Thursday, March 31, 2016

MARCH 31 "DON'T SPEAK TO US, I THOUGHT WE WANTED...??"

"Don't speak to us, I thought we wanted God to speak to us?"  I thought the common complaint of God's people is that God never speaks?  In our story the people urged Moses, for God not to speak to them and it would be best if God just spoke to him (Moses) and he just relayed the message to them. Well, you can already see where this is heading. When God spoke to them it was fearful, but at least they could not pretend to not be sure if whether or not it was God that was truly speaking. So let's fast forward into the future because we can do that. Let's fast forward to the days of the prophets, specifically, Jeremiah, where he is prophesying and the people simply reject his prophecy (all the while feeling smug that they have not rejected God). Now the people, now you and I, can always say, "I reject your message, but never would I reject it if it was God, it's just that it's not God, so we reject you". It's the greatest form of hypocrisy, there is!  And...we all engage in it. I believe most Christians at one time have rejected the message, the Word, the Prophecy because it went against their own will. "God don't speak to us directly, it's too scary, speak to us through a man", I don't know how pure their motives were at the time, maybe some were sincere, but look where it has led us today. I can come to church every Sunday, have God speaking and leave rejecting the message. Why? Because it's just man speaking, not God. And man is imperfect and who's to say if the preacher is hearing from God or not? And who can argue against that!?! Well, the hope is that two changes came about, not just one.  The 1st change was that God would speak though prophets, through preachers, but the second change that also came is He would give us His Holy Spirit to dwell inside of us and His voice would also be within. Not only would God's voice be within, but His voice would also speak through His Word. And so we know have these 3 facets that God speaks to us in the modern era of Christianity. He speaks through His prophets/preachers, His Word and His voice within and the 3 really should mesh together. If we reject the message, then let there be a reason, not just that it goes against our will or what we feel should be, but rather than the 3 voices don't coincide together. God's Word will always be the objective place we can God to to truly know His voice. Our feelings and how we interpret a sermon or what's going on inside of us are all subjective, the question is, does it line up with His word, which is objective? If your heart is right this process works quite well, but when your heart becomes jaded & bitter everything becomes convoluted and the waters become murky like a dirty creek and we find ourselves quite lost and confused, but you will find that the moment you simply decide to obey, the murky waters become clear as a pool and the same message, the same voice, begins to speak, in unison, from all 3 facets, the prophet/preacher, His Word and that sill small voice within.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

MARCH 30 "KEYS TO PROSPERITY"

   HEARD someone recently say, "you mean a Christian that actually has money and is not poor and broke like the rest of us!". Many Christians, if we would be honest (as this particular person was) would utter that same phrase. Why are so many of God's people poor and broke?  Did you read today's reading? Are there not some guidelines here? Verse 15:3 "However, there need be no poor people among you... 5 if only you fully obey the LORD your God"   So we can only conclude by this that we as Christians must not be obeying God. "Obey Him in what?", you ask.  "Tithes"....NO!
      God getting most Christians to Tithe is like trying to squeeze juice out of a grape, no it's above and beyond the Tithe that Jehovah is speaking about.  Verse 7 7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.  Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing.
      The Church of Jesus Christ is failing miserably in the area of finances and morality. God's people are not prospering (this does not mean being rich) and there are many poor amongst us, but the answer lies in our text this morning.  Today's mindset is, "I will tithe and I can be squeezed maybe for an offering or pledge, but don't (Lord) ask me to give another dime after that, I've given towards Charity."
But God says, "no, you're not done giving towards charity, not if you want to prosper".   Always ask "why" when God says something.  Why would God say not to be "tightfisted" towards one another, why would God say, "there should be no poor amongst you", why would God say, "don't harbor this wicked thought in your heart" and the answer is....because we are guilty of all of these.  We want to store, gather and hoard for that rainy day, but God has always said, share and give away and I will provide. This does not mean spending your whole paycheck on somebody and then waiting for the mortgage payment to miraculously come in, but just as we take a portion off the top for God, perhaps we ought to take a portion off the top to bless the poor amongst us and if we who have abundance hoard, we may find ourselves poor now sticking our hand out for help. The paragraph finishes with this: "11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land."
     We feel smug saying, "I'll pray for you or I put in a prayer request" but God says nothing about praying for them in this text, He says, "be openhanded" towards them.  There's a balance in all of this I'm sure you know, but normally I don't think our problem is finding the balance, we are quick to come up with that, we are quick to be practical (ie: giving to them is a bottomless pit) but just be careful that you don't allow your reason, rational & practical thinking, to rob you right out of the blessing and prosperity God wants you to have and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

MARCH 29 "UNBELIEVABLE STORIES"

     WHEN we think of unbelievable stories of the bible, we think of Jonah in the belly of a whale for 3 days, we think of Joshua praying that the sun would stand in place and it did or Elijah praying that it would not rain for 3 years, but I think this story is equally unbelievable and stands just as strong (in the category of "unbelievable") as the previous stories mentioned.  It is hard to believe how cold and indifferent the heart of a human being can be towards another human being.  It is hard to believe how mankind would be more concerned about his livelihood than the welfare of another human being, but regardless of whether it is hard to believe, it is TRUE.  The unfortunate incident here is that these men lost their herd of swine (what were Jews doing with a herd of swine anyway?), but yet a life has been restored, a man that was bound by demons has been set free, free to go home a be a son to his father again, free to go home and be a father to his sons, free to go home and live a normal life. Imagine, demon possessed, bound in chains and uncleaness and in a moment of time put in his right mind, wouldn't that cause anybody to rejoice....,but to these men all they see is how it has impacted them negatively. This reminds me of the story of the fortune telling slave girl in the book of Acts that is set free of a demon spirit by Paul and the crowd once again, does not rejoice but turns against Paul with rage and anger because the woman will no longer be able to earn them a living with her fortune telling.  Are human beings really that wicked?  Are we more concerned about our welfare and livelihood than other people's problems? And of course the answer to that is a decisive YES! The greatest testimony of the Christian is not that they were set free from some superficial sin, it is that they were set free of this wickedness in the human heart, the wickedness of self idolatry.  That we genuinely begin to care for other human beings that are "outside" of our circle. We begin to care about people who are not related to us, can do nothing for us and we have nothing to gain by their getting back on their feet.  These men in our text are the type that God would often refer to as "wicked", they are wicked men. History has revealed to us just how wicked men can be; wars, bigotry, greed, rape, murder and genocides are just part of our ugly history.  This story is unbelievable, but then again, these men in our text are "the wicked" they are "unregenerate" and what is even more unbelievable is that when we "the redeemed" , we "the regenerated" begin to display the same disregard for people and their plight; than we have lost something intrinsically paramount, to what makes us distinct from the wicked.

Monday, March 28, 2016

MARCH 28 " I SURE WISH GOD WOULD SPEAK TO ME!"

One of the most common complaints, apparently for Christians, is that God does speak to us audibly, if only He would just speak to us. Having Pastored for 10 years I have learned to bite my tongue, more often than not. If I spoke my mind every time someone slipped a bit from the straight & narrow, well.......and that's me, imagine if God spoke audibly to us, imagine if God didn't bite his tongue (so to speak). In our text we read today God speaks and it's all about "house cleaning". I believe they mindset of the Israelites, whom God did often speak to was the opposite of ours. Their mindset was more, "if God isn't speaking, that's a good thing". We may look different than the Israelites, but as humans we are not much different. We fill our lives with junk, idols, compromises & false gods. We think if God was to speak it would be marvelous and loving; and I'm sure at times it would be, but other times it would be "a shake down". And we would walk away from those times saying, "I preferred when God didn't speak". The truth of the matter is, "God does speak". It's just we are not hearing, we have lost or never had any sensitivity to his "still small voice". And when He speaks to us today, through the Holy Spirit it is still about "house cleaning" and others time not. The more often we come before God and spend time with him in prayer and meditation, the less house cleaning will need to be addressed. Israel has long strayed from a close relationship with God and so when He does speak and does seem negative, but who brought that on?  We are looking for God to speak, sometimes traveling to Conferences, in desperation to hear God speak, all the while, we ignore his voice in our own city, in our own church, in our own living room or wherever God might speak. God does still speak but often times, He is wanting us to make time to sit down and listen. We want Him to speak while we are in line at Starbucks, getting our Latte, or speak to us while we are shoving down our drive thru lunch, but God says, "be still and hear my voice".   The cry of the Christian is, "I sure wish God would speak to me" and the cry of God is, " I sure wish they would slow down and listen to me".

Sunday, March 27, 2016

MARCH 27 "INGREDIENTS OF OUR OWN DEMISE"

"But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget The Lord your God"
This is ridiculous! Who would forget someone who has done so much for them? I thought it was the opposite, I thought we had to worry about people in the Church that are not doing well, that are not prospering. Now you're  telling me that we also have to worry about those that God is prospering? I could see how someone could leave the Church who felt like God let them down or wasn't doing enough for them (as spiritually immature as that might be), but I don't think that, as our scripture says, we need "to be careful" that those that are prospering, by the hand of God.....would actually stray from God. And if that be true (which obviously it is if God has said it) then I can't help wonder....Does Christianity contain in itself it's on ingredients for its demise? In other words, if the tendency is for Christians to prosper in their ways, can the very virtues (honesty, faithfulness, character, morals) that Christianity brings to a man/woman eventually destroy them? We have all seen this, the character that comes into the church, can't keep a job, you couldn't trust him with his grandmother's prescription meds, all of a sudden he's keeping a job, has the most integrity at work, is faithful and begins to be noticed by the boss. Next thing you know he's being promoted, getting raises and prospering and as he prospers he becomes less and less interested in church and more interested in his new acquaintances and the new pleasures his income now affords him and he forgets (yes he forgets just like the scripture warned) who it was that picked him up and put him where he is. Hard to beleive, yes, but yet it happens all the time. I almost wished that God would not prosper his people, but of course that's not the answer. The answer is simply what God has said, "be careful when you prosper and don't forget The Lord thy God who brought you out...." Some people are simply users. I don't believe that all people come into the Church with a planned purpose to use the Church and God, but regardless, whether it was planned or not, that is the end result. Some of the people I have given the most to have left the church once they got all they needed, never to hear from them again. This gives me a new respect for Christians who are truly prosperous and successful in the world, but yet you see them Sunday after Sunday, whole heartedly serving God as if they needed Him for every last thing and penny. I wonder how many CHRISTIANS can really be trusted with prosperity and success, without turning on and forgetting the one who prospered them. My guess is, probably not many and that's why we see so few. Question is, are you one of them that God could trust? And of course your answer is...Yes, Yes, Me, Me!! But only God truly knows the answer to that!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

MARCH 26 "WEAR THEM ON YOUR FOREHEAD"

I will rarely be the one to say that, "God made a mistake", but I have to say, God made a mistake here when He instructed them to "wear them on their foreheads".  What was He thinking? Did God not think that one day, as hard as it is to believe that they might actually make boxes and put them on their foreheads? Or maybe God knew how religious they would become some day and He wanted them to look like fools, walking around with a box on their foreheads.  Fact is, all religious people look like fools to those outside the church.  They see us with all our dogmas, all our rules and regulations but then they see us, when push comes to shove, act like heathens, hateful, prejudiced, unforgiving, cheap, mean, bitter, and the list goes on.  God promised the day when His laws and precepts would be written upon our hearts. A few thousand years later, Jesus came, died and rose from the dead, with that promise now available to all (his laws written upon our hearts) but many prefer just to walk around with the box on the forehead, rather than have God come inside their hearts and radically change and transform them. Remember, it was the Pharisees, with God's laws literally put on their foreheads, that killed Jesus. Religious people killed Jesus then and Religious people still kill Jesus today. When we try to preach Jesus to a sinner, Jesus has been killed in them because of some religious person, walking around with the box of laws on their foreheads but yet living like the devil. Then when we (those with his laws & precepts in our hearts) approach them, they want nothing to do with Jesus or us. It is hard, almost unbelievable that a group of people would have taken this verse literally and made little boxes to put on their foreheads, but they did! A child could easily see the application here that God was implying, ie: Have God's words and his laws imprinted upon your mind.  Even better, have them in your heart. The problem is, Religious people are blind to who they are or what they look like. You will notice in the New Testament, nobody was Jesus sterner with, than the Pharisees. He told the Pharisees, "you go to great lengths to win a convert over, only to make him twice the son of hell that you are". That's beyond stern, we would even consider that rude in our PC culture and climate we live in today. Jesus had a warning to his disciples and to us, "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees". Jesus told you and I to beware, in other words, we are not exempt of having this religious, self righteous spirit jump on us. Each and every one of us has the potential to become quite religious, especially as the years go by and our original conversion experience is many years behind us. If only when we looked in the mirror, we could see the silly box that is upon our foreheads to see how foolish we look to the world, we would rip it off and pray that God put his word in our Hearts!

Friday, March 25, 2016

MARCH 25 " CAN ADULTS ACCEPT CORRECTION?"

How do you respond to correction.  Is it true that Adults, are just kids in grown up bodies?  Moses says, " But the Lord was very angry with me, because of you. he vowed that I would never cross the Jordan River into the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession".
If only the leaders we corrected were still willing to carry out their duties and responsibilities with dignity and honor, as Moses did in our text.  Our reaction to such a stern correction would be, "fine, I've given the past 40 years to getting these people into the Promised Land and now you're telling me I'm not going in because I lost my temper or disobeyed you one time? Well then you lead them, you tell them what they need to do or, better yet, have Joshua do it, since you see perfectly fit to have him go into the Promised Land! After all, where was Joshua when I was confronting Pharaoh, where was Joshua when I was leading these people through the desert, let Joshua give them instructions, I don't care, you can take me right now Lord, for all I care".  We have to understand that the reason we are receiving correction is because we did something wrong, not because we did something right. God told the first murder, Cain, "Sin is crouching at your door to have you, but if you will do right....."  Just do right and you won't have to deal with correction, but if you choose to do wrong, to flesh out or whatever it is you want to do, then be ready and willing to accept correction and take it like it like Moses.  I had a relationship with one Pastor that was often filled with correction and rebuke because he had me as a disciple during my stubborn and rebellious years.  I had another Pastor years later, that I was under, that I can't remember one time being corrected or rebuked by him.  The difference, was not them but me. I learned to just do right, it is so much easier just to do right and listen. I was a blessing to one Pastor, while I was a thorn in the side to my previous Pastor.  What we have to realize, is correction is "warranted". People say, "you are what you eat", in other words, you have warranted or earned, the weight and health problems you have ( I understand there's exceptions).  If you are in a place of constant correction, you have to believe it is not that you are being singled out, but rather that you are singling yourself out. Moses was told specifically what to do and was told specifically what not to do and he did the very opposite. I do notice that Moses still kind of blames the people for his finally giving in to his temper and allowing it to cause him to disobey God, but that's another issue. At least Moses accepts his correction, a harsh one indeed and still carries out his duties with dignity, honor and without attitude.  The question is, "can you be corrected" and do the same? If you can than you have the qualities of a mature and spiritual man/woman of God. If you cannot be corrected it only proves that much more "that you needed to be corrected" and it also shows the signs of a spiritually immature Christian. Which are you?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

MARCH 24 "THE MOST DEPRESSING STORY"

     Maybe I'm just in a somber mood this morning, but I was just overwhelmed with how depressing this scenario is and maybe that 's good.  I don't know how they did it? I can just imagine how many could not take this aimless wandering and left the group, went off on their own into the desert and probably died out in the wilderness.  Imagine knowing, you have no purpose but to wander in circles until you die.  They were going absolutely "nowhere", there was no final destination, no purpose, but to wander around aimlessly and die.  That's depressing!!!  This is still the curse of the unbeliever (for it was their unbelief that angered God and drove them out into the desert), whether inside the church or outside.  The curse of the "unbeliever" is still aimless wandering, purposeless living; without an end destination. If we are going to know God, we must seek God for the greatest benefit (on earth) of knowing God and that is living a life with purpose, with an end in sight, with a destination & purpose.  Many churches, businesses, corporations have "mission statements".   Do you have an individual mission statement? What is your purpose, your aim, where are you heading? Is your life running you or are you running your life? The curse to the unbeliever was to wander aimlessly until they died; therefore as believers, that should NEVER be our lot. Scripture after scripture will tell you that God has a destination, a purpose, an aim, for the believer and it is up to us to seek him and believe him for it. "For I know the thoughts that I have towards you, not to harm you, but to give you a plan"  "the steps of the good man are ordered by the lord"  "trust in the Lord and He will direct your path" scripture after scripture emphasizes that the antithesis of wandering is direction, purpose and an intended destination. You will notice in the reading today that as soon as the last person of that unbelieving generation dies, God says, "now let's get back on track, you have wandered around long enough, back to "the place of purpose, destination and blessing, move now in this direction, cross the Jordan and enter". Never is it God's will for people to wander aimlessly, it's a curse, it's judgment, it's not our portion as believers and we should never settle for aimless wandering.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

MARCH 23 "MOSES FELL FOR IT!"

     VERSE 22, "Then ALL OF YOU (that was a red flag right there) came to me and said, "let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to".  I'm not so sure this sneak preview was so much about "scouting for a route", this scouting venture is purposely phrased to Moses, not to let out a hint of negativity, it's all positive.  They make sure to say to Moses the "right words", they make sure not to allude in any way that this spying out the land is really to see if the rumors they have heard are true (giants in the land) and if they are, there's no way....but none of that is mentioned to Moses. I believe Moses was manipulated here. Why would God allow Moses to be manipulated? Notice Moses doesn't tell the people, "I'll seek God get back to you on this" as he usually did.  Moses now is trying to be nice, he's believing the best in people, trusting that their motives are pure, and based on how it was presented to him he says, "The idea seemed good to me". As leaders we really do want to believe the best about people and their motives but we are also called to know "human nature" and go with our instinct and lead how God has called us to and how God is leading. The 1st problem here is this idea did not come from God and neither did this idea come from Moses.  It is not to say that other than Leaders, nobody has any good ideas, but the fact of the matter is, Leaders are leaders because they have the vision, the instinct and end result in mind. Most people have their interest in mind, first and foremost, "self preservation".  No war would have ever been won in America's history had Generals and Leaders sat and listened to the suggestions of the troops that would actually die in bringing about that victory. Moses has a mission, a vision; to bring the Israelites into the promised land. The individual Israelite has a different mission, it's "self preservation" and self interest.  Paul says when he received his vision, he did not consult with flesh and blood" but he simply took his marching orders and executed those as a good soldier. Leaders may seem arrogant at times, but a true leader knows where he is going, knows the end in sight, is consulting others with knowledge and perspective and really has little room for suggestions from troops on the ground when he has an aerial view (so to speak) of the situation/ministry or mission at hand.  Leaders are not called to be nice, they are called to lead.  Are you a leader?  Do you find yourself being manipulated by others to be "nice" rather than Lead.  Are you a follower that is trying to manipulate your leader to follow your agenda, are your motives pure? Is what you say to your leader really what you are saying or is their a hidden agenda? Moses fell for this, but in the end, everyone lost. There is no winner when followers won't let their leaders lead and leaders will not step up and take the lead. This situation is a DISASTER in Israel's history, it is one of their darkest moments. That generation never enters into the promised land. Had Moses stepped it up, sought God on this he could have returned to them the following day and said, "thanks for the idea, but we don't need to go spy out the land, I've already spoke with God, I have the mind of God on this, nobody needs to see nothing in advance, I've got my marching orders from God, we will all get to see it tomorrow when WE CONQUER IT, see you in the morning!". How different things could have been.....let's learn and not repeat the same mistake.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

MARCH 22 "MOSES HAD A BAD IDEA?!"

I find great comfort, unfortunately at Moses' detriment, that an idea that turned out to be a " horrible" idea, was one that Moses gave his stamp of approval on. "This seemed like a good idea to me". This turns out to be a horrible idea and sends them back out into the desert for another 40 years. This coming from a man that God says He speaks face to face with. How did Moses miss God on this? Why didn't Moses override this idea and say, "we don't need spies we just need to go in and take the land as God has told us too! I'm sure Moses kicked himself for years for listening to the people and not having the discernment to snuff out this idea. "This seemed like a good idea to me". I have had those days, where I was off. Off on what I chose to say, off on what I chose to do, off on my reaction, off on my decision making and as a leader it only makes it worse. As a leader people are looking to you to make the right calls and there is very little room for Grace and Error when you are a leader. You can make 20 right decisions but people  will only remember the call that you missed and led them all into the wilderness. What a great responsibility that weighs upon leaders, so great that no man should ever want such responsibility and leadership, but also that no man would ever say "no" to God when He offers it too him. Had Moses vetoed this proposition they would have marched in and their lives would have been so different. The leader who does not carefully weigh out the ramifications of his decisions on the people he is leading, is not a leader. One thing we can certainly learn from one of the greatest leaders of all time (Moses) is that no leader leads perfectly and every leader, sooner or later is going to make "a bad call". It's inevitable, we must face that fact, but one it does come, hope that those you are leading have mercy with you and hope that you have grace with yourself and are able to move on because there's still a people to lead and you are still their leader, imperfect, as you are.

Monday, March 21, 2016

MARCH 21 "THE EAST SIDE OF THE JORDAN"

     Imagine this conversation, "I have a better place, than what God has in mind, I would prefer this, no really, go ahead, this is good, trust me, I know, but God had ......I know, I know, but this will do, thank-you for offering Lord, but I'm good, really!!  That's what this group of people is saying to God. And I say, "are you kidding me?"  What is this, what can you call this, I don't even know...is it stupid, arrogant, ignorant, fearful, or all of the above and more?!  Imagine telling God, who knows what's best for us and is trying to offer us "His" best and we turn around and say to Him, "no thanks, this will do just fine".  I know I've tried to offer people good things I had for them and had them tell me "no thanks", I was a little insulted, but can you imagine a human being saying that to God himself.  Maybe this group was thinking "at least we won't have to fight for this, we already have it, it may not be the best but we could have this NOW and why not just settle for this!  Notice the first issue Moses addresses (and you can tell he's angry) is..."don't think you're going to sit here while we go fight!".  Could I, could you, could "we" be guilty of doing this with God at times? I wonder.....???  I think we have.  I believe many of God's people are living on "the east side of the Jordan" rather than crossing over and contending for God's best.  Why would a human being that believes in the goodness and omniscience of God, say "no thanks" to what God offers them and "willingly know" they are settling for God's 2nd best.  And what's even scarier, is God lets them!!! He doesn't force them to cross. We force our will upon others, we force what we think is best because we don't want to have to deal with the heartache and this is how different we are from God.  God knowingly let's people choose what's not best for them and suffers the heartbreak. There are certain situations where we have forced our will, but if we would watch our God and his methods we would realize, in the larger picture, we have accomplished nothing.  God does this in all areas of our lives, even in the most critical decision of our lives, Heaven and Hell He does this, He lays his best before us, Heaven and even then He says, "if you want Hell, than I give you the full right to choose hell". If God will allow us to do this with our eternity, how much more so will he allow us to choose in the every day decisions; who we will marry, where we will live, what church we will go to, what city we will live in, what carreer path we will choose, in all these decisions God has an opinion, God has a will, God knows what's best and often impresses upon us what's best but he will ALWAYS allow us to tell him, "no thanks Lord, this is what I choose, I choose to remain on the east side of the Jordan" and though his heart aches, he lets it be.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

MARCH 20 "I DON'T LIKE THE WORD CURSED"

     WELL, poor Balaam is killed...and once again this confirms the idea in our previous reading, that God will use the wicked, but eventually He will judge them.   Balaam was the wicked one that was hired to curse Israel, but even Balaam turns around and says, "I cannot curse those whom God has not cursed" and we love that scripture, don't we! The problem is, we fail to read on because the people of Israel end up being cursed regardless, so in the end God's people are cursed. So if our aim is "not to be cursed" it is not enough to simply quote one random text from God's word but to understand the full idea of the story of Balaam.  Verse 15 to 16 goes on to tell us that Balaam could not curse them directly or by his own will, BUT Balaam thought of a better way to curse God's people, Balaam figured out that he could get them to curse themselves"They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the Lord in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the Lord's people".  This is such a big issue it is brought up by Jesus himself in the very last book of the bible, in Revelations 2:14, "Nevertheless I have a few things against you:  You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality."  Perhaps our greatest fear should not be a witch in some back room trying to put a curse on us, but rather our greatest fear should be the flesh that lives within, when we are tempted we are only baited by our own desires, James admonishes us in his epistle. Balaam realizes "I can't curse those whom God won't curse" so let's bait them, especially the men, by the desires that lurk within. Are we praying for people that have cursed themselves? Are we showing sympathy for brothers and sisters who are merely reaping what they have sown? He who sows to the flesh will he/she not reap, corruption!? You're greatest fear when it comes to being cursed should not be the invisible, it is actually a visible entity you should fear, it is the man, the woman that stares back at you every morning when you look int the mirror. He/she is the one that can curse you!!! When we fear what we ought, and fear not what we should not, then we can walk circumspect and with confidence that those those whom God has not cursed cannot be cursed".

Saturday, March 19, 2016

MARCH 19 "THE REALITY OF GOD"

I wrote a mini e-book, available on smashwords.com entitled “The Reality of God”.  How important it is that we have the ever and present Reality of God in our lives. How important it was back then, but even more, how important it is today. We can discuss all day long the significant aspects to all these offerings, but one thing we can say for sure, without speculation, is that it kept God, His purposes, His reality, at the forefront of the minds of His people. It is so easy to get caught up in the business of life and become distracted and lured away, from this relationship with this invisible God. In obeying these commands to have these frequent offerings, no matter how busy they were, this had to be done and it brought them constantly back to the place God wanted them. Today, we don’t have these laws, we don’t have these constant offerings, sacrifices, rituals, so what keeps God at the forefront of our minds? When Jesus describes the seeds (the Word of God) that the sower sows in the ground (the hearts of men) and how they are one by one snatched away, one of the ways the seeds are snatched away is by “the cares of this world”. Many people slip away from the church not because of “evil intentions” they simply allow the business of life to distract them away from their walk with God. They don’t hate God, haven’t turned against God, they are simply distracted. Should we re-engage these old rituals of constant sacrifices to help people re-connect and more important, stay connected with God? It’s almost as if the Old Testament people of God were “the children” and we are the New Testament people of God are they adults. The idea with children is that we have all these rules & regulations so that when they are out of the house , as adults they have formed habits and have a structure that will lead them on successfully in life. We are the “adult people of God now” many of the rules and regulations are gone now and God hopes that we have learned and will now as adult Christians, apply these ideas and concepts to our lives, and somewhat govern ourselves in our relationship with God. Paul writes, “work out your own salvation”.  For some this concept will work fine, for others, unfortunately it will work horribly.  For some, the freedom you have in college works for them, for others they cannot handle that much freedom and they fall apart and either end up getting kicked out of college or drop out voluntarily. One thing is for sure and one thing has not changed between the Old Testament and the New; and that is, that we need the ever and constant reality of God in our lives or we drift.  And it is up to us, as the adult people of God (so to speak) to figure out a way to have that. God does not govern and rule our lives anymore with constant sacrifices, but that doesn't mean the concept is gone, it is up to you, to reinvent, re-create this practice, daily and weekly in your life, so you don’t drift. You must contend for the ever and constant reality of God in your life, one way or another!

Friday, March 18, 2016

MARCH 18 "WE ARE NOT AGAINST GOD, JUST THE LEADER...READ AGAIN!"

     WE want to bury the past, but the past cannot be buried, the past becomes part of our history. What will your history be? Well who are you banding with?  3 “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the LORD"  Why is this coming up now? Because the past, our history always comes back. Men who forget history repeat the same mistakes, this we know!  Israel has certain reference points (a history) just as we do. Korah and what happened is part of their history and will be until their death. Mahlah and her sisters are quick to mention that their father was not part of the group that "banded together" against the Lord.  A few thoughts here, #1. It was not against the Lord that they banded, I thought it was against Moses? But when God inspires this text to be written, it is written for eternity, that they banded not against Moses but against God, Wow!  Moses has issues, we all do, and God deals with Moses later on in our text (12 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.”) but God clearly states here that when we rise up against the Lord's anointed, we rise up against him.  Yes, God will use certain individuals to brings his purposes about, but I would advise you not to be the individual he uses, because He will always come back to judge those that made themselves available to be used.  God does not predispose us to wickedness, he simply works with what we give him.  He did not make Judas wicked, but he used his wickedness to bring his sovereign purposes to pass, He did not make Pharaoh wicked, but he used ......He did not make King Nebuchadnezzar wicked, but He did use him to judge Israel, but never forget then He went back to Judge him.  Don't be the vessel, the instrument that God uses to judge his anointed. David refused to be that vessel, even though at times it seemed as if God wanted him to be that vessel, but David kept to the scriptures "though shall not raise a hand against my anointed" even when it seemed that God did want to use him to judge Saul, David did not sin by doing this. A situation may be arising that seems like you are "the one" that God wants to use, don't ever fall for that, tell God, like David, "use somebody else to strike/bring him down, it will not be me!".  Zelophehad’s daughters are quick to claim that their father had no part in Korah's uprising against Moses, ughhh, I mean The Lord.  Secondly Zelophehad’s daughters point out that there was a "banding together".  People who have grievances against headship/leadership tend not to just stick to themselves and self implode they tend to gravitate towards one another, they tend to "band together" and once they have banded together comes the thought..."let's confront" because we know there is security in numbers. No matter what bridges you ever have to cross in life, in ministry, in the church; like Zelophehad’s daughters let them always say, "my father was not part of those that banded against Moses, ughh....I mean The Lord"  he died for his own sins, but he WAS NEVER part of that ugly part in our history and our scripture tells us "The Lord" heard them and honored their request, and that's a whole other blog in itself!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

MARCH 17 "DON'T BE A CHICKEN, JUST ASK!!!""

Zelophehad's daughters bring their grievance before Moses, their leader and you notice Moses doesn't send them away and accuse them of being just a bunch of malcontents, especially, they being women. "Rights, you have no rights, get out of here!" Moses did not pretend to be concerned and then come back with his own answer, as if he had prayed about it. Moses actually does bring their grievance before God and interestingly, God sides with the Zelophehad's daughters; in essence, God says, "they're right!"  What if the daughters of Zelophehad had not brought their grievance to Moses; and worse, what if Moses had not actually gone before God with their grievance?  We see in this story that God is willing to let a lot of things slip by, unless someone speaks up. There's a fine line between fighting and contending for your rights and just being a malcontent and it is up to you and I, to discern between the two. Jabez also cries out to God, "oh Lord that you would bless me and enlarge my territory" and The Lord granted him his request. Secondly we see a leader who is willing to listen to his people, regardless of their gender; and petition God on their behalf and seek God for the best interest of the people, a true leader. This story also allows us to see what God is like and He is quite different than many portray Him to be. He is not this stoic enigma unmoved by the plight of man and indifferent. God, listens to reason. In Isaiah we have the scripture, "Come now let us reason together". If you cannot be bothered to petition God, ever, for your needs, what you sense are your rights, blessing and promises, then don't be surprised if you get nothing. "You have not because you ask not".  Or....when you ask, you ask not believing that you will receive anything that you ask for.  The Zelophehad's daughters are very, very close from missing out on a huge blessing and it's not Moses, nor even God, that is to credit for their getting what they received, we can only look back at this story and credit these brave, courageous women, for coming to Moses, in essence, coming to God, and bringing their petitions before him and trusting in a just God and a just leader, to do them right, and it pays off tremendously and a lesson for all of us to learn! Never be afraid, to petition God for your needs or what you think is rightfully yours!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

MARCH 16 "HOW SPIRITUAL ARE YOU?"

     HOW spiritual are you?  Of course nobody likes "super spiritual" people, but that does not mean we should not be spiritual. "Super Spiritual" people are those who try to spiritualize matters that are more practical in nature than anything else, they also try to hide their flaws and judgmentalism behind "spirituality"...., well we know all about them, but let's talk about us. We are proud that nobody would call us "super spiritual" but would anybody call us "spiritual" ???  THE FACT IS some of us are more spiritual, more in tune with God and seem to have more of his Spirit, than others. Paul prayed, "that they may be filled to FULL measure with His Spirit".  Full meaning that any Christian can be from a quarter empty to overflowing full (just like a gas tank) with God's Spirit.  If only we had a gage like our gas tank, to show us where we are at.  A side from violations & money problems, the balance of divorces stems from two lovers that have let their love fizzle away.  Is it possible that our love for God could fizzle away? Are we divorced from God? Perhaps not officially, we have not made it official but many couples before making it official lived a very stoic relationship together. What does this have to do with today's reading?   "25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts....." 
     We look suspiciously at people who say, "the Holy Spirit spoke to me about this and that". Why do we, because we can't relate and therefore anyone who says that the Holy Spirit is either crazy or super spiritual.  Some serve God as if there was no Holy Spirit.  Joseph and Mary were also spiritual people and the Holy Spirit also spoke to them.  My Pastor a few weeks ago said, "God spoke to him that his ankle would (that was in a cast) be healed when he awoke the next morning and we to looked at him as if he was crazy or super spiritual, but he showed up the next day for church, HEALED.  TRUTH BE KNOWN, most of us (speak for yourself...I AM) are not spiritual. The business of our lives has turned us into Christians by necessity.  We have been around long enough to know what Christians do and what Christians do not do and that is the place our Christianity has come to, it stops there and goes no further. Instead of judging Simeon and others as "super spiritual" (as we would have) we should be convicted by this man's devotion to God and his "superior" relationship with God and the Holy Spirit. WARNING: When we try to conjure up the "voice of the Holy Spirit" rather than conjure up our relationship with Him, that's when we turn into flakes.  Don't sit there and try to hear the voice of God, sit there and seek Him, not His voice and the by-product of that will be you will hear from God and have clarity of mind, clarity of purpose and perspective on life and all matters pertaining to it.  Nobody will want to answer this question "how spiritual are you?" and we shouldn't answer it, it's not a question to answer, it is more a question to ponder, it is more something to be, rather than something to profess. I doubt Simeon ever would have said, "I am spiritual" he simply was.  But if you ever asked him if he knew his God, that he would have confidently answered, "yes indeed I know my Lord, I speak to him daily and he daily speaks with me".  Sound overly spiritual, perhaps to us that are not, but to those that are, it makes perfect sense!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

MARCH 15 "GIFTS & CALLING OF GOD IRREVOCABLE"

Balaam is a confusing character to many people. At first when we are reading about him going over to meet Balak to partner with him against Israel. However when Balaam pronounces blessing on Israel instead of cursing; Balak sends him off angry so now we think, "oh, he's a good guy". Balaam is saying good things, but he is still bad.  Later on Balaam mentions to King Balak that although he cannot curse Israel himself, Balaam suggests to King Balak that he can have the Israelites curse themselves by enticing them into sexual immorality. This turns out to be quite an effective course and thousands of Israelites die in a plague that strikes the Israelite community because of their sexual immorality between the moabite women and the men of Israel..What we can learn from this is "saying good things does not make you good", doing good things makes you good, even if you don't say a thing. We are confused about Balaam, but there really is nothing to be confused about. He is bad. The problem with Balaam is his giftings.   The giftings of men throw us off and confuse us. Balaam is a prophet, he has a gift and he cannot change that, but his character is bad. If there's one thing I might take issue with, is that "the giftings of God are irrevocable". I would petition God to have that changed if I could. If only when a man did not keep up his character his giftings would be lost. We would be less confused and the men/women involved in sin would be less confused. Often what encourages a person to continue in his/her sin is that they still feel gifted and are; and somehow take that as God's approval or they take it as, "maybe God doesn't think this is so bad? I know my Pastor does, I know my friends do, but what do they know? If God himself is not angry, upset, maybe they are just be too judgmental? We are confused about Balaam and we are confused about many others who seem to display horrible character one moment, but speak so profoundly the next. There is nothing really to be confused about if you hold on to this cardinal rule, "character trumps all".  No matter how successful we are running a Country, a business, a church, a youth group, if our character is bad, we are bad and we should never judge a man or woman by success of works/ministries, we judge them by character. Whether they speak good things or not, whether they speak truths we are agree with or not, if they have bad character, they are bad and we are not to be confused. The sad reality of life and God in His Wisdom that is far beyond us, has made it, that the Gifts and Callings of God, are irrevocable.

Monday, March 14, 2016

MARCH 14 "WE ARE A FICKLE PEOPLE"

A healthy dose of reality for us is to be able to see our selves in the Israelites.  I sure don't dress like them and I sure don't talk like them, but I sure act like them, how about you? First of all, it takes them to get angry to pray. It shows they know the value of prayer but only seem to pray when it benefits them; nonetheless, they pray to God. our scripture says, "The Lord heard the Israelites request and gave them the victory". A tremendous victory it was 100% correlated to their prayer to God. You would think that would be a reference point for them of how real God is and how good He is, but as the story goes on, as it will with you and I. the journey grew long. This is where we become fickle. It only serving God was a 50 yard sprint, we would all be doing much better. However it's not a sprint, it's a long journey, called life! The long journey causes many of us who once had fire coming out of our finger tips, to become weary and doubting and fickle Christians.  One day we are going to win the world for Jesus; next Sunday we are struggling with going to church. One day we are preaching to someone to have "faith & believe" next week we are down in the dumps and nobody can talk us out of it.  The people of Israel go from believing in God for a great miracle and then witness that miracle but yet as the journey grows long they are actually quoted as saying, " They complained against God and Moses and said "why have your brought us out here in this wilderness only to die here ". The same God who heard their prayer and rescued them is no going to let them die? Doesn't make any sense to me, does it make any sense to you? I'm sure your answer is "no" but to them, it makes perfect sense. One of the unique characters about powerful and Godly couples is that they both actually have to have this "resolute faith". And that's why we have even less Godly couples than we think, in the Church of Christ. Fickle Christians are not going to make great strides for God. It will be 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. Does God not due miracles for us so that we can build a posture and faith that is resolute or does He just do them because we asked and He wants to show off. No, He does them to build in us a faith that is resolute, not fickle. This is why God is so upset by the events that take place in our story and God sends poisonous snakes and many of the fickle people are bitten and many die". I wonder if God still sends poisonous snakes to fickle people anymore or do you think God got saved between the Old Testament and the New Testament? No, He is the same God and He has not changed. He was good then and He is good today, and I would not be surprised at all to find out that He still sends poisonous snakes to bite his fickle people. Maybe it's that we don't recognize them, maybe it's that we think it's "the devil" or "bad luck".  Maybe it's neither, but what we do know for sure is God gets upset and tired with fickle people after He has done miracle after miracles and rescued us over and over again. When will we get it, when will we understand, that God is there for us, God is on our side and though the journey grow long, there's no way, He has brought us this far, to abandon us and let us die in the wilderness.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

MARCH 13 "THE GODLY COUPLE"

We read about this Godly couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth, both our text is clear to tell us come from a Godly/Priestly, lineage. They are described as being a Godly COUPLE , righteous in God's eyes careful to obey all his commands. There is no greater blessing to the Church than a Godly couple. More often than not, you have a devout single mom, or a married woman coming on her own, serving God faithfully, while her husband stays home or you have the couple that comes out, the husband is devout and the wife is more interested in many other things, but the rare jewel of the Church and/or the Kingdom of God, is the Zechariah and Elizabeth or the Joseph and Mary. There is nothing more powerful and influential in the Church than a Godly couple, without sounding redundant. There is the situation where a couple comes into the Church and the other simply does not have that same passion, what can you do? However, how often single men and women are Christian Singles and have the opportunity to carefully pick their spouse to share their future with, their Godly future and how often, even having been in the church, even having the opportunity to pick someone that the can serve God with; they go out and pick a spouse that drains on them spiritually and does not share the same passion for the things of God. On the other hand I have seen young singles hold out for someone with a like minded spirit, or dated and discerned the person they were dating did not share that same passion, broke it off and waited for someone else, only to see a year later God bring that other person in and then just see the relationship bloom, marriage to take place and that couple to become a Godly COUPLE, righteous in God's eyes, to be used by God greatly and impact their Church and God's Kingdom, just like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, Apollo's and Priscilla and ____________.  Can you write you and your wife's name in there?  Are you single, still having the opportunity to choose right, choose carefully? Are you married and your spouse is passionate about God but you are holding them back? There are situations that because of decisions of the past, we have to make due with where we are at right now, make the best out of it and serve God to the best of our ability, with or without are spouse, or simply as a single brother and/or sister and Christ. However the challenge is for others, to have a vision of one day being, a Godly COUPLE, for Christ, for the Kingdom of God.  What are rare jewel they are and what a tremendous blessing they are to the Church, will you one day be, or can you today, be a Zechariah and Elizabeth?

MARCH 12 "CONFLICT IN THE CAMP"

     God in the Old Testament reminds me of a parent with young children.  The constantly argue and squabble and mom and/or dad spends most of those early days settling disputes amongst the children. The children learn to depend and expect that mom or dad is going to settle the dispute, make a judgment of who is right and who is wrong and then discipline the guilty party. There is immediate intervention and immediate judgment when we are young.  I liked the God of the Old Testament, how about you?  There's squabbling and fighting against Aaron and God intervenes, shows them who's right and who's wrong, who's side He is on and the matter is settled. God is continuously intervening in their lives and settling disputes as the parent(s) of young children.  My children are at a stage now where I hear the arguments and squabbling and more often than not I stay out of it, they need to start learning how to resolve conflict themselves.  There is just as much conflict "in the camp" in the New Testament as there was in the Old Testament and I often wish that the God of the Old Testament would intervene, show who's right and who's wrong and bring judgment.  Honestly, many church splits and much church conflict could be saved if God intervened today like he used to in the Old Testament. Does he not care anymore? Do I not care anymore about my children? The New Testament is not just a move towards a New Covenant but also a move towards Spiritual Maturity.  In essence God is saying "work it out". He's given us the helper (the Holy Spirit) and He says "work it out". Are you in a situation where you are waiting for some supernatural  intervention from God, it may not come, the matter may just be getting worse, and as the Psalmist cried, "where are you God, why don't you hear me" God may say, "I do hear you," just as I hear my children, and God is saying, "you work it out".  The New Testatment is not just a New Covenant but it is a call to Spiritual Maturity with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Are you spiritually mature or a you waiting for God to intervene and settling everything for you in your little squabbles and sometimes large ones, but he just may hear, but not respond!

Friday, March 11, 2016

MARCH 11 "SECOND REBELLION PUT TO A HALT!"

If there's one thing that is for sure, that is, not "if" men will rebel, but when! It's an unfortunate circumstance of life to know, that often those that we have invested in and others loved, will often come back and oppose us. Whether that's are own children, whom we've loved & sacrificed everything for and now you're watching them with rage, confronting you, cussing at you as if you are their sworn enemy, or it's people in the church you've loved and invested in, or an employee at work, one thing is for sure, men do rebel. It hurts, it hurts really bad. This is not to say we go through life with a jaundiced eye and live as a cynic, but it is just to know, men rebel and many times it has nothing to do with the one they are rebelling against. As Pastors it is very disheartening to see the men we've appointed, to see the men we've raised up, we gave responsibility; the men we invested, it hurts when they rally unto themselves another group of men and march into our office and oppose us, accuse us and come against us. We're the ones that loved them and even gave them the positions of authority they have and now they are now going to use those very same positions of authority to turn against us.....; happens all the time! And of course that's when they get very spiritual and say, "you didn't give me my position of authority, God did!" It's amazing how we commit the most heinous of crimes, all in "the name of God". It's amazing how spiritual men can act when they are acting quite like the Devil himself. Rebellion is "the heart of the Devil". If only God would come down and swiftly deal with rebellion as He did in our text today. How wonderful it would be if when men rebelled God quickly separated those that were right from those that were wrong, and swallowed up in the eyes of everyone, those that were in rebellion...but we know He does not. People get confused in rebellions, as in our text, "these were respected men of affluence in the community". If only it was the demoniac who lives outside the camp, then nobody would follow and they would shut him down, but often it's men/women that have affluence to some degree. There are few churches in America that have not experienced the travesty of a "church split".  Aside from divorce, it's one of the worse things you could go through in life. Families are divided, long term friendships blown up, people lost in the mix, it's a horrible experience to ever have to live through, but if you've been around long enough, sadly, you've probably experienced it. Already in the early history of "the Church" so to speak, we are reading about rebellion and church splits. The souls and care of men is the "heart of Jesus" and rebellion and the destruction of lives is the "heart of the devil".  There's only two sides of the equation you can find yourself on and if ever you find yourself on "the dark side" do all you can to get your heart right, before it's too late, "for stubbornness is as idolatry and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft". The truth is, we are all rebels within, to some degree or another and it is a side of our sinful nature we must constantly beat down and bring under the submission and authority of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

MARCH 10 "SOMEONE'S FUNKY SPIRIT BRINGING YOU DOWN?

     WHY am I here is probably a common question we ask ourselves and God. Why am I here with these people, why am I here with this family, with this woman, with this man? Again, we see God acknowledging a man that has a different spirit than others. If you did not read yesterdays blog, go a head and read it. God says to Moses, "I will take the spirit that is upon you and put it on then".  And here again, God acknowledges this concept with another man; that man is Caleb.  "But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it."  Caleb basically serves God in the midst of a bunch of "malcontents" but yet chooses to have a different disposition, a different mind set, different spirit!   A new church, a new spouse, a new job, a new city, is our answer.  We say, " I have such a great disposition and this job, this  spouse, this church, this community is bringing me down".  TRUTH is, we choose to allow other people's funky spirit to bring us down. We give to much power and influence to other people over our lives, we allow other people's weaknesses to control us, control our moods, our temperament. We say, "this person, makes me miserable and not want to do anything!".  Caleb shows us that we can live in an external environment that is filled with negativity, live amongst a bunch of complainers and naysayers and yet still have "a different spiritand still have God's favor and still have the victory and still have a destiny in tact!  Our jobs, our spouses, our peers, co-workers, family and church members can only bring us down IF WE LET THEM.  The choice is yours, you can blame them for your moodiness and ill temper or you can choose not to let them and say, like Caleb, I choose to have a different spirit in the midst of a group of malcontents, whiners and complainers, I choose to be different, today!  And you can be sure, God will take notice!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

MARCH 9 "HE'S GOT SOMETHING YOU DON'T, SORRY...."

One of my most annoying sayings is "he puts his pants on in the morning same way I do!". This is implying that we're all on the same level here buddy. We know that no man should claim to be better than another man, but that is different than saying "we're all on the same level".  Twice in our story today God makes a clear point, "we are not all equal".  God tells Moses take these 70 men and I will put the Spirit that is upon you and place it on them. In others, Moses had something they had not. This is an undeniable truth in God's Kingdom that we are not all function on the same level. When the Seven Sons of Sceva  try casting out Demons, the Demons say, "Jesus we know and Paul we know, but who are you!?" And the demons start beat these men to a pulp.And later on in our text when Miriam and Aaron decide to grumble and gossip about Moses, once again God makes his point clear, "with Moses I speak face to face who were you to think you could talk against him like this". Miriam is immediately struck with leprosy and who is it that needs to pray for Miriam, to be healed, "Moses" the very one that they were saying "he's no better than us, who does he think he is". Well that question was answered for them, wasn't it!! It's a lesson for all of us to learn, not just Miriam and Aaron, the fact is, that in life some men, some women have a Grace and Anointing upon their lives that exceeds anything we have and we, that are wise, will respect and honor that. Perhaps the wise man, is the man who like Elisha, instead of envying & criticizing, acknowledges, this man has something I don't have, "oh Lord, give me a double portion!"

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

MARCH 8 "THOSE WERE THE GOOD 'OL DAYS....OR WERE THEY?"

The Devil is a master at re-writing history.  I'm not meaning to compare Hollywood to the Devil and His works, (or maybe I am) but we know when the  read introduction says,  "Based on a true story" you're in for quite a fabrication and stretch from the truth.  Was there any truth in that? Sure, 1%, the other 99% was fabricated. The Devil takes our history and re-writes it in our minds and leaves an ounce of truth so we don't completely dismiss it. Did the Israelites eat fish in Egypt, well I guess they did if they say so, but to somehow look back at Egypt as "the good 'ol days", really?!? Had Moses stopped them at the Red Sea and say, now remember, you're going to miss this place and one day look back at this place as the "good 'ol days" are you sure you want to cross with me?" ......They would have run him over! Nostalgia is a precarious place to go in our minds. Feelings and thoughts sweep through us to create a utopia out of what used to be anything but a utopia. "Those were the good 'ol days"  NO they were not!! That's why you came to Jesus, that's why you ran for your lives from that place, whether it be Egypt or ..........we all have our Egypt that we escaped from by the help and Grace of God. It is an insult to God when we look back and feel warm feelings, reminisce and dream about being back there. The Devil is a master at re-writing history to be nothing less than a Hollywood production in our minds, that at best we can say, "based loosely on a true story" or at worse "this is a complete lie and misrepresentation of my past! I do not put my approval on this script this is a complete lie"  This is not to say that are past lives, without Christ was a complete lost (although some might say, no, it was) this is not to say we never had a good time, never had moments that were special, never experienced love, this is simply to day, we surely don't reminisce and allow the Devil to convince us that those days were better than what God has for us now. God may not burn us up with a fire as He did in our text today, but His anger is no less intense for us as it was for them. The caution here is not to allow our minds to wonder and allow history to be re-written in our minds and thoughts to represent what never was. Yes there may have been good times, but there were far more bad than good, so much so, that we, like the Israelites cried out to God in our misery and He heard us and He rescued us and we must never allow that history to be re-written any other way!

Monday, March 7, 2016

MARCH 7 "NO HEAVEN? WHAT'S THIS!!"

HEAVEN pass away, did I read right? And perhaps if it had come from another source, then it might be debatable as to whether that statement or prediction was to be worth listening to, but I'm pretty sure (correct me if I'm wrong) that Jesus is a valid source when it comes to the subject of Heaven. How can Heaven pass away? Where am I supposed to go when I die? Where will we say people have gone to, when we do funerals? Perhaps some don't really care; maybe the thought of them playing a harp on some celestial cloud, never quite appealed to them anyway (where people get this notion I don't know). Where will the people in Heaven go to when Heaven passes away? If there's not going to be a Heaven what is my hope, after I die? Okay, perhaps I have dragged this on a little to far, especially for those that already know where I'm going with this, but I am just trying to make a point...okay, maybe two points. The first point is how we can read over very serious statements in the bible and be completely oblivious to what we just read. I just asked an individual to read that verse before I wrote this blog. I asked him, "did you read anything odd or peculiar? He said, "no".  I asked him, "you don't' think Jesus saying, "there's not going to be a Heaven is peculiar and if that is the case, where will we go?"  He answered, "yes, that is odd and I don't know where we will go then....". My 2nd point is, for a species of creation that seems to talk so much about HEAVEN, we really are clueless about Heaven.  Every funeral speaks about Heaven, speaks about a better place, but better than what and what "constitutes better?" I wonder if there are some billionaires that might be really curious for us to present to them our definition of "better".  Is sitting on a cloud playing a Harp better? Is going without my fine Cognac and Cuban cigars your definition of better? Is your definition of better, going to beat my mansion on a private island in Fiji? It's sad that most people don't have a clue of what Heaven is; except it's the default option if you don't want Hell, but some, given the choice, would choose earth, as their eternal abode. People are very misguided on eternity, which is sad, considering how much of our lives will be spent there. Make fun of Heaven if you want, draw funny cartoons of some Angel on a cloud playing a Harp, asking "and how many more billion years....?" However, all we do is show are true ignorance when we do so. Because Heavan is not our eternal abode, Heaven will not last for eternity, it will pass away. All Heaven is, is a temporary housing until the end of the dispensation of The Church has come, the end of Grace and the time of the Gentiles, in plain English, it's over, the rapture has come, the tribulation has passed, the millennium has come and gone and Jesus comes and conquers once and for all. Then HEAVEN passes away and the New Earth and The New Jerusalem comes down, out of HEAVEN (before it's destroyed) and that is where we spend eternity, not on cloud. So for those that were choosing earth, you weren't so far off. So for those that thought their private island in Fiji, was quite Heavenly, you weren't so far off.  So what is the "true Christian's hope? That we will live for eternity, with Jesus, in all that is pure and all that is good, in a new and even better, revamped earth, with all of the universe thrown in. That sounds pretty good to me, that sounds a whole lot better than "well, I guess it's better than Hell", no it's a whole lot better than Hell and 1000x1000 times better than the current earth. There will be banquets and feasts, no more tears, sorrow or suffering. It will be with people you love, no enemies, no evil, no murder, no hate, it will be the best and most euphoric day/experience you ever had on earth, x 1000 and more. It will be the place you don't deserve, but in the midst of the City, will be Jesus, with his nail pierced hands and his nail pierced feet, to remind you, why you are there.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

MARCH 6 "ARE YOU A NAZARITE?"

“If any of the people, either men or women, take the special vow of a Nazarite, setting themselves apart to the lord in a special way..." I've always been intrigued by this scripture, God almost seems cavalier about this.  Again, "if there's any.......who want to set themselves apart to the Lord in a special way..." wouldn't all Christians want to do that? Imagine someone speaking up and saying, "no, not me, I don't want to set myself apart for the Lord in a special way, I just want to coast, I just want to do the bare minimum". I am amazed at God's understanding with his people that some "do want to" and others simply "do not want to".  I get frustrated, I get angry, I want to bully people into "setting themselves up for the Lord in a special way" I want to condemn them, I want to make them feel guilty" God simply takes it in stride. Is it what He recommends...we know the answer to that is "no", The Bible itself speaks loudly on this, "when you will search for me with all your heart, mind & strength, then you will find me".  However, God gives man a "free will" to serve him. Paul describes in Corinthians as "some entering in but as one barely escaping through the flames of the fire".  But I can't help ask that question again, "who wouldn't want to set themselves apart for the Lord in a special way? It could very well be someone reading this?! And to make matters worse, often those that do want to set themselves apart for The Lord in a special way, are sometimes mocked, in the church by other men and women. Somehow old attitudes die hard, the same group that mocked the good student in high school "teacher's pet"  now mocks the good Christian in church, "Pastor's Pet" or "Mr. Holier than thou" No he/she doesn't think they are "holier than thou" they just want to set themselves apart in a special way. And if that means no wine, no this or no that, than they are willing to forego these things. If they don't want to engage in carnality, because they want to be closer to God, should they be mocked for that? It's a rhetorical question, because we know often these Christians are mocked. Question to ask, is "are you a Nazirite?"  Would you consider yourself a Nazirite? And if not, then why? We have but one life to live for God, death will come quicker than we think and once we enter eternity we cannot labor anymore, we cannot reach another soul, help another weak Christian or be used in our places of ministry and/or service on earth, why would any Christian NOT WANT to set themselves apart for God in a special way, that's a question, an issue I do not understand, how about you?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

MARCH 5 "WAS JESUS DEALING WITH JEHOVAH WITNESSES?"

It's hard to believe that such a hopeless, inspiring cult/sect had any influence whatsoever in Jesus' day.  The Sadducees were a sect of decent influence and still are today. They are better known today as Jehovah Witnesses. They still like to mess with Jesus and his disciples, making pretension to be of some common accord; when in all reality, they could not be further from what Jesus was and is. Imagine standing there, trying to go head to head, with Jesus, The Resurrection himself. Jesus quickly explains away their error in their thinking, as "ignorance of the scriptures". I do feel bad for people who are caught up in cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah Witnesses, but you will often find a common error; and that is they are ignorant of the scriptures.  The Sadducees falsely and ignorantly believed that their is no other life; that the souls ceists to exist upon death. Imagine having the nerve to approach Jesus, who came specifically to die and be raised from the dead, and argue with him about The Resurrection.  The apostle Paul has had to deal with these heretics in his epistles, arguing for the validity and importance of the resurrection. It is amazing how bold people can be who are completely ignorant. However, we as Christians are also becoming ignorant of the scriptures. We have a new generation of young people coming into the church who refuse to read. At home they have grown up just playing video games and the schools are more and more giving in to letting students watch the movie, rather than read the book.  However, what happens is when this generation comes into the church, they sit and remain ignorant and solely rely upon the preaching for their information on what Christianity and living for God, is about. This is a new phenomenon to The Church and only time will tell as to how the results will play out. I think it is safe to assume, that it will not be good. What should seep rat us from the Sadducees, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses is that we are not ignorant of the scriptures and that we remain a people of His Word, no matter what generation we are part of and this is what will spare us of being baited into cults and weird movements of heresy's that sweep through the church and send so many Christians off into a spiritual tizzy, never to really get back on track with a sound mind and clarity on the simplicity of The Gospel. It's about the Illuminati and all sorts of other diversions that CHRISTIANS get side tracked on and get totally side tracked from the simplicity of the Gospel. Are you ignorant of the scriptures? Are you trying to get through Christianity by watching movies and listening to audios? My college teachers used to warn the class, " you are not passing my course until, I know, that you know, this book, inside and out!"   And I believe that Jesus is speaking those same words to His Church today, know his book, don't be ignorant and deceived anymore!

Friday, March 4, 2016

MARCH 4 "WHAT BELONGS TO GOD?"

Well,  JESUS may have answered the question for the Pharisees, but He left a question for us...."what belongs to God?"  "You mean part of my income belongs to God?"  And if part of my income belongs to God, how much of it belongs to God. I know I am required (and I don't like it either) to give to the Government but I have a hard time believing I also have to give to God. It is one thing throwing in a five or ten dollar bill in the plate as it comes by, but to feel I have to give? What if I want to go out to eat, what if there's something I want to buy, I shouldn't feel compelled to have to give, that's legalism! Jesus said to give "unto God what belongs to God", but the only reference to that is in the Old Testament, surely Jesus is not implying that we should still be Tithing? But what else "belongs to God, but The Tithe".  I was told Tithing was Old Testament and we weren't under The Law anymore and that I only had to give what I felt I could afford. I hate to admit it, but often I can't afford to give nothing because I've spent it all....and more! However if Jesus means what He says ( and I would assume He always does) than I'm in trouble, because I have been giving unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar (I don't need the I.R.S. knocking at my door) but I have not been giving to God what belongs to God. My Donations receipt last year was $150.00 for the whole year, but I gave when I had, most of the time.....How is it that others always seem to have to give but I dont't? I just assumed they had more, but maybe it's because they're blessed and I'm not? Have I been spending God's money on myself? If Jesus is endorsing The Tithe is He also endorsing the blessing that comes along with those who Tithe and the cursing that comes against those who don't?"
     I call true giving to God, "The Last Great Frontier" in a person's walk with Christ. I have seen people get their "morals" in order, before they obey and give. It seems that the last great frontier is that "yes",.... God does require us to give of our most prized and cherished commodity, ie: our precious income. You will find that people who want to claim this as legalism and that they will give as they feel moved by the spirit, interestingly, the spirit never moves them to give more than to 2 percent of their income and sometimes less. I have 100 percent of the time seen a direct correlation in the spiritual growth of a new CHRISTIAN in relation to how they embrace or reject, the timeless principle of The giving of Tithes in the offering. If you say you BELIEVE this God can raise you from the dead, than I would assume that you also believe that the same God can do a lessor miracle of making sure you don't go broke, starve and die, because you give him a messily ten cents on every dollar you make. Sometimes we have to step back and ask ourselves, "what is really the issue, do I have a problem with money, do I lack true faith in God, why won't I give?"  And we do play games with ourselves in our minds, but once you stop playing games and be honest with yourself you will know and admit, " you have money issues".  You have always had money issues, your family has always had money issues, there has always been a fear in your heart of not having enough. Unfortunately you will never break that until you begin to give. "For there is one who gives yet increases; and there is one who withholds more than he ought and it tends to lead to poverty".  A spirit of poverty and fear is not defeated by hoarding it's defeated and broken by giving, by giving unto God what belongs to him, a Tenth and offerings beside!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

MARCH 3 "DIDN'T JESUS KNOW ABOUT THIS?"

     SOMETHING that should catch your eye in today's reading is the complete contrast in Jesus' knowledge between the situation with the colt vs. the situation with the fig tree. The fig tree represents every day life, eating and drinking, the home we buy, the cars we drive, the places we work;  the colt however, is part of God's grand scheme for Jesus, this is not just a hap circumstance experience, this is part of God's Sovereign will. What we eat, where we it, whom we marry, what we buy typically falls under God's Permissive will for our lives. The difference therefore between these two situations was God's Sovereign will vs. his permissive will. It had already been prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 [ The Coming of Zion’s King ] "Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."  POINT, when it comes to God's sovereign will in the earth (and in our lives) we can have full confidence that the God will see to it that his ordained purposes for our lives comes to pass, as long as we keep our hearts right. Bought a car and it's not working out, bought a house and you're having lots of problems, found a job and your boss is a tyrant, dated and got your heart broken, invested and lost some money.....and we CRY OUT to God, Lord you know everything, how and why did you let me get in this mess....but these and many more instances are not necessarily part of God's Sovereign will, they fall under God's permissive will, these are the "fig trees" of life, he leaves many of these decisions to us and lets us stumble or succeed on our own, (though he is always there for help if we call upon him) but you can trust that there are other issues of life you can trust the Colt will be there when He says it will and you can TRUST that those that need to relinquish to you WILL when he says they will and these instances of life you can go, as the disciples did and trust that it will be just as Jesus said and in the other instances of life simply go with the bounces and move on.  Why didn't Jesus tell me there would be no fruit on the fig tree, cause he wasn't overtly concerned with that, He was focused on the Colt, the Grand purpose, now move on and trust God for the larger issues of your life and destiny!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MARCH 2 "DID I UPSET YOU"

     I LIKE MOSES....and you can say, "yeah, you like the mouthy ones..." but the good news here is God likes Moses too! So I know I'm with good "peeps" here.  I mean, he must like Moses, like really like him, for one he listens to him allot and even more so, he's on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus and Elijah!! So what do I like about Moses?  His honesty and frankness with God.  Moses says,“Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Wow! Talk about boldness!! Ever feel like the circumstances you are in "as a Christian" could only lead you to believe that surely God must be angry with you, what else could it be? I have asked that question of late, "God have I let you down, have I upset you?" Imagine having the audacity to tell God, " I didn't give birth to these people". There's a whole lot being said in that statement!!! Like, "these people are your responsibility, not mine!" We must always remember that there's a fine line between being honest and frank with God vs. being irreverent and it is up to us to find that line and not cross it. But suffice it to say, it would do some of us a world of good to start being a little more honest and frank with God rather than keeping everything bottled up inside and just slowly becoming bitter and eventually to start to drifting from church first; and eventually God because ultimately, whether we want to admit it or not, that is who are issue is really with!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

MARCH 1 "THE BUMPER CROP TESTIMONY"

Sadly enough, the Bumper Crop Testimony was not one the Israelites were able to boast of.  In all practicality it sounded great, sounded cool, but when the moment actually came to "believe" and "have faith", a man with a household to feed, debts to be paid and looking down the road, "if we don't plant now, it would be insane to think we will have provision next year when our harvest would normally be coming in..."  In the end, they failed, they did not give the land it's rest, and they were not able to give "the Bumper Crop Testimony" and on top of that; by not giving the land it's rest, as God had told them, they depleted the land of all its resources and nutrients and they had a crop failure and had to go without.  For all their intentions, as usual, they were worse off for not having trusted and believed God.  What was wrong with God's people back then?  Well, the same thing that's wrong with us today, we just can't seem "to believe" God when it comes down to the most serious issues of life; which is, finances and provision.  I will believe God for favorable weather on our 4th of July Pic-nic we have planned, anything that is remedial and should God not come through (as we think He is prone to do or not do, I should say) it would not be that big a deal.  However, we are all hypocrites because every parent reading this blog, knows how angry they would become with their children, when they were younger and they would not trust them, to "jump and I'll catch you".   Jump into this pool of water that could drown and kill you and trust dad to catch you.  And how offended the parent, especially, the Father is, when the child won't jump and runs away crying into mommy's arms. "Why would I not catch you, why would I let you drown, what is wrong with this kids thinking?"  Well, let me ask you, "why would God not catch you, why would God challenge you to jump and then watch you fall into a bad place?"  God is so wanting each of us to have a "Bumper Crop Testimony" but how few of them have we heard?  And when a sister or brother does stand up in the congregation to give her or his "bumper crop testimony" the rest of the congregation rolls their eyes and in their mind tries to explain away the miracle by some practical means, "yeah, yeah...what probably happened is .............".  Well, I disagree, what probably happened is exactly what the person of Faith testified about; that they believed God, and in so doing, allowed themselves to end up in a very vulnerable place; and God came through with a Bumper Crop. It seems we, The Church, God's people like to get excited about all that God is going to do, until the Year of Jubilee actually approaches and we are now faced, not with excitement and emotion, but faced with putting our faith into action.  I remember traveling a long ways with about ten brothers from our church, just to be able to jump off a high cliff into the river below. We could not stop talking about how fun and exciting it would be, the whole way to the cliff.  We parked, hiked a bit through the desert and when we finally got to the cliff, only 3 of the 10 guys actually jumped.  We, all 10 of us had equal excitement, however when all 10 saw the long drop to the water, fear, stopped 70% of the men from jumping. Excitement at that point was quenched by fear.  For all the Christians that can be pumped about and excited about the miracles that God is going to do in the Year of Jubilee, 70% will never jumper because of fear.  Which are you?  The 30% or the 70%?  If you say, you are the 30%, then jump and "not off a cliff" but off your place of comfort and security.