Saturday, December 26, 2009

2010, It’ll Be Better Than It’s Been!

I don’t know about all of you, but for me 2009 has been both a great year and yet one of the hardest years I have ever faced. On a professional level, I’ve walked through some doors this year that I have been believing to walk through for a lot of years. On a personal level I have felt as if I was running the last few miles of a marathon with fifty pound weights strapped to my feet. Back at the end of 2008, I was prophesied to that 2009 would by a year for me to shine. I’ve seen that word come to pass, but I didn’t expect that in order to shine there would be a lot of darkness I’d walk through.

About two months ago I felt as if the Lord spoke the words to me, “2010, It’ll be better than it’s been.” I know that it rhymes and it sounds good. But I continue to hear these words time and time again.

Two weeks ago I felt directed to go to a particular scripture in the Bible. Thinking it was an odd place to be led to read, I found the verses. On the pages the words jumped to my spirit, and were precisely the words I needed to hear. I feel as if this is what God is giving for the Church as a whole for the start of the new year.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (New King James Version)
“ Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

I love it with the word of God confirms what the Holy Spirit has been saying through other people. Pastor Greg of Freedom Life Church has been saying “2010, you’ll begin again.” Then I was just in a church in Canada (Grace Ministries in Windsor, Ontario) and there too someone spoke on 2010 being a year for new beginnings to spring forth in the Church. That is exciting.

However in all honesty it’s so exciting to know that God is about to do such awesome things in the church as a whole this year and our personal lives, but just this morning I was complaining to God. I don’t recommend doing that. But truthfully I believe all these things are going to happen, but being as they haven’t manifested yet I don’t want to go back to the old. I want the new, and want to run with it. I’m dreading the thought of having to go back to the same old thing. What I felt God spoke to me was about the Israelites. When they left slavery they didn’t know what exactly they were doing. They knew God said it was time for the new thing, so they followed Moses out of there. As they faced struggles time and time again they argued and complained with Moses wanting to just go back to Egypt because though they were slaves there at least they knew what each day would hold. God was trying to take them into the new thing, but they were constantly remembering the things of old. They held on to what they knew and wouldn’t embrace this new thing. As a result the mindset of slavery stayed with them and that generation never saw the promised land.

God is doing something new in the Church and in all of our lives. I believe that 2010, will be better than it’s been. But we must forget the years of slavery. We must forget the old. We must move past what we can see right now. We must grab tight to the new things. We must recognize that though we may not see that new thing yet, it’s here! God has not brought you this far to let you go back into bondage. He’s bringing you out, and springing you forth. Wrap your faith around you know to be true. Wrap your faith around His word. Wrap your faith around what He is saying to you today. This will be an exciting year! Believe Him! Trust Him! 2010, It’ll be better than it’s been!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

But God, That Doesn't Make Sense?

Recently I have found myself walking through a situation that makes no sense to my natural way of thinking. God has made His will and path before me quite clear, but I’ve been trying to reason it all in my head and honestly, I’m quite baffled by the whole situation. I began to reflect on this. I began to realize many times God puts us in situations that may not make sense to our own way of thinking. Sometimes God will tell you to do things, and it’s easy to think “but God, that doesn’t make sense?”

Isaiah 55:8-11 in the Message Bible says, “8-11"I don't think the way you think.
The way you work isn't the way I work." God's Decree. "For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them.”

Quite often there might be things that God will lay on your heart to do that may not make sense to your natural thinking, but remember God sees a bigger picture. God sees your whole life. God sees the beginning from the end. He knows where you need to be, or what you need to do. His ways may not always make sense to your natural thinking, but that is okay. When he decrees a thing, it brings life and fruit. You may not understand everything, but once you’re sure that you know God wants you somewhere you need to be there.

Think about other situations in the Bible. Do you think it made sense to Moses when he looked out over the Red Sea and saw the pillar of fire holding back the Egyptians. Nope, it probably scared him. But God put those Israelites in such a position that a miracle occurred. Do you think it made sense to Joshua when God told him to march around the Promised Land and sound the trumpets? Nope, if I was planning on taking my land and God told me to march around it, that wouldn’t make sense to me. But God took care of it and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Do you think it made sense that Elijah had the people prepare the sacrifice by pouring water over it, and then he called fire from heaven? Nope, but God showed up and it proved an even bigger miracle because everyone in the area knew how wet the sacrifice had been made. Do you think it made sense to natural thinking that the Messiah was born in a manger? Do you think it made sense to Peter when Jesus told him to step out of the boat? Do you think it made sense to the paralytic when Jesus told him to get up and walk?

Often times God will tell you to do things that won’t make sense to your head? Why? Which are you going to believe: faith in what He says or the circumstances around you?

We’ll all face situations that will make us question. I want to encourage you today to figure out what God has to say in the matter. Make sure you’ve heard from heaven, and then even if it doesn’t make sense to your way of thinking, just do it. Just do what God is telling you to do. Be courageous because God is on your side. He wants you to trust Him.

******I want to extend to all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season from my family to yours. I will be taking some time off from writing blogs. I will write another just before the New Year entitled,“2010, It’ll be better than it’s been!” Have a great couple of weeks! Love you!*******

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Where Can You Hide The Ice Cream?

If you’re one of my faithful readers you’ll remember a story a few weeks back about my friends and me sneaking out of the house in high school. Again, not condoning sneaking out, but this makes for a great illustration. I guess you can call this blog part two. There was one night in particular that we snuck out and met up with another group of friends. I really think that it was more about if we could do it, not what we were going to do once we managed to sneak out of our perspective houses. I grew up in a small town and after a certain time there are very few things open. So the plan was that we were all going to sneak out and go eat at Denny’s. In our high school minds this made sense at the time. But shockingly Denny’s was the place to go at 2 in the morning. We drove by the parking lot and it was packed. So having very few options, we opted to go to a Meijer’s. Those of you who have never heard of Meijer’s it’s like a Wal-Mart and it’s open 24 hours. This was when my friends and I were feeling a bit defeated. We’re walking around Meijer’s at 2 in the morning trying to figure out what there is to do. Eventually we bought ice cream and all split it in the back of another friend’s car. The problem didn’t occur to us until we were dropped back off at my parents’ house. . . What were we supposed to do with the rest of the ice cream in the carton? We couldn’t eat it all. We’d have left it in the back of the friends SUV had we thought about it, so he could get rid of it. We stood out in front of my parents house thinking. . .now what do we do. Having grown up in the North, it is not uncommon during the winter months for people to leave milk and such outside because it’s below freezing. So, one of my friends, threw the carton of ice cream underneath a big pine tree in my parents’ front yard. In the morning we snuck it into an outside freezer. .. But then there was proof against our excursion. I was never good at hiding evidence.

Many times we all treat sin like my friends and I treated that carton of ice cream. We think we can just stash it somewhere and get away with it. We try to hide it. We move it around, but nothing is going to work until we get rid of it. Somehow actually getting rid of the ice cream never crossed my mind. Often times people think the same about sin. They don’t think of getting rid of it, instead they just keep trying to stash the evidence places. The only way to get rid of sin, is by confessing and pleading the blood of Jesus over it. Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and what you’re trying to hide has a way of coming out.

Mark 4:22 (NIV) says, “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” Meaning? So many people try to hide their sin. They have this concept that they can just keep it hidden and no one will know. They choose not to deal with it. But eventually if it’s not dealt with, it will come out in the open.

Ever wonder why sadly too many men and women of God end up falling into some horrible sinful life style. I can think of countless people I either know or have heard of that have fallen. Why, so often times these people have sin and issues in their lives and keep refusing to deal with it. If you don’t deal with it between yourself and God it will eventually come out in the open.

In Luke 3:16-17 in the Message Bible John the Baptist says this about the Holy Spirit, “ But John intervened:’ I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house-make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

The Holy Spirit has a desire to reveal to you the hidden sins in your life. Stop thinking that you can keep going on hiding it. You might be fooling everyone around you, but you don’t fool God. He sees those hidden things, and He still loves you. He wants you to just admit them. Repent and move on with your life.

Romans 3:23 (NIV) says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” It’s time to deal with those “hidden things” in your life. That sin, just like the ice cream wouldn’t have stayed under that tree forever. Eventually the seasons would change, and it would start melting and stinking and rotting. Please in this day and in this hour confess what you’re hiding, repent, and move on with your life. God loves you. God loves you no matter what it is, and he wants you past this issue.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Please, Keep your Robe on!

I’m going to shift gears a bit for today’s blog and do some prophetic teaching. This is a message that has been on my heart for sometime, but the pieces had yet to be put together. When God is trying to bring revelation to me about something in the word, usually I’ll continue to get that scripture until I get from it what He is trying to tell me. This revelation is a result of years of being baffled about one particular passage of scripture.

Matthew 22:1-14 (NKJ) says, “The Parable of the Wedding Feast

1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and[a] cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

For many years I kept being lead to read this passage and there were something’s that baffled me about it. For the purpose of this teaching I am going to focus on the second set of wedding guests here but I wanted to put the whole section in this blog so that all of you can read the whole passage. This is a parable that Jesus used to teach.

It is obvious that these second set of guests were people who were working and doing things. Why? The servants are instructed to go out into the highways and byways to find guests. These are people that are out of their homes. They are active. These “guests” are doing works.

It did not matter if they were bad or good. They were brought into the wedding feast. The significance of this is that it doesn’t matter of persons past. It doesn’t matter if someone is bad or good before they enter the wedding feast. What matters is when the “king” or God sees them. In the historical context of this, if someone who had a lot of wealth was throwing a wedding. The guests were given a wedding garment to put on. It would have been considered a great insult to the host of the wedding for a guest not to be wearing the garment. However it’s the guests’ choice whether to put this garment on. Why is this symbolic? We have a choice in life to choose Jesus or not. It doesn’t matter of our past. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Jesus makes us white as snow. He cleanses us. Once we accept him in our heart spiritually speaking we put on a robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10 says, “
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

In verse 12 God or the king calls this person “friend.” In every translation I have read this scripture in, God always calls him friend. Why is that significant? This is someone that has known God and walked with him. This “guest” was once a friend to God. What confused me so much is why then if God calls him friend does he then cast him out to hell.

The next thing that I found significant in this passage was also in vs. 12. The “king” or God approaches a person not wearing a wedding garment and after calling him friend, asks the person why and the person is speechless. Romans 3:19 says, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” To be speechless before God means that you are under the law, or the old covenant. When Jesus died on the cross we are offered an eternity in heaven with him, all we have to do is to put on that robe, and continue to live for Him. This wedding guest had slipped out and taken off his robe and now is under the law. Meaning he’s back under the Old Testament and has stepped out of a lifestyle of living under the grace of Jesus’ salvation. This “guest” is no longer under grace, but is bound by law. Also, this person sticks out like a sore thumb. Many people think they can live their lives the way the want and just hide under the radar. I assure you that is not possible. God will be able to spot you out.

I believe this guest is a symbol of a person who was once a friend and a believer of God. This was a person who was out doing the works of God, but then choose to slip back under the law thinking that their works would save them. So many Christians believe a lie of “once saved, always saved.” People that is not scriptural! This was a person that was considered a friend, and this person choose to take off the robe and think it was okay to go their own way.

I began seeking God as to why’s and what’s that made this person take off the robe. Finally last week this is what I felt God showed me. Revelations 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” This is a person that went through all the right moves and all the right hoops, but internally had walked away from God. As a result they’ve stepped back under the law, and end up going to Hell. Matthew 7:22 says, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Many people believe they are above what the Bible actually teaches, but Paul himself who God used to write the majority of the New Testament said in Philippians 2:12 says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”

It didn’t matter of this wedding guest’s past. He had chosen to come into the wedding. God looked at him as a friend. He started to love other things more than God. He walked away from his first love. Sometimes it can be so easy to be caught up in the things of this world. Even pursuing ministry and doing works can sometimes push God aside. Works are good. But it can’t replace the relationship you have with God. That guest choose to take off his robe. The guest chose to take off Jesus. He couldn’t hide in the crowd. God knew. He couldn’t keep pretending that something deep down inside of him had changed and as a result he goes to Hell. God doesn’t want to send his creation into Hell. People choose that path. They choose and as a result of their choice consequences occur.

I know that sometimes life can get to all of us. I’m not trying to bring fear to people in the sense of just because you had an off day that it’ll send you to hell. This guest made a choice. I am trying to get you all to think. It can be easy to be caught up in this life. But you must keep him first. What is your first love? Is it Jesus, or is it doing the works of God? Is it Jesus, or is it going the ways of the world. Is it Jesus?

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Life is too short, and eternity too long to put anything before God. Seek Him first. Return to your first love. He longs for you. Please don’t keep him waiting any longer.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Walking Into a Leprosy Community

My dad tells stories of his time in Vietnam. As a grunt soldier he has often told me of one story in particular. He’d been out on a mission in the jungle to go from village to village. The soldiers were to figure out what village was hiding the enemy and the enemies stuff, and what villages were innocent. One particular day came where dad was leading his troop and he happened to come across this community out in the middle of the jungle. He could tell that it had been painstakingly removed from the other villages. There was a crude fence all around it. He led his men to the door of the compound to see Vietnamese writing on the door. He didn’t speak Vietnamese. He didn’t read Vietnamese. His interpreter wasn’t with him. So he walked into the village. He tells me stories of going through that village. “It was as if the whole community must have been napalmed or bombed,” he says. As he walked into the compound puzzled faces watched him. Several were missing limbs and dad just figured they’d been bombed. Making his way to the center of town dad wondered what were all these people staring at? Why did He suddenly felt as if he were wearing a big purple mask. Something wasn’t right with this village. Eventually dad made his way to the center of town and called his CO on the radio. The eerie feeling in the air was almost tangible.

“Eagle,” He called in the radio. The cackles from the radio mixed with his voice as he explained the situation. Waiting for their Officers response daddy couldn’t help wondering why all these people were staring at him.

The static came response from his officer came back. After a few four letter words were shouted. “Get out! Leprosy Colony!” To which my father and the rest of his men were medi-vaced to the closest base and received a series of three leprosy vaccines to which my father swears are the most painful vaccines he’s ever been subjected to.

Hosea 4:6a says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Often we have this mindset that just because I don’t understand something that would make me immune to it. We think that ignorance is bliss and we mustn’t try to seek anything out. My dad didn’t know that he was walking into a leprosy community, but that still meant he had consequences for his actions. I could be driving on a road and not know there is a cliff ahead. I’m going to fall in that cliff whether I knew it was there or not.

Ezra 7:10 says, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” We have to earnestly seek to study and learn about God. We can’t just claim ignorance.

Isn’t it great that we live on the other side of the New Testament? Where it’s not all about the law, but now we under the grace of God. We can plead the blood of Jesus Christ over our situations and we aren’t going to know everything. That is very true but ignorance isn’t bliss. We must know what God has to say on certain matters. We must study the word to show ourselves approved. God loves it when we seek after Him to learn His ways, Proverbs 8:17 (NASB)"I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me”

I love the analogy that Tommy Tenny of “God Chasers” uses. That God loves to play hide and seek with his children. He loves it that we seek him out and esteem him. He loves it when we take the effort to figure out what something means according to His word. He loves it when we value the things He says.

I am in no way saying that we need to set down and study our Bible every waking moment and think we must fulfill every tiny detail. That would be exhausting, and you would never be perfect. That would be living under the law of the Old Testament. But what I am saying is realize that by studying the word of God, you then learn more about God. If the Bible seems boring to you, then ask the Holy Spirit to come in and give you revelation. Instead of just doing your typical devotionals, ask the Holy Spirit where he wants you to study today. Realize there are things in the word that God wants to show you so that you won’t go walking into a “leprosy colony” spiritually speaking. He wants to bring you wisdom and revelation. Spend sometime with Him today. You’ll be glad you did.