Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Mercedes and a Bicycle That Changed The World

Who despises the day of small beginnings. Zechariah 4:10

Luiz Graf, a German born American, was transformed during the Azuza Street Revival. After World War I he returned to Germany to share his experience. Traveling through East Prussia, an area hard hit by the war, Luiz’s Mercedes touring car, complete with a sign “Jesus is Coming Soon, Are You Ready?” readily captured people’s attention.

On the unfamiliar roads, Luiz became lost. The hour drew late and he happened upon a small village. Perhaps he’d find something to eat and a place to stay the night. He pulled to a halt in front of a bakery. The owner quickly emerged, intrigued to see such a fancy car. The baker confirmed Luiz’s suspicions, he was indeed lost. This wasn’t a problem. The residents of Trunz needed to hear the Good News Luiz had to share. The baker’s initial response was, “I told you, we’re all Lutherans.”

Luiz sensed resistance and tried another approach. He believed in healing. Did the baker know of anyone in the village who was sick? If the baker saw someone healed, would he listen to Luiz’s message? The baker smiled and nodded yes.

While the two men conversed a young boy on a bicycle stopped to admire the Mercedes. The baker instructed the lad to take Luiz home with him in order to pray for the boy’s sick father. When they arrived, Luiz found the man in excruciating pain. He laid hands on the invalid and healing came. The man was made completely whole.

As a result of this miracle, the boy’s parents received Christ as their Savior. Despite this documented wonder, no one else in the village responded to Luiz’s message. That’s not the end of the story; it’s just the beginning.

Herman, the young boy with the bicycle, became a pastor after the Second World War. He and his wife had several children and Herman’s dream was for his eldest son to follow his footsteps into the ministry. The boy had very different plans for a career and he resisted all attempts to steer him in that direction. The youngest son did demonstrate a desire and heart to serve God, but Herman was determined the eldest would be his successor.

Finally it was painfully apparent that Herman’s wishes were not to be. Reluctantly he agreed to allow his youngest boy to study for the ministry. Over the years this son attained a measure of success. He became known for his evangelistic zeal and held crusades under a large tent. At times his father ministered along side him. They often joked between themselves about Herman’s misgivings concerning his youngest child’s call to preach. Herman’s son is Reinhard Bonnke who now ministers to crowds so large there isn’t a tent big enough to contain all the people.

Sometimes it’s those little, seemingly insignificant episodes of our lives that produce the greatest results. Could Luiz Graf ever have guessed the end result of making a wrong turn? Because he got lost, millions of people around the world have heard the Good News of salvation and have a relationship with God. The Word of God reminds us to never despise small beginnings; they can be the seeds of bigger and better things. Start planting!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cloud Storage

Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.”
2 Chronicles 6:1-2

The buzzword in technology today is cloud storage. Companies no longer need to maintain servers to store data. Now they can rent space on a server farm from businesses that specializes in this service. You can shop online at Amazon and secure your important information in their cloud. It’s about time we caught up with God. He’s been into cloud storage for a long time.

Clouds contain moisture that turns into rain which refreshes and replenishes the earth. There are irrigation systems but nothing beats rain water. How appropriate that the One who created and sustains all things resides in a cloud which acts as tangible representation of His presence. Clouds provide needed shade from the intense heat of the sun and warmth as they blanket the earth in cold weather. These two aspects depict the nature and character of God.

Solomon is considered one of the wisest men to have lived, but even he didn’t get it right all the time. He believed a temple would be the best place for God to reside as opposed to some ominous dark cloud. “Solomon, did you really think you could build a structure big enough to contain God?” In the entire temple complex there wasn’t one item created that didn’t use God’s own materials. What kind of a present is giving someone a home built entirely out of their resources – not much!

God said He resides in a dark cloud, and He’s free to live where He wants. His dwelling is a place not made by human hands. God is too big to fit into anything constructed by man’s endeavors, regardless of the purity of motive and sincerity of heart. God doesn’t live in buildings. He lives in people; something we can only reproduce but not build from scratch.

God’s cloud’s not dark because He can’t pay His electric bill. God is light. Everything around Him is darkness. He is brilliant and pure. No devise we manufacture can produce enough candle power to match His radiance. When we’re groping around in the dark, we need to get with God; He’s got the light source to help us find our way.

It’s a good thing God didn’t give up His cloud in favor of the temple. Contrary to Solomon’s intentions, his workmanship didn’t last forever. Invading armies destroyed his masterpiece and carried away anything not nailed down. Had He depended on Solomon’s temple for a home sweet home, God would’ve been homeless. No one can take God's cloud from him.

God understands cloud storage on a level we can’t comprehend. Although He has His cloud, God desires a home in each and every one of us; one made by divine and not human hands. When we open up our hearts and lives and invite Him to enter, we become part of His version of cloud storage - the great cloud of witnesses.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

God's Pipeliine

And glory has come to me through them. John 17:10( emphasis mine)

Jesus said some people brought Him glory. Who were they and what did they do? In context, Jesus was with His disciples. He’d prayed for them and now they were confused. They learned He planned to leave them behind for a short time and couldn’t grasp the thought of life without Him.

At that point in time, I wouldn't have considered the disciples as those who brought Jesus glory. It’s true when on assignment they preached and worked miracles. They also fought about who would be greatest and accused Jesus of disregarding their safety during a storm at sea. Who takes a nap when one can be in the throes of a good panic attack? They often misunderstood or flat out didn’t get the lessons Jesus taught. Constantly exposed to supernatural solutions, their feet were firmly rooted in logical answers to problems that arose. At times they were a mess AND Jesus said they brought Him glory.

I equate Jesus as the glory giver not the receiver, but He has a different viewpoint. He doesn't look for perfect people to fill that role so there’s hope for you and me!

Under the Old Covenant, the disciples didn’t have Holy Spirit indwelling them. Despite that limitation, they brought glory to the Lord. Holy Spirit's arrival at Pentecost gave us the same power they had, but before He came, how did they pull this off?

“For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” John 17:8 (emphasis mine)

One thing the disciples got right, they believed what they heard. They made plenty of mistakes and at times failed miserably. However, they grabbed onto Jesus’ words, held on for dear life and refused to let go. No matter what, they wouldn’t quit. Their dogged determination to remain steadfast brought glory to their Lord.

We grossly underestimate the impact that the unity of the disciples around the Lordship of Jesus had on them, their world and Jesus Himself. Our Lord said in John 17:26 that unity is what will capture the attention of the world. For all their personality differences and agendas, the disciples agreed on the key issue – Jesus was Lord.

They did this and so can we. Being united doesn’t mean we become clones and all fall in line. Jesus never attempted to make the disciples a cookie cutter group of followers. He taught them to work together and still preserved their individuality. The central theme, Jesus is Lord, was and still is all that matters. Much of what divides the Church as a whole is theological fluff. It’s time to join ranks with our brothers and sisters based on the Lordship of Jesus and put our differences and preferences aside. Our unity will speak volumes and will be much louder than our individual voices in capturing the world’s attention. It’s what they're waiting for.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Shame on Me? No Thanks, I'll Pass.

Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.
Romans 10:11 (emphasis mine)

Am I the only believer who sometimes experiences feelings of inadequacy, frustration, disappointment and a nagging suspicion that I don’t measure up to God’s standards? Do others have those persistent voices that remind them of their failures, defeats and less than shining moments?

            “If you really were a Christian you would or wouldn’t do...”;
            “If you really believe, you wouldn’t have any questions or doubts”;
            “If you really had faith that person would have been healed; that mountain                    would’ve moved and you wouldn’t still have this problem.”

For all the super Christians who fly above the fray you can skip this post. This is for those of us not in your league. We’re still “working out our salvation.”

God’s made a very strong commitment to anyone who trusts Him. They will NEVER be put to shame which means to dishonor, humiliate or disappoint.

“God, if it wasn’t for that little word never I could relate to this verse. My problem is this, I’ve been shamed. I’ve experienced first hand dishonor and humiliation. At times I've even been disappointed with You. Your Word tells me that You don’t lie (Titus 1:2) and Your Word is truth. Reality sometimes tells me something different. What gives?”

The answer lies in the root and source of those negative feelings and critical voices that dog us repeatedly. They never are, nor will they ever be from God. Before He created us, God knew what a mess we’d make of things. Adam’s sin and fall from grace didn’t force Him into panic mode to scramble for a Plan B. God had a solution in place before we had the opportunity to foul things up.

Can you picture the Father browbeating Jesus? Why not? “Well,” you respond, “Jesus is perfect. He never makes mistakes, but I do.” Instead of seeing all our faults and failures, God views us through the lenses of his special glasses, the righteousness of His Son Jesus. God’s eyesight is perfect. When He uses His glasses His vision of us is enhanced to where we look just like His Son. What He sees in us is “the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22. There’s no reason for Him to degrade or debase us.

Why do we still experience shame? Go back to the source, which isn’t God. It comes from our selves, others and our arch enemy satan, never from God.

In the big picture, God’s opinion is the only one that really matters. Those who trust in the Lord can rest because they really are “accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

Shame on me? No thanks, I'll pass.