Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8b

From the beginning, God’s plan was to destroy satan’s handiwork. This wasn’t only Jesus’ purpose, but also Adam and Eve’s and ours. The literal First Family was responsible to take dominion over the earth and replenish it. In order to replenish something, it must first be depleted. God’s garden Eden was perfect but the rest of the world was in need of restoration. Creation wasn’t a sloppy or haphazard job. Something, no someone made a mess of it. That someone is satan.

God’s initial directive to mankind hasn’t changed, take dominion and replenish the earth. What does that mean? What does that look like? Simply stated and profound in nature, God wants earth to mirror Heaven. To understand how earth should function take a glance at Heaven’s S.O.P. (Standing Operating Procedures). Here are a few.

Heaven is a place:
-         of unending praise and worship to God, and Him alone;
-         where the supernatural is the rule, not the exception;
-         where ministering spirits and angels reside;
-         of unrestricted and unhindered fellowship with God;
-         of love, joy, peace, creativity, beauty, wonder, surprise;
-         where sickness, dis-ease, death, lack, poverty, greed, malice, hatred,
  anger and such do not exist;
-         of no fear because perfect love has cast it out;
-         devoid of all sin and its negative consequences.

Imagine how exciting life will be as God works through and with us to make Heaven’s reality earth’s new norm. I’m a thrill ride junkie. I like speed, heights and adrenaline rushes. The fastest vehicles and the tallest, wildest roller coasters pale in comparison to the experience of God working through me. This is the kind of life I want.

It’s time to discard worthless feelings of inferiority and helplessness. God knew what He was doing when He made us. We’re here at this place and this junction in time for a specific purpose. We’re an integral part of His plan, significant and necessary. Everyone’s needed. All hands on deck.

The devil’s run roughshod over humanity long enough. It’s time to pull the plug on his reign of deception, destruction and fear. As we pray for God’s kingdom to manifest AND do what He commands, we’ll see real positive change. Let’s make God’s miraculous and supernatural earth’s new S.O.P. Working hand and hand with Him, the world will work the same way Heaven does. What a huge improvement that will be over the mess we have right now.

Monday, December 23, 2013

With Heartfelt Thanks

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you’ve prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory for your people IsraelLuke 2:30-32

Simeon, an elderly Jewish man patiently waited for years to see the Messiah. While he held the infant Jesus in his arms he uttered this prayer of thanksgiving. He could die in peace having seen his heart’s desire. God’s promise was fulfilled.

I’d like to thank the Jewish people. Without you, there’d be no Christmas. I’m not talking about Santa Claus, shopping frenzies, decorations, carols, stuffed stomachs and emptied wallets. Christmas is really all about Jesus and not the ancillary noise that attempts to drown Him out. I mean no disrespect in doing this but wish to express my heartfelt thanks.

From early on it would have been easier politically, socially and financially to abandon your faith and assimilate into the surrounding cultures. God knows the pressures were there to do so. Instead you’ve suffered ostracism, anti-Semitism and horrific persecution, sometimes at the hands of those claiming to be Christians. For this I am truly sorry. Still you’ve persevered, confident that God is true to His word. You’ve had your share of missteps but the truth embedded in your DNA never dies and always sprouts again.

The term Judeo-Christian gives appropriate first place honor and recognition to the group who laid the foundation for so many aspects of our lives. Your laws provide a framework for people to build a strong, stable society. The Ten Commandments encapsulate guidelines for living. Thank you for giving us and our nation a base to build upon.

As a group you excel in all venues and indeed you should. You have always been and will always be the apple of God’s eye and His chosen people. The world has benefited from your outstanding contributions in business, science, finances, education, medicine, the arts and so forth. Without you we’d be a pretty sorry lot.

Thank you for never surrendering your dream for a homeland. The nation of Israel must survive and thrive. If our nation is wise it will continue to stand and defend its right to exist. Please, hold on to the land God gave you, every square inch. God’s positioned Israel in a strategic place, so hold your ground.

I’d like to close with a blessing from the Chumash.
May Hashem bless you and safeguard you.
May Hashem illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you.
              May Hashem lift His countenance to you and establish peace for you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Shut Up!

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.
Exodus 14:14

“Shut up!” God didn’t use those exact words but it’s what He meant. On one side was the Red Sea and on the other was the Egyptian army. Caught in the middle, without an escape plan were the Israelites. God wasn’t alarmed; from His perspective everything was going according to plan. He would fight and protect His people. What He needed from them was one tiny little thing - keep their mouths firmly shut. No whining, complaining or “poor me” please. Negative words, confessions of fear, doubt and unbelief would destroy the victory God planned. They’ll also do the same to us.

“Hold your peace.” The people were instructed to remain in the peace they’d entered when they left Egypt. Peace is God’s blessing according to Psalm 23:9. God’s strategic objective for them in this situation was to retain what they already had. To accomplish this required a guard over their mouths.

Faithless words hinder God’s work. Jesus experienced this at the home of Jairus. In order to heal the man’s daughter He first removed the scoffers and doubters. An atmosphere of unbelief would’ve hindered His ability to minister life to the little girl. A key to the capture of Jericho was the silence maintained during the march around the city’s wall.

Nothing’s changed; words still have creative power both positive and negative. When we declare God’s Word we partner with Him to manifest the victory He’s already won. Faithless words tie His hands; He won’t override our free wills. Our words reveal our motives, intents, beliefs and desires.

We can be assured that God is always for us. He does maintain His own time table and His methodology may appear unorthodox at times. He’s God, He’s entitled to as much. Equipped with more solutions than we have problems, God never hurries or panics. Always in control, God intervenes on our behalf with His plans for our victory. For now, we can “help Him out”. If we can’t speak words of faith we can shut up, hold our peace and watch Him perform the impossible.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Tale of Three Men

Yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
Luke 11:8

This is a tale of three men in need:
-a late arriving traveler in need of food and shelter;
-the traveler's host in need of provisions;
-the host's neighbor in need of a good night's sleep.
Jesus used these three to teach us how to pray effectively.

I'll assume that the traveler's visit caught his host by surprise. Unless this man was desperately poor he was a completely unprepared for his guest's arrival. At this time the 24-7 convenience store on the corner didn't exist. The host had only his neighbor to turn to for help.

It wasn't the food that got the third man out of bed. It was his neighbor's persistence. The second man refused to go away empty-handed. This is the same attitude we need to adopt when we pray.

Jesus assured us that God really does know how to answer our prayers. If we need fish and eggs, He won't give us snakes and scorpions. Both creatures can inflict pain, even death. God's answers to our prayers are neither harmful nor deadly. He doesn't play mean tricks on us, or on our enemies (much to our dismay). Why does it seem that things backfire when we pray? If God's doesn't play practical jokes, who's messing with us?

There are demonic forces at work to hinder our prayers and make our lives a living hell. The tenth chapter of Daniel describes this type of interference. Daniel had a problem. For three weeks he prayed, fasted and sought God's help. A heavenly being appeared to Daniel and explained the reason his response was delayed. En route from God's throne room to earth this messenger encountered fierce opposition from demonic forces. The battle was so intense that Michael, one of the chief princes had to step in and assist. After twenty-one days of warfare in heaven, Daniel got his answer. His persistence in prayer was the key that enabled him to receive the help he sought.

When you don't get immediate results, or if things appear to get worse, don't quit. If you're confident you've prayed according to God's will, stick with it. Put pressure on the interference in the unseen realm. Jesus has already won the battle; our part is to enforce the victory and maintain all ground taken. Be bold and persistent in prayer and you'll see great results. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Forget It!

All of us who are mature should take such a view of these things. Philippians 3:15 (emphasis mine)

As a child, I couldn’t wait to grow up. My parents encouraged me to enjoy where I was; they knew what lay ahead. Now, with perfect 20/20 hindsight, I realize how right they were. God however, encourages us to return to the state of unencumbered wonder and belief in the impossible. I can’t seem to find my way back there easily.

Now I’m older (I didn’t say old). I’m supposed to be wise, act my age (whatever that means) and be mature. How does one do those things and still be child like?

Children have the ability to believe that despite previous circumstances and situations, this time things really can turn out differently. How can they do this? What’s their secret? They know how to forget.

Paul learned that when he let go and forgot his past accomplishments he was free to discover newer and better things. Always being right wasn’t that important. When he gave himself permission to not have all the answers it opened him up to possibilities that were, well, impossible.

Paul rediscovered wonderment; the ability to be amazed. Even simple things could be profound. For him the mature, grown up approach was, forget it! Hmm. Easier said than done, but an overlooked key to living out the life Christ died to give us.

This doesn’t mean we discard valuable lessons; that's foolishness. Make a mistake and we learn how not to do something. With that issue settled we’re free to explore new venues to solve our problems or reach our goals. What often hinders us from moving forward and trying something different? Fear. We hate to lose. Those who won’t quit are more likely to succeed. In our instant society success usually doesn’t happen overnight. It may take longer than we planned, cost more than we budgeted and be harder than we ever imagined. The end result will be worth the energy and resources expended to see things though to completion.

Paul didn’t advocate a quick fix. He used words such as forgetting, straining (verse 13) and press (verse 14). These indicate continuous, labor-intensive activity. Time alone won’t produce wise, smart people. Sweat equity is also involved. The challenge is to grow up and still maintain that child-like innocence.

It seems counter-intuitive to our sensible, adult brains to revert to child-like wonder. We understand what life’s really all about, or do we? Jesus said if we didn’t become like little children we’d miss the Kingdom of God. Are our sophisticated, logical and mature thought processes worth holding onto if it means we’ll miss out on God’s way of doing things? Forget it!