Archive for June, 2013

Standing Between Two Opinions

“How long will you stand between two opinions?” (1 Ki. 18:21)

The Prophet Elijah says what so many want to say, as he points out the obvious. There is a rebellious people, stiffnecked and lukewarm, who just cannot get past the middle of the road. Stuck and offensive to God, they are like the people we see spoken of in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 3:15-16). God says He will spit them out of His mouth. This place… between two opinions… is never meant to cause us to stumble, but breakthrough like warriors.

Elijah draws a line in the sand and clears the air with these words, “If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Ki. 18:21).

In other words, “Make up your minds!”

This call has been shouted from the rooftop and echoed through the ages. Many of the heros of the Bible; men like Joshua, Elijah and John the Baptist, stood with staff lifted and focused commitment. They believed God would not want us to settle into the rut of living between two opinions.

We Must Choose:

Yet this is the plight of so many in the United States of America! We are a nation divided in every way imaginable. Why? Because we have forgotten that above all others the Lord is God. And in spite of what our society would tell us, we must forsake all other gods as figments of our imagination or worse… deceiving spirits set on our destruction.

Joshua said:
“Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods.” (Josh. 24:14-16)

The Danger:

Oh that God would have a people today; who would respond in faith when the call is given. Remember, God loves us enough to correct us! But if we continue to question the validity of the Lord’s authority, we will find ourselves serving gods with no power to deliver us or just enough power to enslave us.

Living a life “standing between two opinions” is a choice that leaves us without hope of getting anywhere… it is paralysis at its best. So, the Prophet Elijah says choose right here, right now… the great leader Joshua says choose you this day. And no matter what you choose, you have made a choice.

“Who will you serve?” 

John the Baptist said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29)

Calling and Purpose

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Tim. 1:9)

This verse tells us that God gave to us a calling and purpose before we were born into this world, and before this world was created. You were alive in the mind of God before the world was formed. Imagine for a moment, the opportunity that is set before every person to connect with that realm of Divine destiny.

Its not that you are very old, but that you have an origin in God… who is the Creator of all things.

Your destiny is held within God’s hand. This is in sync with the meaning of destiny: the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events. In our case – predetermined by God! Scripture is full of people who found themselves wrestling to uncover their place in God’s mind.

  • “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)

God is saying that before the Prophet Jeremiah was born, there was a plan and purpose on His mind. God ordained him to be a prophet to the nations. Even the Psalmist David said that you and I are fearfully and wonderfully made, that our unformed bodies were knit together with careful attention to detail… from our mother’s womb. Unique to all other realities is God’s calling and purpose for our future. God has a vision and plan for our lives, worth chasing after… and worth any price.

  • “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:29-31)
  • “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…” (Eph. 1:5)

These Scriptures tell us a number of things that should make any follower of Christ feel a sense of Divine purpose and destiny.

  1. God has always known us!
  2. God has always planned for our success!
  3. God has always celebrated our relationship in Christ!
  4. God has always destined us for a place in His heart!

Doing something amazing- is exciting, but being someone amazing- is eternal! God has chosen us to be His Child!

Whose Mess?

As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (Jn. 9:1-5)

So that the work of God might be displayed in his life!

Jesus, in one sentence sums up how we should all see the mess that humanity finds itself wrestling with. We really have no time to accuse or refuse. Its the hinge pin to our hope for solutions… “whose mess is it?” No! Its an opportunity to see God display His Glory in a person’s life. And the greatest part is, we have been invited to watch and partner with Him.

Light in a Blind World!

Jesus is the carrier of Kingdom authority. He’s the Messiah, the Savior who brings sight to the blind. His healing presence conquers all the assumptions we usually use to package our brokenness. Yet blame is personal and invites all kinds of critics and experts. Its the way folks without knowledge of the Glory of God; Christians with no Light, create solutions for sickness and disease.

Jesus responds as a carrier of the Glory. Jesus shows no interest in blame, because He carried the Glory of God.

Where is the Church most of the time… perhaps there is a religious response. When the Church becomes rigid and judgmental, it is because the Glory has departed. When churches look for reasons not to help, the power and Presence of God seem dim and distant. Often there are the few wanting to help, but they don’t know how. They lack knowledge; not feelings, but knowledge of the Glory. Knowledge that could build a bridge for Glory to return.

Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).

Jesus is speaking to believers, real Christian people who were “lukewarm”. Seeing His Glory begins with hearing His invitation. Our Merciful Healer, can be limited by our hunger level. His Presence can be confined to just outside the door. His power and compassion can be relegated to religious talk and yesterday’s experience. And when its over, we will have wondered who made the mess?

But, if we will hear His voice today and open the door? Well, the King of Glory shall come in! The Light of His countenance will fill the room and position us in the knowledge of the Glory of God once more. We will find ourselves in the midst of His Presence, seeing the way He sees and reaching for the things that satisfy His appetite.

We have this amazing hope… to dine with Him and He with us.

Being A Father

I think she was maybe 5 here.

“And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying.” (Lk. 8:41-42)

Something that stands out to me about Jairus is that he personally went to see Jesus about this need in his family. He was the leader of the synagogue, so he had other responsibilities, other people even that he could have sent. But he decided to go himself… because of a “fathering heart”!

Imagine being in that situation. I have a 12 year old daughter now so I can definitely relate. His daughter was very sick, and they obviously couldn’t do anything to help her. Then Jairus has an idea… Jesus! I know that He can help her! So he goes to meet with Jesus and explain what has happened to his daughter.

I can hear his family and friends saying something like…

  • “You shouldn’t go alone.”
  • “Send some of your messengers. They can bring Jesus back here.”
  • “You need to stay here with your daughter.”

But he cared too much about his daughter to do that. I couldn’t imagine just waiting around watching your daughter get worse and be unable to help her. I would go crazy wondering what to do or what was taking them so long. If you read on, you find that she dies back at the family home.

Could it be possible, that this act of personally going to Jesus had a direct impact on the miracle that took place with Jairus’ daughter? Absolutely!

If he had sent his messengers, I’m not sure that we would have ever heard this story. But Jesus knew every detail of the daughter’s condition before Jairus even left home. He knew why Jairus was there; and because of faith, Jesus made a point to help this loving father… do his “fathering”.

I am so glad when Jesus helps me father as I should!

Because of Jesus… the daughter of Jairus would see a fathering heart in her daddy.

  1. She saw that her daddy was not ashamed to seek out the help of Jesus.
  2. She saw that her daddy was not ashamed to bring Jesus into their home.
  3. She saw that her daddy was not ashamed to focus on trusting Jesus and help his wife and daughter.
  4. She saw that her daddy was not ashamed to openly embrace her and express his love to her.

The next time you go to Jesus with the needs of your family, remind yourself that Jesus will help you be the father your family needs you to be… inspite of all the distractions.

Flourishing

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the House of the Lord, they will flourish in the Courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is My Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him!’” (Psa. 92:12-15)

What does it mean to flourish “like a palm tree”? The Psalmist is speaking of a tree called the date palm. There are 5 powerful lessons from this palm tree that encourage us to become all God has called us to be. Today it really is our choice, we can flourish and be blessed… and show forth the praises of God even to the end of our natural life.

1. Remaining Strong:

The palm tree grew to a great height, up to 75 feet tall or 23 meters, reaching ages of 100-200 years. The promise of remaining strong all of our days is God’s will for us, because we walk by faith and not sight… by supernatural strength rather than natural energy.

2. Abundant Fruitfulness:

Throughout its life, the fruit of the date palm produced every year, and in great abundance. The fruit was released in clusters and with exceptional taste. This is God’s plan for the Believer; fruitful and consistent, so the unbelieving heart will see the abundant lifestyle. We are Blessed in the Beloved (Eph. 1:3-6)!

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5)

3. Nothing Wasted:

An amazing fact about the date palm is that every part of it was useful. The palm leaves were used to cover homes and as material for fences. They were also useful for making baskets and other items. Even the seeds, when ground, produced food for camels. The richness of God’s resources; as it flows from the Child of God, is an inheritance that is both complete and enduring. Nothing passes into our lives that God would want to see wasted, because His creative nature is to redeem and uncover the “glory” within.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

4. A Testimony of Praise:

The palm represented praise, victory and salvation. As a Believer, we are known from the platforms of our testimony. We overcome the devil by it, advance in the Kingdom with it and stand against our enemies for it… the testimony of the believing heart is praise! We shall praise the Lord no matter what and no matter when, for when God is on our side there is always victory and peace within our hearts. Peace is the Jewish word “Shalome” which means “nothing missing, nothing broken”.

  • Palm trees were a symbol of peace - the establishment of “Shalome”.
  • Palm trees were carved into the temple décor (1 Kings 6:29)
  • Palm branches were used in the feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:40)
  • Palm leaves were thrown upon the ground in front of Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem. (Jn 12:13)
  • In Revelation, the great multitude of people saved from every nation wear white robes and hold palm branches in their hands. (Rev 7:9)

5. Planted in the House:

In the New Testament context, being planted in the House of God speaks of being firmly established in Christian community, in spiritual fellowship. We flourish, not in isolation, but together. As God’s People we are called to live in the cluster, where the fellowship is sweetest (Isa. 65:8). God tells us there is blessing in it.

“not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (Heb. 10:25)

Emphasis: Strong and Fragrant like the Cedar

The psalmist also describes God’s People as the cedar; a tall, evergreen tree that produced a fragrant gummy sap. Its wood was strong and long lasting, so it had many uses, including furniture and ship masts. Due to its qualities, cedar wood was used in the construction of the temple.

We can joyfully embrace the power of God’s illustrated language. He describes our strength; and when we read what God has declared in His Word, we feel equipped to become more! To flourish like the palm tree or like the cedar built into a temple. We have the privilege of being used by our Father to help build His Church and establish His Kingdom. And to remain strong where He has placed us throughout our lives… flourishing!

“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.”  (Psa. 1:3)

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