Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Do You Face Well-Fillers?




Does it ever seem that you get a little ahead, and someone comes behind you to snatch away your progress? And each time you dig another refreshing well, people either hate you for it, or they quarrel with contention? 

I am reading Genesis 26 today, and I am intrigued by a couple of things in that chapter. One of them is that Isaac (Abraham’s son) was traveling through the same land his father had some years before. 

Abraham’s servants dug a few wells in that territory, likely to provide water for the flocks and herds, and the shepherds. Even in his day, it seemed as though everywhere he went there were people who could not stand that Abraham was successful. If you take a look at Genesis 26:15, it says, “…now, the Philistines had filled in all the wells dug by Abraham’s servants.”  

Nice people. It sounds completely childish to me. “There’s one of Abraham’s wells. Let’s fill it in!”

It reminds me of the kinds of people we sometimes have to deal with from day to day. It also, sadly, reminds me of the kind of person I CAN BE….ugh. 

Now, historically speaking, the Philistines were a people who either wanted to sponge up some of the blessings of the LORD without the relationship with Him, or they wanted to push away any signs of the people God was blessing. That also sounds like some people today, doesn’t it?

Take note of how Isaac handled it in verses 17 – 24. I want you to read it for yourself, so I won’t paraphrase it, or tell you the text. I will say that God told Isaac to “fear not,” which completely goes with our COURAGEOUS theme for the year. God promised Isaac to be with Him and to bless Him….which is the same promise for you. 

Who in your life seems to want to steal your joy, even childishly? What blessings appear to be threatened by those people? I promise God will make room for you, just as He did for Isaac. I pray YOUR response to this revelation is the same as Isaac’s in verse 25. Will you call on the Name of the Lord YOUR God today?



Monday, January 4, 2016

Are You Listening?


Genesis 22:17b "...And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies."

God spoke these Words to Abraham. Some years later, Abraham's servant traveled to Abraham's homeland to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham's son and only heir. His journey was a success, and as the servant and Isaac's wife-to-be (Rebekah) were leaving, her family blessed her with these words, from Genesis 24:60:

"...may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate him!"

What do you think Abraham did when his servant came back and told him of this blessing? Rebekah's family had no way of knowing Abraham had heard these words just a few short years before. Perhaps Abraham's servant didn't even know. But Abraham knew. And I guarantee, that phrase would catch my attention. Especially when nobody else knew I had heard God say it, and someone hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away from me repeated it.

I love God and His ways of revealing Himself to us. Are you paying attention to the things He says? You never know how He will repeat Himself, but it won't be like when we repeat ourselves....we sound like broken records. Somehow, His way is awe-inspiring.

#ThoughtsFromGenesis

Friday, January 1, 2016

God is Bigger Than My Doubt









Abram had just experienced a tremendous victory in chapter 14. God shined His pleasure on him through the blessing of the priest.

Yet things were not like Abram thought they would be.

God reached out to encourage him, "Don't worry. I'm here. Your reward will be very great."

Abram's response?

"Oh God, what are you going to give me, since You haven't even given me what You promised to give me before? You have not given me any descendants, and right now my slave is my heir."

I love that Abram went to God for help with believing God.

And what do suppose God's answer was?

It wasn't chastisement. It was not belittling.

You should read Genesis 15 to see for yourself.
Doubt is NOT the enemy of faith.

Pressing in to the doubt vs pressing in to God.

One produces life.

The other produces more doubt and leads to pure, hardcore unbelief.

‪#‎ThoughtsFromGenesis‬

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Climb!




  
I love the book by Warren Wiersbe, “The Bumps are What You Climb On.” In it he says, to paraphrase, that sometimes even the road God has you on is ordained and anointed with bumps. 

Did you catch the word “anointed?” 

Adam and Eve had it easy. And they had a choice. What if their choice is our blessing? We get to experience those bumps so that when we have it easy, we truly exult in that rest. I want to appreciate the rest, the seasons when I am seemingly given everything without any bumps. When I get to heaven, I want to run, leaping and squealing with delight at the reward ….it’s a reward. I am not saying heaven is my reward, for that is nothing short of a gift given by the mercies of My King Himself. No, the reward is in my full understanding of the greatness of the gift. 
No bumps - no appreciation. No understanding. 


So, fellow life-travelers, take the bumps and CLIMB them. Do not run away. Do not throw in the towel. What if your reward is on the other side of that bump? Get some hiking shoes. Dress accordingly. Fuel appropriately. And hydrate well. 

Let’s climb!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Who is Your First Love?



If you were to be the one listening to you, what would you sound like? Seriously, imagine you are on the receiving end of all your words of truth – especially the ones you are very willing to impart to others. Consider the following possible scenarios, and the notions running through your mind on a rapid path to escaping your lips: 

                The current news headlines, and legislations being decided.

                A corporation makes a political move to push an agenda.

                Your child or loved one continues to make choices which go against your wishes and the way you taught them.

You know the difference between right and wrong. You see potential pitfalls and areas where traps may be hidden. You can see the country, the community, even your loved one is on a slippery slope – or worse, already in the pit of hell. 

Are your words on the verge of superiority, rather than authority? Are your fingers pointing at bodies, or behaviors? In your separation of truth and lie, are you wounding the afflicted soul? 

In Revelation, Jesus wants to send messages to the surrounding churches – 7 of them at the time. Remember that the number seven represents the total, a complete number. In this case, every single church is being addressed – and that means you and me. 

His very first letter is to Ephesus, (Revelation 2:1-5), where He commends the church on their ability to discern and differentiate between false and true apostles. They clearly work very hard themselves, doing all the right things, hating all evil, and even enduring hardships with patience. 

“But I have this against you: you have forgotten the 'love' part of things. Where’s the love? You’re doing, giving, even admonishing. Did you forget where you came from? Did you forget how far I brought you?”
I wonder how my words sound to others. I even wonder how my non-verbal cues come across as I take a stand for what I believe, and choose to stay on the side of Truth. I know if I forget that I am a wretched soul, spiritually bankrupt without the fullness of Christ in me, my attitude screams, “I am SO much better than you! I have learned these valuable lessons, and you haven’t, you poor, silly, soul.” 

Do you know where I believe I need to be mindful more than anything? In my casual conversations about things or people who are not closely related to me. For instance, I used to rant and rave on Facebook when I learned that a corporation regularly gave large amounts of money to organizations I was against in my beliefs. After all, it was an act of public service to expose the truth, and might even lead to an active boycott of that corporation, which would stop the evil funding, and shut down the devil's organization. My mission would be complete. 

What about the times my family and I were in the car, driving down the freeway, and in the distance I saw one of those aforementioned companies? 

“I’ll never let MY money go to such-and-such store because they give their money to such-and-such organization!” 

I look back (and sometimes not too far back) and shake my head because I sounded like a clanging cymbal. That’s what Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13. I can do all the right things, even say all the right things, but in the absence of love, it’s just noise. Even my praise of God, without love, is empty.
I pray that I am first of all, humble, and recognize how far down that dirty road I have been. I pray that I continuously have a high view of God, and an accurate view of myself, and what real love looks like. I pray that I take a stand for truth, and separate right from wrong, doing so with supernatural wisdom and grace given me by the God of grace Himself. I pray that my son, and my loved ones never hear superiority as I speak, but only authority as Jesus’ words alone come forth from my lips. I pray for each one of us to return to, and remain in our “first Love,” because truly, doesn’t Love cover over a multitude of offenses? Doesn’t Love draw people toward healing and freedom?


Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8


So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16

 
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17

 
Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

 
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30-31

Friday, October 16, 2015

He Walks Among Us

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.  Zephaniah 3:17
 
You guys are so lucky! You get to hear the things that God is showing me in my study of Revelation ...maybe we will do this all year. Hmm.
 
In the beginning chapters of Revelation, especially in chapter 1, John explains to the reader that he was on the island of Patmos, exiled because he would not stop giving testimony about the Lord Jesus Christ. He was isolated, alone, and worshiping God on the "Lord's day," when he suddenly heard a voice from behind him. He turned to see who was speaking, and he saw 7 golden lampstands, and one like a son of man walking in the midst of them.
 
Now, we do not have time for a full-on lesson about Revelation, but I can tell you that the 7 golden lampstands represent the churches - the churches of that day, as well as THE church today - which means you and me. We ARE the church.
 
One like a son of man is a term that Jesus used about Himself, and He did so because He knew His disciples and other Jews would have recognized the phrase from Daniel 7:13.
 
If John saw a vision of Jesus walking among lampstands which represent the church - you and me - what do you suppose that means? He is walking, living, seeing, ministering to, teaching, guiding, and perhaps most importantly, NEVER LEAVING NOR FORSAKING us. In perhaps John's most intense need, in his suffering and his loneliness, Jesus Himself came to him. Verse 17 of chapter one says that John fell at His feet like a dead man. Jesus just reached out His hand and touched John's shoulder.
 
"Don't be afraid. It's me, the Alpha and Omega. I am alive - I was dead, but now I am alive forevermore - and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Don't be afraid."
 
Jesus told John he had nothing to fear - not even death. It's a special thing to be visited by the one Who saves me every single day. Saves me from my loneliness, my hurting heart, my despair, my isolation, my fear - even my fear of death.
 
What does YOUR island of Patmos look like? Are you suffering in the isolation of a marriage in dire straits? Are you hurting because you have been cast out, even rejected by a loved one? Are you afraid of the consequences your loved one might face - even afraid of how that will spill out to you? Jesus is walking among, and around, and through you. Fall at His feet and let Him touch you with His tenderness, and encourage You with His Word of hope, promise, and redemption.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Disobedience and God's Goodness



Have you ever had kids, and had to "baby-proof" your home? You know, all the corner bumpers, the outlet covers, those doorknob thingies - everything. Well, obviously not everything. There were things you had to teach them to stay away from, like the hot stove, and the bathtub. There are too many potentially harmful things to list.

Have your kids ever gone against what you told them to do? 

Of course they have. We did too. And don't we, very quickly, explain it away as "just being babies" or "they don't know any better"?

But why don’t they know better? They have not truly experienced disobedience and its consequences. There is always that first time, isn't there?

For example, before they learn to talk, and they are crawling, the minute they head for something potentially harmful to their well-being, there are shouts of disapproval and loud “NO”s filling the air. 

He is definitely startled. And you think, "Yes! He's going to stay away from that now."

You might reinforce that with words like "hurt" or “bad” in order to teach him not to do that thing he was about to do. 

And can you remember how many times your baby went right back toward that forbidden object or behavior?

Did you discipline him? Probably. Did he ever disobey again. I'm sure he did.

I think about Adam and Eve in this same situation. They were created as adults, and at one point, had never experienced disobedience to God. There was a time when they had not eaten from the wrong tree. God gave them directions. He gave them everything else in order to try to divert attention away from the wrong tree. 

But because he was not interested in raising children in glass houses who never experience greatness in the middle of bad things, he had to put another tree in the mix. The choice. That is what it boiled down to. He chose us. He wants us to choose him. But there has to be an alternate choice. 

That alternate choice might have been “evil” as we like to define evil. For me, though, I think it was just a “self” tree. 

God said, “You can let me, or you can let you.” 

They chose themselves.

As a result of this, pain and suffering entered into the world, and into the countdown of time.

Adam and Eve are no different than your baby who has to learn the hard way that sticking her finger in the outlet is going to be a little scary and painful. Adam and Eve’s disobedience had much greater and more far-reaching consequences, but if it had been you and me, we would have done the same. I am certain my disobedience would have come almost immediately after I breathed air. I just think I am so smart, sometimes usually mostly all the time.

One thing I want to focus on in this post. Adam and Eve’s disobedience never has and never will negate God’s goodness, His justice, His mercy, His lovingkindness, nor any of His attributes. He is Who He is. Always. 

In the midst of suffering and pain, the most critical, the most crucial thing for us to do, is to focus on Who God is, and Who Jesus is. If we are to be okay through it, we have to search Him out. No answer exists apart from Him. 





For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. Hebrews 12:6