Thursday, June 28, 2012

Have You Checked Your Insurance Policy Lately?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Ein Gedi (ICEJ Staff photograph)Ein Gedi
Today's picture is of flowers and palm trees near Kibbutz Ein Gedi near the southern coast of the Dead Sea. It reminds us of Song of Solomon 1:14-15; "My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Ein gedi. How beautiful you are, my darling,how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves."

 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.”  (Isaiah 43:2). 

Yesterday was burn day!  The raking has produced many piles of leaves and pine needles and pine cones that needed to be cleared in order to begin repairing the lawn and flower beds from winter damage. This meant that I was tied to the fire for most of the day.

 As I watched the fiercely burning flames I noticed that three things were happening; first the pile was getting smaller as the flames consumed the leaves, secondly, the fire was generating heat; and thirdly the fire was generating light. 
As a lad growing up I remember my sainted grandma use to talk about God’s Word as a consuming fire.  

Notice Jeremiah’s words, “The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth.  What does straw have in common with grain?”  declares the Lord. "Is not My word like fire?”  declares the Lord,” and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”  (Jer. 23:29)

How is God’s Word like fire?  As the leaves are burned and are turned to ash, so the Word of God burns away the chaff, if we will avail ourselves to read the Word, to meditate on it and learn to hear God’s voice.  I hear many people tell me that are avid Bible readers but not too many tell me they are avid Bible study-ers. 

An old adage that I have tucked away in the leaf of my Bible is the fine print on my insurance policy with the Lord: “If God sends us down a fiery path, He provides sufficient shoes.”

At the end of the day, I looked with satisfaction at what was large piles of leaves and needles that was now clean and ready for new growth and beautiful flowers.  Is that not God’s way with the fire of His word?  John wrote, “...but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

Soooo, good folks, fire can come in many forms and many times it comes very unexpectedly.  That is why God suggests that we keep our minds and hearts honed to the wheel and our asbestos suits clean and polished.  James gives us the key to keeping our insurance up to date, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands you sinners.” (James 3:8)      



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DO YOU SOmetimes Feel There is a War Raging Inside You?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  

Israeli wedding (ICEJ Staff photograph)Israeli Wedding Today's picture is of an Israeli couple getting married. It reminds us of Jeremiah 33:10-11; "Thus says the Lord, 'Yet again there will be heard in this place, of which you say, 'It is a waste, without man and without beast," that is, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, 'Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting"; and of those who bring a thank offering into the house of the Lord. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were at first,' says the Lord. 

"For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal 5:17).

Hey Gang:  I don’t know about you but in these days of being in God’s shaker, there are times when I feel like there is a raging war inside of me.  The old adage, ‘we do the very things we know were wrong yesterday with the hopes that they will somehow turn out differently today’ , seems to be a driving force in our world. 

I read this very descriptive phrase in the Berean Daily Scripture Verse for the day, Sometimes we seem to consist of a whole clamorous mob of desires, like week-old kittens, blind of eye with mouths wide open, mewing to be satisfied.”  O, I wish that were not true but I must plead “guilty”.   I want what I want when I want it!  Am I talking to anyone out there or am I preaching to the choir?

Did you ever feel like this? “It is as if two voices are in us, arguing"You shall, you shall not. You ought, you ought not." Does not God want us to set a will above these appetites that cannot be bribed, a reason that cannot be deceived, and conscience that will be true to God and His standards? We must either control ourselves using the courage, power, and love of God's Spirit, or we will fall to pieces. 

It is the choice - whether we will feed the white dog and starve the black dog- that determines victory or failure reigns down upon us,

But, can we blame it on our original father and mother?  Adam and Eve established the pattern for mankind in the Garden of Eden. But, can we rationalize and blame it all on the incidence of original sin?  All of us have followed it, and then, conscience-smitten, we rankle under feelings of weakness. Satan did a number on them and they bought into it. It worked so well on them that it is the number one tool that Satan uses on us.  The apple looked so good!!!!!

A certain Bishop Butler said, "If conscience had power, as it has authority, it would govern the world." Solomon, in his dissertation on vanity, said, “Authority without power is nothing but vanity”. Think about that for a moment, conscience has the authority to guide or accuse, but what good is it if the will is so enfeebled that the passions and desires get the bit between their teeth, trample the conscience, and gallop headlong to the inevitable collision with the ditch.

Sooo gang, keep in mind I am writing this to the writer of this epistle, but if it rankles your spirit,  take heed.  I have tried many remedies but have found there is but one solution to this and it lies in our relationship with Christ.  Paul said, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work, for His good pleasure.”  (Phil. 2:12-13))   



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Assurance Even In Tough Times

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Galilee farmland (ICEJ Staff photograph)Galilee Farmland
Today's picture is of the lush farmland northwest of the Sea of Galilee. It reminds us of Isaiah 9:1; "But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles" 

Hey Gang:  The writer of Hebrews wrote these words "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven."  Yet once more, denotes the removal of those things which can be shaken, as of created things so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, but which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:26-29).

I just received Joel Rosenberg's latest offering titled "IMPLOSION" and, after perusing the Table of Contents, I believe I am in for a harrowing trip as I get into the book.     Several statements tend to stick out in the flap of the cover.  One, "Many Americans genuinely fear that God is preparing to remove his hand of protection and blessing from our country - or perhaps already has."  Second, "They fear that, unlike previous dark times in our national history, God may not intend to help us turn things around and get us back on the right track".

I have restricted my news watching to short periods with ever increasing gaps.  Not that I am not interested in what is happening but rather listening to the news today and two weeks from now, it tends to sound the same.  But last night I bit the bullet and listened to a whole hour non-stop.  It was truly a walk through the corridors of agony and pain.   In the midst of one harrowing story after another I could not help but think of the multitudes of people who have chosen to go their own way and have no assurance that God loves them and will provide for them even in the toughest of times.

James tells us, "Consider it all joy when you are in the shaker knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance and endurance the prefect result so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Yes, my young friends, we are going to go through increasingly more difficult shakers as the end of the Age of Gentiles, described so clearly in the Bible draws nearer.  James, and the writer of Hebrews, were grounded in the Word and knew the writings of Jeremiah very well.  Notice the power verse in Jeremiah 29:12 where God said, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."  Keep in mind he was addressing the people who were in bondage in Babylon.

Soooo,  my friends, when it feels that God has you in His shaker, turn to Isaiah 25:1 and shout to the heavens, "O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt you, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is It Okay To Be An Imitator?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Jerusalem from the air (ICEJ Staff photograph)Jerusalem
Today's picture is a bird's eye view of the city of Jerusalem. It reminds us of Matthew 16:21; "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day

 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children" (Eph. 5:1)

Hey Gang:  When I was a little squeezer I tried to be an imitator of all my heroes.  Saturday morning was a ritual in my life, I would get my chores done as quickly as I could and then truck off to the movie theater and watch the Roy Rogers, Gene Autry's, Lone Ranger's and all the heroes of that day.  And then on the way home I would visualize myself on a great stallion with a white hat and the conqueror of evil. 

Is it okay to be an imitator?  Paul said if you really want to be great in God's kingdom then be an imitator of God.    He also wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, "For in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  Therefore I exhort you to be imitators of me".  (1 Cor. 4:15b-16).  Do you think it would be alright to be an imitator of Paul?

But notice, Paul recognized to be an imitator could be a very dangerous exercise, if we are not connected firmly to God's power supply.  He warned "Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good" (I Thess. 5:21).  Jesus warned that in the latter days even the very elect will be deceived by the evil one, if we lose sight of Christ as Lord and become imitators of the world.

Jesus, in His Olivet Discourse, warned "For false Christ and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead possible, even the elect.  Behold I have told you in advance" (Matt. 24:24-25).  Today, many, even many who would tell you they are children of God, are being lead astray by false teachers and false prophets. 

To believe in Replacement Theology, that teaches Israel is no longer the "apple of God's Eye", is to deny the truths found in the Word of God.  To believe that there is more than one path to the Father and it does not matter which path you chose is contrary to Jesus' words,  "I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6)." To accept the growing belief that to believe is sufficient, and how we live after we commit our lives to Christ is covered by the blood of the cross is also contrary to Scripture.

Sooooo, And how do we protect ourselves from being led down the Prime-Rose-Path into deception?  By being "Imitator of God as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma" (Eph. 5:1-2).  Have you checked out your armor lately?



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Trip Through the Wadi

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Wadi in the Israeli Negev (ICEJ Staff photograph)Desert Wadi
Today's picture is of a wadi, or dry riverbed, in the Negev Desert of southern Israel. It reminds us of Job 38:25-27; "Who has cleft a channel for the flood, or a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land without people, on a desert 
without a man in it, to satisfy the waste and desolate land and to make the seeds of grass to sprout?"

Hey Gang:   This morning I am going to share a parable that I learned while in the Arabah of Israel.  To fully appreciate this parable you must understand that the Arabah is part of the Wilderness of Zin and makes the Badlands of North Dakota look like a plush oasis.  I have been privileged to visit and work at Tel Tamar, a kibbutz which was known as Ir Ovot on my earlier trips to the desert and before that it was called Oboth; Moses and the chilren of Israel camped here. 

The parable I want to share with you in this epistle is "Beware of trying to pull a vehicle across the desert in order to save a few bucks".  I am not sure how spiritual this parable will be but thought you might be interested in one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.

Now for the rest of the story.  As I mentioned we were volunteering at Tel Tamar kibbitz, which is south of the Dead Sea, just down the Scorpion Pass from Beersheva.  And eight miles to the East of Tel Tamar was a Mashov (farming community) where there was a vehicle that had mechanical problems and in need a major attention, and the owner had given to the kibbitz.  The problem was to tow the vehicle the seven miles to Tel Tamar, where they had the facilities and expertise to deal with the problems, would have cost more than a thousand dollars.  
So  a pow-wow was convened with Mohammad, a Bedouin who lived in the desert near the Kibbutz, and who was very knowledgeable of the desert- so we thought!.  The discussion centered on whether it was possible to tow the vehicle across the desert, thereby negating the need for a permit in the sum of $1000.  Mohammad, wanting to impress us with his great knowledge of the desert assured us it would be a piece of cake.

Soooo, the time came when the action plan was put into affect.  We drove to the Mashov in ten minutes,  connected the dead vehicle to the live one and set out across the desert,  Now I am not going to even try and share the agony and pain I endured in the next nine hours only to say, if I would have set out to establish a project that was absolutely impossible to complete, it would have palled when compared to this experience. 

Since I was 'stearer' in the dead vehicle I was also the eater of all the dust that the lead truck sent my way.  We had to stop periodically because I could not see out the windshield or out of my eye balls.  To make this story even more tragic, the mechanic looked at the vehicle the next morning and determined it dead!  It seems they had run it without oil and we all know that is not a good idea.

There is a moral to this story. To Mohammad this was a walk in the park, but to we Americans, who would have simply called a  tow truck or hooked up a tow line to the dead vehicle and fifteen minutes later delivered it to it destination,  I learned that day, when it comes to the Desert of Zin  what was doable to a Bedouin is vastly different than to a spoiled American.   I suspect the Children of Israel also learned that lesson in their forty years of wandering. 



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is Your Cup Half Empty or Half Full?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Vineyards in Samaria (ICEJ Staff photograph)Grape vines
Today's picture is of grapes and the vines they were grown on, in the mountains of Samaria. It reminds us of what Jesus said in John 15: 1-5; "I am the true 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. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" 

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus"  (I Thess. 5:16-18).

Hey Gang:  Have you run across a 'ranter' and 'raver' lately? I was walking through Meijer's  the other day, and heard a rather boisterous voice in the next isle complaining about the increase in cost of everything in his basket.   Soooo, I sauntered over, being of the nosey variety,  to see what the big deal was all about.

Again being of the nosey variety, I checked out his shopping cart and it was filled to the hilt.  And again to  be more nosey I checked out what was in the shopping cart.  Now, keep in mind I am not trying to judge the guy, but my best estimate was that more than half the cart was filled with such sundry items as booze, chips, pop and a whole bunch of 'stuff' that not only was not a necessity of life but also not to good for one's body.

I do believe the gentlemen was living in  the realm of the half empty glass.  But then again, I did some reminiscing and came to the conclusion I was living in a glass house and looking for a stone to throw.   

The writer of Hebrews addressed the half empty glass verses the half full glass with these words, "Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never dessert you, nor will I ever forsake you" (Heb. 13:5).   Notice the key words, "your character".  It is your values that will determine your choices that will determine whether your glass is half full or half empty.

  A friend once shared this little ditty with me:  It seems his bride was going through a period of near depression and seeking something that would fill her glass to the running over stage.  One evening, he packed her up in the car and drove to the down trodden areas of the city.  He never said a word but the message got through loud and clear - she was truly blessed with a full glass.   She also learned what Luke meant when he wrote "Give, and it will be given to You!" (Lu. 6:38)

Soooo, my young warriors, take heed to what Bother Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, "For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need". 

And then the kicker- "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me". (Phil. 4:11-13).  Is your glass half full or half empty this morning?



Friday, June 15, 2012

Daniel said, "I will not defile myself" What Say You?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Leventine Bears (ICEJ Staff photograph)Leventine Bears
Today's picture is of a species of Bears native to the Levant, playing in a pool at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo. It reminds us of David's conversation with Saul about the challenge of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:36-37; "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God." And David said, "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will 

“But the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).

Hey Gang:  Many years ago, at least it seems that way, a Christian brother called and asked if I would pinch hit for him at a teen agers retreat. 

In my tenure as Village chaplain, I had learned a hundred ways to open the young folks eyes to a God they really did not know.  I readily accepted his invite for I longed to be able to share with folks who were not locked into the kinder-garden of faith and share some of the neat things that God had taught me.

Shortly after our arrival and first contact with the thirty or so teen agers and six adult support team, we learned that we were a wee bit optimistic in the content of the materials we had prepared for the three days.    I learned the card game ‘scum” was of far more interest than learning what God wanted to do with their hearts and lives.

One of the young ladies wore a T shirt that kind of focused on the attitude of the group, that night “ANYTHING GOES”.  I haven’t a clue what message she was trying to send but it certainly got my attention.   I wondered if anyone of the group had ever read the words of Daniel when he declared, “I will not defile myself”. 

I changed my message that first night and centered on a little wooden match that I lit. I invited anyone who was willing to come and put their finger in its flame.  I had no takers. 

As I read Revelation 20:11-15 to them there was a hush that settled over the group and I sensed a change of attitude from what they thought they were there for – to what they needed to be there for.

In the following two days, God opened the hearts of teens and adults alike.  The weekend culminated around a campfire when God moved in a mighty way in the hearts of all. They developed a pact that each signed that they would remain pure until God showed them who was to be there help mate for life. 

Soooo, gang, You may not have the opportunity to challenge a group of teens to put away their ‘Anything Goes’ T-shirts and ‘scum cards,’ but the Word tells us the harvest is rich but the workers few.  Ask God to send a person across you path today who needs your witness and be bold as  “lion”.



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Soon Old and Too Late Smart

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Eilat with the Edomite hills in the background (ICEJ Staff photograph)Eilat
Today's picture is of Eilat, the resort city built on Israel's Red Sea coast, which was completely desolate 64 years ago. It reminds us of Amos 9:13-14; "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 the land that I have given them>"
"My son, if you will receive my words, and treasure my commandments within you.....Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God" (Pro. 2:1).
Hey Gang: I have made a brilliant observation in my more mature years. - there are different levels of blessings!  Now I know a blessing is a blessing, is a blessing, is a blessing, and I am not saying that we should not be humbled and thankful for each and everyone blessing- no matter how minuet it may seem to be.
I have also learned that the blessings that have made a lasting impact on my life are not the bangles and beads variety, nor the rungs on the ladder that I was able to achieve, and certainly not in the things that God has blessed me with in the area of material things.

I heard an old salt preacher say, "We do not have even the remotest comprehension of how many blessings God gives to us, on a daily basis, that we do not recognize.   A young man tells the story of the day he was getting ready to leave for work and for some reason his new car would not start.   Frustrated, he tried one last time before taking the bus to work and it came to life.  The results he was a half hour late getting to work.

The date was 9/11- and we know what happened on that fateful day.  Over two thousand people were killed in a hideous attack on the Trade Center.  That half- hour delay getting to his work site saved his life.  Lucky break? or blessing?

I love the story of the man who passed away and was going through the indoctrination period in heaven.  On this day they were taking a tour of heaven and all the neat things that God has prepared for his saints.  In their travels they passed by a very long building, set off by itself, which the guiding angel ignored. The man asked, What is in that building?  The angel replied, "You do not want to know" and kept going.

At the end of the tour the angel asked if he had any questions, and the man again asked,  "What is in that building?" The building contained long shelves with bags tied with ribbons.  The angel said each person who walked the earth has a bag here.  They contain all the blessings that God wanted to give to His children that they refused to receive.

Sooooo, as you put your threads on and pull on your shoes preparing for a trip through the mission field today, be alert.  God has a special blessing for you- but you must be alert,recognize it, and don't forget to thank Him for it!!!



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Can You Tame Your Tongue?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Senir Stream (ICEJ Staff photograph)Senir Stream
Today's picture is of the Senir Stream, a tributary of Banias at the headwaters of the Jordan River in northern Israel, near the ruins of Biblical Caesarea Philipi. It reminds us of Mark 8:27-28; "Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on 
James says, "No One Can Tame the Tongue"

"So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell(James 3:5-6)

Hey Gang:   We are in that time when, if you could buy a politician for what he is worth and sell him for what he thinks he is worth, you could spend the rest of your life on a beach somewhere with your feet propped up sucking on an ice tea.  I am a wee bit tired of hearing those running for office retracting, remodeling, and restating not what you thought you heard but what they really meant which in many cases is quite foreign from the original offering.

I flipped the channel selector to the 'hunt and find' mode and came across one of my very favorite movies of all time, namely Rooster Cogburn".  In this day when everything that can be shaken is being shaken, I believe old Rooster could straighten it all out and have it running smoothly within minutes.  But old Rooster also had a couple problems; he tended to nip on the jug, which in turn loosened his tongue. 

Kathryn Hepburn, a missionary, was his traveling companion in the movie and played the part of his conscience.  She once related  to Rooster, when he was unusually boisterous, the following ditty, "There was a wise old owl who lived in an Oak; the more he saw the less he spoke: the less he spoke the more he heard, why can't we be like that wise old bird?"

As a boy growing up in the mountains of Pennsylvania I learned that ditty in a different way,  "It is best to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

Jesus gave a stern warning when He said, "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.  for by our words you will be justified and by your works you will be condemned."  (Matt. 12:36)

Paul in his letter to the Ephesians put it this way, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so it will give grace to those who hear."  (Eph. 4:29)

Soooo, my young friends. what words will you utter today?  Will they be words that bring honor to your heavenly Father?  As the old hillbilly said, "Choose your words wisely, for you may have to eat them!" 



Thursday, June 7, 2012

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
A female IDF soldier applies camo face paint (IDF Spokesperson's Office photograph)Hiding her face
Today's picture is of a female IDF soldier putting on camouflage face paint prior to a training exercise. It reminds us of Psalm 69:16-18; "Answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me, and do not hide Your face from Your servant, for I am in distress; answer me quickly. Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it; ransom me because of my enemies!" 

“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18:21-22).

Hey Gang:  One of the things I feared the most while serving as exulted ruler of Eagle Village was to see a brother or sister in Christ approach and inform me that they received a word from God that they were told to share with me.  The question also caused anxiety in my heart and placed the wonder of if I had done something to cause a rift between Abba Father and yours truly.

 Can you think of a time when you had an ongoing issue with someone in your life?  And just when you thought you couldn’t take another minute with them, God asked you to stretch yourself one more time? You just feel like, God, I have held my tongue and kept a good attitude with this person so many times, and now You want me to play the peace maker again?  This is just too much to ask!

I have bad news for you!  When God is trying to build our character, He will often use other people to be “sandpaper” that smoothes down the rough edges in our personality.  Even if the other person is a fellow Christian, He may not require them to do the same things He requires of you.  And we can’t get away with saying, “God , it is not my turn!”  because as soon as we do, He’ll remind  us of His word.

In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive someone who sinned against  them.  I’m sure he thought he was a  being generous when he said, “Up to seven times?” But Jesus rebuked Peter saying, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven.”

Jesus was making a point that no matter how much people mistreat us, we really shouldn’t use that as an excuse to rebuke by retaliation. 

You, and I may not like the sound of that, but there’s something else we need to consider:  When there’s unity, the Lord commands a blessing (See Psalm 133).  In  other words, no matter what someone tries to take away from you or how unjust their actions may be, if you will do all you can to stay out of strife, God will bless you.

Paul puts it this way, “Be of the same mind toward one another, do not be haughty min mind, but associate with the lowly,  Do not be wise in your own estimation.”    (Rom. 12:16)

Sooooo, the gooood news, good buddies is-  God’s faithful and He’ll keep His promises, but you have to live in faith, doing what you can by His grace, to get along with people.  Get your marriage sorted out.  Get your family and friendships sorted out.  Get things sorted out at work.  I guarantee that you will get more out of it than you ever put into it yourself.  I promise!



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Fresh Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

A truth to get your ticker ticking this morning, “When God breathes the breath of His spirit, everyone knows He has come”.  Luke put it this way “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting”.(Acts 2:2). 

Hey Gang, Did you ever stop to think about what
must have gone through their heads when “There appeared to them tongues as a fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the spirit was giving them utterance.“  (Acts 2:3-4).

This they knew!  He had arrived!  When God breathes the breath of His Spirit, everyone knows He has arrived.   Wow, is that not awesome.  According to Luke,  the coming of the Holy Spirit was as a “sound from heaven”
Did you ever wonder what the sounds will be like when Jesus comes on His stallion to take back what is His?”  The Village once had forty horses - including twelve Belgians.  One day we were blessed to have a dust devil set down in the far side of the pasture.Tthat immediately got the attention of each and every horse. I will never forget the sound of those forty horse running from one side of the pasture to the other and feel the very ground shake as they ran.  

 I wonder if we will hear the horses of Jesus' warriors as they do battle with the forces of evil.

Something else happens when Holy Spirit comes, He shakes up everything in sight.  At Pentecost, the religious rulers in Jerusalem were upset at what they saw taking place among Jesus' followers and tried shutting down the effects of that mighty blast from heaven.

But the Holy Spirit moved on Peter, anointing him to say, “You can threaten us and jail us, but you cannot stop the mighty wind that is blowing through the land.  You can command us to shut up, but we cannot stop speaking.  God has breathed upon  us, anointing us, and we have to speak the words He has given us”. Hillbilly rendition.

Soooo, young folks,  keep in mind that Malachi informed us there would be “former rain” and “latter rain”, outpourings of the Spirit described by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the minor prophets.  He also offers proof that the greatest work of the Holy Ghost – the Latter rains, is happening right now, in our generation.    Pray today that God will give you a boldness to speak His word.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Do You Know You Were Picked for a Purpose?

Holy Land Picture of the Day  
Israeli vegetable market (ICEJ Staff photograph)Vegetable market
Today's picture is of Israelis buying vegetables for their Sabbath meal at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. It reminds us of Proverbs 15:16-17; "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it. Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred".

"In him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will".  (Eph. 1:11)

Hey Gang:  Read that verse again and again until it seeps deep into your inner most being.  There was a man by the name of Frank Constantino who was chosen by God to be a very special ambassador for Him but, like Jonah, choose to go his own way.  He became a very bad motor scooter and eventually earn the right to be incarcerated in one of Georgia's most distinguished placed for bad boys.

He was one  of those special dudes who proved he was bad enough that the prison officials did not want to deal with him in the open population of the prison, so he was serving his time in solitary confinement.  And then one night in the darkest hour, God spoke to Frank and said, "Frank, I placed you on earth for a very special purpose and you are wasting away here and not fulfilling that mission.  "You have created 'Holes in Time'.  
Those who  I have assigned for you to lead to the Lord are not  leading others  to the Lord because you have failed to share MY Good News with them and, they in return, have failed to lead those I have assigned to them because of your failure."  

Frank got on his knees that night and committed his life to Christ and miraculously was released from prison shortly thereafter.   Do you realize that when you were born, God's plan for you was already decided?  

Notice again Paul's words, "All things happen just as he decided long ago".  Notice the words "all things".  That includes the things we tend to want to run from. When Jonah tried to cut and run from God's will, God said "No way, My word is already established in you.  If I have to create a storm and get you thrown overboard and send a whale to get your attention, so be it."  (Hainley rendition).

When Jonah hit the bottom of the sea, in the literal sense, he cried out and God delivered him just in time to complete his assigned task- preaching to the people of Nineveh..   We make choices each and every day whether to go according to God's plan for life or to go your own way.  I suspect David may have been dealing with that very issue when he cried out to God " Your way, O God is holy´(Psa. 77:13).

Sooooo, good buddies, Remember, you have been picked for a purpose!  God 's got too much invested in you to let you get away with not fulfilling his mission that only you can fulfill.  The question this morning is- how much heat must He apply to get us to die to self, put off those things that are offensive to Him, fill our hearts with His Word and His will for us and His ways, and let Him have total control of our life. (Col 3 Hainley style).    Now hear this - careful - do not leave a hole in time today!