Monday, September 27, 2010

Two Seas and Two Choices

One of the many ways that our God graciously communicates with us displays His pursuit of us. When there is a critical message that He doesn’t want us to miss, He will send it in multiple ways. A case in point follows:

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 s 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, September 20, 2010

Psalm 143 (b)

"Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob;
But you have become weary of Me, O Israel.

(See last week's discussion of the Jacob and Israel issue)

"You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings,
Nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices
I have not burdened you with offerings,
Nor wearied you with incense.

(You have done nothing for ME)

"You have bought Me not sweet cane with money,
Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices;
Rather you have burdened Me with your sins,
You have wearied Me with your iniquities.

(You have done much against ME)

"I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake,
And I will not remember your sins.

( He "wipes" out your sin for HIS sake)

"Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together;
State your cause, that you may be proved right.

(You think that your sin is so big that you can't pray, can't worship or can't witness? Bring your case and argue before the One Who "remembers your sin no more"!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Psalm 143 (a)

Scripture has far more to say than my meager mind:

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob,

And He who formed you, O Israel,

(Why address "Jacob" and Israel"? God is addressing the same people by referring to Jacob and Israel. The name "Jacob" means "supplanter". Jacob was the twin son who tricked his father to steal his brother's rightful birthright. The name "Israel" means "God strives". Israel is the new name given Jacob as he became the father of the twelve sons/tribes.

What God is saying is that the following message is for all of His children. Whether walking in the middle of His will or whether conniving and struggling for all of the wrong things, the message is the same.)

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!

(Pause here for a moment; let those words soak into you spirit)

"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.

"For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.

"Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you,
I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.

(Pause here and thank our God for Jesus)

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
And gather you from the west.

"I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
And to the south, 'Do not hold them back '
Bring My sons from afar
And My daughters from the ends of the earth,

Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made."

(Declare His glory to everyone)

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Dad

Perhaps you haven't heard yet but my dad passed away on August 1st. So many people have expressed their regrets but they just don't understand why I am joyful.

To give you the short version of events. My dad grew up in Chicago as the fourth of five boys and his father was killed at an early age in an industrial accident.

During most of his life, he rejected every concept of God. He moved through eastern type of meditation and read much about the human mind and thought control type of issues.

Over the years, since my new life began, I have been presenting him with books and personal discussions about Jesus. Each time he dismissed my thoughts and discussions and rejected the books.

Somewhere around 60 years of smoking left him in failing health. His lungs struggled to inhale and he had to learn to control panic attacks caused by his inability to get a clear breath.

He lived like this for several years.

Each time I left him I though it might be the last time I would see him.

Over the years I have traveled the 550 miles to Lava Hot Springs Idaho to see him one to two times per year. As our discussions progressed he became a bit softer to talk about God.

Finally, the last time I saw him he held up a small new testament that he had gotten years ago in the Navy. The Gideon New Testament contained very small print that he had trouble reading.

I went out that night and bought him a large print Bible and we talked about what he might read first.

That was the last time I saw him.

At his funeral, I met his step-son (Mark) who, like me, grew up in a Mormon family. I assumed that he was also Mormon. Mark and my dad had a very good relationship for several years.

After the funeral, Mark and I were talking and we both realized that we had both been talking to dad about Jesus. Mark said he knew someone else was witnessing to him but didn't know who.

Mark told me that the last time he saw dad, he asked him directly if he had accepted Jesus into his life. My dad said "yes". Mark asked him if it would be alright if they prayed together again to receive Jesus just to make sure. They did.

Here is the answer to my deep, deep misunderstood joy.

God, in His tender mercies kept my father alive long enough to find his way to Jesus and then took him home to His glory!

How can I be sad?