Sunday, January 31, 2016

JANUARY 31 "SCRIPTURE WE LOVE & HATE"

"Whatsoever you ask and believe, it shall ge given unto thee", declares Jesus. This is both the scripture we love and the scripture we hate. It is the scripture we love because it inspires us of all we can have in and through Christ.  It is the scripture we hate because it reminds us of the endless possibilities that are not coming to pass in our lives; it is both the scripture we love and we hate. If only for one word, how different it could be.  One word, a word we wish Jesus had left out of the equation.  The word that ruins it for us, a condition that often nullifies this scripture for us....and that word, that condition that Jesus throws in, is that we must BELIEVE.  "whatsoever you ask and BELIEVE".  JESUS throws in a condition that is very difficult for us humans, even Christians. While we may all claim to be believers in Jesus, we are not all believers in His promises, we are not all believers in His Word. I would say that if we are true believers in Jesus, then that only came by and through, Divine enlightenment. However, believing in Jesus' promises now is going to have to take some Faith. We are brought to faith in Jesus by Divine enlightenment but from that point on, Jesus says, "according to your faith (now) let it be done on to you." Will we love or hate this scripture in our reading today?  Depends on your disposition. If you are a man or woman of Faith, you love this scripture and you hold on to it and cherish it. However, if you are a man or woman of little faith, then you hate this scripture because it reminds you of all that you could have, but that you don't have because of your unbelief. Test yourself.....today when you read that scripture did you say, " yes and Amen!" or did you utter...."yeah right....if only that were true!" Well, the fact is, that scripture is true, to some, even if it's not to you. This is why it is both the scripture we love (to some) and the scripture we hate (to others).  What side of the panel are you on?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

JANUARY 30 "DO YOU HAVE GOD'S FAVOR?"

     I am not a big supporter of those Christians who find themselves hated by everyone. I understand the word's of Jesus, "they hate you because they hated me" and it is human nature to go to the one scripture in the bible (when there are plenty more) to justify our carnality and un-Christ like behavior.  Time and time again you will read that God's people have always been a people of favor. Yes, we will always have our enemies, we will always have the devil's ponds opposing us, but we will also have God's favor with the heathen. Our scripture clearly states "The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh's officials and by the people". Isolated incident???? No, this is a common theme through out the bible and SHOULD BE a common theme throughout your life, my life.  Daniel, Joseph, Ezra, Zerrubabel, Shadrack, Esther and the list goes on and on of "Godly, Spiritual, men/women" whom God gave favor with the heathen.  There is always going to be the exception to the rule, but by and large this ought to be our experience. What I have often seen over the years is neighbors, co-workers and family that were absolutely enraged with us (Christians) be the very same people that come around and do more to help us than anybody else, when we(Christians) were in need, why? Because God made them favorably disposed towards us; even though we may enrage them like nobody else, in time of need, you will see that God makes them favorably disposed towards his people. I am amazed at the empathy, favor and help I have received from the very people that I thought I had so enraged, but when I was in a time of need, God moved upon them to help me even more so than my fellow Christian Brothers and sisters and this is what God does in our text today. It is not an isolated incident, it is a common occurrence, a common theme, that God will give us favor with the unsaved, he will give us favor, with the very ones we have enraged with our witness (not other carnal reasons)

Friday, January 29, 2016

JANUARY 29 "THE BATTLE OF THE MIRACLES"

     BE careful of hinging your witness on the miracles that God does because you may find yourself taken back a little when you hear that you are not the only one that has experienced miracles. You may say, "live righteously, serve the true God and then you will experience miracles". Problem is you will find out that there are many who are not living righteously, serving false gods that have experienced miracles too! If our aim is to convince by miracles we will fail or worse, misguide people only to find out the people we were trying to win are now caught up in a counterfeit revival that is full of supernatural manifestations, but yet is not God, what will you say then after you put such an emphasis on "miracles". According to God's word our power is in our testimony. Sinners, religious people, folks caught up in the occult our counterfeit revivals may have plenty of testimonies of the "supernatural" but the one thing they do not have a testimony of  is a changed life, deliverance and salvation. Revelations says it is by the "word of our testimony" that we overcome. If we are going to start engaging in a battle of miracles....you may just lose. You may just find out that the person you are trying to convert, once prayed the rosary in his car in a near death experience and right after he prayed his rosary, a miracle happened. What will you say to that?  A Buddhist may tell you that she prayed to Buddha for her child to be healed and that moment her child was healed, what will you say to that?  Our scripture in today's reading clearly opens our eyes to the fact that Jehovah is not the only one who has the ability to do perform miracles.  Jesus would not cater to this "show me a miracle" so I can convert idea...to the unconverted Jesus said the opposite, "a miracle you will not see except as Jonah was in the belly of a whale for 3 days so the son of man will be..." in other words, the only miracle you will get is my dieing for your sins and raising from the dead.  In other words, the first miracle you need to see is your salvation which will only come by repentance. People who try to strong arm God into showing them a miracle before they get saved will never get that miracle. Jesus (God)  knew that all the miracles in the world will not bring a soul to repentance, He pulled every miracle in the book with Pharaoh and to the Egyptians but it only moved them for a bit,  not long after the miracle, the "change of heart" brought forth by the miracle was quickly dismissed and they returned to their stubborn and defiant ways.  We can speak of the miracles that God has done for us to unbelievers, but remember, our greatest power and punch when witnessing will be the power of our testimony and if they will not listen to that than so be it..

Thursday, January 28, 2016

JANUARY 28 "WHY WITNESS, NOBODY LISTENS!"

     Chapter 6 Verse 4 "He will not listen to you" God says, but go tell him anyway! (That makes a lot of sense!) It's important we REMEMBER this. This is most of our witnessing, most of the time we are witnessing to people who will not listen or convert to God's ways (like Pharaoh) and the danger is that we clam up, because nobody is interested or getting "saved".  However, we must remember this text and also many verses in Jeremiah where God explicitly tells Jeremiah to go preach and also tells Jeremiah, "they will not repent". THE POINT...not all witnessing and speaking for God is "to save" but rather "to judge". God will use our witness to save some and judge others, but there is a purpose ALWAYS. In this case, with Pharaoh, he's not going to "get saved" but God is going to use Moses' attempt to judge Pharaoh, "did not my servant Moses come to you?".  The sad reality, is that allot of our witnessing will be used by God to "judge souls" in eternity rather than save. "Go speak this to Pharaoh", God says, even though he will not listen because I will use it to judge him, I will use it to show that I am a just and fair God, that I show no partiality and I am no respecter of persons.  God did not program Pharaoh to have a hard heart and be stiff necked, he simply worked with what was there. Even Judas, Jesus worked with Judas until the very last hour and minute, even calling him friend at the very end.   Are you at a place where you won't speak for God anymore because "they won't listen", God says, tell them anyway so that they will never be able to say, " I didn't know...I would have let your people go, had I known....but Moses never told me?"  God says, "no, Moses did tell you, no Richard did tell you, no (put in your name) did tell you, SEVERAL TIMES and the judgement you will now face, you have only one person to blame and that is yourself, you hardened your heart to those I sent and refused to listen and even knowing that you would not listen, I sent them anyway to show that I am a just and fair God.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

JANUARY 27 "SORRY, I THOUGHT I HEARD FROM GOD"

     Not only must we fight against our human nature to do the good deeds God is trying desperately to prompt us to do, but then when we do venture forward we are hit with demonic opposition and that's often when we throw our hands up in the air and say, "God I tried, but this is ridiculous, things are only getting worse, I'm done" and we never look back or try again. "If God really wanted me to do that or succeed in what he asked he should have taken care of the opposition", we say to ourselves. Surely I would have said this in this horrible situation Moses has been put in and put the Israelite s in. The very people he is trying to save and deliver revolt against him and are ready to take his head off, and for a good reason!  Due to Moses meddling, they are now being beat and no longer is straw being provided for them to build their bricks. There's no way to look at this and say, "it's okay, really....". And if I were Moses I would have apologized to the people for ever meddling and apologized to Pharaoh and asked him to stop beating the people, give them back their straw and I would be gone on my way and I would have told God, "leave me alone".  Ever try to help by God's prompting and things only get worse? And we don't hear directly from God like Moses did, so it makes it that much more difficult, "did I really hear from God on this?" we begin to ask ourselves. And then the doubt comes in, "I'm not so sure this is God's prompting anymore". And so how do you know? With Moses he was able to go back and hear from God again. I have to believe that we too are able to go back to God and hear from him again. The answer is the same for us as it was for Moses. "No it's not! God doesn't speak audibly to me!!!".  No He does not, but through prayer and His Word we have to believe that He still speaks and still guides and still prompts. No He doesn't speak audibly but we are supposed to have the Holy Spirit within us, which Moses didn't. In the end, it should be the same. Whether an audible voice that won't leave us alone or an inner prompting that won't leave us alone, we should all, whether 2500 years ago or 25 days ago, still be able ti discern what God is prompting us to do.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

JANUARY 26 "HOW QUICKLY THINGS CHANGE"

As I’m reading this story all I can think about is how quickly things can change. And that frightens me!  Moses in such a quick turn of events goes from living a luxurious life in the Palace of Pharaoh, with all the privileges of a Pharaoh’s son, to running for his life, forced away from all luxury and privilege, to living in the desert completely alone with absolutely nothing but the clothes on his back.  Now he’s in the wilderness, sitting by a well talking to the Priest of Midian and the marrying his daughter and becoming a Shepherd. We read even while Moses is in the Midian, he comes to the rescue of the women who came to the well to draw water. This is now the 3rd time we read of Moses entering into this mode of “rescuer” (twice in Egypt and now once in Midian).  Change is never good for the human Psyche, it messes us up royally. However, as a child of God can we trust in the providence of God when dramatic change comes unannounced to our lives, easier said, than done, I know, but still a truth in God’s word. Remember, the change that God was bringing was never to change what God had put in Moses, the innate sense of a rescuer/defender of the weak and oppressed. God put this in Moses and He never intended to change that in Moses. God did however intend to change a few other dynamics of Moses’ life and personality and we should not be surprised then that God re-visits Moses to tap into that innate rescuer/defender in him, to go rescue his people out of Egypt. Even with all the truths and insight I’ve just elaborated on, I will tell you I am still afraid to ever have to face the sudden and drastic changes that Moses had to go through. We have to believe that this changes were prompted by God. I would never suggest that God prompted Moses to murder; God did not, however God is in control of the master plan, regardless. Whether Moses murdered or not, Moses was going to be uprooted. We are not in control of the winds, but even man has enough wisdom to use the winds to get him to sail to his intended destination, regardless of whether the winds are blowing south or north, we have learned to harness those winds to get us to go in any direction we want. Change is a very scary situation for someone who is lost and without Christ, you are the ship who’s sails have been ripped and torn down. But I must believe, that as a child of God, that even the most severe and drastic changes in my life must be allowed and/or ordained of God and that somehow, in the master plan of God, things will work out for His purposes, even if it’s not pleasant. We are at the beginning of a New Year, no doubt by the time we reach December; some of us will have encountered some drastic change in our lives. The question is how will we cope with it? Will we lose our bearings and find ourselves lost, will we loses our victory and become depressed and give up or will we zero back in on our true north (Jesus Christ) and find our way? Even hundreds of miles away from Egypt, in Midian, sitting by a well talking to a Midian Priest, we are never truly lost or out of God’s will, when we are a child of God!

Monday, January 25, 2016

JANUARY 25 "FEAR & LOVE CO-EXIST TOGETHER"

     Most disingenuous, religious folks would rather talk about their Love for God rather than their Fear of God. They have so much LOVE for God, but no fear, which explains why they live the contradictory lives they live. It is not the LOVE my son has for me (and he does love me dearly) that keeps him from mouthing off to his mother or I, it is his FEAR of me that keeps him from doing so. Love is not enough to keep us right in any relationship. We cannot love someone so much that it keeps us from all wrong doing. Why did God choose to inspire the author of our text to write verse 17 "The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt told them to do; they let the boys lives".  Why not..."because the midwives LOVED GOD they did not do what the King of Egypt told them to do"  Why not have it written like that? BECAUSE it would not be true!  Yes they loved God, but in this particular situation it was not love that caused them to do the right thing  it was fear.  I love God too, but I must confess, there are days where I can be so off tract, so low, so discouraged that on those days, weeks...or months, there is one thing that keeps me and that is The Fear of God.  Disingenuous religious Christians all have this lacking in their lives, a genuine fear of God.  Don't ever lose your fear of God, the bible says it was the beginning of your wisdom and if you ever lose it you become a fool again. I've met many fools in the Church of Jesus Christ, they are doing unspeakable things that you have to know is going to bring severe judgment on their lives, if not in this life, the life to come for sure, but all they want to speak about is their Love for God and there is a day approaching that will be a rude awakening for them, never lose your fear of God. Always walk reverently and fearfully in his presence.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

JANUARY 24 "I GOT AWAY WITH IT...I THOUGHT?"

  Ever do something you thought there was going to be "hell to pay" so to speak, but yet, no thunder cracked, you did not fall in a pit of mud, you didn't get struck with lighting, you didn't get fired, as a matter of a fact, nothing happened and you thought...I GOT AWAY WITH IT. This is what Reuben thought all these years, the firstborn son to whom all the rights and blessing should be bestowed, but it is when Jacob is distributing the blessings (symbolic of God) that he says, "Reuben, you are my firstborn, my my might, excelling in honor.......you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father's bed onto my couch and defiled it"  OUCH!  Where did that come from, if Jacob knew about it why didn't he do something years earlier? ALL blessing flows down from God. People who are blessed are not those that gave the gal at McDonald's back the extra change on Sunday. It's those who over the long term live righteously, act justly and show mercy and compassion.  There are things we do, ways we treat people, areas we compromise in that never seems to get us hit with lightening but God does have seasons when he distributes blessings and that's when it hits.  Joseph was not blessed because of a few good decisions he made (running away from Potipher's wife), but rather from his righteous disposition in life, he wasn't perfect, but for the most part he lived righteously and reverently before God and at the end of the day, you cannot help but look at Joseph's life and say, "the dude is blessed". There are Christians that you can't help but look at and say, "they're blessed" and it's good to remember that it's not because God is a respecter of persons, but because he keeps good books, Reuben, this is what you're going to get, and Joseph, this is what you're going to get and God makes a clear distinction here in our text. This principle is consistent through out scripture and the principle applies both here on earth and also in eternity. God doesn't make this distinction every day, but he does make it when he chooses. As the old saying goes, God does pay, but it's not always on Friday!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

JANUARY 23 "KEEP ME AWAY FROM WILLFUL SIN"

The Psalmist writes and/ or prays "keep me from willful sins".  Would I sin willfully? Aren't all my sins just a case where I was caught off guard, backed in to a corner or baited by Satan? Are there different kinds of sin? Yes there are! There's willful sin, sins of commission and sins of omission. We may think "what did I do now to sin?" However sometimes we have sinned not because we did something but we have sinned because we didn't do anything, these are sins of omission. We failed to act, we failed to judge something, we failed to speak out, failed to correct a wrong, failed to intervene, failed to help, all these are sins of omission. James explains in his epistle that "to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin", a sin of omission! The Psalmist confesses that in him are " willful sins". These are sins that we willfully committed. We were not caught off guard or anything of the such. We thought about and said, " yip, that's what I'm gonna do today and there ain't nobody stopping me!" And we go out and do the deed. These are willful sins and are probably the worse. These are the sins that the Psalmist prays that God would help him overcome. Not only because these sins are the most displeasing to God but because they are also the sins that will bring the greatest repercussions. We could really make a lot of progress in our walk with God if we could get  dominion over " willful sins", nothing sets a Christian back further than willful sin and willful disobedience.  There is Grace is each day for the sins that caught us off guard, perhaps you were pressed and pressed and lost your temper, there is Grace, but for the individual who sets his or her mind on a specific sin and then completely ignores the conviction of the Holy Spirit, goes out and does the deed, inspite of knowing better.....I wonder how much Grace there is in that situation. No doubt if we should later, truly repent, there will be Grace and Forgiveness, as promised by God, but there will also be grave repercussions for willful sin.

Friday, January 22, 2016

JANUARY 22 "IS THERE AN EASIER WAY THAN A MIRACLE?"

We think, "what could be easier than a miracle?" Truth be known, God's people often think an "easier way" is just to send the problem away! An easier way would be to think logically, foresee the problem and then counter it with a solution. In our eyes, anything is easier than to have to wait on Jesus and hope he does " a miracle". The disciples foresee the problem that is coming and the miracle they are going to need to feed all these people. A miracle however, requires faith, a miracle brings with it anxiety and stress, a miracle, that's hard on us, why not just send them away before we get stuck having to BELIEVE God for A Miracle. The disciples approach Jesus and suggest sending the people away....and what does Jesus say,   "you feed them!" The very thing they were trying to avoid, Jesus makes them face. We are trying to avoid having to believe Jesus for a miracle, Jesus is trying to place us in situations where "we have to believe in Him for a miracle". We are not interested in seeing our Faith grow, we just want peace and the problem to be gone. Jesus is wanting our Faith to grow. You can see how often we are at opposite spectrum's with our Savior. God's call to us is always, "why don't you believe in me to meet the need, why don't you believe in me for a miracle" and our thoughts are normally....."there has got to be an easier way than having to wait and believe on JESUS, for a miracle!"

Thursday, January 21, 2016

JANUARY 21 "ENOUGH RELIGION TO DRIVE YOU CRAZY!!"

     Sometimes I wonder who is more miserable, the atheist or the rebellious, religious person. I will choose the rebellious religious person over the atheist any day!  In our reading today we read about the brothers of Joseph still tormented in their minds for the sin they committed against their brother.  Everything negative that happens in their lives is attributed to "God getting them back". This is how the religious person lives, they know enough religion to drive them crazy. They know enough to realize that they are not living right and because of that, everything negative that happens is of course God getting them back. At least the Atheist convinces himself (or tries) that there is no God and therefore bad events in life are either bad luck, bad karma or just life. If Joseph was 13 when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and now Joseph is 30 yrs old ruling in Egypt, that is 17 yrs (is my math right???) since their great sin. Imagine 17 yrs of every time something has gone wrong, feeling like it is God getting even. Some people know enough about God to drive them crazy. Even in the reading for the New Testament (Mtw 13:47 - 14:12) we read about Herod who is haunted by what he did to John the Baptist, so much so that he says Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead. This is an absurd thought, unless you're a religious man with a tormented conscience, then it makes perfect sense! I remember many times as a sinner blaming bad predicaments on God. I always felt like God's hand was against me, and rightly so, I had enough religion, even as a Catholic, to drive me crazy. How great was the peace that came when I simply got right with God and confessed my sins and began to live right! Now when something goes wrong in my life or I am faced with a bad predicament no longer do I look to Heaven and shake my fist, but I look to Heaven for help and guidance. That makes all the difference in the world! If you're not right with God today, perhaps this is your lot right now, you have to wonder every time things go wrong.."is this God getting even with me?" what a miserable way to live, get right with God today; otherwise, you have just enough religion, to drive you crazy for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

JANUARY 20 "FRUITFUL IN OUR LAND OF AFFLICTION"

There's a two step process here with Joseph. Joseph names his first son Manasseh "God has made me forget all my toil and all my Father's house".  Joseph was devout to God, but that can lead us to believe that Joseph was above bad situations affecting him. And now we see that is not true, Joseph was hurt and affected by what went on back home.  Second, he names his second son Ephraim, "God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction".  The land of my affliction, once again Joseph admits that it has been a rough and miserable time in Egypt, but yet we would never gather that by his attitude and faithfulness to God. Joseph brings up another key point that we should not miss and that is; that in the midst of our place, land, city or circumstance of affliction, if we keep our hearts right in our land of affliction we can say and testify as Joseph, "God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction".  Something beautiful can be born (figuratively or literally) in the midst of ugly times. In our worse times, if we keep our hearts right before God, you will see that an Ephraim will be born to you and you will always remember, "those were rough times" but you will also always remember this is where this happened, this is where this blessing came from, that was when I met so and so, that's where my Ephraim was born!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

JANUARY 19 "WHERE WAS GOD?"

      We've heard it before I'm sure, but it is worth repeating...."if God was with Joseph why is he in jail, if God was with Joseph why was he falsely accused in the 1st place".   I remember visiting a church from another fellowship one time when I was on deployment in the Marine Corps. After service we had a fellowship and it was brought to my attention that the man that had preached that night was not their Pastor, apparently their Pastor was in Jail!  He was in jail for some trumped up charges for sexual abuse. The church members were confident that their Pastor would be vindicated and all charges dropped. I kept my mouth shut, but I thought, "helloooooo....dummies, if he was innocent why would God have even allowed it to go that far, they are in for a rude awakening when they find out he's guilty".  In my mind, God would never allow something like that to prevail against one of his sons or daughters, but was I wrong? Joseph is in jail, falsely accused of rape, yet God says "He's with him". Where was God when Jesus was getting his beard ripped out of his face?  Where was God when Paul was nearly stoned to death and whipped?  Where was God when the martyrs who believed that if they stood for Jesus, they would live, where was God as the lions devoured them alive?  I like the mindset of Shad rack and his buddies,"God is able to deliver us from the furnace, but even if he does not..."  These Spiritual Giants allowed for the possibility that God might choose not to intervene and look the other way, for one reason or another, but yet they never questioned God's existence or goodness.  If God is with me why am I in jail, that's the question?  Jail/prison is a place you are locked up and can't get out by your own means, your jail can be ...a sickness, bad marriage, addiction, financial collapse or just simply going through a miserable, hellish season in life and no matter how hard you try and/or pray, you can't get out!  The cup bearer that was with Joseph gets out of jail and it is not until 2 years later that he remembers Joseph, can you imagine? When all God had to do is prompt that cup-bearer's memory to remember poor 'ol Joseph, but he doesn't, at least not until 2 yrs later. The point I guess would be that we can still be fruitful and blessed in our jails and as we keep our hearts right with God (this is the hard part), we must have the confidence, that God is not going to leave us there forever, but he doesn't promise to get us out tomorrow either, all He promises is that He is with us, in our jails!

Monday, January 18, 2016

JANUARY 18 "DO YOU THINK YOUR SPECIAL?"

It's hard to find much fault in Joseph. He is one of the stellar examples of Godliness, in the Bible.  But here, in Joseph's youth, we see some flaws or perhaps naivety. It makes you wonder what would have prompted Joseph to share these dreams with his brothers; dreams that depicted his brothers would one day serving him. Joseph already knew that his brothers were not all that favorable towards him, how could he think for one moment, that sharing these dreams would help matters? And we know, as he should have known, but apparently didn't or didn't care, that it would only make matters worse between them. And not only does Joseph do this once, but twice! Perhaps Joseph felt some animosity of his own, towards his brothers. What other reason would Joseph tell his brothers that he had a dream and they were bowing down to him? Our text tells us that "even his father scolded him, "what kind of dream is this, will we be bowing down to you?", his father asks, indignantly. Now you can say, "but they did eventually bow down to him!". That's not the point. The point is what was Joseph's motive in telling his brothers? It proves that we can have great potential and calling, but yet still be character deficient in some areas of our lives, yet God still works with us. I don't think God approved of Joseph going and telling his brothers about his dreams. Joseph got himself into the trouble he found himself in by going to his brothers about his seemingly braggadocios dreams that were only intended to be between him and God. We read of Mary of all the things she heard and knew about Jesus, the bible tells us, "she treasured them in her heart". There are dreams and visions that God shares with us in privacy and in confidence that are meant to be kept there! They are not for public consumption but between you and God. We see here that Joseph lacks the wisdom and maturity that Mary had, when also being shown great and wonderful things that God would use her for. Mary didn't share or brag about it to others, but simply treasured them in her heart and let them play out in life, as they did. Joseph on the other hand lacks the maturity and also uses these dreams that God has shown him, to get back at his brothers and it only exacerbates the problem and almost gets him killed. We've all met this early version of Joseph, haven't we? A young man or woman who senses God's grace & calling upon their lives, perhaps certain gifting and qualities that everybody sees, and nobody can deny; and they think that because of this Grace and Gifting upon their lives, that they can do and say no wrong. And often all we can do is look at them and think, "yes, God's Grace may be greatly on your life, you may have talent, gifting and calling, but God has a long way to bring you before he can use you, because right now, you are full of yourself". And often that's what God does, he brings that young man or woman through a refining process and years later you run into that same man or woman, with that same Grace, gifting and calling, but yet you notice now there is a maturity, a modesty, a humility that has now been worked in that person, to make them fit for the master's use. Beware of thinking, when you sense of see God's Grace upon your life that you are above reproach. Beware of thinking that somehow you are better and above those around you, because God will quickly bring you through a process that can and will, knock all that out of you. We don't know why God chooses one man or one woman over another to pour out his gifting and Grace Our problem is we automatically assume he chose us because we were special. Sometimes people in the church with the most talent and ability are the individuals God ends up using the least because they are so filled with pride and arrogance because of their gifting and talents. The wisdom that can be gleamed from our scripture today is that sometimes God gives us dreams and visions for our sake and our sake only, and they are not to be shared or even considered to be understood by others and any sharing would seem braggadocios at best and/ or prideful. They are to be treasured in our hearts and to be pursued between us and God.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

JANUARY 17 "THE ALTAR AND HIDDEN SIN"

We know that the 1st altar is built on man's own initiation. It's interesting to see God now using a good thing. He tells Jacob go back to Bethel and build an Altar there. God understands "altars" are a good thing! A modern day name for an altar, a secular name for an altar is...."memorial". A memorial is a secular altar. It is a lesson, a remembrance in life that we never want to forget. However life's lessons should have God involved...I digress, so God encourages Jacob to go back, back to the place God met him. This proves that there are times in a believers life that their faith is dimming, struggling  and pittering away and God says, these altars, they are a good thing, go back to them. Build them and remember where I have met you and what I have done for you in the past and let that memorial, spiritual reference point, ALTAR, encourage you into the future. Notice verse 16 "Then they moved on from Bethel".   God brought Jacob back here for the sole purpose of a reference point for him and then says, "now let's move on". We cannot stay and worship at our altars forever, because if we do, the inverse will happen, it will not encourage but depress us (those were the days....). We must reference, remember and then move on to the future believing to build new altars and have new conquests for God.
      Another note worthy point is Israel not confronting Reuben about sleeping with his concubine, the verse simply says "and Israel heard of it". If ever there was a clear cut issue to confront in life, then surely this was one of those issues, I mean c'mon....so why doesn't Israel confront Reuben?  Is he chicken? I think not! Does he think it's okay?  I think not!  So why?  We don't know, but we do know that Israel brings it up years later when he is distributing the blessings to his sons.  Could it be that in life the issues we confront are not black and white and we must have a sensitivity and discernment. Perhaps this is why we have so much conflict in our relationships, because we cannot discern what to confront and what to let go for the time being. Another point is, that perhaps this is a reflection of God in Israel. How often have we committed awful sins and thought for sure the hammer was going to fall, but it never did....almost causing us to think, "did I actually get away with that?" You know Reuben is thinking this. He has waiting and waiting to be confronted by his father, but he never is, he couldn't help think, "I got away with it!!!".  Learn a lesson here, we may sin or do what we know is wrong and God may seem to remain silent, well He knows, as Israel knew, but He remains silent. He may remain silent, but know this, when it comes time for the blessings to be distributed, don't be surprised when all your brothers are being blessed, and you are not. An Altar is not just a great place to reference from, it's also a great place to repent and move on.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

JANUARY 16 "NOT THE RESULTS YOU ANTICIPATED?"

Not the results you anticipated or wanted? Oh well, to bad!  If you and I were God we would manipulate results to be what we wanted them to be. We would never look bad and everything we did would succeed. Every outreach would yield incredible results and everyone would always respond to our preaching. Nobody would tell us "no" and certainly nobody would "reject" us. But here is God in the flesh and he allows himself to be rejected. Jesus gives his very best outreach and the response is slim to nothing! Clearly not the intended results Jesus had wanted, but yet, He lets them be what they are.  I wouldn't do that, I wouldn't accept minimal results, at the cost of all my efforts, plus it makes me look bad, so add that in the mix. It is clear that Jesus is not at all thrilled about the results of his evangelistic efforts in Capernaum and Bethsaida. Jesus even performed miracles, yet they do not respond.  My ego would not have been able to handle this.  I am the supposed leader of this great movement, claiming to be the Messiah and I am going to be rejected and shut down like this? JESUS, apparently has no ego, no pride, otherwise this would never have taken place. I have had outreaches where nobody responded, I have had Revivals where nobody responded and let me tell you, my ego was bruised and my pride inflamed! If we could manipulate circumstances, why wouldn't we? Is it because of our great care for the loss....or would the real reason be, so we can look good instead of bad. So that we always come out on top, so we always come out looking like the winner. If you take ego and pride out of the equation, there really is no reason to manipulate these scenarios, when you think about it. Other, than the fact that you might look better, why would we manipulate people into responding that don't want to? Does God really want a bunch of people in Heaven that were manipulated by a higher power to be there, but had they had it their way, they would have rejected the gospel message. Jesus preached and did miracles and allowed the people to freely choose to accept or reject Him and His message. Jesus, in addition, to his example, has also quite plainly told us, "it's not you they are rejecting, it is me".  How many people have we coerced and/or manipulating into accepting Christ??? And why, was it because we cared so much about the soul or are ego's and pride were at stake. We must be a whole lot more like our leader, JESUS! He preached the Gospel and even though, He was God and He was the one they were rejecting. He let the results stand as they were because Jesus had no ego at stake. If we could get our ego's and pride out of the way, we would actually be more effective and we would have a much more pleasant disposition. Then we would not have to look for people to blame and/or yell at and make feel guilty, because we did not get the results we expected or anticipated. Sometimes your best efforts and faith, will yield very little results and in those situations we must know it was never on us to control the response, only to deliver the message. In some cases God is using us to bring a message for salvation, ie; Nineveh and in other cases God is using us to bring a message that, in turn, will be used for judgment against a person and/or a city, ie: Capernaum and Bethsaida. In either case, our job was to deliver the message, get our ego's out of the way and leave the response to the Free-Will Agents that God has made human beings to be! And their lack of interest, their apathy or rejection of your message should never be used as a measuring stick against you, for your validity as a man or woman of God.  God does not measure you by the results; He measures you by your willingness to obey, go and do what He commands and that is what He will use as a measuring rod against you. If it were not so, then some of God's greatest Prophets would be deemed as the greatest failures, ie: Jeremiah.

Friday, January 15, 2016

JANUARY 15 "ARE YOU IN A DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP?"

Jacob finally ventures out after twenty years. Jacob goes on a tirade and just lets it all out on Laban, this man that has practically ruined his life. Twenty years of Jacob’s life went by under Laban. It’s hard to believe isn’t it?  Or maybe not! How easily we can be in a rut and how easily we can allow 5, 10, 15 years of our lives to slip by. I think the lesson learned here is we need to be wise who we allow ourselves to associate with. We know the quagmire can be that as Christians we are reaching out to anyone and can find ourselves in some dysfunctional relationships due to that, but we must separate the ministry of outreach from our personnel lives or we will be of no use to anyone. There is a difference between those I am reaching out to help as apposed to those that I “purposely” surround myself with in friendship and fellowship. We don’t pick who we reach out too, but we should pick very carefully who we associate ourselves with. I've seen many people that were not taken out by drugs or immorality, but by those they allowed themselves to be associated with; and these had nothing to do with outreach and evangelism either. They were the people they chose to be around in their personnel time. One person, one family can be all it takes. It doesn't matter if we are righteous and living for God, associating with people like this we still mess up your life. We know that Jacob is a righteous man living for God, but his encounter with this devious man, Laban has dramatically messed up his life. No doubt we read, and Jacob confesses “that if it were not for God he would have left with nothing” but we still see, that there has been plenty of deception, betrayal and hard times in his past 20 years and neither has Jacob been where he wanted to be. It’s been a rut he has been in for far too long. We get a revelation of the craziness of this man when he confronts Jacob after chasing him down. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” and Laban speaks out of his heart, “all you have is mine!” This is insanity, 20 years Jacob has honored his commitment to work for Laban for what he has, but Laban’s mind, “it’s all his regardless”.  What Jacob realizes now is that Laban would have never let him go.
The evidence is perfectly clear, that you may be living for God, but who you choose to associate with or not associate with, will affect your life, regardless! Not only is this a testimony to us but also the numerous amounts of Christians that I have personally witnessed over the years that would not discern who they associated with. I feel bad for people where that unhealthy relationship in their life is actually their  spouse, that is a complex situation, but most often in life, it’s not a spouse that we are tied or committed too in a vow, but rather someone we are choosing to associate with when we have the choice to flee as Jacob finally does. Jacob’s life does not “take off” until he flees from Laban. Once he is out of this relationship we see Jacob flourishing on into his destiny with God. Often the “red flags” are there for us to see, we just don’t want to see them. Jacob should have known he was not dealing with a man in his right mind, or at least we can say, he should have known he was not dealing with an “honorable man” when Laban secretly switched Leah for Rachel in the dark of the night and then forced Jacob to work for him another 7 years of his life for the woman he really wanted and loved. Laban was a man of deceit, broken promises, hidden agenda’s and I know plenty of people today, who choose to associate themselves, as Christians, with the same people of faulty character and their lives are not going any smoother than Jacob’s.  We want God to save us, we are often waiting for some big miracle, but the only miracle needed here was for Jacob to realize one day, that the only problem in his life was the association with Laban and if he would believe in God to venture out, he could be free once again to serve God and live to enjoy the fruits that come with doing so, which is peace and joy. Something he never had with Laban. Will you venture out!



Thursday, January 14, 2016

JANUARY 14 "REMEMBER, THE ISSUE IS NOT THE ISSUE"

When we are naive and foolish, we find ourselves drawn in to arguments and dramas, where we are actually fighting and arguing, over an issue, that is really, not the issue. Selfishness is not the issue with Leah, although, at first glance, it would appear that way. Rachel could have stood there and argued with Leah about how she's selfish, she's always been selfish and that's the issue and until Leah learns not to be selfish....However, that would solve nothing because the issue is not "selfishness". Leah is not withholding the mandrakes from Rachel because she's selfish. They could stand there and argue all day, as some do, about an issue, that is not the issue. Often times there is a much deeper issue than what is being argued about on a surface level. Rachel could have won the argument and Leah surrendered the mandrakes over to her sister, but the issue would not have been solved. The reason, we find out later, that Leah won't share the mandrakes with Rachel is not because she's selfish, it's because she's bitter!  Bitter? Yes, she's bitter at Rachel for stealing her husband. Imagine how many arguments Rachel has gotten into with Leah over the years and Rachel just walked away, scratching her head wondering, why her sister is so angry, why her sister is so selfish, why her sister is so "short fused". It is because, all along, the issue was never the issue. The real issue, the deeper issue, has always been, "bitterness".  Why do some relationships never get better after years and years of counseling?  Because all that's ever brought up and dealt with  are the surface issues, that are not really the issues at all. Are you in a contentious relationship with someone?  Are they constantly short fused with you or perhaps vice-verse? You have tried to discuss the contentious relationship, but nothing gets resolved? Perhaps it's because the issue is not the issue! Perhaps there is a deeper issue between the two of you than you are willing to admit and discuss! Perhaps there is some deep rooted bitterness and resentment; that until that issue comes up and is dealt with, you will always continue to be in a contentious relationship with each other, because "the issue is not the issue!!!".

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

JANUARY 13 "WHEN WE LOVE, BUT ARE NOT LOVED BACK"

God sees Leah in her distress, He sees that she is not loved and because of that He opens up her womb that she may have children.  God does this for one, because He cares and also, to win her love. God so wants to be loved by us.  Unfortunately all Leah can think about is Jacob. The first thing she thinks of once she becomes pregnant, is NOT, "how gracious is my God and how I love him so"; instead, Leah just thinks about Jacob and how perhaps Jacob will now love her. It's ironic how she's hurt because she so loves Jacob, but yet Jacob does not love her back with the same love and yet she does the very same thing towards God. Every blessing God gives her she only thinks about how she can use it to win Jacob's heart, totally ignoring the fact that God is wanting that love. We so long to be fulfilled by a relationship, a career or something else and we are completely blind to the God that has been there for us, seen us, blessed us, when nobody else saw or cared. We have all experienced the hurt of loving and not being loved in return. But nobody experiences this more than God himself, who daily blesses us, cares for us, protects us and very rarely is that love reciprocated. Have you loved and not been loved back, have you blessed others with your resources or material things and they only turned around and spent it or used it on someone else and you barely got a thanks? I think we all have and it hurts; thence let's not do to God what we know hurts us. Let's reciprocate, as much as is humanely possible, the love he bestows on us and let us thank him so, for his many blessings that he bestows upon us daily. How ironic that Leah was so hurt by the lack of love she received from Jacob, but yet acted, very much, in the same manner, towards God, the one who loved her more than she loved Jacob.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

JANUARY 12 "RE-DIGGING THE WELLS OF OUR FATHER'S"

This is the hope we must have for our children. Isaac, a rugged man, "I am my own man, I am not going to follow my dad's footsteps"...long story short, he ends up re digging the wells of his father; and even more significant gives them the same names! This is the turning point and break thru in Isaac's life. You will notice it is just a little later, after this decision to re-dig his father's wells and give them the same names, that God appears to him and says, "I am the God of your father Abraham."  This is our hope, that God reveals himself to our children.  We will not intellectually convert them, we will not even convert them by our perfect example. We cannot provide them a perfect example because we are flawed and if they are looking for a reason not to serve God they will just wait for us to slip and then use that as their excuse and we will feel condemned. We need to be intellectually sound concerning matters to the bible and be able to answer the "hard questions" are children ask us.  We must provide to them the best example of what being a Christian is.  However, at the end of the day, if God does not reveal himself to them they still will not be converted. Pray, pray, and pray more, that the God of Abraham, who revealed himself to Isaac and Jacob also do the same for your children.  Our job is not to give up and to keep digging wells and establishing a foundation for our children and to keep our testimony before them; being prepared for the day when God gives our children an Epiphany of their own.  Many parents give up and then blow their testimony, they stray, some even get divorced and years later, to their surprise their children are converted, but the problem is, they are left to forge it out by themselves rather than have the benefit of someone who went before them. Isaac in his pride tried to do it on his own, but when he came to his senses he went back to his father's wells, re-dug them and even gave them the same names that his father had named them.  Your children may be loud mouthed, rebellious and irreverent right now, but you stay the course, dig those wells and trust that one day, your children will follow in your path and they will drink from those wells that you dug and thank God for you!

Monday, January 11, 2016

JANUARY 11 "VENTURE OUT FOR GOD!"

"When he heard this he bowed down to the ground and worshiped the Lord"  Venturing out for God is what keeps us worshiping the Lord. As scary and uncertain as this venture was for this servant, it reinvigorated his relationship with God. Who knows if back at home he was sliding into spiritual lethargy and just becoming more religious than anything.  The less we venture out for God, the more distant we grow from Him and the closer we get to becoming religious. When we venture out for God and leave the comfort zone is when we see the hand of God at work and that is so vital and healthy in our relationship with the Lord. This servant was amazed to see the providential hand of God directing him right to this woman, a complete impossibility in the natural realm, but a complete possibility with God. I want you, quickly, off the top of your head to name 5 Christians you personally know, that are venturing out for God right now! Hard isn't it? Now I want you to do the same exercise, naming 5 Christian that you are are struggling in their faith. Which exercise did you find easier to come up with 5 names. Most will find that it was easier to come up with 5 that were struggling in their walk with God; than 5 that were venturing out for God. If we fail to see how the two are related, than we are completely blind. The strategy to stay in the "safe zone" as a Christian, backfires every time! As we keep ourselves in the safe zone, we will find our faith deteriorating over the years and as we watch people constantly venturing out for God, we will see their faith increasing and notice a vibrancy in their walk with God. They will, as the servant was; be bowing down to the ground to worship the Lord, as you sit on the sidelines, in the same Church, under the same sermons, same songs and wonder....."what's all the hype about, let's get through this service before it's too late and the ball game is over when I get home or it's too late to watch my favorite episode of..........This stuff may have moved me in my earlier years but I'm pass that now".  Well, the truth is you should never get pass worshiping, with enthusiasm, your Lord and Savior. The only thing I would say you are "pass" is venturing out for God and just like a slow leak in a tire, you are not noticing your faith slowly leaking out, until one day you get up and the tire is flat and think you have some major blowout only to find out that it was just a very small leak and the air was probably leaking out for quite some time. One morning you will will wake up and decide to skip church that Sunday, take it easy and not have missed it at all, but rather enjoyed your day way from church, worship and that whole scene. Your faith will not be what it once was and you will not be able to trace where it all begun, but simply know nothing more than you don't feel the same". When was the last time God was able to move upon your heart, to venture out for Him? Trace back to that time and you may be able to trace back to when your faith was first punctured and that slow leak began.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

JANUARY 10 "THE "WHAT IF" BROTHER, EVER MET HIM?"



People in the church function on two completely different spheres. There are those that walk in faith and confidence in god and there's always those, I call them the "what ifs" that always have the contingency, back up plan in case God fails. Abraham with all the faith in God that he will come through for him, as he has many times before begins to lay out his plan, to His servant. Abraham is barely finish with his proposal and the servant is already countering with a "what if" plan. Ever met the "what if" brother or sister in your church?! You will also find that their back up plans are always stupid and normally don’t factor in God whatsoever, neither God’s plan nor His will. The servant, the what if guy says, "what if the woman is unwilling to come......shall I take your son back to the country you came from?" it's like............are you serious? You know what the problem with people is who come up with "what if" plans........they use them! So it only encourages them more. Why do they use them you ask?  Because God lets them. God doesn't argue with them and their unbelief but gives them over to their ways. Christians who don’t use the "what ifs", God moves for and their faith only increases leaving out more and more this idea of "what if" plans. The brother or sister who always comes up with "what ifs", God does not come through for them, they use their plan and their unbelief in God to move for them only grows and their belief in themselves, that they must come thru for them, only increases. And these are not the people outside the church, they are the people that sing songs with us every Sunday all across America and elsewhere in the world, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Trinidad and so forth. I don’t know how you can have Christians that never believe God for a miracle, but yet , apparently, they believe that God is going to resurrect them from the dead. I don’t know how you can have Christians that never believe God for a miracle, but yet , apparently, they believe that God is not going to bring up any of their sins at the resurrection. How can they not believe God for these smaller miracles but yet say they believe God to do the greatest miracles? I wonder what their "what if" plan is, If god doesn't raise them from the dead....purgatory?!

JANUARY 9 "IGNORANCE IS BLISS"

Our Old Testament reading in Genesis today,  gives us insight into what we may already know, and that is that there's grace for us when we sin in ignorance. Honestly, as long as I was a sinner I really did think I was Heaven bound, I knew I was not the best, but surely my sins were not ones that would cause be to be hell bound, but when it was revealed to me that I was a sinner and that my sins were not minor in the eyes of God, then I was faced with a decision, continue in my sin with full knowledge or repent and stop. Well, needless to say, I stopped! Thank God there is Grace for us when we sin in ignorance, but unfortunately, most often, that is not the case, more often than not it is premeditated sin, willful disobedience, just as the child who knows the rules and intentionally breaks them. Even the courts have lesser sentences for crimes of passion than premeditated murder. Even a secular Judge will rule that a person deserves a higher punishment for purposely having planned and carried out wrong doing. As Christians, the days of planning and carrying out "premeditated sin" should be a thing of the past. Not that we are perfect and do not sin, we all sin, but I would hope and according to the bible, that our sin is more a case of falling and stumbling, rather than purposely planned and carried out sin.  I find it interesting that Abraham has a reasonable explanation for why he lied.  I don't think I've ever lied either without a perfectly good reason, at least in my mind.  We are not much different than Abraham in our reasoning;  we Fear that if we do the right thing events will not play out in our favor, we fear that we absolutely  can't tell the truth, God will not cover us; therefore we must lie! I have "no choice" but to sin, I have "no choice" but to lie, but there's always a choice. When we sin in ignorance, there's often abundant Grace with God; however when we purposely set out to sin, as a Christian, there will be very little Grace, but much consequence and judgement by God. "4 But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart (ignorance)".  The question we must ask ourselves is ARE WE sinning in ignorance or is this willful sin we are engaging in? If it is in "ignorance' there will be Grace, if it is not, you can know that consequences and judgement are on the way!

Friday, January 8, 2016

JANUARY 8 "DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY...YEAH RIGHT!

I love it when the world takes ideas and thoughts from the bible and secularizes them, actually I hate it, it really bothers me! “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was a song composed and sang by Bobby Mcferrin in 1988. It became the firs acapella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, a position it held for two weeks. The song’s title was taken from a famous quotation by Meher Baba. But we know, Meher Boba, whether he knows it or not got the thought from Jesus, as we saw in our reading today. However, the true saying was not simply, "Don't worry, be happy", but Don't worry, put your faith in me (Jesus) and be happy or "worry not".  The World takes this saying, takes Jesus out and re-phrases it to simply say, "Don't worry be happy".  And so the song takes to the airwaves and becomes a huge hit; people started singing, "yeah, don't worry, be happy", but the song quickly faded as people's problems and lives quickly over took them and then they hated that song. Why....because the song and reality didn't match. If only it was as simple as saying, "don't worry be happy" then I'm pretty sure Jesus Christ wouldn't have had to go to the cross and die the brutal death He suffered. This song was simply pop-psychology, "mind over matter". If you believe it enough it will be, but we've all seen that that's false. For years I could say I believed I would be a professional NBA Player!!! They told me "you're white, short and you can't jump or dribble" I told them, " I defy you, because I'M BELIEVING......" Some how I would imagine that I would never grow another 6 inches, somehow never start jumping 3 feet into the air, somehow never gaining rhythm and speed.  Imagine if our story was…."Be Happy, Don't Worry" I sang when my mortgage was in foreclosure, Be Happy Don't Worry I sang when my marriage was falling apart.  Be Happy Don't Worry I sang when the new depression hit and I was laid off, but they walked away with the keys to my house and I was laid off of work. America was hit with a crisis and any D.J. in America would have been A FOOL to pull out Bobby Mcferrin's old hit. The world tries to take the sayings of the Bible that are so good and true, but they repackage them and sell them as a false bag of Goods! Just believe.....DOESN'T WORK, Just Be Happy, Don't Worry, DOESN'T WORK!  Put your faith in God WORKS, Believe that through CHRIST, all things are possible to them that believe, BOTH OF THOSE WORK, because they are based on the power of JESUS! You take God out of both those sentences (which the world has done) and they are meaningless at best and deceitful at worse! Jesus says in our text, "don't worry, this is what the minds of unbelievers are CONSUMED with". I wonder if Jesus was being nice? I'm sure this was a tongue and cheek comment. Jesus knew that the believers that were around Him also had their MINDS consumed with worry, that was the point He was trying to make. This is what "unbelievers" do who don't believe in me, so then why do you who say "you believe" do the same?" I remember a number of years ago a couple who had come out to our church; they had tried attending another church in the area as they had not yet heard about us.  They confided in me many reasons for them leaving their previous church, but the reason that always stood out to me was that they could not accept that the Worship Leader of The Church they previously attended was on Anti-Depressants.  Imagine, a WORSHIP LEADER on ANTI-DEPRESSANTS???  "I'm going to lead you in joyous, triumphant celebration and worship, I can only do this praise be, to the drugs I'm on to help me with depression, now let's worship Jesus, isn't He so good". A  Worship Leader on Anti-Depressants is as big an oxi-moron as Jumbo-Shrimp! I know, I know, our clever Christian brethren have found a clever argument (or think they have) for this, they say, "if you were or knew someone struggling with diabetes, you wouldn't condemn them for taking insulin drugs, would you? And so they go on to say, just as people who have the disease of diabetes must take pills so must people who have the disease of the mental illness of depression take pills. One problem, I don't find this in my bible. Jesus says, you worry, and you worry, and you worry, what you need is to get dependent on some good drugs, not me; and that will help you!"  I am the new Jesus of the new millennium. My hope for you is these awesome drugs they have today, of course in bible times, I couldn't use modern medicine to heal people so I did it myself, but why should I heal you today, if you can just take drugs, saith the Lord"  Is that what Jesus says today? No he says, "you worry and you worry and you worry, where is your faith, why don't you put your faith in me!"  Worry leads to anxiety and anxiety kept in festers into depression. Depression is an outflow, yes of what's going on in the mind, Jesus says, "their minds are CONSUMED with worry". Depression can be a lack of faith and constant worry and it can also be demonic, in both cases, Jesus is the answer! The Gadarene Demoniac, who had major mental problems, did not go back to his home town to tell all the people these awesome drugs Jesus had given him to heal him. Jesus told him, "go back to your city and tell them WHAT I HAVE DONE FOR YOU!" I have struggled with major depression; I have struggled with major times of darkness. The doctors are always quick to say, "Don't Worry, Be Happy and boy do I have the right pill for you" but my bible always told me "Don't worry, Be Happy, put your faith in me Jesus" and I will come through for you. My bible always told me, "that these demons/spirits come out by prayer and fasting" my bible always told me, "greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world".  It would have been so much easier to just take drugs and make it all go away, but that so reminded me of what I used to do as a sinner, take a pill, a joint, a beer and make it all go away, not dealing with the real issues that were inside of me. Is your mind CONSUMED with worry, is this not what unbelievers do? Have you tried the secular clichés "don't worry be happy" and it's not working? Have you tried the secular clichés "just believe" and it's not working? Then why don't you try sticking Jesus back in both those sentences and try again, Jesus said, "put your faith IN ME, and only believe IN ME, and what is impossible will be made possible because ALL THINGS are possible to them that believe IN ME (JESUS CHRIST).

Thursday, January 7, 2016

JANUARY 7 "NOTHING SCARIER THAN A FRUSTRATED WOMEN!!!"

It’s interesting how this all ends up being Abram’s fault. Sarai approaches Abram in her frustration, blames God “He has kept me from having children” now go and sleep with my Egyptian maidservant, Hagar! Abram is simply just trying to keep the peace, Abram is just trying to say, “yes dear, just stop yelling and get a grip on yourself”. Abram does the deed and now, his wife looks at him and blames him.  Abram is caught in the middle, he now has a son through this woman (half Egyptian!), Abram now has a bond with this woman, but of course he’s not going to mention any of that to Sarai, so he just says, “do with her what you want” and you know that hurts him to say that, but right now he has a mess on his hands that is way too big for him to handle. Yes, it’s interesting how Sarai ends up blaming all of this on Abram.  And you know what, she’s right! But no, you just said, Sarai is the one that was frustrated, Sarai was the one who told him …” But Abram should have stood his ground when his wife was coming undone. Once again, we have a man who failed to stand in the gap of his wife’s weakness, remember our best friend ADAM! Not only did Adam not stop Eve, he grabs a bite of the apple too (you must be joking).  Sarai is right, even though she is wrong. Abram should have said no. We don’t know what Hagar looked like, we don’t know what she was like as a woman. We know that Abram was familiar with her, we know that Abram had an opportunity to have sex with another women and we know that the motives of men are always twisted and never completely what we portray them to be. Sarai presented her husband with so many convoluted thoughts he was not able to choose right. A frustrated women, an opportunity for the flesh, compromise for peace, make this problem go away, in the end, his answer is yes, he goes and has sex with the Egyptian woman and it will be the worse mistake he ever makes. I’m sure he had to face questions from Sarai, when she was frustrated (again) like “did you enjoy it Abram!  Is she a better lover than me Abram!”  The hell and torment would not leave. The culmination of all this mess is a son he loves (and we are not sure about Hagar) and his mother are banished away, which is completely ungodly act for God’s people to commit and this is why God meets with poor Hagar to let her know He is with her (so HIS name is not tarnished) even though his “supposed” chosen people have used and abused this woman and thrown her out. This is for men today. The buck stops with you! Women will come undone, women will eat the apple, women will shout and dictate insane things and ideas in their moments of insanity and it is up to the man, to be the strong one, when they are weak. It is up to the man to be sane when they are insane. It is up to the man to be Christian when they want to be non-Christian. It is up to the man, to be the one the heads off, stops the momentum of horrible decisions in horrible times, Abram did neither and he suffered the consequences for it. Here’s the lesson to learn men, eventually, you will still suffer consequences, you cannot escape them. Better to stand your ground and suffer at the onset, then when the dust settles, and the woman calms down, there will be no irreversible decisions and regrets to have to deal with. This is what God expects from MEN. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

JANUARY 6 "WHY BOTHER HELPING OTHERS?"

I couldn't help but think as Abram victoriously rescues his nephew Lot, that Lot only goes back to the slime. How often have we risked our lives, "so to speak" to rescue family members/and or friends only to see them go back. So what do we do? Keep doing right! Was recently talking to a man who took in a 13 year old for a couple of years and was nothing short of a father to him. Now that teen has gone off to be with some other family members and does not even call. This man was telling me how much it hurts. We can have one experience like or like Lot, where we risk our lives for nothing; and then make a decisions not to help anymore, not to give of ourselves. But as I told him, I will tell you, "we don't necessarily do it for them or the the accolades we will get, we do it because it was the right thing to do at the time. It's who we are that matters, not who they are. You can also be sure that no matter what the other person does with our help, God honors our labors and sacrifices, regardless of the ungrateful recipient. You'll notice that this is the beginning of Abram's great blessing.  It is right after this that Abram meets King Melchizedek and he is blessed by Him. If we do what we do for people then we will quickly throw in the towel, because you will learn that people often don't appreciate, people often are ungrateful, people often take others for granted. So many people I have helped that have never as so much has given a Thank-you.  There are others that I have helped that not only didn't give a "thank-you" but trashed talked me to others.  Who knows if when Lot got back to Sodom & Gomorrah he began to ridicule his uncle Abram for even rescuing him. "Old Uncle Abram, always trying to be the hero, I could have got out of the mess myself, he just wants to be the hero, he just wants to be able to say, "I told you so". We know Lot goes right back, that we do know! Why do right? Because it's about us, not them. It's who we are, it's who God wants us to be and at the end of the day, the only person we really need to be concerned about, is God. And if you will do right, you can trust that the God we serve is a God of recompense.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

JANUARY 5 "YOUR FINAL DESTINATION"

If you were on a flight and your destination was Hawaii (sounds real good right now) and your Airline stopped in Chicago and announced over the speakers, “this is it, your final destination” you would argue, “no, my final destination is Hawaii” and they responded, “true, but this is good enough, please disembark we have new passengers coming on, Thank-you for flying with us”.  If this happened to you, I think you would be irate. The final destination was Hawaii, what kind of nerve do they have, I will have a lawsuit against this company, I will get a hold of every newspaper…”  Religious people have all sort of little clichés they use and nuances, one of them is “Jesus is my co-pilot” which always starts an argument amongst religious folks, over the internet stratosphere, that sounds something like this, “what’s wrong with you, Jesus is not your co-pilot, He is the Pilot!!!” to which a bunch of people applaud and say “Amen, Amen!”  However, if you’ve lived for God for any amount of time, what looks good in a cliché doesn’t always match with reality. And the reality is that Jesus is the Co-Pilot, if He’s lucky and often gets bumped back to coach seating.  If Jesus was “the Pilot” we would always get to the intended destination. Everybody would do “the will of God” and nobody would deviate and/or miss God’s promises for their lives.  David would have gone to War and NOT stayed behind and committed adultery with Bathsheba; Samson would not have gone to the heathen, married a pagan and messed up his destiny, Moses would have entered the Promised Land (which was Cannan) and Terah would have never settled in Haran; he would have made it all the way to Canaan. “31One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaanbut they stopped at Haran and settled there”  A few chapters later we read about God challenging the son (Abram) to pick up, where the father left off. The intended destination was Cannan. What is Terah doing in Haran? Again, we would be outraged at any Airline company that would not get us to the “intended destination” yet how often, we as the Pilot of our lives, stop short and never expect God to have any objections, any complaints, any grief with our decision to settle somewhere, someplace, that was never the intended destination. We are never told why Terah settled in Haran, but we can only guess. Terah probably settled in Haran because it was “good enough.” Terah probably settled in Haran because he was tired. Terah probably settled in Haran because his wife, family and children were complaining about the arduous trip. Terah probably settled in Haran because it became more work to get to Canaan than he had first intended and/or imagined.  Sound familiar? We realize that Terah stopped short for the very same reasons you and I, often stop short. How can we accept this notion that God must accept our plans to stop short and just make things work for us from where “we have decided to settle?” You will notice God doesn’t, you will notice the moment Terah dies he moves upon his son Abram to pick up where the father stopped short. God moves upon Terah’s son to pick up and head to….CANAAN, the original, intended destination! Where was God leading you? That could be literally or figuratively. And have you stopped short? Do  you expect Him just to make things work the way they are? If this was to happen to you would scream, “Injustice, false advertisement, broken contract….” than cannot God also scream all the same accusations against us and be just in doing so? 



Monday, January 4, 2016

JANUARY 4 "THE BIBLE IS MASTERFULLY PUT TOGETHER"

It's interesting that in the book of Psalms we read about the wisdom of " not sinning by allowing anger to rule over you". There is a huge gap between the writing of the Psalms and the murder that was committed by Cain, by doing this very act, "allowing anger to rule over him". In chronological time, the gap is huge, but for us reading The one Year Bible it's just a couple of days. How fitting that just a couple of days after we read a verse that can give us the wisdom in not committing the same sin that we just read about a couple of days prior. Through out the year this is a common occurrence, that the wisdom of one book lends or compliments another. I wonder if when the Psalmist wrote the Psalm we read today if he ever knew it would be placed next to the horrible murder of Cain, which obviously the Psalmist was familiar with. It was very much part of their history. The answer is obviously "no" the Psalmist did not know, but God did. Paul, no doubt, a schooled Pharisee reaches back to this Psalm when writing Ephesians 4:26, "in your anger do not sin". Only the ignoramus claims the Bible is "full of contradictions" . I argue for the opposite, it is rather masterfully put together like a symphony, no matter how you read it. The greatest advantage in reading the One Year Bible is having it mixed up, but yet coming out in perfect harmony. The truth is, you cannot mix up the Bible because it is perfectly harmonious. It is interesting as you get to the end of the year and you are reading about Zechariah in the Old Testament and then reading Revelations in the N.T that you can easily get mixed up as to whether you are reading in Zechariah or Revelations because the Prophecy you read about in the O.T. is being played out as you turn to read your N.T. portion for the day. It's really quite amazing. I, as you, read just a couple of days ago about Cain's brutal murder and as that is still fresh in our minds today we get the wisdom to avoid repeating Cain's sin, "don't sin by allowing anger to control you". We all get angry, but as PAUL writes later, "be angry and sin not".  Keep track this year how one book compliments another, it will amaze you!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

JANUARY 3 "THE GREAT OR NOT SO GREAT, TEMPTATION "

When we have the opportunity to read about the confrontation between the devil and Jesus; and what manor of temptation the devil is going to tempt Jesus with, we are thinking...."this should be good!" Oddly enough, if we'll be honest, this scenario falls kind of flat. It is definitely hurting in the area of action and drama. The temptations do not seem at all,  "overtly spectacular!".
 3 Temptations the devil throws at Jesus. These 3 are going to be, or should be "the devil's best".  The first one is for Jesus to tempt God or put God to the test by throwing himself off the cliff. The 2nd is to yield to evil for power and the 3rd is to satisfy the craving of his flesh. These, I don't find, to be out of the ordinary temptations, they are actually, pretty common temptations. We see people every day, tempt God, yield to evil to gain power and we see people give in every day to the cravings of the flesh.  Perhaps our temptations, like Jesus' don't look that extraordinary either, to others. We create a story that makes our temptations seem like they were extraordinary and impossible to resist under the circumstances. I believe many have read through this passage thinking it was going to be quit dynamic, but yet the reading does not really measure up. I believe most breeze through these pages thinking these temptations and this dual between JESUS and the Devil is a little weird and really not that powerful or interesting a read.  "Jesus is starving in the desert and the devil temps him to turn a rock into bread and Jesus doesn't do it".  Doesn't read....to be too exciting, that's for sure. We, perhaps were looking for something a little more juicy than that scenario. Well I'm sure Hollywood could script something together a little more salacious than that, ie: " The Last Temptation of Christ", but in the end, doesn't all sin/temptation fall under one of these categories; an affair is started because one or two individuals give in and satisfy their flesh or someone comes  into great prominence and power by yielding to evil?  We would like to make our sin, our temptations seem like they were out of the ordinary, but perhaps when we read about the temptations you faced we will see them the same way......"not at all that extraordinary" but rather "what is common to man". If I can present my temptations to seem like they were unbelievable then I don't have to be ashamed that I gave in. However if the truth be known, that my temptations were the same we all face and I just choose to give in and ruin my marriage, ruin my life, ruin my children, well now I'm looking bad and we don't like that. The story of your temptations isn't anymore exciting than what we read today. We give in to temptation not because the temptations were so strong, but because we wanted to and because we are, selfish and self-centered. Esau faced the same temptation as Jesus, Esau's justification was that he was going to die if he couldn't eat that bowl of stew. He took a temptation that seemed pretty ordinary and made it sound so grand that we would sympathize with Esau and say, " how could poor Esau have resisted". That's the thinking in his mind and some of your minds. But how many have you ever heard of that have sympathy for Esau? Most think of him as a fool for giving in. And we would have thought very much less of Jesus for giving in to his flesh. Perhaps you are getting ready to give in to temptation and already in your mind you are building up this great scenario of how extraordinary your circumstances and temptation was so you can excuse yourself, but the fact is, when we read the story of temptation, between you and the devil, we will read it as ordinary as the one we read today between Jesus and the devil and we will know the truth and think you a fool, for all that you lost and forfeited because you were hungry and you allowed the devil to tempt you and cause you to forfeit all for a piece of bread or a bowl of stew or a woman, a man, a drug, or financial pay out, whatever it be, we will think you "a fool" for allowing the devil to actually talk you in to tempting God, yielding to evil for power or giving in to fleshly cravings. In either case, you will be unexcused and deemed a fool for giving in, to the most basic temptations, that which is common to all men.