Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Meditations

Esther also was taken to the king's palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem,” Esther 2:8 (NIV).

His name, Hegai, meant “my meditations” and his job – prepare the candidates for their night with the king. One of them could be the next new queen.

The book of Esther has all the elements of a riveting novel. A king in search of a queen; an outsider's rise to power; anger that hatched a murderous plot; a divine reversal and all of it true. Woven into the narrative is a beautiful picture of God's love. His name is never mentioned but His fingerprints are everywhere.

Hegai is a type of Holy Spirit, our comforter. When we enter into a relationship with God we experience culture shock. His realm is completely different to what we're accustomed to. The king had Hegai to help the newest members of his household learn royal protocol. God has Holy Spirit to help believers navigate His kingdom.

Hegai's name describes how Holy Spirit assists us. Most of us come with warped ideas about God, who He is and what He's really like. Erroneous religious doctrines, dysfunctional families and relationships distort our concept about God. Holy Spirit shares with us God's thoughts and feelings toward us. It sometimes comes as a shock – the God of the universe not only loves us but also likes us.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness,” Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV).

'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future,'” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV).

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I'm doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19 (NIV).

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25 (NIV).

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV).

...I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV).

We've heard something similar to these before:

I'll love you forever”;
I'm looking out for you”;
Don't dwell on the past”;
I forgive you.”

We've also had everlasting love evaporate before our eyes; our so-called protectors fail us; the past thrown back up in our face and forgiveness extended that was only meaningless words. No wonder Holy Spirit has His hands full. As long as we view God through the fractured lens of our past hurts and experiences we'll never get to know Him or trust Him.

If we allow them, God's Word and Holy Spirit will change us. It takes time just like the women new to the royal household needed a period of adjustment to their new surroundings. With the truth of God's feelings toward us right now, Holy Spirit comforts us. His meditations don't pertain to some time in the distant future after we've cleaned ourselves up and straightened out our act. It is present day reality – too good to be true, but true nonetheless.

How would you describe God's feelings about you right now? What is your concept of His view of your present situation? What do you wish He would say to you? Let the scriptures you've just read re-frame any distorted images you believe about God and His love for you. Let Holy Spirit guide you into a deep, intimate relationship with the One Who truly loves you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wax On. Wax Off

A classic underdog story, the 1984 movie The Karate Kid was a blockbuster hit. Daniel LaRusso, the new kid in school, fell victim to a band of bullies. One day, in the midst of another beating, an unexpected savior appeared. The super of Daniel's apartment complex Mr. Miyagi, single-handedly defeated all his oppressors. Daniel was impressed; the old man could kick some serious butt. Would Mr. Miyagi teach him to fight? Reluctant at first, Mr. Miyagi brokered a truce to allow Daniel time to train.

Initially his mentor had Daniel perform menial tasks. Only later did the boy realize that “Wax on. Wax off.” was muscle memory training that developed quick responses. What appeared to be a useless expenditure of time and effort produced skill and expertise. Daniel was now a formidable opponent.

One challenge many believers grapple with is God's timing. It drives us crazy! We see needs all around and want to respond immediately. God knows the time's not right – we're not ready.

Then the Lord said to him, 'Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there,'” Genesis 15:13 (NIV).

At the end of 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord's divisions left Egypt,” Exodus 12:41 (NIV).

Hold on, did I miss something? God told Abraham 400 years but Israel stayed 430. Did God make a mistake?

Moses was forty years old when he killed an Egyptian for abusing a Hebrew slave, Acts 7:23-24. As a result, he fled to Midian, married, had children and tended sheep.

After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert of Mt. Sinai,” Acts 7:30 (NIV).

When you subtract the forty years Moses spent in Midian from the 430 years the Israelites were strangers and slaves you get 390 years. Moses jumped the gun. 10 years away from God's appointed timetable he took matters into his own hands. It cost him forty years of preparation in Midian instead of 10 years in the palace. The Hebrews spent an extra 30 years of captivity. It pays to wait on God.

God cares more about the sort of work we do as opposed to the size, 1 Cor.3:13. He prefers quality to quantity so He trains us to produce substance not fluff. To see a goal and methodically work toward it requires patience. Going from zero to one hundred quickly isn't acceleration, it's one step away from crash and burn.

Andrew Wommack once shared that after 32 years of ministry the Lord told him that he was just now ready to get started! That's a lot of years of “Wax on. Wax off.” Andrew stressed that any call or destiny from God requires extended training and preparation. If we try to circumvent this we can end up like Moses. Our development will take even longer and others will experience unnecessary hardship.

How about you? What has God shown you that you're so eager to begin? Does the urgency of the need pressure you to do something NOW? What could be some of the consequences if you act in haste? Instead of jumping the gun, maintain your cool, take a deep breath and “Wax on. Wax off.”

Photos from Google Image

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Some Really Good News

Or do you think lightly of the riches of his kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads us to repentance?” Romans 2:4 (NASB).

The scene's all too familiar. Opposite sides square off and somehow the original issue gets lost in a screaming match. The two camps vehemently verbalize and nobody listens. Emotionally charged but physically drained both sides retire to celebrate a victory.

It's sad to see Christians enter these types of frays. Words of condemnation and judgment are unleashed with no thought of the consequences. Posters and placards warn of impending doom – God's mad, so watch out! The message is ignored, it's old news.

Tell me something new, different and maybe I'll hear what you're saying.”

I bristle at the often cavalier use of the “J” word – judgment. To be clear, God does have defined standards. He isn't soft on sin nor turns a blind eye to it. He got so sick of it He settled the issue at the Cross. This word's been overused as a scare tactic for behavior modification. Have we forgotten Romans 2:4 altogether?

At one point in history, 100% of the earth's population broke 100% of God's commands simultaneously. Would it surprise you to learn that God didn't explode in anger and obliterate the scofflaws? Don't clobber me with you bible. Open to the second and third chapters of Genesis and read S-L-O-W-L-Y.

Adam and Eve, the sum total of earth's population broke the one and only law God gave them (and the Israelites thought they could keep 10). No matter how you crunch the numbers 100% is still 100%. Things may be out of control now, but percentage wise, not as bad as then.

How did God react? What He didn't do was lash out in anger. That word or any derivation of it isn't mention at all (another 100%). His initial response to Adam was, “where are you?” God knew exactly where he was – but did Adam?

Rather than annihilate, God protected his creation. Warned of the danger of disobedience God allowed the couple to suffer the consequences of their action. Their glory was gone so He covered their nakedness. In mercy, He blocked access to the Tree of Life.

We still attempt to avoid the reality that if we do as we please the results can be very uncomfortable. We pin misfortune and calamities on the “wrath of God.” Responsibility is deflected from us onto Him. He's the bad guy, not us.

The Righteous Judge is much slower with retribution than often portrayed. The events in the book of Revelation aren't those of a God with an itchy trigger finger. Take another look at the amazing patience and the restraint He exhibits in order to give as many the opportunity to repent.

So many, including Christians, have no idea that God has fixed the sin problem. Bombarded with words and pictures of an angry God, people aren't in any hurry to make His acquaintance.

If we want to tell people they're going to hell, we better have the ability to see into their future accurately. Sounds like something new age doesn't it? Who they are and where they're at right NOW isn't the end of their story. People can change. I have and so have countless more.

If you've benefited from God's kindness what can you do or say to help others experience it also? What avenues besides anger fueled confrontations might open people up to consider the truth that God loves them right where they are now? Wouldn't that be some real good news?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


...for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” 1 Timothy 1:12

Heart fluttering like a flag in a hurricane, eyes clenched shut I reached for the handle. Sweaty palms hampered a firm grip. Inhaling through gritted teeth, I pulled the lever of the Spiritual Slot Machine. God I hope this works.

Have you ever embarked on a journey with God based on apprehension and not confidence? Why do we feel that way? Isn't our God big enough to accomplish the impossible? He thinks so – shouldn't we? Swallowing a mega dose of Hopium, we step out.

To our credit, we've moved. How often do we never leave Square One? Unconvinced that God is able or willing, we place more faith in the devil's ability to trick and deceive us than in God's power to safely lead us. Paul didn't suffer from fear of an incompetent God. His God was more than capable to provide everything needed. How did Paul pull this off so successfully?

The apostle shared two keys that freed him to follow God with reckless abandon. Before he ventured out Paul had two mindsets firmly established; he believed and was persuaded.

After he encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road, Paul developed an intimate relationship with his Lord. A head full of knowledge taught him all about God, but the Jewish scholar didn't know God personally. Having missed the mark so badly Paul didn't gamble his life away based on information only.

We'll never succeed if we refuse to commit. Unless we firmly believe and are fully persuaded that God is Who He claims to be, we'll continue to play the Spiritual Slot Machine.

Our culture encourages and applauds achievement, the visible, quantifiable type. Results are important. Often overlooked, even discounted is the hard work and sacrifice necessary to attain those kind of results. Time spent in the spotlight pales in comparison to the preparation and on-going effort required to achieve and maintain any high level of accomplishment.

Christians can fall into the same trap. Ask the average believer how much quality time they spend with God daily. Don't be surprised if it is pathetically little to none. Is it any wonder that few find success the way God defines it? Pressured to do something, many take a chance and hope for the best – a recipe for disaster.

Do you find it hard to fit God into your schedule? No condemnation – there's still time to rearrange priorities. Start small and build up from there. Ask God for creative strategies to develop more time with Him and He'll help you. As the relationship deepens the level of fear and apprehension diminishes. Confidence, now based on belief and persuasion, not Hopium, empowers you to step out boldly into unfamiliar territory. Convinced that God's got your back you'll experience adventures you only dared to dream about.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spiritual Witchcraft

Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:40

Someone in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me'” Luke 12:13

Their whine was unmistakable. Two people, frustrated with the actions of their siblings, approached Jesus for help. What better way to corral someone into compliance than to have The Master reprimand them? Put Jesus on the job, stand back and reap the benefits.

Have you tried this before? Did it work? Prayers of this nature are just manipulation clothed in religious jargon – spiritual witchcraft. Don't dabble there.

Jesus not only ignored Martha's request, He commended and defended her sister Mary's actions which directly conflicted with the cultural norm. To the man at odds with his brother about the distribution of an estate, Jesus flat out refused to intervene. He did, however, go on to give a discourse on the evils of greed. Ouch!

Jesus cares about the situations in our lives that cause us distress. Even small details don't slip by Him unnoticed. He won't take orders from us to finagle others for our convenience and benefit. Dictate to Him what He NEEDS to do and we'll find Him unresponsive to our demands.

Would Jesus have been upset with a few dust bunnies, a sandwich and not a full course dinner at Martha's spic-n-span house? What if the man, without an agenda for personal gain, asked Jesus to help his brother administrate the estate? What if the duo requested assistance to understand the actions of their siblings. Those types of prayers Jesus loves to answer.

Instead of begging Jesus to fix someone else, we should suggest that He concentrate His efforts on us. We can still pray for those caught in destructive behavior patterns and toxic attitudes. How we ask God to work in them is the difference. If we want to see them through His eyes and from His perspective, He'll show us. If they need angelic help and protection that enables them to fulfill His destiny for their lives, He'll provide it. We can find out how He's praying and then agree with Him.

When it comes to prayer we've all suffered from Foot in Mouth Disease. Even with the best intentions we could muster, we've missed the mark and prayed amiss. God has graciously ignored us at those times. Don't beat yourself up – no one benefits from that.

How about you? What people or situations would you like to see change? What is your attitude? If you're like Martha or the unnamed man, how can you shift and change direction? What would be a more effective way to pray? Change your focus, re-word your requests and watch situations and people (mostly yourself) be transformed.