Friday, May 26, 2017

MAY 26 "BIG BLEMISH ON DAVID'S LIFE"

     WE cannot speak enough about David. David is "the real deal".  He is not a Jew trying to practice his religion, he truly is a man of God and has a genuine relationship with Jehovah. "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?"  And David is not just trying to sound good! He really does want to show God's kindness. God's kindness, shown through God's people will go a whole lot further in our witness than preaching fire, hell and brimstone. Mephibosheth is mentioned to David. He is a disabled man and has now become associated with the rift raft of society. He is a nobody, forgotten by all the "somebody's"  David brings him into his household, restores everything to him that belonged to his grandfather Saul and then adds this,  "And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table".  Not only am I bringing you into my Palace, but you will eat at my table, you will be part of us, we will not only engage you economically, but socially you will become a part of our lives too. That David would bring in rift raft and then ask that rift raft to dine with him, at the King's table is more Christlike than any of us will ever dream of being. This is exactly what Jesus does with us, he calls the rift raft of the world, washes and cleans them up and them asks them to dine with him at his table, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
     There is no doubt that David is "a man after God's own heart", but David, for all his kindness, all his love, empathy and compassion, for all the good David wants to do for God, he has but one great weakness....WOMEN.  He has multiple wives, all beautiful and he gets to have sex with everyone of them, whenever he wants, there is no saying "no" to the King.  I'm sure there was something distinctly unique about each of his wives that attracted him sexually to them. He did not have to deal with their PMS, he did not have to try to cater to them, they were kept in a room in the palace and he simply summoned them when he felt the urge. David had certainly, in every aspect...made provision for his flesh. He's live every man's dream. He has multiple beautiful woman to sleep with and has no ties to these women other than to make sure they're fed and well kept and that he has his staff to do for him. These women make no demands on him, they are simply there to satisfy David's sexual appetite. Think about this....this is a supposed "man of God"!  However, what David fails to realize is lust for beautiful women has an insatiable appetite.  In other words, you cannot satisfy it. It is not as with hunger, that can be satisfied , for a time, by a good meal. Lust only grows more ravenous as we cater to it. The more we feed it, the more it wants. Lust must be starved to death in order to die (though it never truly does die). While David is sincerely a genuine man of God, as many are that are reading this blog, he must fight a very ungodly side to his life.  Unfortunately God has put in man, a passion in him, that is aroused by sight.  Women are the Achilles heel of all or most, ...men.  If we were not so driven by our sight and lust for women, we would never pursue them, we would be quite content amongst ourselves, ie: men.  There's nothing more that a man yearns for than a "get-a-way" week-end with just men. Women, by nature, drive men crazy, if it were not for their beauty and man's lust for that beauty, woman, for the most part, would be dismissed by man. 
     I worked on the flight line for years serving in the Marine Corps, Air Wing.  We had several vehicles needed on a flight line, to get the job done, that of course needed engines. However, for the safety of all, each vehicle had installed in it a governor on the engine.  This limited the speed of the vehicle, no matter how much we wanted to speed, we could not. We did not have to worry about self control, the governor took care of that for us.  How I wish God had put a governor in us with this arousal by sight, passion for woman and lust for beauty. Why did God not build in a Governor in man?  The reason this blog started with David's Godliness is for men to understand that even one of the Godliest men that ever lived, struggled in this area. David had multiple wives (and this was not to show them God's kindness, but to satisfy his lust) and yet still is caught lusting after yet another beauty, even though he has a harem of beautiful women he could choose from to sleep with at any given moment. Why didn't God put a governor in men to prevent us for causing accidents and deaths with this lust and passion?  Just yesterday I heard of another man that is being removed from ministry because of this related issue. A marriage near destroyed, children hurt and a church left in disappointment and disarray because their head Shepherd himself has succumb to this.  How hurt Joab and Israel must have been to have know that David had succumb to this.  Joab but this we do know
     How important it is that we guard our relationship with our wife. How important it is that we keep a healthy, active, sexual relationship with our wives. Paul, the apostle admonishes us to "not deprive one another of sex"  WHY?..., cause it's mean? NO, he says, "so we don't fall into temptation".
The wife that we have and the holy spirit are the BEST means of any  governor that a man has and when man allows his relationship with God to slip and allows his relationship with his wife to slip, he has left himself wide open for temptation, with very little ability to resist or reign in that passion.
Another powerful governor is "the eyes" the eyes are the gateway to the heart. Job said"I have made a covenant with my eyes not to lust after another woman".
     If you are struggling in this area (and you are if you are a man) and don't want to fall (and I hope you don't) pursue the safe guards/governors God has given; pursue God and pursue your wife, be fulfilled spiritually by the one and sexually by the other and you will do well. If you let these relationships slip then it is just a matter of time before you fall. David is our example of Godliness and he is our example of the frailty and vulnerability that man has to lust, even if he is "a man after God's own heart".  Last words from the Apostle Paul, "if any man thinks he stands; let him take heed, lest he fall!"  The irony is, those that think they are above this will probably fall and those that fear it because they see their own weakness and vulnerability... probably will not!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

MAY 25 "IMPERFECT LEADER...NO WAY?!"

     Are you being led by an imperfect leader? If you are, then welcome to the rest of The Church of Jesus Christ; for we are all being led by an imperfect leader.  The heart of a leader is what matters, not his perfect tract record in decision making.  David asks his spiritual leader/adviser what he thinks about his desire to build God a house to dwell in.  Samuel responds, "whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you".  The problem is that most of us rely to much upon our leaders and not enough on God. Are relationship with our leader is much stronger than our relationship with God and this is a ticking bomb waiting to explode. On the other hand, others are "super spiritual" and they believe all they need is a relationship with God and they have no relationship with their leadership. They avoid spiritual leadership and refuse to give them any recognition, "he puts his pants on in the morning the same way I do" is often the mantra of these pseudo spiritual disciples. You'll notice in verse 18, our text says, "Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said...."  David has the right balance between headship and Leadership because he is not "super spiritual" he is simply a true man of God. He understands the place of spiritual headship in his life and he also understands the place of God in his life. The two work in conjunction with each other.  A man who has great relationship with headship but no or very little relationship with God is a recipe for disaster. The man who has a TRUE relationship with God WILL have a good relationship with his headship. A man who believes he is in love with Jesus but avoids and disregards headship is a deluded man who God will never be able to use to his full extent and desired purpose for that man.
     What is admirable about this particular leader (Samuel) is his ability to admit to the one he is supposed to be leading, that "he was wrong".  How many leaders would rather hope and pray that things somehow just work out, rather than return and apologize or return and admit that they were wrong, gave bad advice and retract what they have spoken.  I don't know what went through Samuel's mind, but if he is like the rest of us, I'm sure it went something like this..., "how stupid I am going to look going to David now and telling him he can't build God's house after I so confidently told him it would be okay. How can I do this? David will look at me now and not know what to believe? Perhaps David will lose confidence in me as his spiritual advisor and headship, how then will I lead him, it's better I don't say anything, God somehow will stop him and I can save face; otherwise David will think I don't hear from God and I am just making it up as I go"
     I'm sure these were some of the thoughts that passed through Samuel's mind, but yet he put them aside, humbled himself and went back to David. The best harmony in any relationship between disciple and leader is one where the disciple is humble enough to seek his leader's advice and one where the leader is humble enough to admit when he is wrong and most important, it is one where both are seeking God behind the scenes and each has their own relationship with God and ultimately relies on God to be the ultimate decider and director of a man's destiny and purposes on this earth.
  Proverbs 19  21 There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand."   This is our hope and our promise and this is exactly what happens in our text. David has many plans in his heart, but ultimately it is God's will that comes to pass and there's no grievance between these two men (leader and disciple). If you're having problems getting anywhere spiritually it could be that your relationship in either of these two areas is to to heavy in one and to light in the other. Relationship with God = relationship with headship & relationship with headship = relationship with God, humility as the preface and trust in God as the base = destiny, purpose & harmony.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MAY 24 "A NEW COMMAND?"

     JESUS is going to be leaving his disciples, I'm sure that brought allot of thoughts to his mind about what was best to address with his disciples.  In Jesus' absence, what would need to be addressed? With this going through his mind, this is what Jesus comes up with. " a new command I am giving you, "love one another" by this men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another".  What would be one of the major concerns in Jesus' absence, according to Jesus, that these men would bicker, fight and devour one another without him there to be the peacemaker.  Pastor's spend half their time trying to convince congregations members not to kill each other.  Paul writes in his epistles, "stop devouring one another". No doubt, Jesus' foremost concern, concerning his leaving the disciples is that He will no longer be around to be the peace maker. Who will keep these men from ripping each other apart....hmmm....hey guys, listen, A NEW COMMAND  I give you, LOVE ONE ANOTHER, okay? What is the response of the disciples? "Lord, where are you going?"  Nobody says, "yes, Lord, you're right, we need to love each other".  Jesus has just said, " A NEW COMMAND....."  and not one word is recorded in scripture as to any response from either of the twelve men that are sitting with him, concerning Jesus' new command. It goes right over their heard. I wonder if Jesus thought, "excuse me, did anybody hear what I just said, A NEW COMMAND, does anybody have any response, anybody here wondering why I gave you A NEW COMMAND?".  "Yeah, yeah...we know Lord, we know, love each other, love your neighbor as .....we know Lord".   BUT you don't know, that's why this is being brought up, you DON'T KNOW.   LOVE is sorely lacking 'till this day amongst the brethren.  We either despise one another because of our differences or we despise one another because we see each other as competitors.  We will befriend the young lambs, but ignore the older sheep.  LOVE ONE ANOTHER....yeah, yeah, I know, i know....Lord where are you going, that's what really concerns me.  JESUS I LOVE, it's people I can't stand, it's his sheep that get on my nerves.  Peter you love me? Than.....FEED MY SHEEP. (That will come later when Jesus re-appears to them after his resurrection.) We put much emphasis on "winning souls" and little emphasis on loving them. Could it be that we find it easier to preach to someone, fill out a convert card than to love and nurture them on their journey and walk with God. MANY want to catch fish, but few want to clean them up once they're caught. I once went fishing with my wife, she liked to catch the fish, just didn't want to mess with them after they were caught. How accurately this describes the Church today. What's ironic about all this is the bible clearly tells us that we CAN DOD NOTHING to save a soul, but we can do everything to LOVE.  Jesus didn't tell Peter to "save souls"...what did Jesus tell Peter???.... "Feed my sheep, care for my sheep".  A NEW COMMAND I GIVE YOU, LOVE ONE ANOTHER, BY THIS MEN WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES.  When we put this into practice, then we will see the scripture fulfilled, "and those that were being saved were added to the church daily."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MAY 23 "TOO MUCH DRAMA!"

     This is a sad story (in the O.T.) about two leaders who do not have their heads screwed on straight. It leads to the senseless death of many; and if that's not bad enough, the drama continues years after this horrible incident. Years later when Abner decides to come over to David's camp, Joab is incensed and plots to murder Abner, to revenge the death of his brother, who was killed by Abner, in self defense....to much drama! Take note, when there is to much drama amongst God's people, this is a clear sign of a lack of relationship with God. David is the only one who mourns the death of this innocent man.  He makes sure to let everyone know he had nothing to do with this vengeful killing of Abner, by Joab and his men.  David has to live a life by which he is surrounded by other Israelites, all Jews by birth but yet none, or very few of the men around him have a relationship with God.  They all know the sacraments, sacrifices and rituals that a Jew must live by, but they do not have a relationship with God, as David does. We walk and function in Christian circles, as David was surrounded by nothing but Israelites so are most of surrounded by Christians, but sometimes we too may find ourselves surrounded by others who have the sacraments down, but no relationship. We are amazed at the bitterness, unforgiveness and vengeful spirit that exists in the circles we walk. It can be discouraging to see men with leadership status act in such barbaric ways, but it's reality. The important lesson we can learn from David is he never got so discouraged that he lowered his standards to theirs and succumbed to their ungodly ways. We know that David does fall pretty low with Bathsheba years later, but after a course of a year repents and gets back on track. Joab never repents and continues on his course of revenge, bitterness and ungodliness dies an ugly death.  We can become so discouraged with Christians today that we actually turn away from the church and Christians all together, but is that really God's will? The closer we come to Jesus' second coming, the closer the church will resemble the world, the more heretics we will find in the church and the bible tells us that "the hearts of many will wax cold".   Yes, their are many apostates in the church, but the Church is still God's plan and means for the equipping of the Saints and the Evangelizing of the World and we must never allow ourselves to be discouraged by the the tares the God allows to grow within wheat, one day God will come back and he will separate the two, until then, hold on to true standards, keep your convictions and maintain, above all else, your connection to the True Vine.

Monday, May 22, 2017

MAY 22 "THAT VOICE WAS SO COOL!"

 The Voice was for you! “the wow effect” is normally for the crowd that you don’t want to be identified with. Jesus is quick to tell them, “the whole voice thing, that was for you…not for me”.  We would say, “You mean that’s not the way it normally is? God’s not always talking to you in an audible voice?”  Jesus’ answer would be, “no, that’s Hollywood”. There is no greater paradox than God himself, his workings and his dealings with humanity. Although there is no more Supernatural Being or experience in the Universe, God’s dealing with us, from the outside looking in, may seem unimpressive to the unsuspecting eye. We listen for “the audible voice”, we look for the “paranormal” but we get nothing. This is what attracts many people into the occult, is the “paranormal”, to them a spiritual experience must include “voices”, “objects moving”. In other words, “if you’re a supernatural being, if you’re not just like us, prove it!” With this in mind, now let’s look at this verse again, Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine”.   Jesus would say, “you like the voice thing/effect didn't you! I knew you would! I personally don’t need it, but if it excites you, if it makes your day, if it let’s you know this thing is real (even though you have a hundred other reasons too) if it helps you “to believe’ well, there it is, that was for you!”  The greatest illustration and example to us about God is found in the book of Esther. Although God is Supernaturally working through out that whole story, He is nowhere to be seen, at least not if your listening for an audible voice or looking for paranormal activity. I know way to many people, listening for a voice when they pray, looking for God to give them “a sign”.  What’s ironic, is true spirituality, often consists of none of the above. People who are “truly spiritual” have a natural relationship with God that is as natural as their breathing. It’s not forced.

Whoever thinks all day long, “I must breathe, I must breathe” we only think like that when there is a “breathing problem”, but when things are right, it’s natural. So how did God, the Father speak to Jesus? The same way He speaks to those today who are truly spiritual, He speaks to us not in an audible voice, but speaks to us internally and yet His voice comes through loud and clear, as if it were audible. The only voice these people could here from God was an Audible Voice, because only people with a relationship with God, with the Holy Spirit, can hear from God from the inside, “For in Him and through Him, we have our being”. 

MAY 21 "PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN LIFE"

Without trying to be "melodramatic" this is a Life Changing event for David.  David is set to go to war against Israel. However, in God's Grace, Mercy and Providence He prevents David from making probably the worse decision of his life (aside from Bathsheba & Uriah).  It is a "Pivotal Moment" in David's life and God is behind it all orchestrating. God is the Master Orchestrator! Not only does David not go to war against Israel, but when he returns to Ziklag he finds that Ziklag has been raided and his family and the family of his men are taken captive. The scripture indicates that his own men are getting ready to turn on David and stone him. At this moment David decides to seek God, the God  of Israel, that is! The scripture says, "David encouraged himself in the Lord, at Ziklag!"  Had David gone to fight in the battle against Israel, he would never have been back at Ziklag, desperate, seeking his God and getting reconciled/right with the God of Israel. As we read on about the War with the Israelites, we come to find out, that in this very War, that David wanted to fight in, against the Israelites, that Saul is Killed. Thence, David becomes King of Israel. However, how would it have ended if David had been allowed to go fight, with the Philistines, against Israel and Saul had been killed in that war, by the Philistines, aided by David himself? How would destiny have worked out for David then?  Each one of us will have pivotal moments in our life, in which we desperately hope and pray that God steers us away or in the right direction, when those moments come. They are life changing and destiny altering. This story also reveals to us, that God can work with someone who is messed up in his head, but still has a right heart. This whole idea that David has to fight with Israel reveals how messed up David is in his head. He's been hurt, wounded and is in spiritual turmoil, read the Psalms he wrote during this season in his life! But as screwed up as David is in his head, his heart remains in tact and God can work with that. Although we are not God and cannot fully understand what is taking place inside of man, it would be wise at times, to make this distinction before we write people off. The question to ask or to try to discern is, "are they just messed up in their heads right now because of what they've gone through" or "has their heart gone bad?".  In our reading today, we read about David coming inches away from sealing away any opportunity to ever become King of Israel.  The hope that we can have is that even in our worse moments, when we are getting ready to mess up our lives and mess up our destinies, if our hearts are right, God is still faithful and able to steer us away from harm and right into the very center, of his will for our lives.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MAY 20 "BI-POLAR CHRISTIANITY"

     I just finished remarking in my mind, about how spiritual and in tune David is with God until I begin to read the next paragraph and then I'm forced to take it back. One thing that cannot be overemphasized about David is how truly righteous he is and what an awesome man of God he is.  That being said, he, like us, seems to flip flop back n forth between two opinions. In this paragraph he is on a roll, 9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish."  David is right on the money here, not just on his convictions but also on his hunch about Saul's future. Saul will perish in battle, by the hand of the Lord. His convictions are right on, he's premonitions are right on, He's right on, he's in tune with God until...the next paragraph.... 1 But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines.  David himself just said that he doesn't have to lay a hand on Saul, that God would take care of Saul and now already he has flip flopped on that and is planning to flee, to the land of the Philistines (of all places) to save his life from Saul. First God is going to take care of him and Saul and now David is going to have to take care of himself. From great faith and confidence, to fear and instability all in the course of a few verses. It is so evident here because the scriptures are so close to each other it's easy for us to see the contradictions and David's faith and convictions.  He flip flops as you and I do.  We are stirred when we see and hear of our spouses, brethren and friends speaking great faith but we are just as quickly irritated when we see them, the next day, flip flop and not carry out any of the convictions and faith they spoke of the day, week or month before. It's one thing to flip flop in our minds, but it's another thing to actually give in to it.  David actually does go to the land of the Philistines. No only does he flip flop in his mind, but he doesn't counter it with faith, he gives in to it and changes his course.  Jesus told Peter, "pray, because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" our flesh will always challenge us (sometimes the very next morning) the moment we want to step out in faith. Common reason and rational thinking will always snuff out faith, if we let it. We cannot try to intermingle faith and pragmatism, they are diametrically opposed to one another.  The moment God stirs you to faith and you say, "now let us sit down and think about this and use reason" that is the moment you are done. We cannot try to justify, with reason, to our families, co-workers, principals and employers, why we do what we do for God. There is no reason, practically speaking, there is no "explaining". In the natural sense, it is ludicrous. This is why Paul says, "when the Lord spoke to me, I did not confer with flesh and blood" in other words Paul says, "this is a spiritual thing" and if I try to confer with human beings about this, they will not concur with me and may very well talk me out of this. I am going to have to separate what is natural from what is spiritual. If I know that it is God than there is nothing to confer or discuss, if we are not sure, than there is plenty to confer and discuss, especially with headship and those that are mature in the faith (in the multitude of counselors there is safety).  Are you flip flopping in your faith? Is it because you are not sure or is it because you are letting your flesh and natural reason get the best of you?  Pray that you have the spiritual strength to follow through on what God stirs you to do for him in Faith and don't allow common sense and reason to get the best of you. Don't be a FLIP FLOPPER.

Friday, May 19, 2017

MAY 19 "TRYING TO PROVE YOU'RE ALRIGHT? DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME!

 WE have two instances of relationships gone bad in just one reading. The first part we read about David and Saul and in the latter half we read about David and Abigail. David has the perfect scenario he needs to convince Saul that he is not malicious; and at first it works, Saul calms down but eventually that "proof" is forgotten, it has no lasting effect and the relationship between David and Saul quickly deteriorates back to what it was. Trying to prove we are not "bad' and vindicate ourselves to those whose view of us has been tainted and/or even poisoned, is often a useless exercise. The cleverest argument, the most convincing evidence will have no lasting effect because the real issue is "their heart". When one individual in a relationship does not have a right heart, nothing can be resolved; however the opposite is also true, that when both individuals have a right heart, the worse circumstances can be reconciled.  Anything can be resolved by two people with right hearts; while nothing can be resolved by two people when one or both is dealing with a bad heart.  The difference is perfectly clear between David and Saul and David and Abigail. David is furious with Nabal, and rightly so and is going to annihilate Nabal and his hold household, including Abigail. How different it is though between David and Abigail. Here you have two individuals, both with right hearts and they are able to talk this over and listen to reason. The issue is never how bad the violation, the issue is always how bad "the heart".  I've seen couples recover from moral infidelity while other couples cannot recover over a simple lie that has been told. The issue is "the heart". Are you spending countless hours and energy trying to rectify a relationship that no matter how much you pray and try, it is to no avail? Perhaps you are dealing with someone that is not so much been violated or unjustly treated, but rather with someone who simply does not have a right heart anymore. The issue is no longer the violation (though they may have been one) the issue now is "their heart".  I have had messy situations that I knew would turn out okay because I knew the people I was dealing with were mature Christians with good hearts.  I have also had other situations that were not so flammable, but yet was not as confident things would work out, and they didn't.  Trying to justify and reconcile relationships with people that don't have a right heart is futile; our job is to reach out and try, then leave the rest with God and most importantly, to guard our own hearts and make sure we don't get bitter towards them or allow our hearts to become tainted too.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

MAY 18 "JESUS STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU"

I will be the last person to stand up the religious folks, especially the Pharisees, but it must have been hard to look at some man standing in front of you, claiming to be "The Son of God", miracles or not. I have seen miracles happen but never began to look at the people who performed them and think, "is this God?".  Now you can say, "well we know better today". How many times has God stood before us and we did not believe that it was Him? It's hard to see God and accept that it's God you see. And I mean this as a metaphor, imagine how much harder this is, when it's literal! Even Christians when witnessing a tremendous miracle stand there and say, "can this really be?". We almost try to dismiss, what we have witnessed, "maybe they really didn't have cancer, they were mis-diagnosed?"  We believe..., but we don't believe. I believe in you Lord, just don't stand in front of me and say, "This is me, God" because then I won't believe. What I've noticed about church members is they'll believe in God; until they have to believe in God for something for themselves. They believe in God for "everybody else", just not for themselves. I don't have to see God to believe in Him for your needs or your faith, I just have to say, "He is, He is mighty, He is real and He'll help you". I am just spouting out religious truths, but don't have to see God in anyway to speak them and pronounce them over others. When Elisha is overwhelmed and defeated in his mind and he has proclaimed religious truths to so many, bu in his time of need, he cannot see God or recognize Him. God opens Elisha's eyes to see and then Elisha is able to see God, right there with him. We can judge the Pharisees, our friends, our family for not being able to see Jesus when He's standing right in front of them, but I wonder how much better we are at it?
Sure, we saw Jesus for salvation, just like Peter, when he finally recognized that it was Jesus, Peter said, "depart from me I am a sinful man".  And so we have seen Jesus, as Christians, for sure, in this area, but how many times after, have we failed to see Jesus right in front of us, saying, "this is me, this is my work, my hand in all of this". We turn away and say, "no, this isn't you". And like the Pharisees, Jesus may not look the way you think He should look, He may not be doing what you think you would be doing if you were Jesus and so you look and say, "this isn't Jesus" and walk away. And so before we cast stones on these religious people, I dare say, that there has been many times, since you became a Christian, maybe even now, that you have failed to recognize Jesus and only to your own harm and undoing. Never mind the Pharisees, they are dead, think about yourself, is Jesus standing right in front of you, right now and you are failing to see Him? Removed your preconceived notions of what you think He should look like and be doing and be open. Think of what the others said that were standing around, they said, "this man doesn't sound like a man who is demon possessed".  God may not look like you think He should, or be doing what He should be doing, but listen to what He is saying to do, He may not look like you think (perhaps the wisdom has come from your unsaved brother) he may not being doing what you would do (you were laid off your job) but in the end, listen and removed preconceived notions and you may realize, Jesus was standing right in front of you and you did not realize it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MAY 17 "OH, WHEN LIFE WAS SIMPLE"

Our reading today says,  "Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most."  I would imagine David wept the most.  David's life used to be simple. He had a family, he had a job that he loved, he had peace and quiet times out in the field, with God and his sheep, he was quite content sitting out in the fields, writing Psalms to God and watching over that flock that he had been assigned to by his Father.  Life was simple, life was carefree, life was good! David had no aspirations for anything else, but yet God did (look out David!)  This poor, little shepherd boy gets called out of this simple, carefree living into a life of turmoil, hurt & disappointments. He is now very much removed and detached from his family, he is married to a woman who does not at all share his values or his love for God and now he is alone and on the run for his life and I'm sure David thought, "how I long for when things were simple, why God did you not just leave me where I was?".  David has to leave that town, go to another town and turn into a liar, then he must leave that town, go into another town and act like a madman. How degrading this must have been to David to have to act in such a manner. Unfortunately, nobody that has ever given themselves to a life of leisure has ever lived a life worth any mention. Books, movies, mini-series, etc...etc...have all been written about the great King David, not the David that liked to frolic in the fields with his Poetry and Sheep, but the David who was THRUST into greatness by God. Thrust in to a very difficult life, anything but a life of simplicity; yet he accomplished great things and became an ICON of a MAN.
     When things were simple..., oh, remember them days, but what were you accomplishing? Let me answer that for you...NOTHING!  Do you long for the days when things were so simple, but yet God is thrusting you into adversity and great challenges, challenges that if He does not help you with, will consume you? If so, then Thank Him, Thank God today, thank him tomorrow that He will not allow you to waste your life, the one life you have been given on earth, to live for Him. Most people are just living to die, they go to work, sleep, eat, go to work, and are simply wasting away. We need God to thrust us out of our comfort zones, we need God to thrust us out of our simple lives that we have designed. Why do we need him to thrust us out of these scenarios? Because if he did not, we would not and we would end up living insignificant, mediocre existences and He knows that when we would stand before him and give an account for our lives AS CHRISTIANS we would regret that we wasted away opportunity and lived such an unfruitful and uneventful life FOR HIM. Jesus said, "He who saves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake shall find it". We will only find the true meaning of life when we allow God to take us out of our simple lives that we have put together and allow him to thrust us into raging waters, that is when we will truly experience Divine and sustaining Grace.  In those times you will weep, as David did, you will long for the days of simplicity, but know that one day when you stand before God and give an account of your life, you will not have to be ashamed nor suffer any regret....But David wept the most....

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MAY 16 "I HATE FAVORITISM!"

Well we read about dagon favoritism today; I thought God was above all that, after all, isn't He perfect? Well, God is perfect and not only is He not against favoritism, but he is the author of it since He is the author of all, He's the Alpha & The Omega.  We read in Verse 14. "David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. When Saul recognized this, he became more afraid".  I don't think there is too many reading this today that would disagree of the favor that God had towards David as opposed to Saul. Should the student who talks back, doesn't listen, doesn't care, throws spitballs at the teacher have the same favor as the student who listens, is interested, respects the teacher, sometimes helps the teacher? Most protesters of "favoritism" are most often those that have always found themselves on the wrong side of favoritism. This is really the issue. When we protest, it's because it affects us, if it doesn't affect us in life, rarely do we give a care. If raising taxes doesn't affect us, we could care less if it's someone else being over taxed. Now when "we" ourselves find ourselves being overtaxed, because we moved up into a different tax bracket, we will raise all hell, because of high taxes. The point is, those that cry out against favoritism are those who are being affected by it and obviously are on the wrong side. Never do they probe deep & ask themselves, "why am I on the wrong side?" And of course, if it's not affecting us, we like to put our nose in other people's business and judge why favoritism is being given towards this person as opposed to our friend, or our choice or our favorite and wars begin. The person from the outside looking in, has no idea that Saul is throwing javelins at David. The person from the outside looking in has no idea of the jealousy that fuels inside of Saul, the vengeance and the anger.  Unjust favoritism isn't good, but "unjust" anything in life isn't good.  However, true & warranted/just favoritism is good and God shows us today and many other times, through out the year, as we read, that He is a God who is not shy to dispense favor on those whom He pleases. We read about Samuel "who grew in favor and stature with both God and man". Those monkey's, Eli's boys certainly do not have God's favor, but Samuel sure does and I'm glad. If I am on the wrong side of favoritism; instead of getting mad and jealous, why not look introspectively and ask, "why am I on the wrong side". If you are honest with yourself, you will see why. If you are not honest with yourself, you will only get that much more infuriated. You will cry out "injustice, injustice" and begin to throw your own javelins.

Monday, May 15, 2017

MAY 15 "DIE IN YOUR SIN"

“You will die in your sins” I have heard that mentioned in many altar calls and one on one witnessing but never quite heard it from Jesus, even though I've read over this passage, many times. I looked it up in the King James Translation and there too, it is written, “you will die in your sins”. Dieing in your sins….as apposed to……dieing outside of your sin? We understand what Jesus means, but do they? Do the people we work with, live with and go to school with? “To die in your sin”, is not a verse of forgiveness. First thing we would say to explain Jesus’ phrase here is, “well basically it means that if you die unforgiven, you will not make Heaven your home”.  Sorry, not the right interpretation! This verse has nothing to do with forgiveness, it has to do exactly with what is mentioned, ‘in sin” as apposed to “out of sin”.  “If you die in your sin”.
One of the most popular message Christians preach is God forgiveness, but an equally important message is that God has come to get you “out of your sin”. If you were to ask my father if he felt forgiven, his religion would have taught him to easily respond, “yes” but yet he still died an alcoholic, with 3 ravaged marriages and children all over the State of California.  Many people claim forgiveness, many people claim God’s Grace, but yet are still in their sin. Make no mistake, it is easier for the drunk to believe that God forgives him, than to believe that God can deliver him. Alcoholics Anonymous is filled with “so called” Christians that believe they are forgiven by God, who believe in a “Higher Power” while at the same time believing they are still alcoholics. They can believe God to forgive him, because that’s easy, how can we put a finger on that? Fogiven….I guess I am? It’s very subjective, but deliverance is not subjective, it’s objective, you either “is” or you “aint” you either are in your sin or out of your sin!

Well how do I get out of my sin? Jesus has the answer for that in the text, “believe in Him”.  See this is true belief! The Bible declares that many in the last days will acknowledge God but deny Him His power. Well, you can’t have both. You can’t believe in God and then deny Him His power. You can’t believe God to forgive you, but not believe in God to be able to set you free.  Thence, this verse today is about dieing in our sin. Well, I may die immoral, I may die a drunk, I may die bound in pornography, but at least I’m forgiven, ie: I am going to Heaven. If you believe this you are deluded in your thinking. Forgiveness and deliverance go hand in hand. Jesus comes to bring deliverance and forgiveness together. Because if there is no deliverance, there can be no forgiveness because how can there be forgiveness if you keep repeating the sin? That’s why Jesus offers forgiveness and deliverance. God would not call us “to repent” if He was not able to offer us the deliverance. The call to repent would merely be a cruel tease to humanity. However, this is not the case. Many people have peace about their sin because of the doctrine of God’s Grace & Forgiveness, but yet, if we die in our sin, we are eternally loss. So today, let’s not asks ourselves, “am I forgiven” let’s ask ourselves “am I in my sin” and the answer to that, will answer the other question, “do you believe in Him who was sent by The Father?” You do? Then why are you still in your sin and why is Jesus telling these men that they are going to die in their sin?

MAY 14 "SELECTIVE LISTENING"

I don't know maybe it's just me, but I can relate to Saul in this story.  I possess all the negative traits that Saul displays in this text, how about you? We are all prone, if we will be honest, to selective listening and partial obedience. Authority, Headship, they are not merely there for "window dressing" as the expression goes. We can become too familiar with authority and become wise in our own eyes, as the years pass on. Never would Saul have argued with Samuel, in the beginning! Never! And never would Saul have thought that "Samuel's way was 100% percent, the best way!".  Saul is even at the point where he begins to argue with Samuel, "that He did do what He was told" and what Saul is really saying here is "I did do what I was told, that was utmost necessary, at least in my opinion. I defeated the Amalekites. The rest, about not keeping the plunder, killing everyone, not so sure about that, to be honest". How many times have I been given explicit instructions on what to do and then I filtered through those instructions and weeded out what I may not have necessarily agreed with; and followed through on the rest. As a Leader, I myself find it very frustrating when I give explicit directions to someone only to have them listen and obey to the parts they felt most important and leave the rest undone or done, but done differently that my instructions.  It seems the longer we are around The Church & Ministry, the more likely we are to become "wise in our own eyes". It's not the young Christians arguing with the Pastor or causing church splits, it's the Christians that have been around now for a while and now know a thing or two. That same Pastor/Leader that we used to think was the wisest man in the world, now that same man, is not so wise in our eyes and we, of course, have become much wiser. If we will be honest, it is hard to fully (100%) listen to another man, once we have been around for a while. We, over the years become more confident and secure in ourselves, form our own opinions, have our own ideas and when we are now told to do something, in a way that we don't necessarily agree with, it is hard to fully obey. Early on, the thought of not agreeing, was not a thought! Now, as the years go by, it is actually quite common. So what do you do? Saul does as we would have done, he does what is for sure, the main instruction, "destroy the Amalekites" and picks and chooses the rest of what he will follow according to his own opinion. "Obviously destroy the Amalekites, I agree with that, by why kill all the cattle & sheep, that makes no sense, and why kill the King, that makes no sense either, it would make much more sense to bring the King back; alive, as a trophy". And had Saul brought these different view points to Samuel, and asked Samuel why, Samuel would have said, "because I say so, that's why! Is that good enough for you, Saul?" And of course Saul's answer would have been "it used to be good enough, when I was younger, but no, that's not good enough anymore!". Now I/we need an explanation and I/we need an explanation I/we agree with if I will obey". And that pretty much wraps it up right there, that is where most of us live, if we will be honest. Doesn't mean it's right (and we know it's not), doesn't mean it's excusable or we should accept it in ourselves, but that's where most of us live.  Every day, we must make a conscientious effort to obey our employers, Pastor's and Leaders. Of course we don't obey if it goes against God's Word or is dishonest, immoral etc......but disobeying, because it's not how you would do it or because you have a different opinion is wrong. Basically at the root of all this is Rebellion. The man or woman that states that he/she has no problem with rebellion is the biggest rebel in the room. We all struggle with selective listening and selective obedience, not just Saul. The problem is, the higher we are in leadership and responsibility, the graver the consequences when we don't fully obey instructions. Try to make it a point, as a subordinate, a disciple, an employee, layman, whether at work, at home or at church, to make it a point to fully obey, with no reservations (unless of course it's unethical, immoral, etc..etc..) and what a blessing you will be, to your Employer, your Pastor, your wife, your husband, your church,.........what a blessing you will be TO GOD!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

MAY 13 "DO YOU REALLY WANT THE TRUTH?"

     This is amazing….or maybe not so amazing.  These men are making critical decisions about Jesus (their Savior) based on wrong assumptions and un-researched heresy.  Had they cared to do their research, had they cared to “seek the truth” they would have found out that Jesus was not from Galilee, he was actually from Bethlehem.  Verse 41, “Still others asked, “how can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem”. Are you kidding me?!!!  Jesus is of the line of David, Jesus is from Bethlehem, He is everything they’re looking for but they are making serious judgments against Jesus based off of information they have heard, but have not researched for themselves! Jesus is just standing there listening to these men, you think He would have cried out, “hey, I am from the line of David and I wasn't born in Galilee, I was just raised there, I’m from Bethlehem!” Jesus messed up here, had He simply spoken up and explained to them they would have believed in him. So why didn't Jesus speak up? Because it would not have made a difference; otherwise, obviously He would have spoken up. Isn't this why Jesus came, “to seek and save the lost”.  The bible speaks about “not casting your pearls to the swine”, in other words, don’t bother pouring your heart out and waste countless hours trying to explain Jesus to those that don’t really care what the truth is, no matter how brilliantly you explain things.  This group “chose” to believe lies and rumors rather than seek the truth.  They weren't interested in the truth at all. We think if we just explain, that’s all they need and that’s why they’re not believing; only to find out after all our effort, exposing lies, making truth clear, people walk away after all that and say…. ‘aghhhh, I still don’t believe”. We just want to strangle them, after all that, you told me you couldn't believe because of this question and I have completely answered that question and now you say you still don’t believe” and we walk away frustrated.  Jesus was not going to allow these men to frustrate Him, He knew better than that; the issue was not really that they had misinformation about Him.  The issue was not that they had bad information, the issue is that they had bad hearts and were not interested in the truth.  We should pour our hearts out to those that are earnestly seeking the truth, but we should not give the time of day to those that are totally closed and are not seriously wanting to know the truth and it is up to us, through our relationship with the Holy Spirit, to be able to discern between the two.  Many today chose to believe lies about Jesus for the simple reason that it so convenient for them to believe lies, rather than seek the truth, because then they would have to repent. So they hide behind, “I just don’t know”, “I’m so confused”, some people say Jesus never rose from the dead, some people say…” they will list all the lies and rumors but will not make the slightest effort to find the truth; and those that do make they effort and are open will find the truth and will be saved.   A perfect example of this is outlined in an excellent book that was written by a devout atheist who “earnestly” set out to find the truth; and at the end of it all he was converted. His name is Lee Strobal and he wrote “The Case for Christ”.

Friday, May 12, 2017

MAY 12 "DO YOU HAVE AN ENTITLEMENT MINDSET?"

     I have to admit, I read this story about Saul and think to myself, "I would have done the same thing". I don't know what else to say, maybe you're different. Let's read Saul's excuse,  When I saw that the men were scattering and that you did not come at the set time and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, "now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal and I have not sought the Lord's favor. so I felt compelled to offer the burnt offerings"  I say, "Amen brother".   # 1 Samuel is late, # 2 the men are scattering # 3 the Philistines are assembling...there's allot of pressure mounting here and the only thing that is stopping them is not being able to do the sacrifice and move on to attack...and where is Samuel? He made what we call today, "an executive decision". So what is the deal here?  The only thing I can derive from this is that God makes no exception "to the rules".  Hard times, pressure moments never gives allowance to deviate from standards. Perhaps this understanding would do well in all of life. None of this men involved in The Enron scams did what they did because they had nothing better to do, neither did any of these men deviate from standards when times were good. When Kenneth Lay, CEO of Enron found himself in a crisis situation, he, like Saul felt justified in deviating from what he was allowed to do as a CEO.  He felt justified even as Saul did. He felt that though rules are rules, in this particular case, there was going to have to be an exception.  THE POINT.....the point perhaps we should learn is that there is NEVER an exception. Right is right and wrong is wrong and the means never justify the ends otherwise everything becomes shades of grey, there is no black or white, there is no right and wrong, everything is then based on moral relativity, situational ethics. There's no black and white right and wrong it just depends upon the situation at hand.  Well, this doesn't go over well with God. Look at the mess it caused at Enron and look at the mess it caused with Saul. We also get more insight into this later on that Pride is also part of the issue here. Never in Saul's younger, more humble days would he have even thought of offering Priestly Sacrifices, but here, where he is older, entitlement and pride kicks in. In his younger years he would have just dealt with the situation or cried out to God to help him, but he would not have dared violate the laws and then try to justify it. Had Saul refused to do this and cried out to God, don't you know Samuel would have showed up. It's no coincidence that Samuel shows up right after Saul gives in and does the Priestly Sacrifice. The Entitlement mindset has gotten more leaders into trouble than anything else, both inside and outside the church. The mindset that because I do all that I do for these people (whether corporation or church) I deserve ____________ ( you fill in the blank).  What we can learn from this story today is that no matter how high the waters rise, no matter how deep we sink in the mud, we must never think that breaking the rules is the answer; rather than crying out to God and waiting on him. "But what if I drown waiting....?" Then you do....but more than likely, though it may get awful close, God will not let you drown or go under. But even at worse, better to go down to the grave or be overcome by your circumstances and be right with God, than violate God's laws and principles and have to answer to him later.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

MAY 11 "ARE YOU SUFFERING WITH A FOOL?"

We do our best to live for God, live peaceful lives and experience Joy, however, often infiltrating that is countless hours of drama on the phone or in person or at the coffee shop listening to the tales and drama of those that simply don't want to do right. And let me tell you, it's drama!  "The cops were at our house last night, my son got put on probation, we had are car repo'd, we can't pay our rent, my 3rd grader cussed at his teacher and my husband is drinking again..." everything is doom & gloom, everything is dire circumstances, everything is negative and we leave that coffee shop, hang up that phone feeling quite drained and quite depressed ourselves. As a Christian we feel that it is our duty to continue to be friends with this person. As a Christian we feel it is our duty to be there for them every time they want to call and puke all their drama on us.  As a Christian we feel it is our duty to meet with them every time they want to spew their drama and how rough life is for them, but is it our duty? And if so, to what extent, where do we draw the line? Is this someone that is faithfully serving God in your church and is simply going through trials or is it someone who comes to church every blue moon and even then does not abide but anything that is preached or by anything in the Word of God.  The bible clearly tells us today that "the fool suffers for their transgressions".  This is their lot, this is their portion, this is the fruit, bad fruit, they are reaping, from the bad seeds they have sown. They're fools. And because they're fools their life is filled with drama and misery.  What's the sense in you living for God, you doing right, you honoring God and following His word if you are going to allow yourself to be sucked into the drama and misery of those that don't want to?! I know many Christians that walked around continuously bummed out and defeated.  Why?  Well, it's not because of their own lives, but it's their daughter, their son, their brother, their friend, some relative that continuously drags them into their drama, gets them right in the middle of all the dissension, drama and sometimes violence....and they feel, because they are "the Christian" they should be there. I challenge that mind set, that guilt complex today. There is a big difference between being there for those that are trying, as opposed to those that the bible calls, "fools". This is their lot and you cannot change it until they decide to change it, but I would advise, you stay clear of their wars and drama or your joy and peace will be robbed from you and from those that are part of your life and it will not be because of you, but because of "the fool" you continuously feel like you have to be there for, even though they have no desire to change. The fool will suffer, why suffer with them? Cause I'm a Christian? Wrong answer!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MAY 10 "HE (JESUS) DROVE THEM AWAY?"

     Many of us remember Jesus' repelling words in John 6:66 (notice the number) that drove the crowds away, "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood...and from that point many turned away and followed him no more".  We remember that, but what we don't realize is before He said that he pre-empted it all with the text we read today. In our text today, Jesus is laying down some facts before He is about to "seemingly" drive the crowd away. Jesus says (verse 26) "you're not here for me, you're just hear for a free hand out, you're hear for the food, the hand out". (paraphrased by me of course).  Then he goes on to say, "whoever God draws to me I WILL NEVER drive away (verse 37) but then he turns around and drives this crowd away after just saying he would not. Actually he says specifically " 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me" WE would have said, "fine sermon Jesus, your crazy sermon just drove thousands away!"  But right before Jesus drives them away with his "eat my flesh and drink my blood" He makes clear that he will not lose any that God has drawn to him AND that he will not drive them away either. We know that after the "eat my flesh" sermon thousands have been driven away and only a handful remain, Peter is one of them. He asks Peter, "will you leave me too?" and Peter's response, "where and to whom would we go, for you have the words of eternal life".  Peter heard the same words, same sermon that all the others heard, but yet he was not driven away, true to Jesus' words, I will not drive them away that God has drawn to me.  Read this text today all the way thru John 6:66 and then re-read again. There is a whole mouthful being said here that is really worth catching. Question is....do you catch it, do you see it? What is Jesus doing here, what is he saying, what has he done and what was his objective?  Once you understand this you will understand much more about church dynamics and the Kingdom of God that is being established here on earth!!!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

MAY 9 "DAGON STUPID!"

You would think that in the first instance where they put the Ark of God in the house of Dagon and twice found the "Supposed" god Dagon, fallen of his face and broken up that they would have realized that their god was nothing more than an idol, but the God of Israel was the true and the living God, but these people are dagon stupid! (punn intended). They can't put 1+1 together to equal 2. Or maybe they're not stupid and they just don't care. Quite often we give people the benefit of thinking "they care" about the truth, about what's wrong and what's right and if we could only prove to them, somehow show them then they would believe, repent and come to church with you and be forever more, your new Christian BFFL. In our text is all the evidence we would ever pray or want for our friends or relatives to see, but yet in our text we do not read about one person converting over to the God of Israel all we read about is the people not wanting him around. Isn't this what happened to Jesus. They wanted miracles He gave them miracles. They wanted healing, He gave them healing, in the end, when He had showed them all the proof they would ever need, first they sent Him away and when He came back, they crucified Him. No doubt there are a few truth seekers out there, there are some that if they were to hear, know and perceive the Truth, they would turn and you are probably one of those. However, you cannot assume that just because your ignorance kept you in the dark, that that is the case for all. You cannot give everyone the benefit of assuming they sin because "they just don't know" and you would pray "oh Lord, if you would just show yourself real to them they would turn" well He has, many times, even before you came to know them, He had and yet they still have not turned, they would rather send him away. In our story today, we learn # 1. That people can be dagon (pun intended) stupid, in the midst of great miracles, still not get it and # 2. We learn that some folks simply don't care about what's true and what's false, they are perfectly content with their sin and their false religion and you could show them all the proof in the world and they would not change.

Monday, May 8, 2017

MAY 8 "RISING WHILE OTHERS FALL"

"And Samuel, the boy grew in stature and favor, with both God and Man".  I have always been a big fan of this scripture and have prayed this over my life and my son's life, very often. The truth is we don't all have to be hated because we are Christians.  Yes, we will always have our enemies, but God's scripture teaches that while we will have enemies, we can also have favor with men and that favor comes from God as we are rightly related to Him .  What is interesting is that this scripture comes in the midst of a horrific description of Eli's sons, sleeping with women at the Temple. These boys, Hophni and Phineas as some bad, bad boys. To make matters worse, they are the Pastor's sons, so to speak. They are Eli's sons, the Priest, the Priest that Samuel is under. Samuel has been growing up under Eli, with his sons, his whole life. It would have been so easy for Samuel to think, "well if this is how Eli's sons behave, then it must be okay, after all, they are the sons of Eli and they are involved in high level ministry in the Church. The lesson is, we can be living in the midst of corruption, perversion and immorality and yet still be living clean and not allowing those ungodly influences to affect the way we serve God. The lesson to learn is that we are not justified in using  "our supposed examples" as a reason to sin ourselves. The lesson to learn is that in the midst of corruption, hypocrisy and scandalous living, we ourselves, can be rising up in the midst of a group of Christians that are falling and going nowhere but down. The Law of Life, at least in God's Kingdom, is that while others may be falling, we can be rising.  While other's are coming to ruin, we are entering into God's blessings.  Make no mistake, that the scripture about a man "growing in favor and stature with both God and Man" is slipped in, right between two other verses about scandalous and lewd behavior and judgement to come, but yet God in his wisdom, slips in a scripture, right in the middle of that........in the middle of corruption, perversion and immorality, we can still be growing in stature and favor with both God and Man. And the secret, later on we read, "that Samuel, let none of God's word, fall to the ground". Samuel may not have had the example he needed, but Samuel had God's word and God's example in His Word and the scripture tells us, "he held to those words" and that was what sustained him.  This scripture in today's reading is so relevant to us today. These are the times we live in. It's all about perversion & sexual immorality, outside the church (of course) but sometimes inside the church too, but we know now, that in the midst of corruption and hypocrisy, we can be growing, in favor, with both God and Man, and while others are falling, we are rising!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

MAY 7 "VICTORY COULD BE AROUND THE CORNER"

Such a valuable lesson, I think we can all learn from today's reading. We know that Hannah had prayed for children many times before. We know that this has been a long standing issue with her. It's been a thorn in her side for many years and no doubt she has cried and prayed about this before. But today, for one reason or another is the day that God is going to answer her cry and prayer. Why not last year? Why not last month? We don't know, the answer "no" or perhaps the being what seems to be "ignored" by God, on this day, is over. On this day, God answers her prayer and her life will never be the same. I wonder how many of us were on the verge of getting that prayer answered and then we  gave up. We give up, never to see come to fruition what we had prayed for, forever wondering why God never answered our prayer, our cry, our need only to find out, perhaps in eternity, that had we prevailed, persisted, just a little longer, victory could have been ours.  What a testimony this was to Eli, as Hannah walks in a year later with her child and first thing she says, "remember me, remember me crying and praying and you accused me of being drunk, well here is the answer to that prayer, what do you think of my drunken prayers now!"  And it is not just Samuel that is born, this is the catalyst of break through for Hannah; and she has 5 other children. If you're tired and getting ready to quit, give up and stop praying, I do advise, Hannah advises you, that you might just want to keep on praying and crying out, your answer may be, just around the corner.

MAY 6 "LUCK AND FORTUNE I THINK NOT"

     There are certain people that you meet that you just know will not remain in the lowly state where they are, at least not for much longer. Have you met them? It could be a server in a Restaurant, it could be a servant in your church, it could be a new employee, whomever and wherever is irrelevant, the point is, YOU KNOW they will not remain in that state. God is going to raise them up, it is inevitable and it is just a matter of time. As low as Ruth is (and she is low/rock bottom) you know upon meeting her that she will not remain there long.  Boaz is not in the position he is in either by luck or fortune, Boaz is also in the position of authority and prosperity because of who he is. I have met these people and so have you, there is an undeniable Grace upon their lives (that we almost envy) that you would have to be blind to miss.  Ruth no matter how lowly a place she has come to will not remain there. Her meeting with Boaz, her willingness to go out and labor in the heat for her mother in law, her modesty and humility is all going to sweep her to a higher level. This attitude, this disposition cannot be faked!  You either have it or you don't.  I have seen people and lowly places and not scene any signs that they are on their way up, while I have seen others in lowly places that I couldn't help but walk away, smiling inside, knowing that they were going to quickly rise up out of that lowly state.  What is there to say about Ruth & Boaz that is bad? These are the people we love to hate, but God loves to love.  Where do people like Ruth and Boaz come from? Are they just naturally prone to be the way the are? Is it something they worked at? Do they have their own demons that they must conquer and put down to be the people they are or does it just come naturally to them? Why are some folks just awful Christians and others such wonderful Christians? Why are some Christians the type you can't be around enough and other Christians are the type you can't stand to be around?  What separates the Ruth & Boaz's from "the others"?  These are amazing, righteous and Godly individuals that God divinely brings together to make an amazing couple!  THE POINT, being low or lowly in life is not the end all. God is not concerned with where you start in life or where you currently are right now. You could be in the most lowly of places and be on top by this time next year. It all depends on who you are? Are you a Ruth, a Boaz, they be sure God will quickly elevate you. Often I wonder why people are kept low for so long and it always comes back to me one way or another of the true character (behind the scenes) of that individual that I have been pitying. We must always trust in the Goodness of God and realize that people are often where they are at for a reason. Boaz is where he is at because he is a good righteous man. He is not faking it, he is not jockeying for position or a man pleaser, he simply is a good, honest and righteous man of God. And it is not surprise that he is where he is at. And it is not surprise that Ruth eventually finds herself on top and over all those that once looked down at her and on top of those she once served.  My answer to my question is I believe these two individuals worked at their character. I do not believe that they were just naturally predisposed towards being such righteous and Godly people, it would be unscriptual. Not much is written of their private lives with God, but you must know that there was a very grand private life behind the scenes. For what is done in private will be revealed in the open, for good or for bad. I believe even Ruth and Boaz had to fight their flesh, fight temptation, laziness, lust and every other temptation of humanity just as much as we do.  You don't have to manipulate your way to the top or prosperity, all you have to do is genuinely love God and have a Christian life that is just as righteous in "private life" as it is in "public life" and God will exalt you in due season. The longer I serve God the more it is coming to my attention that people I once thought were Godly woman and men of God are actually living like devils behind the scenes. They are ill tempered, verbal abusers, gossipers, immoral, unclean and the list goes on. Their private life has never matched up with their public life.  Some of them are now divorced, some have fallen into perversion, some are backslidden and some are still in the church. Just know this....LUCK, CHANCE & GOOD FORTUNE have nothing to do with where we find ourselves in life, it has to do with our private life and who we really are on the inside and who and what God sees when he looks inside our hearts. Does he see a Ruth, does he see a Boaz? if he does, then God will exalt you in due season, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he will, just keep doing right and being right!

Friday, May 5, 2017

MAY 5 "GET A WIFE A CINCO DE MAYO!"

We have these men of God who have devised a planned, for their single men, to go to the festival at Shiloh (it must be a Cinco de Mayo celebration seeing that it's on the 5th of May). So these men of God go to this Cinco de Mayo celebration and steal for themselves wives. They are crying out to God, thinking, praying, trying to figure out what to do and they hear nothing from God. They simply, it seems, are left on their own to figure it out. They come up with a plan, that seems a little odd in my own personnel opinion and I'm sure yours too, but yet we hear nothing from God. And so the men of Israel go to the Cinco de Mayo celebration, steal wives for themselves, we don't hear from God, the chapter ends and the book of Ruth begins. I am glad that this story is in our Bible because it downplays they hyper spirituality that we are accustomed to in Christian circles. God is speaking to everyone, God is the own personnel GPS or their own personnel "Siri" (Apple's voice command feature) speaking to them at every turn. "God told me this, God told me that, God told me to leave my wife, God told me to leave this church, God told me marry this person" is the mantra we hear today. The problem is, many Christians feel left out of that crowd, because they don't hear God speaking to them, they don't hear God telling them what to do, where to go, who to marry, etc...etc...as a matter of a fact, the God they know and serve is a lot more like the God of "The Bible" who is often silent in our dilemma's and decision making process. So how do we know we're making the right decisions? We don't!!! But the truth is, those that say, "God told me"  don't know either, they are only under the delusion that they are making the right decision. The voice that they hear telling them to do this and that, and attributing it to God, is simply their own conscience speaking to them. So what's the remedy? Ans: Keep your heart right with God and be sensitive the the Holy Spirit and die to self. Does God guide us through our conscience, I'm sure He does, but He also guides by people,  He also guides by just shutting doors, He also guides by "our gut feelings" He guides in many ways and other times He simply remains silent and let's us choose. God is not a "micro-manager" in case you didn't know. He does not micro-manage every aspect of our lives. Sometimes we pray, call on God, look for guidance and hear nothing. Many times I'll "think" I desperately need to talk to someone about a decision and I text them, I'm expecting an immediate response and sure enough it's in those times my text is ignored, missed or they are too busy to return it and I have to make the decision myself and sometimes God is just like that, "make the decision yourself, I'm not going to micro-manage your life, but know this, my Grace is sufficient for thee".  That's all we need to know and also to "guard our hearts with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life".

Thursday, May 4, 2017

MAY 4 "MANY QUESTIONS, NOT MANY ANSWERS"

     This story that we read today in the book of Judges prompts many questions in our minds. Had the Levite decided to stay just one more night (as the step father was trying to persuade him) would his wife have been spared of this brutal raping? Had the Levite stopped in the first city to rest (as was suggested by his servant) perhaps his wife have not been murdered. This little, seemingly, insignificant decisions perhaps are not so insignificant.  Are lives, yes are affected by the BIG decisions we make, but they are just as much, if not more, directed and affected by the countless seemingly, insignificant decisions we make every day, on a whim. There was many instances in this story that this man could have just as easily chose differently and the question that bares asking is..."would it have made a difference in the final outcome?"
     How about the war? The Levite convinces Israel to go to War against the Benjamites to avenge this murder and God allows them to take thousands of casualties and 2 failed attempts until finally succeeding in defeating the Benjamites. Why does God allow this? Why not a victory on the 1st attempt, why have thousands of innocent men killed trying to defend the honor of a woman that was senselessly raped and murdered. Why not have instant defeat, with no lives being killed? Why was she allowed to be raped and murdered in the 1st place? We know God is not asleep on this because he has given them direction in the defeat of the Benjamites.
     This story probably best illustrates the average Christian's life.  So many seemingly insignificant decisions we make everyday and in the end all we can ask is, "God why did you allow to make those choices knowing the end result would be this, why didn't you stop me?"  Why didn't God have the Levite stay one more night, he had already stayed 4 nights. Why didn't God have him stop in the first city? Why does God not intervene when I am making decisions that will cost me and hurt me?  We will probably not get an answer to that and you'll notice the Levite never asks God why either. It's not always easy serving God and keeping faith in him, but the reality is we must. We must go forward not fully understanding God and his ways and methods. God will show up eventually, as he did in the victory over the Benjamites, but the questions will always remain, answers to THE WHY's, we will probably never get on this side of eternity and we must continue to walk with God with many questions unanswered, are you willing to do that, if so, you will do well, if not, you may walk away from God one day and that will be a decision that you will regret, your children and family will suffer from and certainly will be an unfortunate, the day you die and must stand before the God that you lost faith in. God is good and we must bank in his character, no matter what life throws at us, we must never waiver in our minds, that God is good, His ways are just and one day, he will set everything thing straight and he will be vindicated in all He did.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

MAY 3 "YOU HAVE NO RELATIONSHIPS!"

     Whether this is a cleverly crafted strategy of the Enemy of our souls or not, is irrelevant, the end result, is the same. Are we just introverts or are we being set up...regardless, the outcome (easy prey and defeat) is more of what we need to focus on.  "There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else."  There are numerous Christians sitting in numerous churches all over the world that are in this situation right now and it's just a matter of time before they are taken out. They have no relationship with anyone else and they too will have no one to rescue them when they need help.  One of the greatest joys, outside of Jesus himself, that we received when we became Christians was the Fellowship of the Brethren.  In the book of Acts we read,  42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer.
     How did we get here? How did we get to a place where we have no relationships with anyone? How did we get to a place where fellowship, sharing meals is no longer part of our Christian lives?  Could it be we are being cleverly and cautiously set up, by the Enemy, for a big fall?  And when we fall, who will be there to pick us up, who will be there for us when we are struggling, who will be there for us when we are faced with the disaster that could be up the road? The answer is....NOBODY.  Nobody will be there to defend us.  This group of people living in Laish had succumb to this mindset, "don't need nobody, we will be fine by ourselves, I won't bother nobody and nobody will bother me".
     What happened to entertaining people in our homes? What happened to desiring fellowship, forming close relationships and linking hearts with our brothers and sisters in Christ?  What happened to taking interest in one another, sitting down by a good meal and sharing stories, testimonies and getting to know each other?  What happened.......?
     Whether we are being craftily set up by the enemy of our soul or this is just part of becoming an older saint, the end result will be the same. We will have nobody to help us in our time of need; which will only solidify our reasoning for leaving the church (these people don't care).  I believe many have allowed the enemy to rip them off of one of the greatest blessing of being a Christian, the enemy has  convinced some that it is a waste of time, effort & money because nobody reciprocates; so therefore why should I?!  That is a bad mindset. It is the same as saying, "why should I forgive them, they haven't forgiven...why should I love them, they don't love me".  The question to ask is, "are we better off for having cast off fellow-shipping and sharing of meals together? Has this brought more joy and satisfaction to us in our Christianity, or less?! Entertaining in our homes is a ministry in itself and we do not determine whether or not we will be faithful in a ministry on how much we are appreciated or how much people reciprocate.  I believe there is a call for Christians to go back and re-visit what kept them and gave them the most joy as an early Christian, and they will find, that other than Christ, one of the greatest blessings was Fellow-shipping in each others homes, entertaining and sharing meals together. Remember.... "There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else." 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

MAY 2 "DUMB & DUMBER"

     I have a harder time believing this story than I do the story of Jonah, 3 days in the belly of the whale. Is this story really true? If you take your time and read it and try to digest (mentally) this story, it seems unbelievable that Samson would give Delilah the secret of his strength after 3 collaborated murder attempts by this woman. However, I am going to stand on God's Word that every story in the bible is true unless said or written otherwise. I can say, that I have noticed that people who play church and play with God's word often do become very mentally unstable. I have seen people do much better who just make a decision that they don't want to serve God rather than live a life of duplicity.  I believe that God gives these kind people over to a reprobate and warped mind.  A sure way to lose your mind is to sit in a Full Gospel Church every Sunday, nod your head, say "Amen" and then live a life that contradicts everything you know. A sure way to lose your mind is to talk the talk but not walk the walk. A sure way to lose your mind is to quote scripture and live immorally.  Samson never makes a decision to just be a heathen. He prays to God one day and goes in to sleep with a prostitute the next. He prays to God one day and gets drunk and holds a wild party the next. He does not want to totally reject God but he also does not want to totally surrender to God either.  The best thing Joshua ever did was challenge his people, "chose you this day whom you want to serve".  Jesus also did the same.  The most miserable people in the earth are those with one foot in the church and one foot in the World.  This is why Jesus said he will spit those out that are neither hot nor cold. If you're going to be a Christian, than be one, if you're going to be a sinner, that be one, but don't try to do both and profane God's name. Don't try to quote scripture when you're not living right. Don't go to church and pretend to be a Christian when you are corrupt and unclean.  It is important for us to know that Samson is not an isolated incident of a man who lost his mind playing games with God. I can give you names and testimonies of many that have lost their minds playing games with God.  Samson is a man who never bridled/harnessed his flesh.  He was a man who knew God in every way, he was not an atheist by any means. Samson fully believed in God, in his goodness and in God's power. Samson's issue was not unbelief or questions about God, Samson's issue was he refused to reign in his flesh. Samson refused to walk away from God and just be a heathen. He wanted to be able to have the benefits of knowing God, yet live like a pagan and the end result is Samson became Dumber and Dumber to the point of his own death.  You will die a miserable death just like Samson if you are living this kind of life.  If you want the world then go for it, throw yourself into it and eat it all up for what it's worth.  History and the past few decades is filled with testimonies of men who prayed with God one day and found themselves in the bed of a harlot the next and then showed up to church on Sunday,ie Ted Haggard...how could a man be doing drugs & sleeping with a male prostitute one day; and put himself behind the pulpit of a  nationally syndicated program and not believe he would be caught? It's to hard to believe, isn't it, just a hard to believe as Samson's story, but they are both true! The same way Samson somehow believed he would not be caught.....if you play this game with God, He will give you over to a depraved and warped mind.  All your sense and reasoning will be lost and eventually the pillars will come crashing down on you.

Monday, May 1, 2017

MAY 1 "GOOD NEWS THAT LEADS TO HEARTACHE"

Perhaps I'm in a melancholy kind of mood today, but it is interesting how often "jubilant news" can precede hard times ahead. Can you imagine how thrilled Manoah and his wife were that she, who was barren, was actually going to give birth; and not only give birth, but this boy was going to be special. This is a very exciting time for this couple, but you and I know, that Samson is going to be a disappointment, you and I know that Samson is going to break the heart of his parents with his life; and horrible decisions he makes. For all the joy and excitement they are experiencing now, the very same news that brought them joy, will bring them misery. One man once gave me advice I thought was pretty good, "don't let your highs get to high and don't let your lows get to low". I'm not advocating going through life with a stoic mentality. God gave us feelings to feel. We are emotional creatures and who wants to be around someone that has no emotions because they don't ever want to be let down. However, we also have to be mindful, that no matter how clear and obvious some things seem, the future is always uncertain and that can work both ways too.  That's why the best life lived is the life that is rested in God's hands. Good news today, can be bad news down the road and bad news today can be great news next week. The future is always uncertain, but God is never uncertain, He is always reliable, trustworthy and there to help us process life. Good news today, bad news tomorrow, if we allow "news & events" to dictate to us our joy, we will live a roller coaster ride of emotions in life. Let our joy and peace come from God, then we don't rely on good news to bring us up, but even better, we don't allow bad news to bring us down! We become consistent in our joy, in our moods even in the midst of precarious times, we can maintain a constant joy and peace, from the Prince of Peace. And to that, all God's people said.....AMEN!

APRIL 30 "YOU ARE A FLAKE"

This is one of my least favorite stories in the Bible, especially having a daughter myself.  Jephthah's irrational promise to God is going to take his daughter's life.  This just goes to prove, that even the best of us have the propensity to be serious "flakes" at times.  Here is a man whom "the Spirit of the Lord" is upon. Here is a man whom God is using, a man who goes out and accomplishes a great conquest for God and for Israel, but when he comes home, Jephthah must deal with a very ugly situation, that has stemmed from his, and his only's, incredible, stupid and irrational promise he has made to God.  As if he had to make this promise to God in order to gain this victory. This is a horrible story about a poor young girl, who's life is going to be cut short because of a Father who is just "a flake".  The lives of many children have been subjected to "the whims" of flaky parents and I'm talking about Christian parents.  Our text today reveals to us, that we can be men and women that God is moving through, but yet still be making some horrible decisions and at times, making irrational promises to God, that our going to effect our spouses and our children in a very negative way. The problem with this, is often God takes the blame and the parties that are effected by these flaky people are the ones that get bitter and angry towards God.  We must make sure to take note, that God has nothing to do with this irrational promise that Jephthah makes, unfortunately, in life, we often don't have the benefit of reading a story, looking at a situation, from the outside in, to realize, God is not to blame. How many children are out there today, turned away from God, because of irrational promises and decisions their parent(s) made in a moment of hype, fear or excitement? Are you a flake?  Of course your answer is emphatically "no". However, it would be wise to realize, that each and every one of us, has the propensity to be "a flake" when we are not on our guard. Some good advice I once received from an older, seasoned, Pastor was, "don't let your highs get to high and don't let your lows get to low", that was good advice! Why? Because it is in those times, when we are "super high" and/or "super low" that we make decisions, in the heat of the moment, that we will live to regret, further down the road. Remember God's word, "better not to make a vow to God, then to make a vow and break it". God doesn't need us to make vows to him to try and influence him to do what we want. Don't ever try to get God to do something for you by making a vow to him, this is a sign, that you are somewhat "flaky" and if you continue in that habit, one day, you will live to regret it, just ask Jephthah. The saddest part of this story is that God was going to bring that victory regardless of Jephthah's irrational vow, Jephthah, lost his daughter for nothing!

APRIL 29 "WHEN WILL THERE BE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST?"

“Israel has been living here for 300 years, inhabiting Heshbon and its surrounding settlements, all the way to Aroer and its settlements, and in all the towns along the Arnon River. Why have you made no effort to recover it before now?"  Jephthah has more diplomacy and knowledge of Israel's history than any Secretary of State or Ambassador the United States has ever sent to the middle east. Jephthah reasons with them, gives them the facts, the history and after all is said and done, PEACE....oh sorry, wrong....not peace, but war.  "But the king of Ammon paid no attention to Jephthah’s message."  When will there be peace in the Middle East between the Arab Nations and the Israelites?  Never!  God already spoke that the house of Esau will always be at war with the house of Jacob (Israel). Foolish and/or ignorant or both, leaders from the United States have tried to coax Israel into giving pieces of their land over to Palestine, for peace and harmony. This is what happens when you get unspiritual men and ignorant to God's Word, trying to negotiate matters in the Middle East they have no true understanding of. Jephthah clearly states that it is God who gave them that land and they have owned it for 300 years, why are they fighting to take it from them and why in the world would they (Israel) give it up? Are you becoming anti-Semitic with all the anti-Semitic propaganda that is being funneled through the media?  Maybe you are at a point whey you are saying, "for crying out loud Israel, don't be so stubborn, just give up some land for peace!"  Well, you are being influenced by the media that does not have a pro Christian, pro-Israel agenda, as a matter of a fact, their agenda is the complete opposite. First of all, the land belongs to Israel, secondly, giving up a portion (which they already have) will not bring peace. Palestine wants it all and even if they did get it all, their next agenda would be to drive Israel away from wherever they would remain. Until Israel ceases to be a Nation again, the Arab Nations will have no peace.  If only Jephthah knew, that the Arab Nations would still be at war over that land 2017 years later and that Israel would still be fighting for and defending that land, Jephthah would have been flabbergasted, but here we are today, a couple of thousand years later, still war in the middle east and only the spiritually ignorant & prideful man can think that  some American diplomat can waltz into the middle east and get these two nations to make peace! Only the Anti-Christ will ever have the power to do that & even he, will break that treaty half way through and declare war on Israel and all God's people.