Monday, March 29, 2010

The Promised Land is Waiting!

The story of the nation of Israel’s release from years of captivity in Egypt begins in Exodus 4. The final act that “buys” their release, the blood of the lamb, is in chapter 11.

To assure that this freed people would not lose their way to God's blessings and provision, a pillar of fire in the night and a cloud during the daylight would guide them every step of the way on their journey. (Exodus 13:21-22).

For several generations, God had promised a specific land to Israel. Not only did He promise the land, but He released them from their captors and guided them directly to the place of entrance into the promised land.

Israel balked. They came right up to the point of decision and they chose not to enter the land. ( Numbers 13). God’s reaction to Israel’s balking?: Surely, all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. Numbers 14:22-23

After the "balking" generation passed away the Nation of Israel is again at the entry point of the promised land.

Deuteronomy 12:8-12 is the key section for us to understand clearly what the new terms of their entrance would be: It explicitly states that “tomorrow” everything changes. “you shall not do all that we are doing here today…” All of the do's and don'ts of the law were being left on the wilderness side to the border.

The promise is that Israel will live in rest and security provided they enter the land of promise as God intended.

Unfortunately, Hebrews 4 states that Israel NEVER entered the promised rest and security and continues on warning us that we also might miss it if we respond to God the way Israel did. The crowning statement is verse 19: ..they were not able to enter because of unbelief’.

The bottom line is that the people of Israel never entered the land of security and rest because every step of the way they “Logic-ed” their way through the enemies and issues. God required that they enter the land knowing the He had given it to them and that it was He who would clear the way and fight their enemies.

The invitation to us is the same. Cross the Jordan that separates the dominion of this world from the kingdom of God; the world from the promised land; drudgery and toil from rest and security. It is only by faith that we can enter the promised land!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Trust is a Huge Issue.

Let me ask you a very personal and a very difficult question. Do you really trust God?

If you were a close friend of yours, looking at you from the outside, would you see evidence that you truly trust God?

In today’s society, those who profess belief in God, tend to ebb and flow in the boldness of their trust in God. The ebbing and the flowing tend to follow what we see as the “practical” things such as job success or position, relationship health and physical well-being.

Perhaps there are indications that you might see that might give you an indications of your level of trust. How stressed are you? Is there joy in your life? How do you sleep at night? What do you need in order to relax? How do you treat others; those whom you love; how about strangers?

Trust is the basis for relationship with God. One cannot have relationship with one whom he does not trust. That is why trust is such a big deal.

The Amplified Bible expands the text of scripture to provide a more accurate understanding of the words and the thoughts in the text. The Amplified Bible describes the importance of trust:

with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified. Romans 10:10

There is an analogy that best paints a picture of the trust that the bible talks about:

While hosting some friends in our home, I pulled out an unusual chair that I have recently picked up at a garage sale and placed it in the middle of the room. I then asked the group for their opinions on the stability of the old chair. After some talk, I ask them if they thought that the chair would hold them if they were to sit on it. Most replied that they thought that it looked strong enough to serve its intended purpose.

I then asked, if I were to put the chair in a position that placed their physical safety in question (over a deep chasm or on top of a high building) if it were to fail, would there opinions change? Would you then be willing to put their opinions into practice and sit on that chair or would their opinions then change?

See, trust must be based upon the viability of the thing (on the One) trusted.

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 DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," Hebrews 13:5

Once again, let’s read that same scripture as the Amplified edition clarifies the message (please, if you read nothing else in this message, READ this carefully and thoughtfully):

Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

So could He make it any more certain to you? He is trustworthy!

The only way you are going to know that for certain is to actually “sit” on His promises!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bought or Sold Out?

This week’s message can be a bit heavy but it is absolutely necessary for us to find the freedom that our God designed and provided for us. To lessen the affront of this message I will be addressing it to the one who needs to hear this the most.


If someone were to look at my day-to-day life, who would they say is the “boss”? I think that it is pretty easy to answer that question. It is clearly evident to me that I live like I am the one in control. Oh, sure, like almost everyone else I have others who have sway; a workplace boss and a wife have considerable input into my perceived control.

But, once again, scripture slaps me in the face:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
I Corinthians 6:20

“But I have responsibilities”, I mentally reply. I cannot run away from my commitments and responsibilities; that wouldn’t be right would it?

For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave.

You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
I Corinthians 7:23

Bought with a price? A very high price at that!

So how have things been working for me? If I am “owned” by one party and living as though I own my own life and lease and/or invest parts of my life to others for various benefits, how is it right for me to expect things to work out? In reality, I suppose, being a slave of men (even if it is myself) isn’t as attractive as it first seems.

The first rule in climbing out of a hole is to quit digging and to put down the shovel. Before I can “free” myself from the slavery of men, I must begin by really returning to the God who bought me. For, not only did He buy me, but he cleansed me and made me fit to become a temple of the Holy God; the Holy Spirit.

The reality of that fact cannot be witnessed by others in me until I accept the reality of that truth in faith and to begin to live the unfettered, widely adventurous life that God has bought me for.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Much is at Stake; Workers Needed!

Every Sunday is a bit different for me. My purpose each Sunday is to walk the venues and the classroom areas while praying as the Holy Spirit leads me. As I walk, I also look for people who might look “out of place”; perhaps they are standing alone, wandering around aimlessly or actually looking to have a question answered. This makes each week a bit different.

Last Sunday was a day that I will long remember. From one person to the next there were heart-rending issues; illnesses, financial stresses, marriage problems, family issues….

As I was praying for the one service a guy, who I have known for several months, actually I met him at an altar call when he came forward, approached me and let me know that his sister was going to be joining him at church. He asked if I would be willing to talk to her after the service. Of course, I said that I would look forward to talking to her.

I found the brother and sister after the service and he introduced us. I invited her to sit down together at one of the café tables so we could talk. As we sat there, I could tell that she was very uneasy. I prayed for her as she attempted to find the words to start.

Before I continue, I need to state that I strongly believe that, whenever it is possible, that in one on one situations men should pray for men and women should pray for women. I asked this lady if she would be more comfortable in talking in a less public place. She quickly stated that that would be easier for her. I looked around to see if I could locate one of the women that I know who would be willing to be included in this but didn’t see anyone so I suggested that we move to the prayer room.

The next hour is difficult to describe without revealing confidences however, it is appropriate to say that this lady was dealing with some very weighty issues. She “knew” that she was too bad for God to accept her; that she had done too much and gone too far. After much venting, I finally got a chance to ask her if I could pray for her.

The story goes on for a while longer but the point of this message is not the details of this situation but that God is always doing something pretty amazing and wants to share it with us. I don’t want you to miss it!

This woman has been in and out of church most of her life. Her opinion of church was that she didn’t belong there and that church was not intended for people like her. She had been counseled that she needed to quit certain things or that she was too “this” or too “that”. She had encountered the judgementalism of religion!

God trusted this tender soul to the Holy Spirit and me that day. Pray for her please. It isn’t important that you know her name since God made the appointment I’m sure He will remember.

Your prayers make a difference. I know that sometimes it seems like we pray and nothing seems to happen. There are, however, no wasted prayers. God hears and responds to them all. His timing is different, His view of events and situations is different, His purposes are often different but He does respond to each prayer.

Thank Him that He as trusted us with so many difficult and tender issues!

Tell him you want to accept His invitation!

Contented With Yesterday's Glories?

We aren't guaranteed "tomorrow" so make the most of "today".

Love deeply, breathe fully, laugh often and share Jesus openly!

Here is a brief stanza from one of my favorite songs:

I won`t be contented with yesterdays glories
I can`t live on promises winter to spring
This is my moment and now is my story
Who knows what tomorrow will bring


Year 2010 has opened up with a grand and glorious opportunity for those who belong to Jesus. There are no coincidences, there are no recessions, there are no uncertainties within the kingdom of God. God's mercy is unending in this age and once again He has graced us with a time where the gold and the silver of society will not satisfy, much less save, our neighbors. Disillusionment, fear and insecurity are now common in the offices, homes and the unemployment lines of those who have been knocked from there imagined castles of hope and security.

There remains a huge issue, however, in how the lost will be presented with the truth of real security. The issue is this: the Church is asleep! For too long, the Church has modeled itself after the trappings of the world. Christians today look too much like the unsaved around them. This makes the alternative choice for the unbeliever far less attractive.

Scripture calls the Church, a city on a hill, the Bride of Jesus, a bright and shining star. As integral parts of the body of Jesus, called the Church, we are a testimony to what God has done in our individual lives to those around us. The testimony, in many if not most cases, has been diluted by our familiarity and acceptance of the wrong goals and standards.

Sacrificed, then, is what scripture (Galatians 5) calls the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness and self-control. Imagine the witness of a Church that displayed openly these God given gifts?

Something has gone wrong. The train is off of the tracks. The ONLY available solution is prayer.

Pray that God will show His great mercy toward His church once again and send an awakening!

Only by His grace!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Personal Encounter

Many of you have never heard my story of God’s tender care. Recently with all of the news about the economy, this encounter came to mind to remind me Who cares:

At the time, I was working for an oil and gas company in the downtown Denver area. I had a practice of taking my lunch hour, whenever possible, outside walking around the city streets getting away form the office and getting a little exercise.

One lovely summer day as I was heading back to my office something amazing happened. As I write this, the picture remains crystal clear.

The 16th street pedestrian mall was still rather new and a good portion of the offices emptied out onto the mall during weekday lunch hours. This made the sidewalks rather busy. In addition, a couple of banks sponsored outdoor concerts on various days which tended to draw bigger crowds.

It was on one of these days that I was lost in my own thoughts as I walked along the mall back toward my office and work responsibilities. Through the crowd I saw two individuals who clearly stood out in the crowd. These two individuals were about one half block away from me wearing jeans and no shirts. There were many, many people between us yet it seemed that we caught one another’s eyes and they walked directly toward me.

Having worked in and walked around the downtown area for several years, I had become accustomed to being asked for “spare change’, to “help” or, in general, just fork over some money to meet a perceived need. As you can probably tell, I had become a bit hardened to the process. Scammers to many to count clouded the real need that was present.

So as these tow individuals approached me form over one half block away they asked for money. My automatic reply was “no” as I walked on.

This is where things started to get interesting. As I approached my office building there was an outdoor concert in the park around the office tower. As I approached the crowd of people a bird, a sparrow I think, flew directly under my foot as I was stepping down. I jerked my foot up before crushing the bird and it flew off.

Immediately the scripture flooded my mind where Jesus told his followers that they were “ worth more than a sparrow” and “ if God so cares for the sparrow, will He not care for you”. I quickly turned around and headed back to the mall knowing that I had to find those two strangers.

I looked up and down the mall. I went into store after store looking for these two distinctive guys. After some time, I began to ask people if they had seen to shirtless guys walking around. No one had seen them. I was just beginning to think that I had misunderstood the sparrow incident when I say a young man sitting on one of the benches close to the area where I had seen the two strangers. I thought that if he had been there awhile he would have had the best chance of having seen them.

As I approached this young man, I asked if he had seen the two shirtless strangers. He said he had not so I asked how long he had been sitting there. He said that he wasn’t sure.

For several minutes this young man told me about his life and that, just that very morning, he had been kicked out of his friend’s apartment and didn’t know what he was going to do.

Is our God amazing or what? Do you realize the lengths He will go to make sure you have what you need? If it takes two shirtless angels; if it takes a wayward sparrow; if it takes a dense accountant, He will see that it is done.

Trust Him! He has proven Himself trustworthy over and over again.

Trust Him! No matter the size of you problem, big or small!

Trust Him! You only think that there is no answer!

Trust Him!