Friday, August 31, 2012

On The Wall

So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" (Nehemiah 6:3)

Nehemiah learned a lesson in doing a work in the name of God. He was moved in his spirit to restore the ancient walls of Jerusalem, restoring the faith of God's people in the process. Rest assured that any time this is tried, opposition to God's work will manifest itself. Here we see the enemies of Nehemiah and God's people continue to use the tactics of fear. See how they continuously sent messages and tried to conceal their true agenda. Nehemiah responded with a basic way of working while being bullied, deceived, threatened, and intimidated.  You'd better know who you are working for and the plain purpose of the work. Nehemiah was working to restore the glory of God. He was working on the wall, and could not come down. Focused on the Person and purpose for that which he worked helped to keep him working amidst the threats of fear. It still works today. While we are distracted, threatened and harassed by forces that oppose the will of God, if we know who we serve and why we serve, it keeps us on track. The threat of slanderous lies are brought to Nehemiah and he responds with a denial of the lies. Our only true defense is the truth. We don’t need to justify what we are doing when we serve God…we just continue to faithfully serve God. Constantly fighting our fear can certainly discourage us. But Nehemiah learned the secret of being courageous. Staying close to God and His purpose builds courage. Believing the lies of man and doubting the truth of God brings discouragement. We will give up the fight when we don't know why we fight. Nehemiah was in a fight to glorify God and restore His name. He was in a fight to overcome the reproach of God's people among other nations. When the wall was completed, many of the surrounding people, the nations, believed that God was helping His people. Nehemiah's success was only because God was successful. The people of God today do well to heed the lesson that Nehemiah was learning. When God builds our faith to persevere through the trials it is always with an eye to the future. More trials and bigger tests are coming. We can pass the bigger tests when we begin to see a bigger God. It is an easier thing to rebuild walls out of stone cold stones than to restore life to stone cold hearts, petrified by the trials of life. Some things only God can do. When God is doing His work we must do our part. Our part is to trust that He will…and He can… revive us again. God's people had been in exile many years. They were now in a position to trust God again. Would those who witnessed the rebuilding of the walls surrender their broken lives to God and be rebuilt? Will we bring our brokenness to God to be restored? The only one who can trust God for you is you!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Planning The Work of Working His Plan

Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)

Plan your work and work your plan. I heard this a few years ago and it stuck.  Some days this works out for me and some days…not so much. Some days I over plan. I’m too optimistic about too many things, not the least being the energy available for me to work the plan! Some days other people seem intent to getting me involved in working their plan and pursuing their agendas. Many days I have interruptions that were unforeseen and unplanned.  They distract me when the urgent overtakes the important. But mostly it is the unknown. Things that come up that I had no way to foresee because I could not see the future. This is where the truth of this proverb comes into my everyday world. God really does order my day. And some of these interruptions that break into my schedule comes from Him. I wish I could say I anticipate these and turn my attention to them immediately. But often, I don’t see these divine interventions and God ordained appointments for what they are. They are parts of the many pieces of the working out of His purpose. God is the ultimate multitasker! He does all things and many things well. Many of my plans may be fruitful. Many will be frustrated. But the counsel of the Lord will stand. When I hear what God wants to do…and how His plan fits into that in what I do, then life seems to get easier. He leads…I follow…pretty good plan when I hear God’s plan...and my plan becomes working out His plan. I was created to serve His purpose. How about you?  Why not lay down your planner for a while and seek counsel with the Planner. His Word works out His plan.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Body Building

When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: "Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses." (Nehemiah 4:14)

The rebuilding of the wall and gates of Jerusalem was a monumental task. When the people were actually engaged in the work, then discouragement began. The first tactic of the discouragers was to convince the workers of the futility of the project. The Jews were hearing that they were not strong enough to complete the work. They were told that the work itself was substandard. Not good enough was the taunt that was issued. How many times have the people of God begun a good work to hear seeds of doubt from the mouths of others that there is not enough…not enough people…not enough money…not enough strength...not good enough in the quality of the work…so we might as well quit. I’ve heard that more than I care to recall. Many times it came from within…me talking to myself. The seeds of doubt begin to take root in the Nehemiah project and the people were discouraged. This seems to be natural to a human being. The desire to give up. Quitting becomes the norm. But as for the people of God, there is a different way to live. Live being encouraged, rather than discouraged. Courage comes from God, who empowers godly leaders to encourage the discouraged among them. Nehemiah recognized that the work was bigger than them. And he saw their fear. Fear is a visible thing in that it manifests itself in our lives. When a leader sees his people afraid, he speaks to them about the source of courage. The tactics of terrorism were evident.  The threat of their physical safety was very real. Nehemiah reminded them to remember the character of God and fight for their families, friends and houses. Here’s a lesson to the fearful people of God. Fear God, not people. The strength that they relied upon was in the community effort of building and security. They needed one another. Courage is often exhibited when people are in fearful circumstances and they do what is right at the risk of their own safety. They learned to work in the midst of their fear. They learned to watch one another's back. They were moving in a direction of community strength as they learned the secret of body building. They cannot be strong against outside forces when they treat one another as outsiders. A lesson for God's people. Learn to treat family like the Father wants them treated. God's people made peace with one another, courageous in their unity against those who sought their destruction. God was not only praised, but pleased. He is pleased when His people look out for the welfare of one another. Let’s build up the body, loving and trusting God who helps us love, trust, help, encourage and serve one another.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Inside Job

Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless, but wickedness subverts the sinner. (Proverbs 13:6)
The difference between a righteous and a wicked sinner is found in what they practice. I am a righteous sinner, in that the effects of sin still affect me from time to time. I am tempted to practice sinful acts willingly that I once did without realizing it. I was once a sinner that practiced sin continually…it was my nature…it was all I knew. But now I am different. I am still a sinner but there is a new reality. Righteousness lives in me…and motivates me to make righteous choices…with the goal of the righteousness in view. Therefore, a righteous sinner may still sin from time to time, but the righteousness within reveals the path. Righteousness within is like a spiritual GPS device directing our path. And when I stray off the path, righteousness shows me the way back to it. Righteousness is like the guardrails upon my life. Contrast that with the life of the wicked sinner. Since there is no deterrent to wicked, or sinful, living, or motivation to live blamelessly, the wicked sinner has no restraint to his wickedness. In fact, the wickedness within is a powerful subversive force. Subversion is especially destructive. It destroys from within…imploding to reveal its emptiness. There is no righteousness that resides in the wicked sinner. Nothing to guard and guide the way. The subversive practice of wickedness is self-inflicted and self-destructive. Self-destruction is deceptive. We will not believe we are destroying ourselves. It’s because we have believed that we are not as bad as we really are…while wickedness is loose…eating away and eroding our lives. We will lie to ourselves when we practice wickedness. Wickedness within cannot tell the truth. Righteousness has not been received. Subversion, intentionally undermining something to cause it to fall, is like termites gnawing at the structure of your house…it will crumble long before its shelf life is set to expire. Don’t die before your time. Seek first the Kingdom of God…and His righteousness. Wickedness eats its way out…of house and home.

Monday, August 27, 2012

In Good Hands

I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king's words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, "Let us arise and build." So they put their hands to the good work. (Nehemiah 2:18)

Nehemiah was the Lord’s hands on guy. God had his good hand upon him and Nehemiah had a helping hand for the work. Nehemiah was on mission doing a physical thing, and needed material resources to do a practical as well as a spiritual thing. He was put into place in the king's court as a cupbearer so he would have been trusted to act in the best interests of the king's welfare. Here we have a contrast of two worldviews. Nehemiah served an earthly king, but his ultimate allegiance was to the High King of Heaven. He has the welfare of the name of God and His people in mind and in his worldview, anytime God's people are a reproach, the name of God is debased. Nehemiah had in his mind and heart to restore the wall of Jerusalem, symbolic of restoring the faith of God's people to trust and believe in God's provision and protection. Nehemiah gives the credit for the success of his appeal to the king to the fact that the good hand of my God was on me. We do well to remember that the work we do in this world, before earthly kings and everyday men, should reflect our purpose to glorify and exalt the name of our God, seeking to restore dignity to His people and bring hope to their situation. But this is never an easy thing to do. We are often resisted from without and within. Sometimes God's people have to be challenged. They have to be reminded about the good hand of God upon them and the good work of God before them. God's enemies have to be opposed. There must be an answer to them. There must be a witness of God and His power to grant success. The enemies must be reminded that without God's portion, they have no portion. We get also a sense of the loneliness of spiritual leaders as Nehemiah operated without telling anyone his plans until the time came to act. Sometimes we only have God as a confidante. He is the only One who can truly be trusted with the plans He puts into our minds and hearts and hands. Nehemiah needed a hand. God’s hand. Is the good hand of your God giving you success in His mission?  Are you in good hands as you put your hand to the good work?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oblivious To The Obvious

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes's and Jambres's folly was also. (2 Timothy 3:8-9)

The same mindset that is described in these two men is described for us in Romans 1. Depravity in humanity suppresses the truth of God. Although men know God to be true, they try to smother His truth, to cover it up, to cloak it, and cloud it so that truth is not easy to see and perceive. According to Jewish tradition, these two men were some of those that opposed Moses in Pharoah’s court. Although not named in the Old Testament, Paul was acquainted with their opposition to Moses as magicians. If these are some of the magicians that were duplicating the miracles in Egypt, they soon discovered that they could not do all that God can do. This is a lesson for us today. God is often copied, but never cloned. His power is made manifest in some humans…but all cannot access Him. And the men who opposed young Timothy reminded Paul of the fate of the foolish. The inability and inadequacy of the fool who suppresses the truth is exposed to those who know the truth of God. This is our inoculation from folly. To know truth. Fools oppose and suppress the truth. Not because they can overcome it. Not because they deny truth’s existence. But folly will be on parade because the fool cannot be a servant. Folly cannot come under truth’s authority. Folly wants to be in charge…and in control. Fools will die in rebellion rather than bow in submission. Why? Because they are fools. Fools have said in their hearts that there is no God…and God will not influence their lives. You can’t cover up the truth. And you can’t cover for a fool. His folly will be so obvious to all and the fool will be oblivious to all his folly.  Pity the fool...says the Truth...or was that Mr. T?  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  When it comes to the surrender to the truth of God, resistance is futile.  Depravity leads to wasted lives. That will be obvious to all.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Breathing It In...Living It Out

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Good work is God’s work. And without God’s word we would be woefully inadequate. No matter what God is calling us to do…without His word we cannot do work out His will. His word is our manual of reference. We seek His wisdom whenever we tackle a problem, design a system, fix a flat, plant a garden, or preach a sermon. Paul is writing specifically to a pastor but the principle remains. Scripture equips a man to work the work of God. Before a man can do any of God’s good work in this old world, the man must be prepared for the task. He must be made adequate. God’s good work is all about reclaiming this world and our hearts for righteousness. We won’t know the standard of godly dealings, regardless of our vocation, unless we know God’s standard of righteousness. We find them in His word. And He begins His work with the man of God. Are you adequate to pursue the goal of righteousness in the world? Are you making a difference in the way you do what you do by being different? Are you satisfied with satisfactory standards or do you strive for excellence? Do people know you to be a godly person in the workplace, one they can trust when they trust you with their car, their food, their child, their health, or their soul? When the work God calls you to do overwhelms you and brings you to a place of inadequacy, turn to God’s word for His wisdom. It is here we can trust God for our training. His Word, our training manual, is always updated, always adequate because it is the very breath of the Living God. A dead man cannot speak about life.  God's word breathes into me...but I must be taking it in.  God will work His good work in me before I am able to work His good work in the world.    And His word is always enough. Breathe it in…live it out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Running Man

But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11)

The difference between a good run and bad stand is like knowing whether we're coming or going.  Some things you run toward and some things you run away from. Wisdom will tell us when we've run far enough.  Timothy is told to flee…not to walk briskly away in a different direction…or stand fast in the midst of…but flee! What are the things that he was warned to flee from? Meaningless and mindless controversies that distract from the gospel message. Imagine spending precious time in speculations about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, or how much seed money we can invest till the Lord is obligated to bring an exponential return of our investment. We may laugh at such things but dissertations have been written and endless discussions have occurred over these things and many more like them. As faithful ministers of the gospel, we are to run away from these entanglements and distractions that rob us of reflecting and teaching the glorious truths of the gospel. We are to run away from these things because in many cases we are in conversations with fools and in danger of being trapped into silence. Fools seek arguments. Wise people seek wisdom. Wise people flee toward Jesus. Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness are found in Christ. When I run to Him I get a mental picture of a child running toward a parent, laughing all the way. The character of the man of God is framed here in the context of this verse. When a man looks like Jesus, he will look like this. The last two qualities are instructive for us. Perseverance is also translated steadfastness. This is an old word and not one you hear much about these days. In our culture of rapid change, people tell us that the only way to success is to be easily adaptable and ready to change. Don’t become rooted in an unchanging mindset. Perseverance is a word that tells us to stand where God stands…stand fast to be steadfast. To sing the refrain of an old song… I shall not be...I shall not be moved; I shall not be...I shall not be moved; Just like a tree that's planted by the waters...Lord, I shall not be moved. For a person to have perseverance, a strength to stand in place no matter what, one would think that a stubborn and unyielding spirit and even a hardness might be beneficial. Then bring gentleness into the mix and you have a combination only the Lord can bring about. Each one of these words are tempered by the next. A righteous man may be self righteous, but godliness will give direction. A godly man will be a faithful man, faithful to God’s principles rather than man’s preferences. A practical faith is not practicing godly faith unless it is acted out in love. And a loving man may have a tendency to always say yes to those who may need to hear no, especially when practicing discipline with a loved one. Love stands fast…and sometimes we need to stand fast in a gentle, but firm, way. This is what the godly man aspires to…a Christlike demeanor and godly countenance among others. If you've ever run away or had the desire to run away from home, turn around and start running toward it.  One day, we will find that we will have run far enough…when we have run all the way home…to Christ, where home really is.  But for today...flee from these things!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shields Up!

Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.. (Proverbs 30:5)

The shield is tested…because there is no place in a warrior's life for a defective shield. He must depend upon the shield as the missiles are launched for him to be effective in the battle. The ultimate evidence that the shield didn't work is the searing pain experienced as the arrow entered the body. Then it was too late. The battle was over for him. Imagine that I have a need to have some body armor for a dangerous and anticipated conflict such as a bulletproof vest.  When I purchase this vest, I assume the truth of the manufacturer’s claim that the vest is without defect. It has been tested... with real bullets…and found to be effective. How much more can I trust this word of God as a guarantee? God’s claim is that He is a shield…and His word has been tested. God’s word is a shield from all the enemy’s missiles. And the word of God has been tested through the ages and found to be effective in combat. Not only in defensive postures but in offensive engagements. In military terminology, a shield is not always a protective defensive weapon…it can be the ultimate offensive weapon as the Lord invades enemy territory. We see this in our time when elite teams of prison guards go into a cell to remove a rebellious prisoner.  They will advance behind a large protective shield. The enemy’s attacks against God and His people are real and destructive.  But we need to remember that it is he who is in the most desperate situation.  Not only is he in a defensive position but it is a defenseless one as well. Our enemy has Almighty God as an enemy.  Consider that the Lord may actually provoke the devil to attack with the goal of destroying the enemy’s strongholds by flushing him out of his hiding place. This is effective strategy in warfare.  Trust that God is our shield when we move into offensive engagements with the enemy.  We can trust that the weapons of our warfare are effectively tested and battle ready. Take up the Word of God and engage the enemy wherever you find him.  I heard somewhere that the Living God's church will prevail!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Great Gain

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. (1 Tim 6:6-7)

Does this mean none of this is ours? I am talking about fortunes amassed and properties acquired and treasures that are inherited. These seems to be the focus of humanity’s pursuits. But the reading of the will in the lawyer’s office among the ones left behind gives us a clue about the one gone before. The dead don’t take things with them. As the old saying goes, there are no U Hauls following hearses in this world. It’s all passed along. And the baby doesn’t bring anything in a backpack. That would be an awkward delivery! Possessions of this world can possess us. We are only passing through. So what is the gain that the Apostle is talking about? The gain of living in this world is to come into the knowledge that God has given us Himself…and godliness is possible when we receive and partake of the divine nature. When this gain is exponentially multiplied is when contentment is added. The great gain is knowing that God has supplied our earthly need. He has sustained and provided for His children. The Lord is not a deadbeat dad…He takes care of His own. And He also has provided us with an indescribable inheritance. I would like to see the scene in the lawyer’s office go like this: Congratulations to some of you who have come to know about your inheritance. Those who have been born again into the Kingdom of God receive more than I can list…more than we can talk about…more than we can think about…and more than you even know how to ask for. Those of you who have been more than satisfied with what God has already provided…you have received great gain from a Great God. And to those of you who anxiously await knowing the amount you are to receive in earthly goods…it will never be enough…and it will also be too much…more than you can take with you. Sadly, the truth is that your treasure will be spent here…when you leave it behind to those who are left behind. All we have belongs to God…and all He has belongs to us…can you see the great gain? Don’t you know how rich you are? Hasn't your Heavenly Father ever told you? 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dangerously Drunk

And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. (Proverbs 23:34)

We are most vulnerable when we slumber. When we sleep we are incapacitated. Harm may come easily to one who is asleep.  Remember when Samson got a haircut?  The ultimate bad hair day!  While asleep, our minds may be hard at work but only in the dreamworld.  Think of someone asleep on the sea or napping in the crow’s nest. The crow’s nest was a lookout perch placed high atop the mast of a sailing ship. The impact of the tossing of the waves would be magnified when the mast was pitched back and forth.  Movement at the sea level would increase exponentially at the top of the mast. Therefore, the person in the perch must be alert to the danger and responsive and responsible. Many times they would lash themselves to the mast in case they were to fall asleep, lulled into slumber by the gentler motion of the sea. This verse describes our condition when we are under the influence of powerful and intoxicating drink. The one who lingers long over their wine can be easily pitched out of their perch and easily drowned in the midst of the deep.  We can be easily lured into a harmless drink or two and find ourselves thinking we really do have control of our faculties.  Lately, the advertisers of intoxicating beverages will use the disclaimer...Remember to drink responsibly.  But the problem is that we can easily get into a dangerous dilemma and forget how to function in our enebriated condition.  Drunkenness is like being in a dream world, forgetting all about our responsibilities and our wise responses to foolish provocations.  The debate continues among believers as to whether it's ok to drink in moderation, or to totally abstain.  I believe either one of these positions is a valid biblical stance.  But the stance that is not the stance of a solid bible believer is the wobbling stance, or stagger, of a drunkard.  For me, the best way to drink alcohol responsibly is not to drink at all.  Because when we are really drunk…we are really in danger.  We might as well be sleeping on the sea.  Too much wine can water down a whole lot of wisdom.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Home Work

Prepare your work outside and make it ready for yourself in the field; Afterwards, then, build your house. (Proverbs 24:27)

Why would you tend to the field and then build the house?  We usually see people in our day build the house…then tend to the exterior. In the age and culture of subdivisions, the landscaping is the last thing to be done. But here's the point…this wise counsel wasn’t written in our time. And we aren’t talking about landscaping. We are talking about living. In the biblical culture a man would prepare the field…then build the house. The field was his livelihood. This is our wise word for today. The one who wants to build his house must be established in his “field” or the way he makes his living. Imagine someone building a house without knowing how to pay for the building. But today some do this very thing. And if things don’t work out, they move easily enough. But the ancient man would work in the field, shaping the ground, plowing and planting. And the very stones removed from the field could build the house.  The wisdom of working the field first was to make sure the field would produce and he wouldn’t be stuck with a built house and a barren field. Perhaps we should spend some time preparing a lifestyle before we establish a house, or more properly a home. A wise man’s home is not filled with foolishness. Stable lives generally lead to established homes.  They fit very well together.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Call Waiting

To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

Have you ever called someone and forgotten the reason you called?  The Thessalonian church was called by God to manifest the witness of Jesus in a dark pagan environment. I wonder how many were hesitant to pursue this call. It seems that there must have been some…at least Paul is exhorting them in it. Like the church in Thessalonica, we are called to no small task in our culture today. Though the culture and our place in history is quite different, God hasn’t changed and the nature of humanity is still the same. We are surrounded by dark and pagan influences as well. So what is it about me that God would count me worthy of my calling? Not my ability…not my success…nor anything that puts me on display. God will count me worthy of my calling when I am obedient to pursue His call. When I grumble about how hard the call is to answer or reduce the call of God to a formulaic theory, I have moved out of the arena of faith in God into a human performance mode. If the call of God can be done without His power, without faith in His ability, when my strength is enough, there will only be done what a man can do. If a man can do the work of God then God would not call us to the task. But when I am dependent upon God and know my power is insufficient for the call, He builds my faith and grants me His power. God will count me worthy of my calling when I realize the purpose in my call is to see the name of the Lord Jesus glorified in me…what makes me worthy is that I wear His name faithfully, trusting God for His continuous grace. When I desire to be what God calls me to be and love doing His good work, God is pleased and counts me worthy of the call. In our day, and I suspect every age, some will claim they are not ready to answer God’s call…they aren’t worthy. And in one sense they are right. We aren’t worthy from our perspective…but God calls us anyway...He hasn't made a mistake like when we do calling the wrong number...He hasn't misdialed!  When folks say they are waiting for God to make them ready that says more about them than it says about God. Imagine how the Lord will build their faith…if they’ll only answer the call…Imagine how ready they'll be if they'll only place their faith in Him. If you hear the call of God to follow Him, to worship Him, to make disciples, to speak or say specific words, to live the life of Christ in you all around you, answer that call. A church elder I know used to have a voice mail message that said...I'm sorry I missed that call...Don't let your voice say, I'm sorry I missed that call.  He’s waiting to count us worthy of the call.  God doesn't waste His time on us.  He hasn't forgotten what He's calling us about.  Our blessing...but mostly His glory.  While busy with our everyday conversations and business, the Lord is beeping in, so to speak, calling you in the middle of your waiting...imagine that.  Answer His call!  The Lord doesn't stay on hold very long.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Precious Memories

The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot. (Proverbs 10:7)

Precious memories...How they linger. These words to an old song are provocative to my mind as I read and reflect on this verse. The memories of the righteous are blessed because they are precious. Of all the human beings that have ever lived, this is a glorious truth. The righteous ones have been so precious and so very few…they have been rare. The rarity and scarcity of precious things make them valued. People who have been righteous have only become righteous through God, through Christ. And when they are present in our midst, we all know that they are uncommon among men. Therefore when they leave us and we remember them, the memory of those who were righteous among us is indeed a blessed memory…a precious memory. A smile will often appear when the righteous ones are remembered. In contrast, we see something different in the remembering of the wicked. Wicked people’s names will not only be forgotten, they will rot. That is a powerful thought. How does a name rot? Think with me about a piece of fruit, cut off from the source of life. This fruit will begin to decompose…it will begin to stink…it will decay and deteriorate. If we were to taste the rotten piece of fruit it may very well cause our bodies to react violently and reject it, bringing with it waves of nausea. If we become sick enough, we may vow never to eat of that kind of fruit again. This may be a little overreaction, but it will insure that we will not be least by that kind of fruit.  The taste of rotten fruit may be so offensive that we may continue to think that we taste it long after the experience is over. So what does this have to do with a name? The name of the wicked? Wicked people leave such a sorry legacy it’s like a bad taste in the mouth. We want to forget hearing the name…or dealing with what this person leaves behind. Even his family may so resent the wickedness, that they stop talking about him…as his memory fades away…and rots like a decomposing piece of decaying fruit. And over time someone may be hardpressed to remember that once there was a bad piece of fruit that was cast down to the ground. It's all rotted away.  So it is with the wicked. Their name, their identity and influence, will decay as the word of the Lord declares, and people will not speak of them again. It will be as though they never existed. It’s possible to live your whole life and be forgotten. It’s possible to have your very name spoken and spat out as so much poison on someone else's lips. What is not possible is to live as a righteous person without leaving a godly legacy…and precious memories. And to live righteously means that the seed of Christ’s righteousness is growing in you. Sadly, I was spoiled rotten as a human being...then Jesus breathed life into me. Make some blessed memories for others to remember…Be a blessing…Remember Christ, the Righteous One. The Lord did not allow His Holy One to suffer decay…and be blessed in the memory of what He has done for you and is now doing within you.  Life is precious...when we live it to God's glory, it leaves a mark in the memory of others...a blessed impression!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Guidance Counselors

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory. (Proverbs 11:14)

A mob destroys and defeats its purpose. No matter what their cause, it is frustrated when the group is unrestrained in its purpose. A mob is not so much a group as it is a gang. And the result of gang activity is usually destructive in nature. But when counselors rise up…there can be great change. Counselors in abundance can work as a team, unified in purpose and vision. Their mission is to confront and challenge the unrestrained and unguided destruction and point to a redemptive and godly purpose. The purpose of spiritual counsel is to bring people into the presence of and surrender to superior spiritual authority. Instructive in this passage is the word victory. It can also be translated deliverance. Think of deliverance in the context of the great travail that is typical to childbirth. And without any help, such as the assistance of midwives, nurses, doctors, friends or family, many women and their children could die during the birthing process. Consider the person who is influenced by self destructive thinking that results in self destructive lifestyles. They haven't learned to live for a living.  Without guidance, without encouragement, without warnings, without boundaries, many people will die…they fall by the wayside because no one helps them. But with the abundance of counselors, those that are more than adequate, those that are more than enough, there is deliverance from bondage and victory in life. Armed with the Wisdom that is found in the Spirit of God and the Word of God, the counselors will be abundant…more than enough. The purpose of spiritual guidance counsel is to direct people toward making responsible spiritual choices and enjoy the ultimate spiritual victory of living their lives surrendered to the authority of Christ. Point someone to Jesus today. Guide them towards this Wonderful Counselor.  He is more than enough.  He has come to give life...abundant life.  It's time people learned to live for a living! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Date For A Dance Or Lover For Life?

The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father David's earlier days and did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, followed His commandments, and did not act as Israel did. So the Lord established the kingdom in his control, and all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. He took great pride in the ways of the Lord and again removed the high places and the Asherim from Judah. (2 Chronicles 17:3-6)

God is a jealous lover…He will not participate with those of us who want to casually “date” Him while spending our lives in empty relationships with other people and other things.  When it comes to a relationship with the Lord, worship is the relationship. God will not share Himself. He will not be sitting on the sideline while we dance with another. He requires a commitment…to seek Him and spend time with Him. Commitment to God in a love relationship is never less than it would be in an earthly romance. When we take time to pursue Him for life, we will never settle for a date for a day...we will want more of Him…more of His Presence. As the old saying goes, “Dance with the one who brings us”.  God is the One who brings us to life...because He brings Life to us!  Jehosophat manifested a good kind of pride. He is proud of God...and the way He does things.  The way we can be proud of those we love.  We can take pride in God’s ways…as a faithful lover…rather than our ways…when we are busy playing the field and looking for love in all the wrong places! The Lord is faithful to His people.  Examine your heart.  Are you dating God for a dance for a day or pursuing Him as a Lover for life?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Peace Making Things

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes." (Luke 19:41-42)

What are the things which make for peace? What are the necessary ingredients? Peace is the absence of conflict. Peace is the recognition of superior authority.  Peace is the willingness to submit to the one who conquers.  The crowd had been shouting, Peace in heaven. What was it that was so different that peace would be prevail in Heaven?  The King was coming into Jerusalem.  And that which had been out of order was being made right. All in Heaven must have stood silent as the cross loomed larger and the time grew shorter.  But many on earth simply did not know the time of their visitation.  Many did not know that the King of all Kings was approaching and Superior Authority was so nearby.  Historically, being so far removed from the days of these events, the question arises, Are we there yet? No. Sadly, many on earth still do not know the time of God’s visitation. They do not know...or care... that the King has come to save us.  King Jesus was crucified but lives on forever. And this King is coming again…this time it will not be hidden…there will be no mistaking it or missing it…and the conflict will be settled on earth…just as it is in Heaven. Peace on earth will come…when Christ the King…the Prince of Peace comes again. The things which make for peace is the presence of superior authority. And Superior Authority declares…Jesus is Lord.  Submission to His authority brings peace.  Our surrender to the One Who Conquers brings peace to our troubled souls.  Worship is a peace making thing when it is rightly focused on Jesus the Christ.  Now is the time to worship the King!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Heard About Hope

They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. (Luke 18:37)

Hope is made for hearing. When the blind man heard about Jesus…he hoped. When Jesus asks him about his desire, he desires that his hope is realized. The man wants to see…again. And he wants Jesus to help him because this is something he cannot do for himself. No other hand holds out hope for healing.  No home remedies can be applied to restore his sight. There is only Jesus…and His word.  This is the blind man's hopeful remedy.  And according to the faith of the blind man…and the object of his faith...this hope is activated. The reality is that hope is made for hearing because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. For those who have lost their hope…let your ears hear about Jesus.  Let your mouth cry out to Jesus…Son of David…have mercy on me! Believe and trust that the Word of God has portrayed the Lord of Glory faithfully. When we believe that Jesus is passing by our hopeless place, it is not only the good news of the gospel…it’s the best news of our day.  It's the greatest revelation in our lives!  Listen up.  Have you heard about Jesus lately?  Got hope?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

All In The Family

He also removed Maacah, the mother of King Asa, from the position of queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah, and Asa cut down her horrid image, crushed it and burned it at the brook Kidron. (2 Chronicles 15:16)

The powerful influence of a family idolater is revealed when that person holds great power over the all in the family. King Asa fired his mother…or grandmother…from being Queen Mother because of her idolatry. That's something you don't see everyday.  When we discipline our families, much less our elders, it is a rare reformation when it comes to spiritual things.  But here is where idolatry is the most firmly rooted.  Here we find the entrenched generational strongholds…where false worship is passed down to succeeding generations. Often in families, it is most difficult for a family member to see or hear the truth when exposing or being exposed to the error of traditional family worship. Tradition seems prone to trump the truth at the family altar.  For Asa, he must have found that it is harder to do something about it once truth is embraced. The easy thing is to overlook it...especially in the family.  To break away from a wicked family influence takes a lot of courage. It must be God at work. God exercises His authority in worship. Therefore, He used the king to restore true worship. Yet some things didn’t get done. Some things still wait to be completed. Kings come and kings go. So we wait on the Lord Himself to completely purge the land from idolatrous worship. And He will. Take courage and remove the wicked influence and the wicked influencers from their place of influence. Perhaps it is most prominent in your own family.  Take heart, a restoration of right worship sets all things right. Is the Lord all in all in your family? Begin with your own heart.  Are you true in the worship of God in your life?  Is there truly no other God but God? Before we can take action against the idolatry we see in others, especially family, we must have a heart to worship the Most High God.  We must be faithful in our worship to God.  It is here that godly worship has its most powerful influence to overcome wicked worship.  The key to generational godly influence throughout the generations is found all in the family when God alone is truly worshipped.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Power of Presence

But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found. (Luke 15:32)

God rejoices and heaven rejoices when lost things are found and sinners repent. In the preceding stories in Luke's narrative…the lost sheep is found by the shepherd…the lost coin is found by the woman. But what about the son…who, or what, found him? Did he come to realize his desperate condition on his own? Do we really find ourself when we are lost? Perhaps it is more proper to say that we realize and wake up to the fact that we are lost and out of place and determine to return. This is the essence of repentance. This wayward, or prodigal, son came to the end of himself and found himself in a desperate condition. The influence of living with his father, and the memory of being in his presence, made a radical, life-changing impression upon the young son. And he acted upon this desire to return home…to return to his father’s dominion. So what was it that found him? The love of the father…never forgotten…often squandered and rejected… the absence of his nearness. There is power in a father's influential presence. The elder son never learned how lost he was. He ignored the powerful influence of his father. He took his presence for granted and lost the greatest part of being close to home…the love of the father and the culture of joy…inexpressible and unforgettable joy. Come close to God the Father if you truly know will never regret it. Come home to God the Father if you have been far, far'll find Him waiting and watching for your return...a reason for all to celebrate and rejoice.