Saturday, September 29, 2018

This Word Is Not For You

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.  Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.  For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”  For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:1-4

The enemy, the father of lies is speaking to many of our lives saying, "You can't understand the Bible. It's not for you. Well I'm here to tell you that even Satan uses the word of God to try to condemn the saints. I remember reading the verse, 2nd Corinthians 4 which says...

 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,  in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

...and I used to think that must be me because I read the Bible and I can't understand it. I used to believe the lies that the enemy was speaking to my mind. The only power Satan has is when we listen to his lies and give them credibility. During those days when I was struggling with understanding the word, like Peter I would cry out in prayer to Jesus, "Where else can I go Lord? Only you have the words of eternal life." 

I encourage you today to do what I did back then and commit to reading just one verse a day. As I did that, God was faithful to open the word up to me and give understanding to me. 

If you get nothing else from this blog entry, I hope you get this....

The Bible is NOT an intellectual book. Its a spiritual book and Jesus said it's meaning is hidden to those who trust in their intellect. It's revealed to the tender in heart who humble themselves and cry to God to understand it's meaning.

In this coming year, God wants to speak to you. Are you willing in the privacy of your own life to commit to know Jesus and to seek Him? Commit to understanding His word and obeying what light He gives you. Just start with one verse a day, like I did and God is faithful to counsel you and bring understanding. His word and His Holy Spirit are our counselors and He wants you to walk in liberty and freedom.

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
 When I kept silent about my sinmy body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summerSelah.
 acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
 Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.
 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Psalm 32:1-8

For further study consider this podcast;

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Breaking the Chains

Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast.  As I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord.
“In those days they will not say again,
The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
 But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.
 Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.  “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Jeremiah 31:27-34 NASB

The quote from this passage, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge," is something they would say back in those days that is similar to what many of us say today. How many of us have heard, "You're going to be just like your dad!" or "You're acting just like your mother did!" "The things they did are going to come upon you!" Sometimes even your spouse may say it and it usually really gets to you because no one wants to be like the worst parts of their parents. Our parents may be great people but there is always attributes or things they did that we do not want to repeat in our own lives. 
There are in all of our families certain things that are passed down like, some people can have a glass of wine and their families do so socially but other families have addictions to alcohol that almost destroy them. One family may get angry but they are able to control it and other families are controlled by the anger. 
  Teaching in the prisons has been an opportunity for God to use obvious things to reveal subtle truths to me. I remember one time a dear friend told me he was in prison for incest and that it had been passed down in their family for generations.
In my own life and relatives I have seen a fear or inferiority in some that keeps us distant from people and I wrestle with some of those same things, having to press through them. There are conversations that come into our minds and those negative thoughts must be recognized and "taken captive" to what God's word tells us is true. 

  Sometimes we have fears of becoming the worst parts of others that we see in our lives. Now I will tell you that you do become like that which you judge. If you look at others and say in your heart, "I'll never become like them and do the things that they do," you will do the very things that you have judged them for.

All of us have a heritage of sin, no one had to teach you how to lie. It's passed down from the fallen nature and some specific things are passed down through certain families lives. 

What are the things that prepare the soil for God breaking those ungodly ties and starting a, "new DNA?" A new bloodline? 

Look with me at Ruth chapter one in verse four....

They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years.

In this book we see a man from Bethlehem take his family to Moab because of a famine in the land and he wanted to preserve their lives. 

Now if you recall the origin of the land of Moab was when Lot fled from the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. The angel told Lot to go to a nearby city but Lot was afraid and asked to go to a nearby mountain. 

Now God was instructing them to go to the city and if God tells us to do something we can trust Him to keep us safe. However, Lot chose to trust his own thoughts of self preservation and asked to go to a cave in the mountain. You may know the story, how it was Lot and his two daughters and daughters began to worry that they would have no descendants, so they got their father drunk and slept with him. One of the resulting offspring was the nation of Moab. 

In the Bible in the book of Isaiah its tells us that Moab was a nation of perversion and idolatry. They were children of wrath separated from the promises of God.

  So here this man in Ruth chapter one, takes his family to Moab and his sons marry Moabite women. The sons Mahlon and Chilion names meant "sickness" and "wasting away," which I believe was a picture of where their hearts were. 

So now we have these Moabite wives that have married the man's sons so we have this new family.  However, these two Moabite daughter-in-laws have a mother-in-law named Naomi. Now this is my own opinion but I think that mother-in-law while living in Moab talked about the God of her youth. 

That is the only reason I could think of that would persuade these two daughter-in-laws to want to follow her when she was heading back to her homeland. I think that is the place where Naomi found herself after having traveled to this strange land. She knew she was not in the place she was supposed to be and she remembered the God of her youth. 

  I believe as Ruth and Orpah heard Naomi talk about her God, they longed for the liberty and freedom she spoke of. There came a day when Naomi's husband and two sons died and she heard that her God had visited His people in Israel by giving them bread. I want you to know, God will always visit the people that wait upon Him. How long? I don't know but a scripture Rebecca and I were talking about from Psalms is, "Those who trust in Him will not be ashamed." Sometimes you find yourself waiting a long time but God is always faithful.
When the two daughter-in-laws saw Naomi ready to depart to her homeland something in them compelled them to follow. They wanted what Naomi had. Naomi told them if they follow her she had no more sons for them to marry. So the two Moabite women found themselves in that place of the cross. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law affectionately and turned back to Moab and to her gods. Orpah was unwilling to let go of her life and what was familiar to her. She is never mentioned again. 

 Then there was Ruth who was, "at the cross," of possibly never getting married and never having children. She clung to her mother-in-law and said, "Where you go I will go, where you lodge I will lodge, your people will be my people and your God will be my God. May nothing but death separate us."  Naomi saw that Ruth was steadfastly minded....

What are you steadfastly minded about? Most people just want prayer but don't want to commit to change, to read and pray God's promises in the word daily, to pray and spend time with the Lord. They aren't willing to turn off the television and spend time with Jesus.

Orpah wanted what her mother-in-law had but wasn't willing to walk that way. Ruth said, "I'm going with you and I have set my heart, whatever it takes."

I'm sure that people told her she was going to be just like her mother but as she went forward, God's sovereignty moved her into the field of Boaz. 

  I won't tell all the details of the story but she married Boaz and became the great grandmother of King David and was included in the lineage of Jesus!

 It doesn't matter who your mom and dad were or what they did because the book of Jeremiah tells us that every person is responsible for their own actions.

God's new covenant is that He will write His laws upon your heart and give you a new heritage. Spend some time meditating on that this morning and remember to give thanks for the precious blood of Christ that has broken every chain. You have the ability to choose your direction and future and as you spend time with Jesus He wants to bring you to a place of liberty and freedom.

“If you will return, O Israel,” declares the Lord,

Then you should return to Me.  And if you will put away your detested things from My presence,

And will not waver,

Jeremiah 4:1

For further reflections today, you can stream this podcast;

Sunday, September 16, 2018

God Has a Message for You

Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord.  And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees.  The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
But when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab.  Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man.  It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. 
But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he said, “Keep silence.” And all who attended him left him.  Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat.  Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly. The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out.  Then Ehud went out into the vestibule and shut the doors of the roof chamber behind him, and locked them.
Judges 3:12-22 NASB

For eighteen years the children of Israel lived in servitude to this foreign king who grew wealthy and powerful and lived off of the proceeds of the slavery. However, it says afterward that they began to cry.  Whats interesting is that a lot of times we'll be in slavery to sin and serving it until finally in our heart something causes us to cry out and say, "God help me!" The children of Israel had given themselves over to idolatry, to this world to pursue it. God had allowed this world to consume them and bring them into bondage. For eighteen years that Moabite King had lived off of the hard labor of the Israelite's bondage. During that time I don't know how many times the message of God had come to him but in this passage, the message of God came to him in the form of judgement. "This night thy soul shall be required of thee!" I want to look today at the message God wants to speak to each one of us. God has a message for you. When we refuse to listen or scoff at His message, the end result is one of judgement. In Psalm 19:1 it says;

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.

He said in creation the voice of God has gone forth! In Matthew 7 He says that every man has heard the word of God.

It may not be through the preaching of some missionary or through showing up at some church, the word says that all creation is declaring the Glory of God! 
Romans 1 says every man is accountable to God because all creation declares the glory of God. All creation is testifying of God and His fingerprint is everywhere for those who are willing to hear and to see and to listen.

Even now, for those reading this devotional, the wise and foolish have both heard the word of God! The foolish scoff at the word and set it aside. They have no place for it in their hearts.

We are receiving in our minds every day, messages from this world.

Psalm 1 tells us;

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wise man meditates upon the word of God. He builds his life upon the foundation of it and clings to it as his very life.

The one thing in common with the foolish and the wise is that they both experienced the wind, the rain and the storm. These storms reveal the foundation you have been building upon and the value of the house you have been building.

People want God to speak plainly to them but what we don't realize is that He is speaking to us everyday.

It's not that God's not speaking to us it's that we are not willing to hear what He is saying.

We want God to speak to us peace and safety and pleasant things but when He begins to say, "Repent! Turn from your ways!," our hearts say, "Is that really God?"

Many times God will bring people who speak into our lives and give us a word but they don't always tell us what we want to hear and we say, "That can't be what God is saying."

God often has to bring us to a place of humility, like the children of Israel to humble us and cause us to hear the word of the Lord.

He is not as the gods of this world that cannot see or hear or speak. He desires communion with us and He went through the same humility, betrayal and struggles you may have gone through but without sin so that He could be a faithful High Priest to us. 

Because we would not listen in our times of prosperity, God will allow hard and difficult things to happen because His earnest desire is relationship with us. If you find yourself in a difficult place and your not sure what to do, take heart that God hasn't forgotten about you. Cry out to the Lord and go back to the last thing you remember God telling you to do. To the best of your ability be obedient and listen to what God would speak to you in that place. Cast your cares upon the Lord today, because He cares for you. Don't lose hope as you wait patiently for Him to speak to your heart. When He does speak, don't be double-minded but instead listen and obey the Lord's voice. 

I warned you when you felt secure,
    but you said, ‘I will not listen!’
This has been your way from your youth;
    you have not obeyed me.
22 The wind will drive all your shepherds away,
    and your allies will go into exile.
Then you will be ashamed and disgraced
    because of all your wickedness.

                          Jeremiah 22:21-22

For further study today, consider this video;