Friday, April 28, 2017

APRIL 28 "WILL YOU RISE FROM THE DEAD?"

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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

APRIL 27 "ARE YOU AFRAID?"

God wants to slim down that vast numbers of men, going to fight with Gideon, to make sure it's known, that it was He (God) that brought the victory, not their own might. So God thinks to himself, "what's the quickest way to bring that number down, substantially?"  God knowing the hearts of men, goes with fear. Fear strikes the heart of so many men and women serving God today and back then. As the story goes, He tells Gideon, tell those that are afraid, they can return..well that will knock out a couple of thousand...NO, it knocks out Twenty-two (22) THOUSAND men.  You have to read it twice!  It's hard to believe that there was 22,000 men out there that were so afraid and given the first opportunity to return home, they would. God has not always given men the opportunity to not fight because they were afraid. How many times did God tell Joshua, "do not fear, be courageous".  He told Jeremiah, "fear not their faces".  Jesus tells us not to fear for our future in the Gospels. Fear affects all!  It effects all shapes and sizes of men and woman. Fear strikes the heart of the mighty warrior of a man, to the small frail house wife. Whether it's bodily harm or injury, fear of losing a loved one, fear of a financial shortfall, fear of a relationship falling apart, fear of failing, fear of rejecting, fear of being alone, fear...fear...fear, it's in the heart of man and if God was to speak to his Church today and say, "all those who fear, depart" the church would be practically wiped out. Fear is never totally wiped out, it must be conquered day in and day out. We must chose to trust, rather than to fear. "I fear that I will die on this battle field, but I trust God will preserve me in this war; therefore I put on my sword and go to fight".  As it has been aptly quoted, "courage is not the absence of fear, but pressing forward in the face of fear". The opposite of fear, we can say, is peace. Paul commends us in his epistle to "cast our anxieties to Jesus and that a Peace that surpasses all understanding will comfort us". Anxiety = Fear.  Prayer, true prayer, true casting our cares upon Him, "should" wipe out fear and bring peace. This is not always the case, some pray and get up just as filled with fear and anxiety as before they prayed, but that's not how it's supposed to work. Do you fear? Are you part of the 22,000? If you'll be honest, you'll probably say "yes". I know, I fear, but I don't live in fear and there really is a difference. I fear, so I come to God daily, so I don't fear. My fear drives me to God, so that I don't fear and live in peace. As the thunder cracks and strikes in the middle of the night, the little 5 year old goes to the father, climbs and cuddles into bed, his fear drives him to his father and his father then comforts him, the fear leaves and the child goes to sleep. This is how the process is supposed to work with us. Fear should drive us into the arms of our Heavenly Father and then His peace should envelope us and we go on in life, not tormented, not filled with angst and anxiety, but peace and poise. Do you fear? "Yes"  Do you want to return home and avoid the battle? "No" because God will protect and preserve me in His will.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

APRIL 26 "THE HOUR WHEN DARKNESS REIGNS"

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

APRIL 25 "C'MON ALREADY, WHERE'S GOD?"

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

APRIL 24 "NO DISCIPLE BY JOSHUA?"

If you follow the life of Joshua, you will find little to no error, in his service to God. Nor will you find any flaws in his character. Perhaps Joshua learned enough watching Aaron over the years, to learn what not to be and what not to do. Joshua is pretty much a straight shooter, impeccable in his ways, so why does he not leave a disciple, why "no disciple" for Joshua? Where would Israel have been if Moses had not discipled Joshua? Yet, even knowing the impact and the importance of a disciple, Joshua leaves none.  "No disciple" is the only thing you can hold against Joshua, but it doesn't make sense. If Joshua was such a stellar disciple in every other area, why did he fail in this most important area? I've often thought about this and there can only be one conclusion......it's not that he failed to think, or to leave a disciple, it's that there was none to disciple. Yes, Moses discipled Joshua, but Joshua was interested in being discipled, it takes "two to tango" as the saying goes. I believe, that this group got so apathetic that there was nobody in the "up an coming", there was no man that saw that as a place he would like to be, no the places they could see themselves were, let's say, less than Holy. You'll notice the trend continues, as God begins to raise up individual judges to rescue Israel, but every time the deliverer,the judge dies, there is nobody to follow in his footsteps. Currently in one of our churches we have a leadership, Joshua position, that has recently vacated and to everyone's dismay, there is no likely candidate to step into his shoes and neither is there anyone volunteering. I believe, Joshua did not fail in leaving a disciple. I believe there was no man desiring or willing to be discipled and that's how bad the apathy and spiritual lethargy had gotten in this bunch. The proof, is in following the mind set of the people, through the era of The Judges. Synergy can be both a good thing and a bad thing, depends in whose favor it's working. I remember a time where synergy created a movement in our church where every man wanted to be a disciple and get sent out to Pastor. Surely God was not calling 95 percent of men in a church to leave to go Pastor. No doubt some of those men were called, but many were not and just caught up in the synergy of that moment. As it goes, the more people who wanted to be discipled, go out and preach, the more people that wanted to go out and preach. However this synergy can work against you too. The more people that aren't interested in being discipled, then the more people....I believe this is the time frame Joshua is in. They've seen the costs, the sacrifices and hardships and this group sees absolutely no reason why they would ever want that whole discipleship thing, " you must be crazy", they think and this mindset then becomes pervasive throughout the camp and Joshua has no man even remotely interested in the job. How sad that is for Israel and how sad that is for a church, to have "no disciples", to have no men, who desire to be a Moses, who desire to be the next Joshua. For all the bells and whistles of the modern day church, you can tell a lot about the  spiritual climate of a church, by looking around to see, if there be any disciples!

APRIL 23 "FIGHT NOW OR PAY LATER!"

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

APRIL 22 "ARE YOU RELIGIOUS?"

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

APRIL 21 "NO RESURRECTION?"

The false religion of "no resurrection" as we read today, has been around for a long, long time.  However what makes this particularly interesting is the group that propagates false religion is propagating this false claim to "the Resurrection" Himself, ie; Jesus Christ. John 11:25 Jesus says, "I am the Resurrection". Arrogance has no boundaries. "A fool is wiser than 7 wise men" we read in Proverbs. These Sadducee's are going to sit there and argue "stupidities" with The Resurrection Himself. Proverbs also tells us that the man who argues with a fool becomes a fool himself.  Jesus doesn't get into an argument with these boys, He simply makes them look like the fools they are and moves on. Not much has changed today, there are still cults/false religions that want to argue their false doctrine. Jehovah Witnesses still try to propagate that when we die we remain in the earth and they quote Solomon in Ecclesiastes. The Apostle Paul writes "if there is no resurrection than we are the most miserable of all men".  We think we are going to convince and out argue a fool or arrogant person and we are so wrong. Here are these men, arguing about the resurrection, with the resurrection himself. Often we feel sorry for people that are caught up in cults like Mormonism & Jehovah Witnesses, but do we really think that God would allow anyone to remain caught up in lies if they really were seeking "the truth" and were not caught up in pride and arrogance. I had a good friend who was raised a Mormon, but she was not "set" on being a Mormon, or anything else for that matter, she was set on seeking and finding the truth and it is no surprise today that God brought her ought of that false religion to experience true salvation through Christ. Arguing with Jesus seems like the most arrogant thing any human could ever do, but I dare say, while we are on the subject, that it's not just Sadducees that argue with Jesus. We may not argue with Jesus about "the resurrection" but we sure do argue with Jesus on many other issues and maybe as we read our story today, we see how silly and arrogant we are when we argue with the One who says, "I Am the Resurrection and The Life!".

Thursday, April 20, 2017

APRIL 20 "NO LOVE LOSS FOR JESUS"

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

APRIL 19 "FIGURES THERE WOULD BE FAVORITISM!"

"Always favoritism around here", we can't stand favoritism, at least when it doesn't include us, then we are staunch opponents of it. Well, if you are a staunch opponent of favoritism than you were probably upset by today's reading. "After all the land was divided among the tribes, the Israelites gave a special piece of land to Joshua".  There you have it, in black & white, they are not even trying to hide this favoritism, do they have no shame! Wait, is this the Israelites giving Joshua this favoritism or God? Read on...."For the Lord had said, he could have any town he wanted".  Favoritism from God? How am I going to resolve this? I thought God was perfect.  Well, God is perfect and sinless so we can only conclude that favoritism is not always such a bad thing. Is our God not a God of recompense, of God of rewards? If favoritism is coming to an individual because of hard work, than it is earned and is probably due and in cases of many, long over due. If favoritism is coming to someone just because they like them better, than it is wrong. We who dwell in mediocrity always despise and disapprove of favoritism because it has never come out way.  It is a shame when Christians and a church to be more specific begin to resent favoritism that their leaders have benefited from. God here sees fit to reward Joshua for the leadership role he has taken over from Moses and the considerable effort Joshua has put forth, it has not gone unnoticed from God. This favoritism that Joshua receives from God should not upset us, but encourage us. It teaches us God does see and does take careful notes. Some churches see to it to bless their Pastor and his wife other churches see to it that they receive no favoritism and blessing or anything special. Which church would you like to be a Leader in, which church would you like to serve God in? Our text reveals to us that Joshua got "a special" piece of land, that's right, a "special" piece of land. Do you resent that? Do you think Joshua should have received an allotment just like everybody else? Of course you do, cause I know you, I've met you before and I'm glad you're not my God. If you don't want to go to College and study hard then at least don't envy or hate those that did and now prosper. "Leadership, Manager....yeah, I told them forget it, let them find someone else, I don't want to have to deal with all these headaches of these people, scheduling, having to fill in when people don't show" Okay, so you've admitted that it's more work to lead, then don't complain when those that do step into that position benefit from it. Don't resent when the Corporate Area Manager comes down and give them a bonus and not you. Don't resent it when they are taken out to dinner and not you  Don't resent it when your Manager now is being favored by the Area Wide Manager. And it is the same in the Kingdom of God, those that will rise up, take leadership and responsibility will have favor with both God and Man and you should not resent the favoritism they now have, "For the Lord said, he could have any town he wanted".  Favoritism in the church, favoritism in God's Kingdom, you're darn right!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

APRIL 18 "I'M SOOOO TIRED!"

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

APRIL 17 "TOO OLD TO FIGHT?"

Too old to fight?  Not Caleb!  He was one of the original 12 spies to spy out this land many decades earlier and was one of the two (the other was Joshua) . When a young man is entering puberty we know that a surge of Testosterone runs into and through his body. This testosterone causes hair to grow, pimples to form and aggressiveness to rise up in him. Here is the transformation from boy to manhood and the fight; that once was not in the boy, is now there! He becomes more aggressive, stronger, muscles begin to develop, but what happens in old age? The opposite, Testosterone begins to wear off in our later years of life. So much so, that men, today, can purchase drugs to increase their testosterone in their latter years. As men grow old, because of the decrease in Testosterone, they lose the fight that once was in them. They become very complacent, they become very passive. This is how it works in the Physical world and I wonder how much the Physical mirrors the spiritual? Fewer and fewer converts, that are strong and faithful, old pillars; are found in the church. As the Church Laymen are working hard to maintain the new life that is coming in, they find that the old converts are now giving up the fight at a time where it is most crucial for them to be the Caleb's of the group.  We see that there is a lot of new young life, now in the Israeli camp, but we also, see that it is Joshua and Caleb, with years of experience, faithfulness and great testimony with God, that are leading them. Are you too old to fight? Never is the right answer! At least not spiritually. As we get older in Christ, we must pray, "God infuse me with a fresh does of Spiritual Testosterone, I've come to far to give in now".  This is why Paul commends himself, "I have fought the good fight of faith". As an old convert and old man Paul is proud to say; not that in his younger days he put up a good fight, but that in his latter days, physically older days, he is still spiritually strong, has made the journey and fought to the end.  Many older Christians are slipping in their later years and what a shame that is, what a shame we do not have more Caleb's around. Caleb says, "I am as strong today, as the day I spied out the land many decades ago, and I am still good for the fight and I still want all that God has for me". In your latter years will you still have that fight? Or perhaps you are already in your latter years and you already feel your spiritual rigor slipping and passivity and complacency settling in. It is never to late to cry out to God and pray that He would infuse you with a fresh dose of Spiritual Testosterone, lest you find yourself missing out, on what you have spend the last few decades living for, ie: Heaven.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

APRIL 16 "IT'S CONFIRMED, GOD PUTS US OFF"

If you've ever felt or suspected that sometimes God puts you off, you may have had that suspicion confirmed in today's reading. Jesus acknowledges through this parable that often we can be asking for  something and being put off, not just by this Judge, but by God himself. Jesus doesn't say "He doesn't put people off" but He does say, "He will not put you off forever". Jesus says, that our persistence in prayer will work. Asking once, twice is not enough. Even Elijah prayed a few times for rain until his pray was answered. We sure kept asking our parents for something when we were kids, until we wore them down and they gave in. Why don't we take that same approach with our Father in Heaven? We pray for a few weeks for finances, see no change and give up. We pray for an unsaved loved for a while, see no change in him/her and we give up. We pray a couple of times for a pain to go away or a healing, no change, we give up. The list is endless of things we have prayed for and given up because we didn't get it right a way or in a time frame we thought reasonable. Now we have from the mouth of God himself,  Jesus acknowledging, "He is putting you off, but He will not continue to do so indefinitely, if you persevere in prayer He will grant you your request. The reasoning Jesus gives us is "Am I not a just God?"  "Why would I withhold something good from you". The lesson today is not "prayer works" (as the bumper sticker reads), but "persistent/persevering prayer works!"  What have you given up praying about, whom or what? Maybe it's time to start praying again and staying the course this time; until the answer comes.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

APRIL 15. "ARE YOU TRULY ALTRUISTIC"

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

APRIL 14 "ARE YOU RIGHTEOUS ENOUGH?'

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

MARCH 13 "CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!"

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

APRIL 12 "WHEN GOD DOESN'T MAKE SENSE"

Joshua is a pretty impressive fellow! If I asked you to quickly mention something negative, most would not be able to give an answer within 30 seconds, try it! Couldn't come up with anything, could you? In our story today we do see signs of human frailty in Joshua. Right after the great conquest and victory of Jericho, Joshua sends in a small dispatch of 3000 men to go in an wipe out a small segment of enemies remaining on the outskirts, but when those men come back with their tales between their legs and explain how they were defeated and had to retreat, Joshua falls apart. Joshua starts blurting out statements as, "we should have just stayed on the other side of the Jordan"  Really?!  Joshua begins to panic and blurt out that now all their enemies will hear about this defeat and they will be doomed. He goes into panic mode and a defeatist mindset.  It just goes to show, how easily our confidence is broken. One loss, one set back and our faith crumbles. After a victory, "God is awesome, He can do anything" and we won't shut up.  After a loss, "I don't know if God is even there" and we wont' talk to nobody about God. How easily is your confidence and faith, in God, broken? Defeats are hard to roll with as Christians because we think we're supposed to win every game because God is on our side. Isn't that what Joshua asks the Commander of the Lord's armies, "what side are you on?".  I like the answer He gives Joshua, "Neither".  Let's say God is on "our side" does that mean we win every time? In this situation we come to find out that there was sin in the camp, the infamous Achan had stolen some goods and hidden them in his tent. Sometimes there's sin, but God has other reasons for us not always winning and getting the victory. Our faith is fickle and does need to be strengthened and we must be continuously reminded, "we walk by faith and not by sight or by victory". Can you handle a loss, can you handle a defeat and still press on with faith? Or do you fall apart like Joshua and start taking things to very extreme conclusions. I don't like losses or defeats either, they do mess with our heads, our faith and our hearts. But we must also know as mature Christians, that they a part of life as a Christian and no matter what stage of winning you are at right now, a defeat, a loss, a set back, is down the road. This is not a cynical or pessimistic attitude, this is reality and is a truth in God's Word.  I fear losses and/or defeats, but I must be ready. I think of the Chapman family years ago who's son was backing out of the drive way and ran over their little girl, can you ever imagine such a horrible catastrophe hitting your life and family. The teenage son was in shock, the mom and dad were in shock, how in the world could God let this happen? Today, that family is whole and healed and has not lost faith in God. Sometimes God does not make sense, but in those times faith must rise up and say, "I don't understand you Lord, what you're doing or why you let this happen, but I am not letting go of you because I know, that you are good and my faith will stand through this loss, set back or defeat.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

APRIL 11 "WHO WANTS TO GO TO A PARTY?"

We all want to go to a party right? "Well, that all depends on who's having it", we would say. I guess you could say, "a Christian" (can we call JESUS a CHRISTIAN?) is having this party, still want to go? "I guess that means there won't be any alcohol?"  Probably not!  " I guess there won't be any drugs there?"  You guessed right! " and I guess there won't be any chance of "hooking up" at this party either?"  No, there won't be any hooking up, that's for sure!  So, just let me know if you are going to be going? "Oh, I can tell you right now, I'm not going, sounds like a pretty lame party to me. I don't know who you're going to be able to get to go to that party".  To many people, "a Christian Party" is an Oxymoron, because it's missing all the elements of a good party, ie: SIN! Jesus gives us a parable of a party He is throwing and people are not overtly interested in going, any excuse, no matter how lame, is a good excuse for them not going. It's just like trying to get people to go to church and some of the excuses they give us, we just want to say, "how could you look at me with a straight face and give me that, as a reason why you can't come to church?" Everybody wants to go to Heaven, and then again, many do not want to go to Heaven, it's just the alternative, "Hell" is worse, so I guess I will take "the so called Christian Party instead, how lame this is going to be, no wonder I don't want to die, I have nothing to look forward too. If I'm really bad, I go to Hell to be tortured and burn and if I'm really good I get to go to a Christian party, yippie yeah!"  Truth is, people are not knocking down doors to get into Heaven. Jesus is having a hard time getting people to this party. No doubt Heaven will not be empty, but there will be more who refuse to go than those that do accept the   Invitation.  Have you accepted the invitation? And if you have accepted the invitation, but only grudgingly because there's nothing else, then chances are, when you get there, you will not be let in anyway. This is why we must make the "metamorphosis" while we are here on earth. In our unregenerate state, Heaven is not for us. Heaven is not for caterpillars, only for butterflies. Every human is born a caterpillar, uninterested in what Heaven has to offer and each caterpillar must make the metamorphosis into a butterfly, before dieing. It's called being "Born-Again". Jesus said, " unless a man is Born Again" He will not see/enter, The Kingdom of God". What is the Kingdom of God? It's JESUS' banquet, it's Heaven,  it's His Party! See you there, I hope!

Monday, April 10, 2017

APRIL 10 "WHY SHOULD I FIGHT FOR THEM?"

I don't know how they did it, they, being the tribe of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh, but they did. They left their wives and children behind to go fight for the rest of the Israelites that still had not possessed their land. Imagine knowing and or thinking..."this is crazy, I have my inheritance, my land and here I am, out here fighting, I could get killed doing this and never get to go back to my family, who am I fighting for and why?! Let them fight for this land, they are the ones that want it, I already settled for my land on the other side of the Jordan!" I know what you are going to say, "they had already promised they would when Moses agreed to let them have that land".  And to that I say, "big deal!"  People promise all sorts of things when they are excited, but when reality sets in they retract every promise they made under the guise of, "it was irrational, c'mon, I was to excited to be thinking straight, I mean what would be the point of me settling for this land on the east side of the Jordan if I am going to go die fighting Jericho, let's be real?" I did read that "any that did not go would be killed" and that is a strong motivation, no doubt, but I don't sense, from what I read that that is the driving motivation in them going. The feel I get from the text is that they are totally on board with this idea that they go fight with and for their brothers until all have their inheritance. The Israelites have been through some rough times and have not really shined in character, to say the least, but it is good to see them here with a good attitude and a valiant spirit. It just goes to show, that even the worse of us, still have some good in us. While in other areas they failed, they are showing exemplary character here, fighting and risking all, when they already have received what they wanted. Most would have tried to get the three tribes together and try to force this promise, to go fight, to be revoked. The more you work with people the more you see, everyone has weak character in some areas and strong character in other areas. Sometimes an individual will totally disappoint us in one area, while another person shines and then, the next weak the roles are completely reversed in another situation, where that person fails you and the other rises to the occasion. Any group of people, that is going to try to advance together "as a group" is going to have to remember these moments, where someone or some people, shined, because it will only be a week or two later where they may not shine so bright and that's when we need to remember we all have are moments of heroism and our moments of cowardice, we all have our moments of brilliance and our moments of stupidity and we all have our moments of great character and our moments where we are void of character. To advance as a group we must always acknowledge and accept these truths to be what they are and to remember that we ourselves are also included in that mix, lest any of us become self righteous.

APRIL 9 "GIVE IT A YEAR"

In our reading today, we read a very good parable about a fig tree that is about to be chopped down, for the simple reason, it's not producing figs. For 3 years now this fig tree has been visited, never once bearing any fruit, finally the command is made, to "chop it down". Your average person, would have said, "sure, it the stupid tree is not producing figs, cut it down, what do I care". However the average person is not the subject of this parable. It is a man that is above average. We would do well to have men and women like him in the church. He steps in on behalf of the tree and negotiates for the tree's life, even though it has no bearing on him. Not only does he negotiate for the tree's life, but makes a commitment to invest in the tree, do some digging, add some fertilizer, anything to give this tree "once more year". What a difference a year can make! The wisdom of this simple sentence, how many lives could have been saved from much heartache and baggage, had these simple words been adhered too. How many of us in hindsight would say, "if only I'd given it a year", my whole life would be different today. A year may have seemed like a long stretch at the time, but now I have way more than one year to reap the consequences of a bad decision. The man says, "give me another year, and not just another year of the same, but I will make the added effort and change/improve what I can. Many might say, "sure, let's give it another year" but do nothing different, but yet expect different results. That is either naive, wishful thinking or just plain dumb. This man says, "I will dig around, I will add fertilizer, let me see what I can do and we will leave the rest to mother nature", or as in our case, leave it to God. The wisdom here is not to go chopping things down and making irreversible decisions in the heat of the moment, give it a year! It's never to late to learn from the wisdom of God. Don't put an ax to the root quite yet, make whatever improvements & changes you can...and give it a year!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

APRIL 8 "READY OR NOT, HERE I COME"

It's hard to believe, that we "Christians" actually get a warning from God, that He's coming back and that some of us are still not going to be ready! And even with this warning, even with time to get things right, many of us will still be caught with our pants down, figuratively of course! Actually, in some cases it will be quite literally!  I believe that God's frustration with us, is not a whole lot different than his frustration with the Israelites in the Old Testament reading. It doesn't help that we have Preachers teaching that once you get saved you can do whatever you want and you will still make Heaven your home. This kind of preaching really takes the punch out of Jesus' warning to us to get ready or else! Or else what? If I'm going to Heavan, then what? What is there to watch for, what is there to be ready for?  Jesus is clear to illustrate in His story "that they that know what they should be doing and don't do it, will be greatly punished". I remember that adrenaline I felt as a kid when we would play Hide & Seek and the person who was it would finish counting and scream out, "ready or not  here I come!" And that's when the adrenaline would kick in and I would run as fast as I could to my secret spot or just bunker down where I was.  There was something scarry about being caught even though there was no repercussions. Jesus has said, "ready or not, here I come" and some of us need to feel that rush of adrenaline, instead of apathy and spiritual despondency. And just like "Hide & Seek" apparently many will try to run and hide (scripture reveals) and Jesus is sure to make clear; there will be no place to hide, no place to run. Jesus has screamed, "ready or not here I come" and let the adrenaline or should I say reverence kick in now. If you haven't seen him, if He hasn't found you yet, there's still time, but once He appears to you, as in Hide & Seek, you're done! You're caught! The world will not know what to think when "The Rapture" happens, but we who were supposed Christians will know and for some it will be a dream come true and for others it will be their greatest nightmare come true as they know they're caught. Jesus has called out, "ready or not here I come", don't run and hide, but rather fall to your knees and repent, if need be!

Friday, April 7, 2017

APRIL 7 "DOOM & GLOOM"

There's a lot of negativity in today's Old Testament reading. Moses is telling them they need to memorize a song because it will serve as a testimony against them when they enter the land they have been promised. God seems upset with these people, Moses seems upset with these people. The Church of Jesus Christ remains a Paradox. It is both a very pleasant place and a very negative place. I guess it's up to us what aisle ( so to speak ) that we want to serve God in. God has worked with these people knowing the end result, how much more so are we required to work with difficult and ungrateful people, NOT knowing the results. It's a difficult bunch, this group of Israelites seems like they just can't live for God with any measure of long term faithfulness. The Church is in a constant flux. The average Church functions somewhere along these lines.....for every 20 people added to the Church 10-15 leave, net gain, 5! Ministry leaders and laymen are being removed from ministry, other members are having to be removed from Church all together, their are factions in the Church, unfaithfulness, uncommitted, as I said, The Church, The Israelites, we are a difficult and unfaithful bunch. The longer you stay in the Church and The deeper you get involved in the Church the more you see what a mess it really is. As I said earlier, The Church is a Paradox, it is both a very pleasant and helpful place but also a very negative place, but The Church is God's idea and still and will always be, His last great hope for Planet Earth. What we have to decide is what side of the aisle do we want to serve on? The positive, the helpful, the faithful or the negative, unfaithful and backsliding bunch? Joshua remained faithful and his destiny and blessing remained in tact. You don't need to go in search of the perfect bunch, you just need to stay where you are and decide what side of the aisle do you want to serve on?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

APRIL 6 "WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO WITH THAT?"

"I tell you what if I could ever get Jesus in front of me...imagine, Jesus, my creator, my Savior, healer, redeemer, deliverer...imagine if I could get Jesus' ear, even if just for a few seconds, I would ask...I would ask...I would ask Him to tell my bother to share his inheritance with me"  WAIT, something just went wrong in that script, I don't think it ended right! However that's exactly how it went down in our story today. And what was Jesus' response?  "what have I to do with that?"  Times have not changed much, we are pretty much the same, 2000 + years later, still looking to Jesus, trying to get things from Him that He was nothing to do with, but what He has plenty to do with (salvation, healing, deliverance, forgiveness) that we don't bother to seek Him for. We can mock and criticize the "prosperity Gospel doctrine", but we cannot mock the results. It draws people to church the way honey draws bees.  The lepers sought Jesus for healing and received it, the father sought Jesus for his demon possessed boy and he was delivered, Mary Magdalene received grace and forgiveness, the Centurion Soldier received back his child, Mary and Martha had their brother raised from the dead, the woman with the issue of blood received healing, James, John & Peter received new lives and a new destiny....this man has that same God (Jesus) before him and he just wants Jesus to force his brother to give him half of his inheritance. Surely this man must have had more pressing needs in his life that Jesus could have helped him with. Jesus wastes no time and tells him "what have I to do with that" and goes on a pretty long discourse about people who are just concerned with wealth and material things in this life, he basically calls them "fools". Rich on earth but poor towards God and eternity. What are you seeking Jesus for? Here's the good thing, if you're not sure, Jesus will help you find out. Jesus will bring you through seasons where He doesn't give you what you want and what you would like and what you think you should get and then He will sit and watch to see if you turn from Him and in doing this, He allows both you and Himself, to figure out, what it is that you really want from Jesus. The question to ask is, are you asking Jesus for something that He has nothing to do with; all the while ignoring what He can really do for you?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

APRIL 5 "ARE YOU SPIRITUALLY IMMATURE?"

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

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

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

APRIL 3 "GOD YOU ARE MY SOURCE"

It was so easy back then for them to see, all that they had came from this God that rescued them. They had nothing, they were slaves, living in Egypt....now they are free, now they are conquering armies greater than them, twice the size of them, now they are living in a land flowing with milk and honey, rivers, streams, fruitfulness and God says, "when you get your first fruits, bring them to me in recognition and honor of the one who has made all this happen for you". Trying to get people to honor God with their first fruits today, is not so easy or clear cut.  They are the ones who went to college and earned their degrees to get the good paying jobs they have. They are the ones who worked hard and climbed up the corporate ladder. And so when the Preacher stands before his congregation and challenges them to bring their first fruits, of all, that it is the Lord thy God that has done thing, the honest Christian thinks withing himself, "well I know theologically that's right, but how come I sense that it is I that has done this?".  Is that wrong to think that? I think the way to stay right and on the right track is always to stick with God's Word, always stick with what is theologically correct, not what I feel or sense. I must always come before God in an offering and acknowledge that God is the source; regardless if I am the one that has studied, regardless if I am the one the worked hard and strove to the best, regardless if it is I who did this or that, I must always stick with God's Word, that it is He that is behind all that is good in my life; regardless of how it looks on the outside. Regardless of how much effort I've put forth we must always keep the stance that it is God; and that's easier said, than done. Sometimes it is hard to look out at the congregation and tell well established and successful people, that it is because of God.  I personally do not have a hard time acknowledge that all I have has come from God and I am today what I am due to Him, because I had nothing when I first got saved, but  I also realize I cannot speak for everyone. I think what's important to learn today is that no matter where you came from, no matter what you had or didn't have when you came to Christ, is that now, as a Christian you have this understanding, "that all that I have, is from His hand, one way or another and that I ought to honor God with my first fruits in every offering that comes by way", that is the right stance to have toward our God, all that I have that is good in my life comes from you and I thank you for it!

APRIL 2 "TWO BY TWO"

After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two THERE WAS MUCH WISDOM IN SENDING THEM THIS WAY, EVEN AS HE HAD GIVEN SOLOMON THE SAME WISDOM. Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. IT WAS DONE OBVIOUSLY THAT THEY MIGHT HELP ONE ANOTHER, SO THEY COULD SUSTAIN AND COMFORT ONE ANOTHER IN THE PERSECUTIONS AND TRIALS THEY WERE ABOUT TO FACE. JESUS SET THE EXAMPLE HERE, WITH THESE MEN; OF THE IMPORTANCE OF A CHRISTIAN COUNTER PART, A FRIEND, WITH SOMEONE WE COULD CONFIDE IN AND HELP EACH OTHER. THIS WOULD BE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE MISSION OF THESE 70 MEN. EVERY CHRISTIAN, NEEDS SUCH A FRIEND. EVERY CHRISTIAN NEEDS TO SEEK SOMEONE IN WHOM THEY CAN UNLOAD THEMSELVES TOO. SOMEONE WHO CAN BE THEIR FRIEND. YES I KNOW, OUR MINDSET IS “NO NEED FOR THAT, NO TIME FOR THAT.”
I WAS READING ALSO IN CHRONICLES AND FOUND INTERESTING THIS VERSE… Ahithophel was the king's counselor. Joab was the commander of the royal army. Hushai the Arkite was the king's friend. I READ THREE TIMES, IN THE FOLLOWING VERSES ABOUT THIS FRIEND  DAVID HAD, BY THE NAME OF HUSHAI.  HERE WE SEE THE BREAKDOWN OF KING DAVID’S ENTOURAGE, WHO HE SURROUNDED HIMSELF WITH AS A KING. 1ST, HE REALIZES HE NEEDS A COUNSELOR. 2ND, HE REALIZES HE WILL NEED A COMMANDER OF HIS ARMIES AND 3RD DAVID REALIZES HE WILL NEED A FRIEND.  DAVID HAS THE SENSE TO KNOW, THAT HE NEEDS A FRIEND. DO YOU HAVE THAT SENSE TO KNOW, YOU ALSO NEED A FRIEND? YOU HAVE A PASTOR, OR I HOPE YOU HAVE A PASTOR. YOU HAVE A BOSS, MAYBE YOU HAVE AN ACCOUNTANT, OR YOU HAVE AN ATTORNEY OR AN ESTATE PLANNER, BUT DO YOU HAVE A FRIEND??????? MANY CHRISTIANS BELIEVE ALL THEY NEED IS JESUS, THEIR BIBLE AND THEIR DOG, BUT THEIR DOCTRINE IS WRONG, THEY ERR IN THEIR THINKING. TWO BY TWO JESUS SENT THEM BACK THEN AND TWO BY TWO JESUS SENDS US TODAY. WE NEED FRIENDS, YOU THINK FRIENDS ARE OVER RATED, YOU THINK IT’S CORNY TO NEED FRIENDS, YET, GOD THIS MIGHTY, INCREDIBLE BEING, COMES TO EARTH AND MAKES FRIENDS. WHEN SOLOMON ASKED FOR WISDOM, GOD GAVE HIM THIS TO WRITE, Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him upWHEN THAT SAME GOD CAME TO EARTH, WHO INSPIRED THIS WISDOM TO SOLOMON, HE HIMSELF, LIVED OUT, THE VERY WORDS HE GAVE TO SOLOMON. HE PRACTICED WHAT HE PREACHED, My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends and you, are my friends.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

APRIL 1 "APRIL FOOLS!"

"How can you tell if what a prophet speaks is from God?" Here we are waiting for some great Revelation from God, but yet in our daily reading today, April 1st, we learn that it is actually quite simple. "If what the prophet speaks does not come true, then he did not speak my words". 
Very simple. Common sense right?
So why would someone speak what is not of God? Well, the 1st and most obvious reason is, they are deliberately doing so, evil men, being guided by an evil spirit. The 2nd reason would be because they prophecy out of "the inclinations of their own hearts", as stated in another verse in the bible. They are not evil, but the words they are speaking are what they think and what they feel or perceive about the situation and/or person. And quite frankly, they are hit and miss on their words, depending on their discernment. Very few people actually speak directly from God. And the few that do you will see that 100% of what they speak, comes true, it's not hit and miss. I have heard words, prophesying that a particular woman, who was barren, would be pregnant one year later and sure enough she was and delivered a healthy baby after having adopted about 3 kids. I heard another prophesy that a church would double in size within a year. Within a year the church had not only "not doubled" but had actually shrunk. A well meaning Evangelist, he was, I'm sure, but he was prophesying not from God but out of "the inclinations of his own heart". We would do well, to stop and consider, before we speak, is this God, really....or is it honestly "what I think". Even Paul, the great Apostle was honest enough to say, "this is not what The Lord is telling me to say, but what I am saying is my opinion, what I believe."