Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Provision For Blessing

A river watering the garden flowed from Eden (delight); from there it separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah where there is gold, (the gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are there also). Genesis 2:10-12

A name’s meaning can contain overlooked information. Pishon, the first river named in Eden means gusher and increase. It flowed in Havilah which means anguish and travail. Pishon ran through a land rich in natural resources. The bible states that Havilah didn’t have just gold, it had good gold along with other valuable assets. How ironic that a place of so much wealth was also known for anguish and travail. Why did God send a gusher of increase into an area that already contained more than enough?

Havilah had wealth but that didn’t automatically make life wonderful. Look around. Doesn’t this sound like our world today? Everything we need to live comfortably already exists. Why then do lack and poverty ruin so many lives?

Scripture tells us, “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” Proverbs 10:22. Pishon symbolizes the Word of God that is available to all. It transforms even the natural world it encounters. God’s idea of wealth distribution is very different from that which is proposed today. He does support giving but from the position of what’s mine is yours, not vice versa. Everyone is to share at their own discretion. Note I said everyone and not those deemed better off  which is an arbitrary method of measurement.

God’s blueprint for prosperity is based on the law of sowing and reaping. In order to receive, one must first give. With this mindset there’s no reason to hoard or be greedy. The key to obtaining more is generosity. This principle works for anyone who applies it. It is the secret from moving from little to much.

God didn’t institute charitable giving under the direction of any governmental agency. It doesn’t work. In the hands of individuals there’s no red tape and the impact is felt immediately.

God’s ways are counter-intuitive to ours and this produces the bottleneck. In order to truly prosper our thought processes much change. Anyone can adopt a giving attitude in the natural and achieve a measure of success that won’t have any eternal rewards. This only occurs when we accept God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus. We can renew our minds with His Word. God’s method of brainwashing will give our dirty old brains a good scrubbing. He’s made provision for the world’s needs but will we seek them out and use them wisely?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Help! I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumbles, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his right hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

Walking with God doesn’t guarantee we’ll never experience difficulties. Although God makes our steps firm, occasionally we get tripped up. He assures us we will not fall because we’re in His grip.

Sometimes I feel as if “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” I did all I knew to do and I’m still flat on my face. Later, hindsight revealed the obvious that I missed. Would have, could have and should have, the regret triplets, point out my mistakes and how they could have been avoided, always well after the fact of course. Thanks for nothing.

Since God said we’re in His grip and can’t fall perhaps we need to reconsider what constitutes a monumental failure. It appears that God views it as a misstep, a bump in the road if you please. He knew in advance the challenges we’d face before we experienced them. As we walk in fellowship with Him, He prepares us for what lies ahead. We’ll face rough storms and will make it through to the other side.

Although God’s hold on us is firm, it’s no excuse for stupidity on our parts. We can’t do anything we feel like and expect Him to prevent any negative consequences. He never forsakes us but He also allows us to face the music for our wrong choices. He is a loving and at times an indulgent Father who is not interested in raising a pack of brats. He needs mature sons and daughters to administrate His kingdom using His authority here on earth. He understands we’re not perfect, so He helps us when we stumble.

I suspect we’re not the ones with the tightest grip. We say we hold onto God for dear life, but I think His grasp on us is stronger than ours is on Him. He’s unwilling to lose any one so He never lets go. Knowing He’s got us, we can confidently proceed without fear of falling. He’ll keep our steps firm when the ground beneath us shifts. We may trip and stumble but we’ll never fall and not be able to get up. How about you? Are there monumental failures that have tripped you up? Do you feel like throwing in the towel and quitting? Do you know God’s never let go, and that He’s still firmly hanging on to you?

Photo from Dreamstime

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

He Gets It

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15.

Revelation 13:8 and 1 Peter 1:20 refer to Jesus as the Lamb chosen and slain before the foundation of the world. Before God created the angels, He knew Lucifer would rebel. Before He created man, God knew Adam would fall. So, before either of these events occurred God instituted His solution to the problem of sin. At that point as far as God was concerned, it was as good as done. From that moment and moving forward, everything He said and did was based on that future event coming to fruition. Jesus' whole life was centered around the successful completion of this mission. It wasn't a burden or a chore.

Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, Hebrews 12:2.

Operating here on earth as son of man, and not as the Son of God, Jesus experienced all the limitations and frailties of our humanity. Gethsemane depicts this clearly.

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, Matthew 26:38.

My Father, if possible may this cup be taken from me, Matthew 26:39.

How many of us have felt so beat down and defeated that we entertained the thought of ending our lives in order to escape the pain? Haven't we at times asked God, “Isn't there another way?” When we've hit that wall, Jesus understands. He gets it. He put Himself through the wringer of the temptations and pressures we'd face to such a degree that an angel had to be sent to strengthen Him and He literally broke out in a sweat – of blood, Luke 22:43-44. He was pressured to quit and call the whole thing off. When we're getting bombarded and feel like throwing in the towel, Jesus knows exactly how we feel. He's been there too. He gets it.

Here's a thought. What would've happened if Jesus capitulated and gave up. What if He'd said "yes" to temptation and not "no"? What if He chucked the whole plan out the proverbial window? I believe there was more at stake than our redemption. EVERYTHING would have changed and not for the better.

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:3.

The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by the power of His word.  Hebrews 1:3.

I the Lord do not change, Malachi 3:6.

All of creation was formed by and exists now because of God's Word which is rock solid and dependable. The one Who spoke it and sustains it can't change. If Jesus, after having committed to the plan of salvation changed His mind, the integrity of what holds the cosmos together would've been endangered. He'd have become the God Who did, and could at some future time again, change. What we call the “Laws of the Universe” would've become mere suggestions. Today gravity works. Tomorrow – who knows? God would've no longer been the unalterable Supreme Being. He'd have become no better or worse than the idols and deities worshiped throughout the ages – capricious, fickle and unable to save themselves let alone anyone else.

As a man, Jesus possessed the same free will we have. The Father wouldn't force Him to do anything. In the garden Jesus told the arresting soldiers that He could, at the very moment, ask His Father to send twelve legions of angels. He'd have been gone and they'd have been toast. Even though to do so would have ruined everything, the Father's love wouldn't permit Him to deny His Son a request for help. That's love.

So much hung in the balance during those hours in the garden. Jesus endured all the temptations thrown at Him without succumbing to them. He can now empathize with us when we come under assault. None of us will face what He did but because of His experience, Jesus knows where we're at. He gets it. If you're facing overwhelming problems and feel as if you can't continue another moment – look to Jesus. He knows what you're going through. He's been there. He gets it AND He's mighty to save. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What Did The Fig Tree Say?

And Jesus answered (emphasis mine) and said unto it, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever” and his disciples heard it. Mark 11:14

What did the fig tree say to receive such a harsh rebuke, one so loud the disciples heard it? It may seem preposterous that objects can speak and hear but Jesus demonstrated otherwise. What type of voices do non-human and inanimate objects have?

Circumstances and situations speak to us constantly. They talk so loudly they keep us up at night. Their nagging dogs us all day long too.

“It’s all over.”
“This situation is hopeless.”
“How will you dig yourself out of this hole?”
“You’ll never make it, you’re all washed up.”

Heard these before? You probably have some of your own personal favorites to add to this list. Jesus showed us how to silence the voices that hound us 24/7 – answer them. He gave us permission to talk back! We’re allowed to put them in their places. Still not convinced? Check out Mark 11:23 for the details.

"I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, 'May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart."

Jesus said we can literally talk to mountains and if we really believe what we say, they will move. God’s Word contains tremendous power. If things browbeat us it's time to do something - speak up! When Jesus cursed the fig tree He didn’t mumble under his breath. He spoke so loud the disciples heard Him.

What fig tree or mountain is trash talking you today? If it’s been one minute, one hour, one day, one year or even longer, it doesn’t matter. Turn it off permanently now! Speak God’s promises to those accusing voices. Don’t just think about them, verbalize His Word at the top of your lungs. Follow Jesus’ example, do what He did and you’ll get the same results.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dirty Feet And All

So when the Lord saw that he (Moses) turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses. Moses!” And he (Moses) said, “Here I am.” Then he (God) said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Exodus 3:4-5

Can you picture this scene? On a typical day Moses, minding his own business, encountered God in spectacular, supernatural fashion. The Almighty appeared in the midst of a fire that didn't consume the bush its flames engulfed. He revealed Himself as One with the power to destroy and doesn't. Next God did nothing. He made no attempt to engage Moses at all. He waited to see if Moses would make the first move.

This seems preposterous – who wouldn't be attracted to such an extraordinary sight? Unfortunately, supernatural manifestations get ignored all the time. Only when Moses turned aside to investigate this strange phenomenon did God speak. When we get off our agenda and focus on God, we'll hear Him speak clearly also.

Unknowingly, Moses addressed God by name. “Here I Am.” When my mother called me it wasn't unusual for me to respond, “Here Mom!” I acknowledged her personally. I wonder if Moses ever looked back and realized what he'd done.

I'm not sure how I'd respond to a talking, burning bush. Moses didn't appear a bit fearful. According to Scripture, this was his first encounter with God. How much he knew of and remembered about the God of his forefathers isn't clear. Raised in Egypt's royal court, Moses was exposed to pagan deities and the feats of Pharaoh’s magicians. Even the Israelites participated in idol worship while in captivity (Joshua 24:15). Moses had a mixed bag of religious experiences; perhaps a burning bush was no big deal.

Initially God had Moses keep his distance. God wasn't looking to restrict access to Himself. Proper preparations must be taken for close encounters of a God kind. Our relationship with Him has a progressive nature that this first meeting demonstrated.

Next God had Moses remove his sandals – how odd. The ground was holy and Moses’ feet were dirty. God didn't care. He wanted nothing created by human endeavor to come between Moses and the holy ground. God allowed Moses, dirty feet and all, direct contact with the divine.

“The place where you stand is holy” (emphasis mine). The apostle Peter wrote, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written ' Be holy, because I am holy.'” 1 Peter 1:16. Holy in this verse means to be set apart. Moses was set apart by God for a special assignment which impacted the very ground he stood upon. At that moment neither Moses nor the Israelites possessed this piece of land. God however, “calls things that are not as though they were” Romans 4:17. Later God promised Joshua, Moses' successor, “every place where you set your foot” Joshua 1:3. Earlier in Exodus 33:6 Joshua and the Israelites stood on Mt. Horeb, the land God declared to Moses was set apart, or holy.

A simple stroll on a mountain radically changed the lives of Moses, the Israelites, Pharaoh and the Egyptians. One man willing to go out on a limb with a saw severed the branch and fell head first into divine destiny. The tongue-tied shepherd brought Egypt to its knees as the power and Spirit of God worked through him. God is “no respecter of people” Acts 10:34. If He can do those mighty things through Moses, He can do the same, and even more through you and me.