Monday, August 31, 2009
It would seem that Jesus is laying a load of legalism upon his hearers. Taken out of the very important context of His total statement it could be understood as so, however Jesus immediately proceeded these heavy words with some other extremely liberating words.
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
So there it is: Jesus came as the “fulfillment” of everything contained within the Law and the Prophets. It is only by His fulfillment that we have any chance to missing the judgment of the following message. For those who do not find the Law fulfilled in Him the road is steep and the burden is beyond strength and determination.
Accept the gift of the fulfilled law in Jesus. Celebrate your freedom from the law.
Scripture is taken from Matthew 5:17-19
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Does this sound anything like the world we are living in currently? Oh, sure, we have had literal rain and have avoided actual devastation of locusts and the peril of pestilence but are we not experiencing record financial drought, depleting resources and failing families?
What were the life issues of ages ago are no longer the life issues in our age. No rain (spiritual and financial drought), locusts (lost jobs, homes and cars going without repair) pestilence (marriage commitments broken, political and spiritual leaders that succumb to lust, fame and riches). I know you can think of others that apply. The point is this: that we as a society are bankrupt!
Is there hope?
and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
There is great danger here. We are far too familiar with this scripture and that familiarity has dulled our reading of what it really has to say.
Note that the initial phrase sets the preconditions for the remainder of the statment. My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray.
Let's not move too fast past this precondition.
It is an absolute requirement that one "humble himself" before he is able to pray. Think of your own prayer life. When do you tend to pray? It is generally, if you are like most Christians, when your life is in crises. It is only in those times that you find the challenge greater than your abilities that you turn to prayer.
God is gracious to inform us that we will not pray if we are not first humbled, either by our choice or by our circumstances. The issue with waiting for our circumstances to bring sufficient humility for us to pray is that, at this point, we are just like non-Christians in that we are reduced to the lowest point of our faith and our prayers are timid.
Our God invites us to humble ourselves and then we will pray!
What then follows is that, since we have prayed in true faith we will hungerily seek His benevolent face and in finding His face we will gladly and eagerly turn from our wicked ways.
Unfortunately, we tend to get this whole process backward. We think that we must first turn form our wicked ways, then we can seek His face and pray. Do you see the folly of that? There is no humility in my mustering up the self-will to abandon my wicked ways even if I were able to do it. Without that humility true faith is impossible.
Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place
II Chronicles 7:13-15
Our God hears and sees our humble, faithful prayer. He is so passionate about our prayers offered in faith that He not only hears them He actually sees them as well.
Let's begin again. Step one is: humble yourself and pray. The rest will take care of itself!
Monday, August 17, 2009
This last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to pray for an individual that said the God was leading her into an area that was way out of her comfort zone. She wanted me to pray for her heart to be obedient in following.
Let me ask you a question: What would you do if you knew that there was no possible way to fail?
There is so much misunderstanding today about what faith is. To many Christians think that if they had enough faith they would do certain things: witness to co-workers or to difficult family members. The problem is this: we “get the cart before the horse” regarding faith. We think that if we had sufficient faith we would do such and such.
The reality is that we have exactly as much faith as we need for what we do everyday. The problem with that statement is that it doesn't take much faith to accomplish what we do everyday. We have planned and worked all of the faith out of our lives.
The scripture above tells us that Jesus is the “author and the perfecter” of our faith. We will always have sufficient faith for the challenges that we are willing to face.
Before we go any further, we must deal with the great misunderstanding of faith. Faith does not mean that one has no fears or reservations. As a matter of fact, faith is doing what you should do in the face of fears and reservations.
BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." Romans 1:17
Is your life an exciting adventure or is it day by day routine?
There is a whole new world awaiting you if you will accept the invitation to a life of faith!
Let go and experience the tremendous joy that awaits you!
Monday, August 10, 2009
Within the Promised Land, today called Israel, runs a river from the north to the south. The Jordan River has been used for many messages and many lessons over the years. This time we are not looking at the river but the lakes that exist because of the river.
Traveling from the north, the first lake that we encounter is the Sea of Galilee. This lake is alive with fish and many other water creatures. The Jordan enters the lake from the north and exits to the south.
The next, and last, lake that we come to on the Jordan is the Dead Sea. Unlike the Sea of Galilee there is absolutely no life in or, even, around the lake. The Jordan River enters the Dead Sea from the north and dies in the Dead Sea. The lifeless lake is not due to the water itself but, rather, is due to the minerals that the river has picked up alone its way to the sea. Since there is no outlet these minerals are concentrated and deadly.
There is a profound principle that is communicated by this geographical picture. God has given, into our hands, funds sufficient to do His purposes. He, like the Jordan River, flows funds into our hands. Much of today’s Christianity is lying empty and dead because of positioning themselves as the receiver and the keeper. Like the Dead Sea, we have gathered houses, cars, clothes, dining out experiences and more and more. What God intended, as a blessing has become a burden leading to death.
The designed flow of funds into and through our hands brings life and joy. Attempting to divert the given funds is available to us but brings only the ugly result.
If this message is not difficult enough! Last week I was sharing this thought with a young brother in Jesus. He was quick to point out an application that I had not seen: For years, week after week every Sunday, we have heard message after message but have done very little in releasing the messages to others who don’t know our Jesus! Spiritually alive means taking in and giving out. There are no exceptions. As with the “things” we hold onto, the lack of follow-through with our witness leads only to the Dead Sea experience!
Is it time to reconsider anything?
We all have opted for a little more collecting than disbursing. The only question that is important is: How close are you to your God? Is there life and joy resident or does burden and stress reside?
Monday, August 3, 2009
Better yet, print this list off or write it down and take a few moment of self-evaluation. Circle the characteristics that are generally present in your life. Which are the areas that are the weak points?
Galations 5: 22&23 states: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such things there is no law.
It isn't about you becoming "better" it is all about your accepting the gifts that the Holy Spirit has already brought into your life.
Take a few moments to thank Him for the gifts that you are displaying and a few more moments to ask Him to remove the obstacles in your life to the display and exercise of the remainder.