Thursday, March 29, 2012

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Trees around Jerusalem (ICEJ Staff Photograph)Trees around Jerusalem
Today's picture is of trees in the hills around Jerusalem. It reminds us of Amos9: 14-15; "Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them," says the LORD your God. 

Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him!  But the thunder of his power who can understand?”  (Psalm 79:11).

Hey Gang:  Have you ever looked around you and see how vast this universe is that God has made? Scientist tell us they do not have a clue as to how big the universe really is.  I think we could all agree that “God is truly all powerful”. The power of God is amazing and it has always been a wonder for me.

 I watched a documentary on the weather channel recently about the most violent storms ever recorded.  One that stands out in my memory banks was St Helen’s.  We had the opportunity to drive through the devastation caused by that mighty storm and the only word that seemed to fit was – “awesome!”  In 20 minutes God did billions of years of landscaping, according to man' timetables. He petrified trees in mere seconds, created new lakes in minutes and totally changed the landscape in hours! What a mighty God we serve. and 

The news is filled with rhetoric coming from Iran and other Muslim nations that they now have enough power to annihilate the little Satan (Israel) and the big Satan (United States).   Iran claims that they will soon have the materials to build six atomic bombs.  In their warped minds they believe they will have sufficient power to spit in God’s eye and blow away the “apple of God’s eye”.  

 Ezekiel paints us a totally different picture.  He wrote the following words of assurance to the children of Israel, “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers, so you will be My people, and I will be your God.” (36:28)

 Each day we make decisions on whether we will feed the black dogs of our lives or the white dogs.  The question is ever before us “Whom will I serve today?”  God is faithful and true and makes no promises that He does not intend to keep.  Keep in mind the adage, “Your values, determine your choices and your choices determine your destiny.

Soooo, brothers and sisters, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that “something is fixing to happen”.  And we make decisions each day that will determine which side of the fence we will be on when the event of all times – the coming of Yeshua to collect His sheep - will occur.   

I pray, this morning ,that each and every one who reads this gramps message will have their house in order, their armor spit-shined and in place and have made sure those around them also know of the great event that is just around the corner - Jesus is coming again – SOON!



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Surprise -God Answers in Unexpected Ways

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Red skies over Haifa (ICEJ Staff photograph)Red Skies over Haifa
Today's picture is of a gorgeous red sunset in the skies over Haifa. It reminds us of Matthew 16: 1-3; "The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?"

 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I John 3:1-3)

Hey gang:  The sun is out bright, the birds are singing their morning songs, and we even have a resident squirrel that seems to have adopted us.  So, I asked Abba Father to give me something that is light and beautiful for you this morning.  Is there anything more beautiful than to know we are being conformed into the image of His Son? 

One of the very profound statements that the underground pastor made in chapel while we were at VOM was, “What a wondrous revelation it was to learn that I am an ambassador of Christ and God will hone me on His wheel of adversity until I am like Him”.  Does that get your corpuscles to corpuscle?  

One of the very neat parts of serving as a volunteer for Voice of Martyrs is the televisions are there primarily to review the many tapes about persecution around the world.  They are not equipped with outside antennas so getting the evening news is not an option.  On returning to the mission field, the outside world, I turned to the evening news and learned nothing had changed.  It was as if I had just turned the news off from yesterday instead of five weeks ago.

And the results were the same, my blood pressure began to rise and a sense of sadness and depression resurfaced.  How many know that God responds to our down times, if we seek Him to do so.  On Sunday morning it was a damp and rainy day.  I felt like I had been hit by a semi loaded with sharp needles.  The bride of my youth has taught me that I will not feel any worse in church than I do at home, so I trucked off to church. 

And Abba Father was faithful in answering my scream for “help”.  My very favorite hymn is “Jesus Loves Me, this I know”.  Now I ask you, when was the last time you heard someone sing or play Jesus Loves me in a church service, but the pianist had chosen to play a fabulous rendition of Jesus Loves Me and I so enjoyed  whispering those words, Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so!.  

Was there instant healing.  No, but I knew that my heavenly Daddy knew the pain I was feeling  and  sent me a clear message that He was aware of my struggle and sent his assurance that He would never leave me or forsake me through this, my very favorite song.    

Soooo, my young friends, be advised God stands ready to meet you at the point of your need and, if you ask Him, He will provide a new song for your heart or one of the very good oldies that has impacted on your life many times before. 



Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Saint in Sheep's Clothing

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Dan Stream (ICEJ Staff photograph)Dan Stream
Today's picture is of the Dan Stream in Israel's far north. It reminds us of Ezekiel 34:13; "I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land" 

“Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty; put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”  (Mark 12:43-44).

Hey Gang:  In my life time I have been blessed to rub elbows with two types of people – the takers and  the givers.  Jesus referred to the two classes as sheep and goats, wheat and tares and those who believe in Him and those who do not.

In my more immature years I thought the great people of the world were those who had all the bangles and beads, those who lived on knob hill, those who were the great athletes and those who were the power brokers of the world. O how wrong I was!

Let me give you an example of a power broker that impacted on my life and the lives of every person who crossed paths with her.  I would guess she weighed less than one hundred pounds.  From the physical standpoint she was never a candidate for the Miss American contest.  I am not sure if she graduated from high school.  She was by no means a standout performer in the areas of leadership in her community.

True, she was no candidate for Miss American, BUT she contained and demonstrated an inner beauty that made her stand out among the crowd.  No, she never worked outside her home but her work was never done.  Her husband and her children and later her grand children were the pearls of great price in her life.  And to meet her for the first time was to become one of those children or grandchildren in her eyes.

We celebrated her home going this past week.  In her final years  as her health was failing and I am sure there were days when she used every ounce of strength in her body to care for her family and anyone else who showed up on her doorstep that day, because that was her “good work that God did through her”

I say with great confidence that at the moment her heart stopped and she showed up at the gates of heaven, Jesus took her by the hand and said, “Well done good and faithful servant”. 

Soooo, all you who are heavy laden, know this, Polly is running and leaping and praising God this morning.   If she could send you a message today it would be “Be a servant and go and spread the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord."  I look forward to the day when I hear my name called.  How about you?



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Are The FOur Horsemen of the Apocalypse Saddling Their Horses

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Jezreel Valley (ICEJ Staff photograph)Jezreel Valley
Today's picture is of the Jezreel Valley, with Mount Tabor in the background. The Jezreel Valley is mentioned several times in the Bible, including 1 Kings 18:44-46; "It came about at the seventh time, that he said, "Behold, a cloud as small as a man's hand is coming up from the sea." And he said, "Go up, say to Ahab,'Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.'" In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. Then the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran 

“And I saw heaven opened and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war….And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:11/16).
Hey Gang, all day yesterday the focus of my thoughts was on horses.  I wondered if there would be horses in heaven.  As I was cleaning the basement the thought entered my dome of intellect that the last days on this earth are filled with horses. (I believe our David is helping ready them.)  
In my research of horses in the last days, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse surfaced in my thinking.   I came across the following description of the horseman in the “Question of the Week” blog. It is so much better than anything I could write, so I decided to plagiarize it- with a few additions by a Pennsylvania Hillbilly.  
The writer describes the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in Revelation chapter 6, verses 1-8. "They are symbolic descriptions of different events which will take place in the end times. The first horseman of the Apocalypse is mentioned in Revelation 6:2“I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” This first horseman likely refers to the Antichrist, who will be given authority and will conquer all who oppose him. The antichrist is the false imitator of the true Christ, who will also return on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16)."

The second horseman of the Apocalypse appears in Revelation 6:4: “Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.” The second horseman refers to terrible warfare that will break out in the end times.

The third horseman is described in Revelation 6:5-6: “...and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!’” The third horseman of the Apocalypse refers to a great famine that will take place, likely as a result of the wars from the second horseman.

The fourth horseman is mentioned in 
Revelation 6:8: “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” The fourth horseman of the Apocalypse is symbolic of death and devastation. It seems to be a combination of the previous horsemen. The fourth horseman of the Apocalypse will bring further warfare and terrible famines along with awful plagues and diseases.

What is most amazing, or perhaps terrifying, is that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are just “precursors” of even worse judgments that come later in the tribulation (Revelation chapters 8–9 and 16).

Sooo, does this account of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse sound familiar.  Are we not in perilous times when war, pestilence, drought and famine are as common as the rising and setting of the sun?  Jesus said, "When “ALL’ of these things come into view, look up for your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28).
 Are you looking UP?



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Ein Gedi (ICEJ Staff photograph)Ein Gedi
Today's picture is of the ruins of an ancient settlement around the springs of Ein Gedi, near the Deas Sea south of Jerusalem. It reminds us of 1 Samuel 24:1; "Now when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, "Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi." 

(My picture of Engedi is a dense green area across from the Dead Sea sloping up hundreds of feet into caves.   Gma)

Hey gang, did you ever wonder what heaven is going to be like?  I am sometimes accused, probably rightfully so, of asking questions that seem weird to most.  For instance, I was sitting at a stop light last week and a semi truck went by, then  an ambulance, and then a motor cycle. And this question popped into my head, ‘I wonder what the transportation system will look like in heaven?’  

We are told in Revelation 21:16 the New Jerusalem will be laid out square, and its length and its width and its height will be fifteen hundred miles. Now in the hillbilly vernacular that is a 'fer piece', which might lead one to believe you would need some sort of transportation to get from one side to the other.

In doing a quick trip through the Bible I see that God used a variety of modes of transportation.  In Genesis we have the ark ,which I would suggest is probably not a vehicle that would be of much use in an urban city.  Then we have Elijah making his get-away from earth in a flaming chariot.  There again I feel flaming chariots would not be practical in a city the size of the New Jerusalem. 
We do not find that Jesus or the disciples using any people-moving-modes of transportation with the exception of Jesus triumphal entry on the back of a donkey.   And, of course ,we all remember the three magi arriving on camels at the place where they found Jesus at his inaugural appearance on earth. 

But the more I thought about this question the more the thought that maybe we won’t need any transportation.   But then I got hung up on Paul’s words in Roman’s where he wrote, “He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (8:11).   Does that mean we will have mortal bodies in heaven?

As I sat there thinking about this question,   a wrecker went by followed by a fire truck.  And then the thought surfaced in my dome of intellect that there would be  no need for any of these vehicles in heaven.  There will be no need for medical facilities, prisons, electrical systems, or any of the other trappings that we find essential in our daily lives.  And the big issue- the blow your mind issue is- we don’t have to go anywhere to sit at the feet of Christ, He is right there inside and around us!

Soooo, gang, not sure I answered the question, but then again, one of the fabulous things that God put into our hearts is the joy of anticipation.  Each day as my body sends messages it is breaking down, I focus on the wondrous thought that one day soon I will break out of this earthly body and head for God’s paradise where I will run and leap and praise God. 



Monday, March 19, 2012

This Is Eternal Life That They May Know You

Tel Aviv sunset (ICEJ Staff photograph)Tel Aviv Sunset
Today's picture is of the sun setting over the beach in Tel Aviv. It reminds us of Isaiah 59: 19-20, "So they will fear the name of the LORD from the west and His glory from the rising of the sun, for He will come like a rushing stream which the wind of the LORD drives. A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob, declares the LORD"

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life”  (John 5:39-40).

Hey Gang:  in a recent gramps morning thoughts I shared the deep desire of my heart is to sit at the feet of Jesus just as Mary did.  I asked the question of each of you “Have you ever had a yearning so deep that it filled your every thought.  I pray you have given that question your undivided attention.
But those who know me also know that I am not one that leaves unanswered questions lying dormant in my dome of intellect.  I do not believe God would have me seek such an experience while here on earth without making provision for me to have the desire of my heart fulfilled. 

How many know that God does indeed work in mysterious ways.  I just happened to open a book that I have been wading through to the chapter titled “The Undivided Life” and I believe I have found God’s formula for sitting at the feet of Jesus even now while I am an earthbound homo-sapien.

He begins by saying you can be a 'Bible attacker', where the challenge is to read through the Bible from cover to cover.  He warns that to be filled with the knowledge about the Bible but to be unwashed by it is worse than not knowing it at all.  It can give us a false sense of security.

Have you ever come face to face with a Bible thumper who could quote Scriptures that fit every  subject but when one looked at the fruits of their lives – there is a melt down between what they are saying and  the fruits they are producing in their lives?
Now hear me, he was not putting down reading the Bible through or even reading large portions of Scripture in rapid fire motion; it is meditation on the Word, (internalizing) that will lead to growing in the Lord.  His suggestion, take a passage and first seek the Lord’s guidance and wisdom to understand and grow in the Lord through that passage.   Ask Him, “Lord what do you want to say to me in this moment?”  Keep in mind the Bible is God’s love letter to His children and to get the depth out of what He is saying, we must consume it like a love letter.

Keep in mind, the goal is not to get through the Scriptures, but to get the Scriptures through us.  ThePsalmist says that sitting at the feet of Jesus comes to the person who meditates on the law ‘day and night’ (Psa. 1:2).  Keep in mind meditation is a slow process that requires allowing God’s thoughts and words to seep deep into our souls.

Soooooo friends and neighbors,  do you want to sit at the feet of Jesus?   Then “be still and know that He is  God” (Psa. 46:10).  Remember, the word that God speaks to us can renew our mind but we must be silent and receive it.  



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ready Or Not Here I Come

Rainbow over the Kinneret (ICEJ Staff photograph)Rainbow on the Galilee Shore
Today's picture is of a rainbow over the Sea of Galilee, touching down on the Western shore. It reminds us of Revelation 10:1-3; "I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and

“Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.  Two women will be at the mill, one will be taken and one will be left” (Matt. 24:40-41).

Hey Gang:   Did you ever play hide and seek as a child?  As a child of a coalminer in the mountains of Pennsylvania  we did not have the means to purchase the neat things we have available for our kids today, so we had to use our imagination and ingenuity to come up with things to occupy our time. 

Our first line of activities centered on the river that ran through our three family community but we also had a repertoire of games that filled the empty hours with fun like activities.  My favorite, even though as the youngest and less experienced in such activities, I always seemed to be 'IT' was 'Hide and Seek”.

I have thought about those special times when we played 'Hide and Seek'. I must admit that I would dearly love to hear the words “Ready or Not, Here I Come” again, for two of the main participants of those games was my brothers Del and Norm and later with Von. Both Del and Von have since passed away.  

But there is a far more important “Ready or Not” that is not game, but very serious business found throughout the Bible.  Jesus, in the Olivet Discourse, gave us a warning that all should take very seriously.  He said, “Therefore”,  (As Bob Mumford would say “When you come across a 'therefore' you need to find out why it is “there-for”.)  “Be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 

But, be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.  For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.  Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.  (Matthew 24:42-46).  
Sooooo good buddies, what if Jesus cried out today “Ready or Not Here I Come” are you hidden securely in Christ?  Is your name written on the palm of His hand?  I pray when “The Roll is Called Up Yonder” each of my family and loved ones will be there.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Jordan Valley poppies (ICEJ Staff photograph)Poppies in the Jordan Valley
Today's picture is of Poppie flowers in the Jordan Valley,a common sight in Israel in the springtime. It reminds us of Genesis 13:10; "Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the  valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere-this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah-like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar" 

“I am the vine and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me, that does not bear fruit, He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).

Hey Gang:  As I mentioned in the last gramps message, I love this passage of Scripture and just plain ran out of space to complete what I felt God was saying.  As I mentioned I have titled this chapter of John the IF chapter, it contains sufficient meat and potatoes to keep us here for several months to come.

But is that not the mystic of the Word of God?  Have you ever read a book written by a human author that has a different meaning the second, third, fourth time you read it?  Or put another way, have you ever read a passage of Scripture a second time and you got the same message that you received the first time around?

Getting back to the last gramps message, notice, it is not the desire of Abba Father’s heart to get out the pruning shears.  The most quoted verse in the Bible, (John 3:16) gives us the wondrous news of how very much He loves His creation.

 Peter also emphasized God's great love for His children when He wrote, “It is God’s heart that none should perish but all would repent and accept His great salvation.” (2 Pet. 3:9 Hillbilly rendition)   Again, can you say, “WOW!” Thank You Lord!  Do we not all have loved one’s who have chosen to go their own way and need to come into God’s safety network?

In verse 10 we find a power verse that contains the key to all of the 'IF's of this passage “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in MY love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (v. 12)  

This power verse  follows another power verse that measures just how much we are willing to love our neighbor, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for  his friends” (v. 13).  The bottom line:  “This I command you, that you love one another” (v.17)

Sooooo, my friends and neighbors, lets quit there.  We certainly do not like reading Jesus' next words, but I suspect in this day and age when we see our religious freedoms under attack from many sources, we need to learn the truth of what is to come.  Another 'IF' but with a very different message: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (v.18).  Really? You bet your sweet bippy!



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Who Is Your VInedresser?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Sa'ar Falls on the Golan Heights (ICEJ Staff photograph)Sa'ar Falls
Today's picture is of the Sa'ar Falls on the Golan Heights. It reminds us of the words of our Lord from John 7:37-38; "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'"

 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1)

Hey Gang:  If you have been following the recent blogs and gmails from gramps, you know my bride and I have been volunteering at Voice of Martyrs preparing mailing to their many supporting warriors.  My job was feeding envelopes on to a conveyor belt that took them through a feeding machine, sealing and preparing the materials for mailing.  How many know that any trained chimpanzee could do this job, probably with more accuracy that the writer of this morning epistle – not that I am comparing yours truly to a chimpanzee!

This feeding the machine gave my mind many hours to review, recycle and come up with some new ideas.  I have been leap frogging through the Bible since arriving here picking up many of those themes that have grown to be very special to me.  How many out there know we need to have some very special themes tucked away in our heads for those days when we need a picker upper. 

This morning I opened my Bible to John 15.  It was no accident that it opened to John 15 because I often open the Word intentionally to John 15.     I call it the ‘IF’ chapter or prerequisites to walking in the fullness of God and His Word.  (His best)    Prerequisites to living a life filled with the joy that Christ wants to shower on you.

I love to get off by myself and read Jesus’ awesome words in this passage, “I am the vine and you are the branches,”  Wow! Lord, how fan-tab-u-lous.  You mean I can be a branch in Your vine – does that not fill your heart with warm wiggley’s?

Wonderful, yes, but notice the next ‘IF’, ’IF’ anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away – to where? – “to be cast in the fire and they are burned” (v.6).

Soooo, my young friends, ‘if’ I were to place a title on this gramps message it would be, ‘Where is your electrical cord plugged into to?”  Have you plugged your power cord into God’s power supply?  Are you truly ‘locked and loaded’ into the vine?.  I do not mean in a 30 watt system or even a 50 watt system, but into to God’s power supply- the only power supply with sufficient power to take you through every wilderness experience you will encounter this day?

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord”  (Zech 4:6)  Hey gang, glue that to the inside of your eyeballs for those times when the alligators are up to your armpits and the swamp is rising.



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Have you Ever Been Told to Get Into the Boat?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Young Israelis (IDF Spokesperson's Office)Young Israelis
Today's picture is of young Israelis and the snowman they built during Israel's recent winter weather. It reminds us of Isaiah 29:23; "But when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will sanctify My name; Indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel"

 “Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.” (Matt. 14:22).  
Notice the words- “HE made”. 

Yesterday, we closed with a question that is so very important when answering the question ‘Did Jesus ever have a bad day?’

In the next five verses we are given a lesson in the love and provision of God.  “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain to pray and when it was evening, He was there alone.  But the boat was already a long distance from the land battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.”  (v 23-24)

He made them get into the boat and push out into the Sea of Galilee, a sometimes violent sea in daylight, let alone at night.  Keep in mind these were seasoned fisherman in that boat and they would have split for shore as soon as the waves began to kick up, but they had something going for them, they had Jesus on the mountain praying for them. Can you say amen to that?

One thing we do know is when the waves are turbulent and the winds are blowing violently, you can row until your hands are raw and make no progress.  We also note from this story that although there was discomfort, it was not a life threatening experience for them -for Jesus, the intercessor, was praying for them. 

Notice, when Jesus came to them.  He came at the fourth watch when it was blackest and they were exhausted and I suspect they were about to throw the oars over board and let happen what was going to happen.  Have you ever been there? when it seems no matter how long and hard you pray, your prayers feel like bricks that fall to the floor?  I certainly have.

And then it happened, someone on that boat was praying or perhaps all of them were in the midst of a prayer meeting when Jesus appeared walking on the water.  Were they expecting Jesus to come and save them?  Obviously not, because they did not recognize Him but thought He was a ghost and it scared the beegeebees out of them.  

Can you imagine how they must have felt when Jesus said, ‘Hey troops, take courage, be not afraid, it is I’.  Wow, Lord, how neat it is to hear those words when we are up to our armpits in alligators and the swamp is rising.  How neat that He never leaves us dangling but comes at the time when it seems all is lost.

The lesson that Jesus taught that night is found in verse 33, “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying,  You are certainly God’s Son!”  How wonderfully assuring it is to know that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father in intercessory prayer for you and me!



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Has God Asked You to Get Into the Boat? Part 2

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Snow in Jerusalem (ICEJ Staff photograph)Snow in Jerusalem
Today's picture is of snow in Jerusalem. It reminds us of Job 37:5-7; "God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing  great things which we cannot comprehend. For to the snow He says, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the downpour and the rain, 'Be strong.' 

 “Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.” (Matt. 14:22).

We learned last time that Jesus did, indeed, have bad days.  He had lost his best friend, John the Baptist, had tried to go into the mountain and pray but the people came to Him for healing and His disciples had failed to use their God given power to feed the people. 

We know the results of their failure, Jesus said, “Bring the fives loaves and two fish here to Me.”  And He looked up to heaven and blessed the food and breaking it into loaves, He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.”

Hey, gang, what is going through your mind this morning?  If God suddenly spoke to you and said, “I am going to send a very hungry group of people across your path today and I want you to feed them,  I will provide you with a couple fish a few loaves of bread.” what would you say?

In the early years of developing the Village we had a group of young people who worked for us that showed up at our table, completely unexpected, many times.  One Sunday noon we began our meal with our family of six and ended with more than twenty at our table and I do not recall ever running out of food.  I know there is the proverbial ‘add water to the soup’ but that was not the case. 

It was now time for the disciples to send the people away, get out the bed rolls, build an evening fire and sit around chewing the fat over what had transpired that day, Right?  No, that is not what Jesus had in mind.  It was time for another learning experience of who knows how many.  It was time to turn up the heat.  Hey, have you ever been there when God says, “I need to get your attention -Immediately, Get into the boat?”

It is here we find the Scripture for the day, Notice the first word -“IMMEDIATELY!” One might get the idea that Jesus looked at the failures of the day with a great deal of concern.  The shadow of the cross is growing more ominous each day. Jesus knew He did not have much time to prepare His twelve to carry the Good News to the multitudes after He ascended to the Father.  

One of the profound memories I have of Korea was the night I pulled guard duty on the fourth watch; it was black as coal and I was terrified.  At the point when I thought my thumper was going to explode suddenly a heard music.  I thought surely my life was about to end and the angels were preparing the choir for my home coming.  There was a Catholic School just down the hill from the Center and a nun had gotten up for her morning prayers and was playing the Lord’s Prayer.  Now I want you to know folks, I mentioned I was a Laodicean Christian at that time but I took a gigantic step towards full commitment that night. 

Again I remember a question that Pastor Stoll asked that day with him, “Do you think Jesus was punishing the disciples or trying to get their attention?  What say ye, young folks?


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Has Jesus Ever Told You to Get Into the Boat?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Hills above the Sea of Gallilee (ICEJ Staff photograph)Hills above the Sea of Galilee
Today's picture is a panoramic view from the hills above the Sea of Galilee. It reminds us of the account of Jesus' activities in Matthew 15: 29-30; "Departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up on the mountain, He was sitting there. And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them"

“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.” (Matt. 14:22).

There are several types of Scriptures in the Bible. There are the ‘awesome’ verses, the ‘unbelievable’ verses and there are the ‘life-changing’ verses.  I had just gotten my orders that Uncle Sam was going to send me on a visit to an exotic place called Korea.  Out of thirteen newly graduated Air Traffic Controllers, eleven went to such dangerous places as Miami, Southern California and a couple to Washington.  The other was assigned to Germany and I got the short stick – Korea.

At this point in my life I was what one might call a Laodicean Christian.  Religion was more of a convenience than a way of life.  At the time I thought my mother had ‘slipped me a Mickey’ when she arranged a meeting for me to spend some time with her pastor.  I must admit on arriving I was more than a nervous wreck.  He was a pastor that others called a pastors pastor.

I can say with no reserve he was the most Godly man I had ever had the privilege of spending time with.   As I was preparing to leave he gave me a tract that he had written titled “Contrary Winds”. I carried in my wallet throughout my Korean experience and until it literally disintegrated in my wallet twenty or more years later.  A tract that I still share many times with people that were going through wilderness experiences.

It began with a question, “Do you think Jesus ever had a bad day?”  The story of one of those days is found in Matthew 14 when he learned that His cousin, John the Baptist, had been murdered by Herod to satisfy Herod’s lust for his step daughter.  Jesus loved John with a special kind of love.  He said there was no greater man ever born than John the Baptist. 

He did as you or I would have done if we lost a very special friend, He withdrew to the mountain to be alone and mourn for His friend but the mobs would have no part of it and came to Him.  Matthew wrote, “He had compassion for them”.  That is the way Jesus Christ was and the essential ingredient He wants His children to have. 

Verse 14 tells us after Jesus healed the sick and evening had set in,  his disciples came to him and told him the people were hungry and there was not a Burger King or Mc Donald in sight.  There are some pastors who believe Jesus already had a plan in place for feeding the 5000 and families and his comment “You feed them” was merely window talk.  But Pastor Stoll made a strong point that is not what Jesus had in mind for them or for us.

He asked me a question that I have pondered many times since that day.  Pastor Stoll asked, “Do you think the disciples had the power to feed the multitude of people?”.  What do you think?  If God said to you this morning go and feed your neighbor, even though you have no idea how to cook, do you think God’s power in your hands is sufficient?  (Cont.)