill and destroy”. Maybe you have been robbed by the enemy, would you believe in God, by Faith, to get back what the enemy has stolen? You’ll never know if you don’t try and believe. Motion forward, make a move and then sit back and allow God to the miracle.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I remember many years ago Pastoring in a Church where there was some minor issues, that were quickly escalating to major issues. My options were to ignore it or confront it. I looked at the parties involved and what I saw was a group of men that were strongly opinionated, but also mature and strong in their faith. So based on that, I chose the option of confronting, head on. We all met at every Christian’s church outside of church, ie; Starbucks and just brought out all the gossip and rumblings. The situation was fragile and could have easily escalated out of my control, but it didn't! I believe that when you are dealing with two or more mature Christians, solid in their faith, you should be able to bring up any issue, discuss any matter and still be able to have a civil conversation or even a civil argument; and not all leave hating each other and wanting to leave the church and/or ministry. If ever you have one of these meetings and things do not go well, it is because you were wrong in your assessment of the maturity and faith of the Christians you were meeting with. Paul and Barnabas are exactly the type of men of which I've been speaking (writing). They are both strongly opinionated, but are also strong in their faith and mature. We of course want to know, “who’s right, who’s wrong”. We of course would pay anything to find out “who’s side was God on in that argument?” What if God respected both their opinions! What if God didn't take sides? Why does someone always have to be right and someone always has to be wrong? The same thing that causes fighting at home is the same thing that causes fighting and dissension at Church. When you have a group of people that are brought together on a regular basis, that are immature, but yet strongly opinionated, you’re going to have strife. And in this case you will say, “two is not better than one” it’s a nightmare and NO I will not agree to disagree. Paul and Barnabas remain great friends through this blow out. Not only do Paul and Barnabas remain great friends, but Paul and Mark also become very good friends and ministry partners later on. This one time argument isn’t the death blow between Paul, Barnabas and Mark. As with many Christians today, one blow out, one argument is the death blow to a friendship that had been going on for years. Now the friendship is over, they are leaving the Church, years of relationship now will be thrown away, it just makes no sense. And it makes no sense because it’s wrong and it’s wrong because the people are wrong. Trying to make sense out of people who are just wrong, jaded or twisted in their hearts and faith is a futile exercise. Today’s reading displays to us what “Christianity should look like” and if you see anything else that does not look like what you saw (read) today, don’t try to make sense out of it, don’t try to justify it, just call it for what it is, say, “I know Christianity when I see it and what I saw take place today between those two, was not Christianity” or the opposite could be true, “I know Christianity and what I saw take place between those two church members today, is a classic example of two earnest Christians, mature and strong and faith and they, like Paul and Barnabas have agreed to disagree and yet remain friends and partners in the ministry”.
Monday, June 23, 2014
The Word of God declares, “two are better than one”. There are many reasons why two are better than one and here in our story, we have a perfect illustration of how that works. What happens is this woman’s son from Shunem dies. We are not sure what happened, let’s say it’s a tumor or brain aneurism, he screams out his head is hurting; next thing you know the child is dead. We have a wife and husband in this story. The husband accepts, perhaps, to simply “take the hit”, as I’m sure this hurt. The wife resolves something completely different. While the husband accepts the death, the wife will not. She has resolved to contend for this miracle (the boy) that God gave her. When she is saddling up to head out, the husband thinks she is going to see the man of God for some religious ceremony. Little does she know she is going to fight for the life of her son. This is why two are better than one in a home, in raising children and even when there are no children. It brings a great help and advantage to life. In this particular situation, had it been left to the husband, this boy’s life would have been over. In this tragedy, it is the wife’s faith that rises up. In my life experiences, with my wife, there have been times when her faith was low for a particular trial, event or tragedy and my faith was high and it brought us through; then there were other seasons where it was my wife’s faith that rose up when mine was flat. It is unfortunate in homes where you have a single parent trying to carry the load, trying to always have all the faith, for all of life’s events, trials and tragedies. And the reality is they “will not” have faith for all of life’s events, trials and tragedies, which means there will be times, when something could have lived (keeping in the analogy of the boy) but died. Had the dad been a single parent in this story, the boy would not have lived. From the very beginning, God ordained, this concept of two, starting with Adam and Eve. The idea is when one is weak, the other is strong and so they keep each other from falling. This is the great tragedy of the Garden. Yes it is horrible that Eve was seduced, but even worse is that God’s plan failed. Two are better than one, failed here. It is normal that on any given day, one can be low, can be weak, but the plan is that the other comes along and helps, encourages, brings faith into the situation, brings sound judgment to the table, brings courage into the situation. Unfortunately, on this day, Adam comes into the situation, where Eve is weak, a perfect opportunity for this concept to work, Adam could have taken the apple out of her hand, thrown it to the ground and interceded for Eve and who knows where we would be today, but in his moment to shine, he doesn’t. In this story, the way God meant it to be prevails and it is a “happy ending” as we all like to read.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Monday, June 16, 2014
Thursday, June 12, 2014
People who want what we got, but don’t have what we got are a dangerous and crazy species. It’s a long standing issue in Christian circles and my guess is it will never go away until the Church is raptured. Until then, we will have to put up with heretics, Apostates, hypocrites and hirelings within the Church of Jesus Christ. Peter, you and I would deem this as completely ridiculous that someone would think he could buy what we have and what God is doing through our lives, but to them it is perfectly normal. This is what happens when people come into the Church but do not convert. There is only one approach with people like this and that is the approach that Peter takes, it is a direct, confrontational approach. We would never deal with a sincere church member like this, no matter how much they are struggling, this would not be the method, ie: “repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps He will forgive your evil thoughts, for can see you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin”. This is definitely the “direct approach” no beating around the bush here. However this is how you deal with such people. And the results, “Pray to the Lord for me, Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things won’t happen to me”. Are the results always like this...the answer to that is a definitive NO, but it is still the best approach. With the disciples Jesus exercised grace and compassion, with the religious & twisted people of the day, Jesus was stern and confrontational. “you are of your father, the devil”, just to quote one line from Jesus. Crazies will be part of our experience until Jesus’ return and our duty as sober minded Christians is to not allow them to distract and divert us from our mission and calling.
Our duty as Christians is to protect the sheep from them, our duty as Christians is never to become “one of them”. How do we become “one of them”, endless amount of ways, but the one I think is most worthy of mentioning is sitting under the preaching of God’s word week after week and then going out and living a life that completely defies what you hear preached Sunday after Sunday. This is not like when we were in false and powerless religion before we got saved. Now we are no longer ignorant, now we are sitting under Holy Ghost Preaching, hearing the truth and when we do that Sunday after Sunday and then go out and live a life that is contradictory we will eventually become twisted, pervert the truth and become deceived. The Word of God “warns” us not to be “hearers only” but “be doers” of what we hear. Some of the craziest people I’ve met in my life were not raw pagans or Satanists even, they were religious and twisted people. Many of these men and women can quote scripture, many can talk spiritual platitudes, but they won’t live it, they are heretics, apostates and of such, the bible says, “have nothing to do with them” and if you must encounter one, follow Peter’s method and perhaps, a miracle will happen in their convoluted and twisted heart.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
A little disobedience can’t hurt, right? Well then, let’s remove that scripture in Proverbs that God put in there that says, “ a little fly spoils all the ointment”. As we are busy reading about all the good things Solomon is doing “for the Lord”, …..the building of the Temple, the making of all the Holy Artifacts that will be used for worship and sacrifices for generations to come; there, mixed in the middle of all that, we read “he also built similar living quarters for Pharaoh’s daughter…whom he had married”. In the middle of all that good, surely there is room for a little faux-pas? Surely the Lord will overlook my one little transgression in the midst of all this good I’m doing. Solomon was not the last person to ever think like that. Many of God’s people think like that, not just Solomon. If Solomon was waiting for a sign, a bad omen to convince him he had done wrong, he didn’t get one. He didn’t’ get struck with lightning, the ground did not open up and swallow him and his idolizing, false god worshipping, Egyptian Wife! No, none of that happened. We disobey God, disobey his written word and then want God to re-confirm to us that we have done wrong by some sign or bad omen and when we don’t get that, we conclude, “then it must be okay after all”. However, this is not a game, God doesn’t say things he doesn’t mean. He doesn’t have to re-confirm to us what He has already spoken on. The good we do, doesn’t cover up the bad, the bad actually nullifies the good. If Solomon was waiting for a sign from God, he didn’t get one, God was silent on this, other than making sure it was put in the scripture. The sign Solomon would get, is the consequences he would suffer, when years later, the women who worshipped foriegn gods, would turn his heart against Jehovah. You may be a great giver, a great witnesser, a super faithful church member, but do you really think because of that you can disobey God in other area, no matter how small or insignificant, “you” think it is. That one little area of your life, of willful disobedience may just be your undoing some day. If you are waiting for a sign, you probably will not get one, God has already spoken on the issue in His Word and He doesn’t need to repeat himself. The only sign you will get, is the consequences you reap down the road and then it will be too late.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Friday, June 6, 2014
Opportunities to do wrong never stop knocking on your door. How long do I have to resist, how long do I need to keep saying “no”? I've been resisting temptation for so long, how much longer? Well, for the man and/or woman that finally gives in, the answer is…. “not long enough”. For the man who finally gives in to the seductress at work, ruins his marriage and turns his kids against him, the answer will be, “it wasn't long enough”. For the young girl who had vowed to God to maintain her purity, but one night, alone with her boyfriend, gives in to his advances, the answer for her will be, “not long enough”. Joab has been faithful to David for a long, long time but the bible says, “although Joab did not go after Absalom, he did go after Adonijah. Joab resisted the temptation to defect and go with Absalom, the King’s son, when Absalom lead a rebellion, although I’m sure Joab was tempted, but yet resisted. Years go by and Joab has another opportunity to do wrong, this time with another of David’s sons, Adonijah. And this time, Joab defects with Adonijah and this ultimately leads to Joab’s death. How long was long enough for Joab, apparently, not long enough. There was nothing anymore special about Adonijah as compared to Absalom, the only difference between the two men, was timing. Absalom’s temptation to Joab was at a time where Joab was determined to stand strong, a little longer….The question everyone wants answered, is “how much longer?”. How long is long enough? The answer will always be, “not long enough”. Until you breathe your last breath, the answer is “not long enough”. Until your spouse passes away or you pass away, the answer is “not long enough”. Until you stand at the altar with your future bride, the answer is “not long enough”. We want to resist temptation for a set time, we want the time defined, put it in writing, then I will know, I only have to resist for this much longer, but life doesn't work like that and it is a shame to see men and women that we have served God with for so many years and have seen them be faithful and loyal for such a long time, only one day, to see them finally give in to temptation and wreck everything they have striven for over the years; therefore the answer today, to anyone that would ask, “how long” the answer would be “not long enough” just ask Joab!
Thursday, June 5, 2014
“For they are but sheep” Why does David refer to the people as “sheep”. If they are sheep, what is he? By calling them sheep David is making a distinction between himself and them. In other words, “they are sheep” and “I am not”, so bring the affliction on me”. So if David is not a sheep, what is he inferring, to God? And of course you already know the answer to that, David is inferring that he is a Shepherd and they are but sheep. Jesus looked over
and was grieved for the people, for they were lost sheep without a
shepherd. Jesus is also inferring that
He is not a sheep, but a Shepherd. Moses
also made a distinction between himself and the people of Israel. Moses
was the Shepherd and the Israelites were the sheep that constantly went
astray. Isaiah writes, “all of us like
sheep have gone astray”. Amos made a
distinction between himself and the people, he was a shepherd and they were
sheep. All 3 men, Moses, David and Amos,
were both, literal Shepherds and figuratively. It seemed like an easy
transition for Jesus to take men that had watched over helpless and vulnerable
sheep and get them to transition over to watching and caring over, often,
helpless and vulnerable humans. There is an interesting thought here, that is scary
to even bring up; and that it is….sometimes “the sheep” are suffering because
of decisions “the shepherd” has made. In our story seventy thousand lives
perish because of the shepherd’s decision. I’m not sure how much of that side
of the story ever got out to the people of Israel or how many knew? Shepherds
are obviously there to protect the sheep. How many sheep do you know that have
been hurt because of decisions the Shepherd has made? This is why this is scary
to bring up because we don’t want a mutiny on our hands, Sunday morning in our
churches. “You Mr. Shepherd, we are voting you off the island [so to speak], we
read this week about how the sheep are hurt because of decisions the Shepherd
makes and now that makes me think of that time….” And you can see where it goes from there.
However, before we get a chip on our shoulders, Shepherds have often been bit
by the sheep, hurt and wounded also. (I know what you’re thinking, “it’s
expected of the sheep, to bite, but not the Shepherd…and this is true). However,
it’s a give and take relationship and God does not fire/remove David as
Shepherd for his blunder as much as we would like. Just remember, what Jesus
said, with the same measure you judge others; Jesus will use that same
measuring scale/rod to judge you. We can
judge (contrary to what unlearned people might say) but remember, be careful,
once you have passed a verdict, a judgment on someone else, even if it be true,
God will say, “okay, you’re right, I will take care of this, but will now be watching
you and measuring you to that standard also”. Who is “the Shepherd?” Well, for sure The
Pastor, is the head Shepherd in The Church but he doesn’t have to be the only
one. A Shepherd is one who leads, cares and watches over Sheep. I was a
Shepherd in my church long before I had the title “Pastor”. The point is, it is
up to you to discern, “sheep or shepherd”. If you are a sheep, then don’t be a
sheep that bites and if you are a Shepherd, don’t be a Shepherd that causes the
sheep to be harmed. No matter where you fall under in this two categories, do
your best to raise the bar, the standard, not bring it down. Sheep or Shepherd? You decide and be the best
one you can be.