Quit Hiding In A Wine Press!

“Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak (terebinth) at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Fleabite, and his son GIDEON was beating wheat IN THE WINE PRESS to hide it from the Midianites”  (Judges 6:11 AMP).

Well, you guessed it.  I am still reading in the Book of JUDGES, where the Spirit of God is inspiring my thought process to investigate the truths of the Bible.  So we are beginning the JOURNEY, of discovering what God’s Spirit has for each one of us based on GIDEON’S experiences.

ANCIENT WINE PRESSES.

To make the situation clear, we need to understand in those days, wine presses were generally dug into the ground.  If you got inside a wine press you would be out of site.  Gideon is found hiding in the wine press and won’t be seen by the marauding Midianites while he’s threshing the wheat.

PERSONALITY FACTORS IN.

GIDEON isn’t exactly your Hollywood image of a hero.  The fact is, he’s the OPPOSITE!  He is much more the indecisive and timid type.  He is one of those people who want every i dotted and every t crossed before they make a decision.  And even then, they won’t be able to make up their mind.  We can see the sort of person he is in finding him at the beginning of the story.

THE ENCOURAGING THING FOR SOME OF US–

Some of us relate to ‘GIDEON the timid’, the nervous type, despite the UNPROMISING substance from which he was made.

God takes him and makes him a hero of Biblical proportions.  After digging and investigating the Biblical evidence, I began to discover the process through which GIDEON was CHANGED by God into a LEADER and SAVIOUR of his people.

A PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH GOD:

“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, The Lord is with you, you mighty man of [fearless] courage”  (Judges 6:12 AMP)


It becomes obvious that “the Angel of the Lord” is a distinct person in Himself from God the Father (Gen. 24:7; Exod. 23:20; Zech. 1:12, 13).  Nor, does “the Angel of the Lord” appear again after Christ came in human form; the “Angel of the Lord”, the visible Lord God in the Old Testament.  The Cambridge Bible observes, “There is a fascinating forecast of the coming Messiah, breaking through the dimmers with amazing consistency, at intervals from Genesis to Malachi.  Abraham, Moses, the slave girl Hagar, even the humble parents of Samson”; and now here in Judges 6:12, are seen talking with Him centuries before the herald of angels proclaiming His birth in Bethlehem [footnote in Amplified Bible in Genesis 16:7 (b)].

BEATING OUT THE WHEAT IN A WINE PRESS.  WHY?

Because GIDEON is scared; because he might be seen by the enemy, the Midianites marauding the land.  And the Angel of the Lord addresses him as a mighty warrior!  Can you imagine what GIDEON must have thought?

“Hey, you’ve got the wrong guy, fella.  What you’re looking for is a hardened soldier.  I am no fighter!  I am the youngest in my family and even they are the weakest family in our tribe.”

Do you ever feel like that?  Like you’re too weak to do what God’s asking you to do?  I remember when I was first asked to teach adults in the church.  Personally, I felt insecure but at the same time I was reminded of the first chapter of Joshua, where Joshua is told over and over again to be strong and of good courage.  This was a message to me to TRUST God working through me in any given ministry, and it is the same with GIDEON.

GIDEON’S RESPONSE:

“And Gideon said to him, O sir, if the Lord is with us, why is all this befallen us?” (verse 13).

But God IS with them and He DOES have a plan for their salvation, and a plan that involves Gideon:

“The Lord turned to him and said,  Go in this your might, and you shall save Israel from the hand of Midian.  Have I not sent you?”  (verse 14).

At the right moment, despite Gideon’s protest, God adds, “Surely I will be with you” (verse 16).  Here is the FIRST STEP to Gideon’s revival!  A personal encounter with God; where God’s promises to empower him for the TASK ahead.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this sense of personal calling in your life.  The New Testament speaks often of the Christian having been CALLED to a life of service to God and to others.  But while we are thinking about our own personal call to discipleship, let’s remember the example given to us in Scripture of GIDEON:  The thing about GIDEON’S CALL is the sort of person he was when God called him and the personal attributes he possessed at the time.  THEY WEREN’T THE ISSUE!  Actually, the shrinking nature of GIDEON may in fact have been his GREATEST ASSET!  He didn’t have the natural characteristics of a warrior or leadership qualifications to lead his people against the Midianites.  GOD CHOOSES the LEAST in the world so His glory is manifested and NOT the person.  Do you remember what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:27?

“[No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.”

I’ve discovered that this seems to be God’s modus operandi in my life anyway.:

“He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree. [53] He has filled and satisfied the hungry with good things and the rich He has sent away empty-handed [without a gift]”  (Luke 1:52-53).

If you are unsure of yourself and aware of your failures, you’re just the sort of person God can use.  Let Him speak to your spirit and tell you what He wants you to do in any situation that arises.  Ask Him to EMPOWER you for the task.  Then look for Him to speak to you with the sorts of words He spoke to GIDEON; in the FIRST PERSON; surrounding Gideon’s ego with His ego: “I AM with you, you mighty man of courage; you warrior.”

STARTING WHERE YOU ARE:

Before God sends GIDEON off to fight the Midianites, He gives him a task to fulfill at home.  FIRST, he has to go and remove the source of idolatry that is polluting his home town.  As much as it seems, Gideon’s family may have been followers of the Lord, but they had become POLLUTED by the pagan worship of their neighbors.

A similar thing has happened in our world.  Not that we have shrines to our gods like they did.  Nor do we make regular sacrifices to the gods of our culture.  Our gods are a bit more SUBTLE:

1.  “gods” of consumerism and affluence.

2.  “gods” of pleasure and ease.

3.  “gods” of economics and politics and more!

All to often, Christians are as much caught up in these pursuits as the rest of the world.  So it wouldn’t hurt us to look at our own home town situation from time to time.  The way GIDEON was called to see if there are THINGS we need to clean up in our own lives before going off fighting the enemies of the Lord.

IT WASN’T AN EASY THING FOR GIDEON TO DO.

But he did it!  Even if it was with the help of 10 of his friends; even in the darkness of night, just in case someone caught him at it.  I get the feeling here that an GIDEON-like individual is the sort of person, when challenged to speak to someone about JESUS, does it by dropping a gospel tract inside of a DVD rental from Blockbuster when returning it to the store; hoping someone who rents it next, will read it.  That is my confession by the way.  I just did that last week.

But despite the TIMIDITY of GIDEON’S actions, look at the effect it has on his father (Judges 6:30-31).  It’s as though his father had been waiting for someone to step up to the plate about these idols.  PERHAPS, timidity was a family trait!  But in either case, Gideon’s actions reawakened Joash’s devotion to the Lord.

So God tells GIDEON to start at home for a number of reasons.  ONE is to clean-up their own act first, before they START THE BATTLE.  Another is to show him he isn’t alone!

There are others you run into every day that certainly CARE about serving God.  THIRDLY, it shows him in a small way, when he ACTS, God will bring him success.

A GIFT FROM GOD – THE SECRET DISCOVERED:

Here in this passage of Scripture, we discover the SECRET of great heroes of the Bible.  What is it that made them great?  Was it their own NATURAL ABILITY, their EXPERTISE they learned from good teachers and mentors?  Was it in their TRAINING?

Leadership EXPERTS [by the way, I’ve NEVER met an EXPERT], will tell you these sorts of things today.  And some may be true up to a point.  But none of them is the CRITICAL FACTOR!  The REAL SECRET is, God CHOOSES to equip each one of us in special ways for His work:

“Then all the Midianites and Amalekites and the people of the east came together and, crossing the Jordan, encamped in the Valley of Jezreel.  [34] But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with Himself and took possession of him, and he blew a trumpet, and [the clan of] Abiezer was gathered to him”  (Judges 6:33-34).

Suddenly the timid, scared little man becomes a powerful leader of his people.  He blows the trumpet and 32,000 men come out to fight with him.  So what’s the difference?  I love the way the Amplified Bible says in verse 34, “But the Spirit of the Lord CLOTHED Gideon with Himself and took possession of him.”  Can you visualize the EMPOWERMENT?  I sure can.  Let’s don’t miss the FACT that the same spirit EMPOWERS us today. He is on us, in us and around us!  JESUS tells His disciples,

“However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away.  Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you.  [8] And when He comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness and about judgement;  [9] About sin, because they do not believe in Me;  [10] About righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God), because I go to My Father, and you will see Me no longer;  [11] About judgement, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentenced already is passed upon him”  (John 16:7-11 AMP).

AND HE SAID: 

“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do, and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father”  (John 14:12).

HE SAID:

“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth”  (Acts 1:8 AMP).

If you are worried about being up to the challenge, of being a disciple of JESUS, take courage.  The example of GIDEON, the mighty warrior; mighty only because God’s might and power enabled him to do great things.

SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM GIDEON’S STORY?

There are of course some obvious parallels aren’t there?  We too have to battle to fight against God’s enemies; against the idolatry of our world; against the powers of darkness that oppose the Church at every turn; against forces that oppose truth and righteousness.

So what can we learn from GIDEON?  To me it is the importance of recognizing the personal calling of God.  Let’s be aware that each one of us has been CALLED BY GOD.  To a LIFE OF DISCIPLESHIP, a life of SERVICE to the living God that will find its ‘outworking’ in different ways for each of us.  But the CALL is just as REAL for each of us despite any differences.

WE NEED TO LEARN to BEGIN where we are.  There is no use to try to fix the world’s problems if our own home is polluted with sin.  Next, as the Lord EQUIPS us for the task, with His POWER and not our own; ask Him to fill you with His Spirit.  So you and I can know what to do and where to go.  And as long as you’re asking, ask Him for the ASSURANCE that only His Spirit can give.

Finally, let’s LEARN to TRUST GOD more!  It is an important lesson to learn when you’re part of a small church.  Equally important lesson is to KNOW it individually when you are living and working in a world that is opposed to the gospel message.  That the BATTLE is His and we don’t NEED superior ‘fire power’ of our own doing.  Not when God is fighting alongside of us.

As Paul says in Romans 8: ‘Ig God is with us, who can be against us?’  Recognize God’s call; clean up your own act first, then TRUST God to give you what you need for the VICTORY!

I hope that you have enjoyed the study of GIDEON in The Book of Judges as much as I have.  Be sure to read the rest of the GIDEON STORY, for there are many other parallels and truths to discover.

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WARNING: Nearing “The Land Of Purple” (Part Two)

“And the Israelites dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites”  (Judges 3:5).

Next In Line Comes The AMORITES:

Who were they?  They were the forerunners of the Babylonians.  They didn’t believe that LIFE after DEATH held any PROMISE or THREAT.  Their religion focused only on THIS world.

Many Jews lost their FAITH in God when they begun to believe there was no life after death and no Resurrection.  This was the prevalent belief among the Sadducee s during the time of Jesus.

THE “AMORITE SPIRIT”:

Alive and well right here in our day too.  Students in high schools in your community will say they don’t believe in Heaven or hell.  Many of them are convinced of reincarnation and many have no beliefs at all because they weren’t trained to be in anything!  They also won’t confess in an eternal God but lives only for now; they don’t believe in life after death.

You won’t have to look far to find some of these folks right in your own neighborhoods.  Are we just living this life and when it’s over, it’s over?  Those thoughts are inspired by the devil, the ROOT of that “Amorite Spirit.”  When you begin to DOUBT God’s POWER and His LOVE, you are getting dangerously close to being an Amorite in spirit and residing in the “Land of Purple”!

ARE THE PERIZZITES IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

One of the largest enemy nations dwelling in Canaan were the Perizzites.  They lived in smaller villages scattered over a large area with no walled cities for protection.  They LIVED LIKE SLAVES and eventually even became SLAVES under king Solomon.

What spirit can you see revealed in these Perizzites and how many of them are around your neighborhood?  More importantly, are you a Perizzite in spirit?

The spirit of a Perizzite is one of low self-esteem; a FEELING of WORTHLESSNESS, believing you are not capable of doing anything right and NOT up to the task that has been laid before you.

THERE ARE EVEN PERIZZITES IN THE CHURCH TODAY!

They’ve ALLOWED the devil to beat them down, convincing them that they are never going to be good enough to do a work for the Lord.  We are living in a time of change and challenge.  A lot of people are in trouble, throwing their hands in the air and asking these questions…

“What are we to do?  How do we fix this?  Who can I trust?  Who has the answers?”

The WALLS OF DEFENSE can only be found on FAITH in God torn down.  They feel all alone and can’t seem to TOUCH God for an answer.

I’m not writing this BLOG to give you just a commentary on the Book of Judges.  But I am writing to give you a WARNING: the devil and his demons will use the events of the day to stir up more strife, stress, and ultimately sickness in both your body and your soul.

You need to know–you have no part in those things as God’s child.  When you stand firm in Him and only His Word–everything changes and the Perizzite spirit will have no effect! (Some of the thoughts expressed are from a Creflo Dollar letter I received today).

A Perizzite spirit reads in the passage of the Bible,  “Since ALL have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory of God(Romans 1:23); they really misinterpret it to mean they could never measure up to God’s standards, so why try?

So a Perizzite needs to take up his cross, pick up his shield of faith and put his trust in God’s grace.  Know that your FAITH can move mountains in sickness and in health.  And no, we will never measure up perfectly, never be good enough; but through the BLOOD of JESUS, His POWER is within us, and we can do ALL things because Jesus strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

PERIZZITES are everywhere!  Constantly trying to bring you down to THEIR level and telling you it can’t be done!  If you LISTEN to the PERIZZITES you won’t BUILD A NATION; WON’T BUILD a successful marriage or a happy home; you WON’T get to go on that long-awaited vacation; you WON’T SERVE the Lord; and you WON’T make heaven your home.  They are LOST without HOPE and they want you to be the same way.

THE “HIVITES” YESTERDAY AND TODAY:

Another nation of enemies God allowed to stay around to teach His people how to fight and survive was the “Hivites”.  These HIVITES were a different kind of people than the rest.  They were the only nation in Canaan who didn’t practice circumcision of male children.  They dwelt in the high country, up in the mountains.

You can spot the spirit of the Hivite in your community and even sometimes in the church.  The HIVITE says, “I don’t care how much you preach about living a sanctified life, I’m going to do what I want to do.”

These are people who REFUSE to give up their hold on the worldly way of life.  They want to be a part of the church and ride the fence to be acceptable by their friends.  They won’t make up their mind.

Might you be a HIVITE?  Do you still LOVE the things of the world more than the things of God?  If your answer is “yes” or “maybe”, you need to CIRCUMCISE your heart, CONFESS the sin and allow Jesus to clean it out.  So come down off your high horse and submit yourself to Jesus.

FINALLY THERE WERE THE JEBUSITES:

The word “Jebusite” means “thresher” and refers to the beating grain out of the husk.  It is usually done through animals walking on the grain that was laid out over the “threshing-floor.”

Jebusite people have a spirit that treads or “stomps” on other people.  If your heart is “infected” with a Jebusite spirit, you tend to constantly put down and humiliate others.  By stomping on people, Jebusites make every effort to prevent them from growing taller by making people feel small.  They deliberately put others down anytime they see these “small” people and in doing so, try to establish their own authority.

–The spirit of racism is a Jebusite spirit.

JEBUSITES are enforcers of social order.  When one man looks on another and both are created in the image of God–regardless of the color of their skin or ethnic heritage, they automatically assume they are LESS of a man or woman.  A Jebusite spirit is present.

Do you JUDGE PEOPLE by their OUTWARD appearance?

–The clothes he wears?

–The food he eats?

–The job he holds?

–The house they live in?

–Or, the car they drive?

If you do then you have the spirit of a JEBUSITE!

Looking around, you will find that ALL of the enemies of Israel that GOD ALLOWED to stay around to try Israel are still around today.  Many Christians are still holding on to the world.  We think we can fight our battles on our own.  We must think that, because we don’t give them to God to fight for us.

IT’S TIME…

In Judges, the Israelites came to the point in their world, of CRYING out:

“But when the Israelites cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people…” ~ Judges 3:15; 3:15.

“Then the Israelites cried to the Lord, for [Jabin] had 900 chariots of iron and severely oppressed the Israelites for twenty years” ~ Judges 4:3.

“CRYING” to the Lord in desperation always brought results.  The Israelites turned back to God in REPENTANCE to drive out the CANAANITES, HITTITES, AMORITES, PERIZZITES, HIVITES and the JEBUSITES once and for all.  If Israel had obeyed God in the beginning, they wouldn’t have had to fight so many battles to get where God wanted them to go.  God would have given the VICTORY much quicker if they would have OBEYED the WARNING: Nearing “The Land Of Purple.”

IT’S TIME to put your TRUST in the ONE Who can deliver, Who can come through in time of need, Who is limitless in POWER and provision, then you can make a statement like this.  You have a supernatural advantage!

WARNING: Nearing “The Land Of Purple” (Part One)

“NOW THESE are the nations which the Lord left to prove Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not previously experienced was in Canaan [1].”    “They were for testing and proving of Israel to know whether Israel would listen and obey the commandments of the Lord, which He commanded their fathers by Moses [4].”    (Judges 3).

THE MEANING OF “THE LAND OF PURPLE”:

The “land of purple” can be translated, “the Land of the Phoenicians and Canaanites.”  The basic meaning is “purple dye” that the Phoenicians made from a sea-snail, the Murex.

CANAAN  is an ancient term of a region, approximately present-day Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip plus adjoining coastal islands.  Parts of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan are also included.  The Biblical Canaanites and their borders are given in Genesis 10:15-19.  

You Are What You Eat–

The phrase, “You are what you eat,” are words that are a bit unsettling to me.  But we are told by medical science and in the media, that we in America, eat too much fast food and junk food.  The research tells us how the food we eat affects our bodies and after spending billions of dollars they came to the same conclusion:  If you eat junk food all the time, you will get a “junk body.”  If you eat a lot of fatty foods and salt, you run the risk of high blood pressure, even a stroke.  and concluding with, if you eat a lot of veggies, exercise right, you have a better chance of living a longer life.  Aren’t you glad that Government’s financed research is explaining to us in America what we probably already knew.  THE FACTS that America faces is a “Push Away Crisis.”  The problems we face and ALL the foods we aren’t suppose to eat are all around us.  They seem to TASTE BETTER and LOOK BETTER!  We might even say, we’ve a RELATIONSHIP with the food in our lives.

Our FOUR BASIC FOOD GROUPS have become:

1.  FAST.

2.  FROZEN.

3.  INSTANT.

4.  CHOCOLATE.

So getting a little overweight is something that just sort of “snacks up on you.”  The PROBLEM is, we allow the things that TEMPT US to be around us.  It is just too easy to eat and gain weight.

THE WARNING GIVEN IN THE BOOK OF Shopetin or JUDGES:

In Chapter 3 of Judges, we are given the story of How God Proves His People when they get to the place in their relationship with God, where God is LIMITED BY DISOBEDIENCE and UNBELIEF.

God no longer performs miracles like He once did with Israel under Moses and Joshua.  The mighty miracles that included: 10 Plagues and deliverance from Egypt; the Parting of the Red Sea; water from the rock in the desert; bread (manna) falling out of heaven; parting of the Jordan River; and the walls of Jericho falling down.

They had been brought out of the land of SLAVERY, not by their might but by the power of Almighty God.  They had no military force and no weapons of war.  They were helpless, weak and destitute because of the SIN OF REBELLION that brought them down to Egypt as slaves to begin with.  ISRAEL had to depend upon God.

BUT NOW, all the old Israelites were long dead.  New generations arose in “The Land Of Purple” and they were forgetting the POWER of God to perform miracles.  They had also forgotten the commandment of God; to rid the Land of Canaan of every idolatrous nation.

Allowing A Few People To Remain Behind–

Through kindness and generosity, the Israelites thought they knew better than God, in choosing not to OBEY Him.  This bad decision not only haunted Israel all through the Old Testament, but still haunts them today.  When God said to destroy ALL the enemy, that’s what He meant.  What part of “ALL” could they not have understood?

Now when we forget God, we lose our intimate relationship with Him.  Then God says, “If that’s what you want, fine; but you are on your own.”  Even though He allows us to continue, doing our own thing in making mistakes; He NEVER really gives up on us.

God LOVES us so much, He ever tries to draw us back to the cross; to our LOVE for Him.  That is what’s happening to Israel as we begin to read in The Book of Judges 3:1-4:

“NOW THESE are the nations which the Lord left to prove Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not previously experienced war in Canaan.  It was only that the generations of the Israelites might know and be taught war, at least those who previously knew nothing of it.  The remaining nations are: the five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt on Mount Lebanon from Mount Baal-Hermon to the entrance of Hamath.  They were for testing and proving of Israel to know whether Israel would listen and obey the commandments of the Lord, which He commanded their fathers by Moses.”

Did you CATCH what the WORD says here?  God had allowed a new generation to arise in Israel in spite of their rebellion.  His PROMISE was to make them a great nation that was given to Abraham.  They had NOT been disproved by their evil deeds.

THE PROBLEM:

The NEW GENERATION didn’t learn from the past and if you don’t learn from the past, you are destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.  Maybe I should have added a few more “over’s” for emphasis sake.

Learning To Fight Your OWN Battles:

If God’s people refused to let God fight for them, God would have to make them stronger so they wouldn’t be destroyed.  He left those enemies so Israel could LEARN the art of war, make their own weapons and LEARN to lean upon the arm of the flesh instead of on the arm of FAITH in God..  I remember the lyrics to an old Blackwood Brother’s hit, Learning to Lean–

Learning to lean, I’m learning to lean.  Learning to lean on Jesus.

Finding more power than I’ve ever dreamed, I’m learning to lean on Jesus.

Israel needed correction; discipline and the knowledge of how to defend their new land.  God chose to USE THE ENEMIES that surrounded them in “The Land Of Purple.”  To learn the hard lessons.

JUDGES 3:5-6: “The Land Of Purple”:

“And the Israelites dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites;  And they married their own daughters and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.”

In The Land Of Purple, the people became very promiscuous, intermarrying with idolaters (non-believers).  They found themselves TRAPPED in deceit and immorality.

I believe we have a lot of “CANAANITES” in our own communities with fewer and fewer REAL marriages.  The shortcoming of commitment in relationship has led to the high-divorce rates in this country.  It also appears that IMMORALITY is the rule of the day.  So much so that many people who say they’re Christians don’t even realize how far off from God they are and their own living in immorality.  And the sad fact of the matter, most of the church world condones it or doesn’t say anything about it.  We have tolerated the Canaanites until it is nearly impossible to weed them out now and the churches don’t see the miracles or see the delivery hand of God like they use too because of sin in the camp.

God didn’t stop watching over His chosen nation; He DID ALLOW them to fight their own battles.  We, as a believing community, a land, a nation will have to make a choice.  Either pay the cost of staying close to God and let Him be God of our lives.  Or… pay the cost of blood, sweat and tears in doing things our own way.  Are you letting God fight for you or are you trying to do it yourself?

THE HITTITE ATTITUDE:

Who were the Hittites?  Well, they were warlike people and their history is filled with wars, rebellions and fighting.  When Israel came into contact with their neighbors, they were sure to have a real fight on their hands.  NO PEACE could be established with constant squabbles surely to arise.  Basically, they made life in Israel MISERABLE!

Do we have some Hittites around us?  You can get into your car, drive down the highway minding your own business and run into a Hittite.  Road Rage is getting worse all the time because of the Hittite attitude.

Last week, a neighbor of ours who lives next to the local golf course, had her window broken by a stray golf ball.  She has the home for sale, doesn’t have a job and is selling off her furniture one piece at a time to pay for the Homeowner’s Association monthly fees.  The widow living next door to the scene of the accident, heard the crash of the window and ran outside to try to help and find the guilty golfers.

Two men came into the front yards, looking at the damage and began to yell and scream at the ladies. “You shouldn’t live next to a golf course if you don’t want to have broken windows.”  Then with tears rolling down her face she replied, “I’m trying to sell the house!”  Then one of the men said, “You will never sell it because no one is that STUPID to live next to a golf course.” Our neighbor was in a battle with two Hittite golfers.

LORD HELP US, that the Hittite spirit has even come into the church.  Just let the Pastor walk by without stopping, someone is sure to get their feelings hurt.  “Why, he didn’t even shake my hand after church this morning.”  It sounds funny but it’s true.

There is no one in the world more MISERABLE to be around than a Christian with an old Hittite spirit.  I know that to be true all to well from my own past.  Just ask my wife.

Are there Hittites in your neighborhood; in your house; or in your church?  God will let them stay there sometimes just to try your patience; to see if you will still live for Him and do the right thing!  Is that Old Hittite getting on your nerves; always butting into your business; seeming to just make life miserable for you? That Old Hittite may be there because God allows it.  Maybe it’s because your relationship with God right now isn’t where it should be.  Just maybe, it is to get your own heart right with God.  Then the one who SEEMS to be your enemy ends up being your best friend.  GIVE UP and let God do it!  You are losing the battle anyway!

NEXT COMES THE AMORITES IN PART TWO OF: WARNING: Nearing “The Land Of Purple”.





It Takes Guts To Say “JESUS”

ONE MAN of you shall put to flight a thousand,

for it is the Lord your God Who fights for you, as He promised you.

Be very watchful of yourselves, therefore,

to LOVE the Lord your God.

Joshua 23:10-11

Millions of unsung heroes are not found in the bright lights of fame or in books.  There are people in small and large churches across the land that carry three or four times their workloads while others will not join in and help.  A one time mentor and visitation pastor once told me after I volunteered to lead a class in evangelism in the early 70’s after no one showed,  “Mel, don’t be discouraged for there is a lesson and a Scripture passage for everything.”  Being young in the Lord I asked him, “So, what Bible verse pertains to THIS situation?”  He always carried a pocket version of the Bible in his back pocket.  It was worn, torn and wrinkled from him sitting on it; as I journeyed along with him on family visitations, the wear and tear mostly came from opening the little bible; sharing God’s Word from the wrinkled pages.

Here is the verse he gave me to read in my discouragement.  The feeling that I was but ONE MAN:

“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right,

for in DUE TIME and at the appointed season we shall reap,

if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”

~Galatians 6:9 Amplified version~

CAN ONE MAN OR ONE WOMAN POSSESS SUCH POWER?

–With God ONE can!

–With God ONE can be STRONG.

–Be WISER than others.

–ENDURE.

–CONQUER.

Often we become overwhelmed with a sense of insignificance.  We feel a sense of complete uselessness in believing, “I am just one person in the scheme of things–and what can ONE PERSON do?”

Getting the Understanding:

God can use you to make a DIFFERENCE in this world in the lives of others and in your church.  If…and that is a big IF, you let Him.  Helen Keller said, “I am only ONE, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

How do you let Him?  You make yourself AVAILABLE, being BOLD, being COURAGEOUS and having FAITH.  Scriptures are filled with examples of the POWER OF ONE:

ONE Little Boy–instrumental in feeding 5000 (AVAILABILITY).

“There is a little boy here, who has [with him] five barley loaves, and two small fish; but what are they among so many people?  Jesus said, Make all the people recline (sit down).  Now the ground (a pasture) was covered with thick grass at the spot, so the men threw themselves down, about 5,000 in number [10].  Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples and the disciples to the reclining people, so also [He did] with the fish, as much as they wanted [11].  When they all had enough, He said to His disciples,  Gather up now the fragments (the broken pieces that are left over), so that nothing may be lost and wasted [12].  So accordingly they gathered them up, and they filled twelve [small hand] baskets with fragments left over by those who had eaten from the five barely loaves [13]”  (John 6:9-13 AMP).

1.  God uses what you have to fill a need which you never could have filled!

2.  God uses where you are to take you where you never could have gone!

3.  God uses what you can do to accomplish what you never could have done!

4.  God uses who you are to let you become who you never could have been!

About six years ago, my wife and I were attending a church in Bellingham, Washington.  One Christmas, we were both given a part in a play to perform before the congregation in costume.  I’ve had acting experience in various venues, from High School to church productions over the years but nothing to rave and rant over; nothing to boast about.  A month later, the pastor called me at home and asked if I could come up with an idea for Easter in March of that year.  Maybe write a play or something different than the usual church pageant.  My answer, “Let me pray about it. And I’ll get back to you.”  My immediate thought was–are you kidding?  I don’t have the ability to do something like this!

After praying every day for almost a week…NOTHING!  Then one night, at 3:30 A.M. (I look at the clock on the bed stand), I felt a touch on the shoulder.  I turned to the other side, thinking that I was dreaming.  And then I heard a voice speaking to my spirit, “Get up and go to the kitchen, grab a pen and notebook.”  So, in trying not to wake my wife, I crept out of bed and followed the given instructions.  “Now what?” I whispered.  Holy Spirit said,  “I’ll give you the words.  You keep writing until I say it’s done.”  At 7 A.M. it was finished.  The play, the set design, everything but a format…I had know idea how to write a play!  What I had done was make myself AVAILABLE and God did the rest.  God uses those who make themselves available to Him.  That’s the KEY.  Are you making yourself available?  By the way, my daughter-in-law took the thoughts that God had given me, put it on paper in a script format and faxed it to the church a week later.

The BOLDNESS OF ONE LITTLE GIRL:

“NAAMAN,  COMMANDER of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, accepted [and acceptable], because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria.  He was also a mighty man of valor, but he was a LEPER.  The Syrians had gone out in bands and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel A LITTLE MAID [ONE LITTLE GIRL], and she waited on Naaman’s wife [2].  She said to her mistress, Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria!  For he would heal him of his leprosy [3]”  (2 Kings 5:1-3 AMP).

This ONE LITTLE GIRL was instrumental in healing a world military leader. 

A TRUE STORY OF BOLDNESS:

It takes guts to say “Jesus”, but because a few were BOLD ENOUGH to do so, millions have come to know Christ.

The story I am about to tell you, is a true story of something that happened several years ago at University of Southern California.   There was a professor of Philosophy that was a deeply committed atheist.  His primary goal was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove God could not exist.  His students were always afraid to argue because of his impenetrable logic.  For 20 yrs he had taught his class and no one ever had the courage to go against him because of his reputation.  At the end of every semester, on the last day, he would say to the class of 300 students,  “If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!”  No one ever did.  They knew what he was going to do next.  He would say, “Because anyone who believes in God is a FOOL.  If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking.  Such a simple task to prove he is God, and yet he can’t do it.”  And every year he would drop the chalk onto a tile floor of the classroom, shattering the chalk into a hundred pieces.  Most of the students were convinced that God could not exist.  Certainly a few Christians had slipped through but for 20 yrs, they too were afraid to stand up.

  A few years later, there was a freshman who had enrolled in the class.  He was a Christian and had heard stories about his professor.  His college major required this one class and he was afraid.  But for three months that semester, the freshman prayed every morning to have the courage to stand up.  No matter what the professor said or the class thought.  Nothing they said or did would ever shatter his faith, he hoped.

Finally the day came:  “If there is anyone here who still believes in God stand up!”  The professor and the class of 300 looked at the freshman in shock as he stood up in the back of the room.  The professor shouted, “YOU FOOL!  If nothing I’ve said all semester has convinced you that God does not exist, then you are a fool!  If God existed, he would keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hits the ground!”  As he proceeded to drop the chalk, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleats of his pants, down his leg, off his shoe.  As hit hit the ground, it simply rolled away, unbroken.

The professor’s jaw dropped looking at the young man, then ran out of the lecture hall.  The young man who had stood up, moved to the front of the room, shared his faith in Jesus for the next half hour, while 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God’s LOVE for them and his power through Jesus.

“And I tell you, Whoever declares openly [speaking out freely]

and confesses that he is My worshiper, and acknowledges Me before

men, the son of Man also will declare and confess and acknowledge him

before the angels of God.”

~Luke 12:8 AMP~

WITNESS and be an EXAMPLE because Jesus is going to brag on you before His angels.

NO EXCUSES LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

ONE WOMAN was instrumental in SAVING a nation and it took COURAGE:

Mordecai told Esther “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion?”  (Esther 4:14).

IT TAKES GOD GIVEN COURAGE FOR ALL OF US:

“COURAGE is almost a contradiction in terms: it means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.”  ~Gilbert Chesterton.

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency”  (Philippians 4:13 AMP).

“ONE MAN with COURAGE makes a majority”  by Andrew Jackson.

“Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you”  (Deuteronomy 31:6).

IT TOOK ONE MAN TO SAVE MANKIND FROM EXTINCTION:

ONE MAN’S FAITH–

“[Prompted] by FAITH Noah, being forewarned by God concerning events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed and diligently and reverently constructed and prepared an ark for the deliverance of his own family.  By this [his FAITH which relied on God] he passed judgement and sentence on the world’s unbelief and became an heir and possessor of righteousness”  (Hebrews 11:7 AMP).

“Because of the littleness of your FAITH [that is, your lack of firmly For truly I say to you, if you have FAITH [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain,  Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and NOT relying trust]HING will be impossible to you”  (Matthew 17:20 AMP).

“In God’s economy, ONE MAN redeemed the world by stretching out His arms and giving Himself a perfect sacrifice for us all.  This was ONE MAN.”  ~ Abagail Nelson.

Jesus was left alone in the garden, tortured with no one to defend or comfort, all alone knowing that if He didn’t finish the task, all would be lost.

IT’S NOT EASY BEING “ONE”:

“Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds”  (Hebrews 12:3 AMP).

After doing so, continue to make yourself AVAILABLE to God.  BECAUSE…

“[As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the

[victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with god and doing right],

which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day–

and not to me only, but also to all those who have LOVED and yearned for and welcomed

His appearing (His return).”

~2 Timothy 4:8~

Does it TAKE GUTS to say “JESUS”?  No, you and I just NEED to be:

–AVAILABLE.

–BOLD.

–COURAGEOUS.

–KEEP THE FAITH.

God’s Challenge To Us: The Young and The Old

SIGNS THAT YOU’RE GETTING OLDER:

–You’re asleep, but others worry that you’re dead.

–Your back goes out more often than you do.

–You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks in the room.

–You sing along with the elevator music.

–People call at 9:00 P.M. and ask, “Did I wake you up?”

–Your ears are hairier than you head.

If you are reading the above list of signs of getting older, and don’t get the humor, that’s okay.  I didn’t get the humor twenty years ago either.  But now, when I read this list, my reaction is, “The signs are describing me!”  Especially the last sign. 🙂

A Great Story About An Old Man ~ Joshua 14:6-15:

Let me briefly give you a review while you are looking the verses up in your Bibles.  The first half of the book of Joshua is full of stories; of God leading His people, the Israelites, into the Promised Land.

It started with the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River and continued as the Israelites fought and claimed the land.  Chapters 10 and 11 then summarizes the military campaign.

Chapter 12 contains a simple list of all the kings that the Lord’s army defeated; and that’s the first half of the book.  The second half focuses on the divisions of the land allocated to the various tribes of Israel.  There are a lot of historical details but I’m not going to spend that much time in describing the events and just pull out a few stories tucked in between.

The First Story Is In Chapter 14:6-15:

At first glance, after reading, it doesn’t seem too remarkable.  Just another leader showing up, asking for his land allotment.  But being The Word Detective, my spirit wanted to dig a little bit, to understand the background and the uniqueness begining to shine through in the story.  Just a suggestion: you can’t uncover the truth in God’s Word unless you’re diligent in seeking the evidence; meditate, observe and do!  (Joshua 1:8).

The Story of Caleb:

The story begins forty-five years earlier in the time of Moses.  He was one of the twelve spies sent into the promised land; spying out the land and its inhabitants.  If you recall the story, 12 spies returned and reported to all the people:

“We came to the land to which you sent us; surely it flows with milk and honey.  This is its fruit.  But the people who dwell there are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, there we saw the sons of Anak [of great stature and courage]”  (Numbers 13:27-28 AMP).

As the result of this report, the people were terrified and did not believe God could deliver the land safely.  PROMISES always bring HOPE but they lost their HOPE and FAITH, losing sight of the destination.  Does that happen to you sometimes, when the circumstances overwhelm your FAITH AND HOPE in what God has already promised?

The word HOPE can be defined as a “persistent expectation.”  The Greek word is, capokaradokia; “a watching with outstretched head; capo=from and Kara=the head, and dokeo=to look or to watch.” (See Romans 8:19; Philippians 1:20 and see Lamentations 3:21, 24-25).  The Greek language also signifies, “strained expectancy, eager longing.”

Caleb and Joshua, before entering into the land, believed in God’s promises.  They entered with expectancy; watching with outstretched necks in a HOPEFUL EXPECTATION!

As the result of this report by 10 of the 12 spies, the people REBELLED against the Lord.  Consequently, they were sent back into the wilderness for forty years until all the unfaithful died.  Joshua took over and brought the new generation into the Promised Land.  For not all 12 spies agreed with the proposed course of action.  Two of them, Joshua and Caleb dissented, trying to encourage the people to have FAITH and HOPE; believe in God’s promise to give them the land.

That Brings Us To The “NITTY-GRITTY” Of The STORY.

If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, “nitty-gritty”:  An informal word, meaning the specific or practical details; the heart of a matter.

From the story in Numbers, lets now fast forward forty-five years.  Caleb had survived the 40 years of wandering in the desert; fought alongside of Joshua and took the promised land.  When we come to verses 6-9, we see that Caleb has laid out the facts, reminding Joshua that he had been faithful through it all, followed God’s instructions even though others had not.  Then in verse 9, CALEB claims the promise Moses had made to him and his descendants because of his faithfulness:

“And Moses swore on that day,  Surely the land on which your feet have walked shall be an inheritance to you and your children always, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God [Deut. 1:35, 36]”  (Joshua 14:9 AMP).

CALEB makes his request known.  I love verse 10:

“And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years since the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while the Israelites wandered in the wilderness; and now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old.”

CALEB reports his age–getting up there in years!  85 is pretty old!!  Caleb has proven his faithfulness in serving his Lord for an entire lifetime and now it’s time to claim the promise God made to him through Moses.

I just got a few thoughts, so let’s PAUSE for a minute and ask ourselves a few questions:

1.  Wouldn’t we understand if Caleb was a little tired at his age of fighting the battles set before him?

2.  Wouldn’t it make sense for him to retreat to the background a little bit more, let the young enthusiastic warriors take over and retire to a nice tent in the Sun City retirement community in Canaan, live out his years playing bridge, sipping ice tea with his feet in the community pool, telling stories of how hard those desert years were?

We sort of expect Caleb to continue on from verse 10 by saying:  “Yes, I’m 85 now, and the Lord promised me some land to settle down in, and He knows I earned it, so…this needs to be the next priority for your soldiers Joshua:  send them up right away to clear the way for me and my descendants, fight off all the bad guys, and tell them to make sure the pool is clean and the ice tea is cool…I’ll just wait over here in my Laz-y-boy until they’re finished.”

BUT… as the next two verses read, that is NOT what Caleb said:

“Yet I am as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so is my strength now for war and to go out and to come in [11].  So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke that day. For you heard then how the [giantlike] Anakim were there and that the cities were great and fortified; if the Lord will be with me, I shall drive them out just as the Lord said” [12]  (Joshua 14:11-12 AMP).

Instead of waiting to retire, Caleb wants to stay in the game:

–He still has HEALTH.

–He still has ENERGY.

–He definitely has DESIRE…and

–He picks the BIGGEST BATTLE.

I started working outside of my childhood home at the age of 17 and at the age of twenty-four and two kids later, I entered the field of wholesale plumbing.  I officially retired from the industry at the age of sixty.   At a very young age, I could hardly wait to retire, spend the rest of my years enjoying all the things I wanted to do but couldn’t or didn’t do.  After 40-plus years of fighting many battles in the wilderness, I thought I had finally arrived at the Promised Land boundaries.  Well, it hasn’t exactly turned out that way and I don’t believe at the young age of 40, Caleb could see what was up ahead.  But he knew he could TRUST God’s PROMISES.

A SENIOR CITIZEN TAKING ON GIANTS:

Caleb says, “give me the hill country…where the ‘giantlike’ Anakin and their cities that were great and fortified.”  Instead of retirement, Caleb takes on the biggest CHALLENGE.

Uncovering evidence from God’s word, regarding Caleb’s and some of us who are in an area of life where we need to say, “We’re NEVER done until:

–God takes us home and there is SOMETHING He still wants me to do as long as He gives me breath.”

–Maybe it is to KNOW HIM more!

–Maybe it is to WORSHIP HIM more!

–Maybe it is to CONTINUE to USE THE GIFTS God has given to each one of us, to SERVE in His kingdom.

God Has Been Preparing You For Today’s Task Your Whole Life Whether You Knew Or Not.

In many ways, Caleb was the perfect person to lead the fight against the giants.  He had the most experience; seen the most battles; waited 45 years for the opportunity.  In whatever we face today in our circumstances, God has been preparing us for by drawing strength in the realization: Whatever the hurdles I face, God has been preparing and equipping me to meet them.  He is in control and knows what He’s doing and will walk with me to handle the situations of life.

You might have to wait 45 years to see God’s PROMISE; you might have to get in and fight for it.  CALEB waited 45 years to experience God’s promise.  We know from the story in Joshua, CALEB NEVER forgot the words God said to him through Moses.  And when the time was right, he stepped forward to claim the promise.

I often want to claim the promises of God like gifts from Santa–things that just show up in my life without any effort on my part.  CALEB models the opposite approach to claim the promise of God:

–By acting like there is nothing standing in the way of God keeping those promises.  It didn’t matter that he was 85 yrs old; didn’t matter that the Anakites were intimidating.  All that really mattered to CALEB was that God had made a promise.  So CALEB grabbed his sword and headed for the hills to defeat the enemy.

It Takes FAITH and HOPE:

To act on the PROMISES of God in our lives before we see evidence of their fulfillment it takes FAITH and HOPE.  Let me give just a few Scriptural references:

“Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you”  (Matthew 7:7 AMP).

“Do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given to you in that hour and at the moment, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit”  (Mark 13:11b).

“And you will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will set you free”  (John 8:32).

Sometimes the PROMISES of God appear instantly without any action on our part.  But more often, I believe, acting in FAITH is the course we take to see the fullness of God’s PROMISES!

THE END OF THE STORY:

You might be wondering how the battle turned out for this Senior Citizen named Caleb.  The answer is found in Joshua 15:13-17:

“And to Caleb son of Jephunneh, [Joshua} gave a part among the people of Judah, as the Lord commanded [him]; it was Kiriath-arba, which is Hebron, [named for] Arba the father of Anak.  And Caleb drove from there three sons of Anak–Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai–the descendants of Anak [14].  He went up from there against the people of Debir.  Debir was formerly named Kiriath-sepher [15].  Caleb said, He who smites Kiriath-sepher and takes it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as wife [16].  And Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife [17].”

God was FAITHFUL after 45 years with a soldier who was 85 yrs old and the mighty giants were destroyed.

The CHALLENGES Set Before Us By God:

TO THE YOUNG–

1.  BE PATIENT.  It might take 45 years, but God will always keep His promises–ALWAYS!

2.  NEVER UNDERESTIMATE what God can do through someone older than you.

3.  RESPECT those who are older.  LEAN on their experiences.  They’ve fought a lot of battles and can save you a lot of injury and mistakes, if only you won’t be too PROUD to SEEK them out and ask for their input.

TO THE OLD (er)–

1.  KNOW that God isn’t finished with you until He takes you home.

2.  ACTIVELY CLAIM the PROMISES of God.  Will you fight the toughest battles now? 

And what are those, you wonder??  BATTLES FOUGHT IN PRAYER:

1.  PRAY for our teens.

2.  PRAY for our children and grandchildren.

3.  PRAY for our church leaders.

4.  PRAY for our pastors, young and older.

5.  PRAY for the parents of young people.

6.  PRAY for children’s ministry teachers.

AND MOST OF ALL,

PRAY for your community that the LOVE JESUS might break through the resistance and bring life to those who don’t know JESUS!

I was thinking through my DETECTIVE investigation; notes I made in God’s Word; about what the modern equivalent of the Anakites might be.  How to fight the “giants” of today.  I’ve concluded by recognizing, the battles are only going to be fought and won in prayer.  Those of us who are seniors need to PRAY MORE FERVENTLY.  Or as my pastor has recently said, VIOLENT PRAYERS!  Come on Church!  Lets take ACTION!!

God honestly doesn’t care how old we are.  He cares that our hearts are His and that He is the focus of our lives.  And when that is the case, it doesn’t matter what GIANTS we face.  GOD WILL BE VICTORIOUS!

Are you willing to TAKE THE CHALLENGE?  Leave your comments and commitments at the end of the blog.  I would love to hear from you.

Let’s Get With It–It’s Time To Shout!

“I AM JUST A STEP AWAY FROM A MIRACLE!”

[A STUDY IN JOSHUA–Y’hoshua in the Hebrew language]:

Recalling Successful Ventures Reinforces Future Daring!

“And Y’hoshua (Joshua) said to them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God in the midst of the Jordan, and take up every man of you a stone on his shoulder, as is the number of tribes of the Israelites,    That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come,  What do these stones mean to you?    Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over the Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off.  So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever”  (Joshua 4:5-7 AMP).

It is not only important that the people crossed the swollen Jordan but to remember the event.  Giving thanks of past success is not only common courtesy but establishes a rhythm; a pattern of gratitude following satisfactory performance.

Crossing My River After Taking The “RED PILL!”

For almost my entire Christian life, my prayers and thanksgiving were…lets say, ‘Rabbit Foot’  type prayers.  I would give thanks, pray for safe family vacations, and of course pray for people when they would ask me.  After all, isn’t that what good Christians are supposed to do?  The answers of YES or NO!  Unless heartfelt, faithful, bold prayers are offered to God, the answer would always come back…well,  somewhat ‘muddled’; being not sure and lacking any confidence that God’s answer would be YES!

I left the RELIGIOUS ‘MATRIX’ and swallowed the “RED PILL’ in 2005; Holy Spirit gave me the choice.  Take the spiritual RED PILL and discover a wonderland or…take the BLUE PILL and stay indifferent [see my ABOUT page; Taking the Red Pill testimony].

Looking back across the river, I would still be in the same state of mind and spirit.  But the choice that was presented to me by the Holy Spirit enabled me to PASS OVER.  I will always remember that moment of establishing a rhythm; a pattern of gratitude with a new attitude; a renewing of my mind (Romans 12:1-3).

The Concept Of REMEMBERING and Giving THANKS–

This concept works for:

–God.

–Churches.

–Fellow workers.

–Families.

–Students.

–Teachers.

–And governments.

Anywhere there are POSITIONS of leadership and follow-ship.  Its remembering a job well-done and giving/getting PRAISE for it; in the RIGHT NOW!  It strengthens a bond and supplies the energy for future undertakings.  PRAISE is powerful, PRAISE is positive, PRAISE is promotional.

It Is Worthwhile To Stop Occasionally After “Passing Over”?

Occasionally we need to take stock of our heritage and the great under-lying principles which we operate in.  Ask yourself questions, “Are we staying true to our goals?  Are we opportunists, constantly looking for that which will work, or bring pain?

“For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you PASSED OVER, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up for us until we passed over.  That all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty and that you may reverence and fear the Lord your God forever”  (Joshua 4:23-24 AMP).

THE LAST MEAL OF MANNA–Joshua 5:11-12.

“And on that same day they ate the produce of the land: unleavened cakes and parched grain.  And the manna ceased on the day after they ate of the produce of the land; and the Israelites had manna no more, but the ate the fruit of the land of Canaan that year” [12].

At the same time, some traditions not worth keeping; some essentials from the past are now passe’.  They were once useful but now they are out of date.

This was true of the manna God had faithfully sustained an entire nation for a generation with simple food.  They couldn’t have existed without it, complaining and gripping though they did.  Suddenly available to them after their crossing or passing over, there were stored supplies of grain in a fertile land of frugal people.

LEADERS must be quick to discern when something is USEFUL and when it is not.  When a TRADITION should be carried on and when it should be laid aside.  When times have changed, things previously unavailable, suddenly become AVAILABLE.

Many churches have failed on this very aspect alone.  They continue to FEED on yesterday’s manna instead of today’s crop.  My wife said to me right after the both of us took THE RED PILL: “I am tired of eating dried-up and stale bread on the church floor, when I can smell fresh bread in the kitchen oven.”

LOOKING AT OUR PROBLEMS FROM ALL ANGLES:

“NOW JERICHO [a fenced town with high walls] was nightly closed because of the Israelites; no one went out or came in.  And the Lord said to Joshua,  See, I have given Jericho, its king and mighty men of valor, into your hands”  [2]  (Joshua 6:1-2 AMP).

FEAR is a paralyzer.  It halts progress, rational thinking and productive activity; it dominates and controls people’s thinking.  Jericho was a product of FEAR and it was about to be increased.  Since the gates had been shut in trying to contain the Israelite spies, they had not been opened since.  No one could come and go; no peace, no commerce, no one traveling.  They were worried sick about the attack they knew was coming.

MORE BAD NEWS kept coming.  The flooded Jordan wasn’t a barrier to their working God.  The stored supplies of corn were being consumed by the millions filling the Jordan valley…and now, more bad news!  A band of soldiers and some trumpet-blowing priests were quietly approaching their city and they couldn’t figure out the reason.

Any leader who works from FEAR or in FEAR is doomed to fail.  Keeping subordinates in line with FEAR will never do what encouragement will do.  However, FEAR can be an effective tool in use against the enemy.  It can incapacitate him effectively; heighten your control over him which leads to disastrous decisions and delusions on their part.

WAlKING AROUND THE CITY:

“You shall march around the enclosure, all the men of war going around the city once.  This you shall do for six days.  And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns; and on the seventh day you shall march around the enclosure seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.  [4]  But Joshua commanded the people, You shall not shout or let your voice be heard, nor shall any word proceed out of your mouth until the day I tell you to shout.  Then you shall shout”  [10]  (Joshua 6:3-4, 10 AMP).

LEADERSHIP requires a formative knowledge of:  many disciplines, abilities, possibilities, dangers, procedures and outlooks.  A LEADER must be many things with a general and over-all knowledge of the entire operation and must be able to RELATE his vision and dreams in such manner that will be enthusiastic and willing.  Nothing accomplishes this better than a calculated walk around the situation; a look at the problem from every angle to ascertain that nothing is hidden or disguised or unmanageable.  It increases your FAITH!

KNOW SOMETHING THE ENEMY DOESN’T:

“When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn and you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the enclosure shall fall down in its place and the people shall go up [over it], every man straight before him”  (Joshua 6:5 AMP).

The ENEMY could make no sense of the daily parade around the city.  They couldn’t understand a war with no visual build-up of material and armament.  They couldn’t have possibly known that their city was about to FAIL with crumbling walls, without an arrow flying, a sword clanging or a shield swaying.  Or that God had a plan and relayed it to His children; His people never doubted or balked over the plan because they had seen God at work and were confident He could do it again.

A PLAN IS A POTENT WEAPON:

A God-given plan is infallible; and FOLLOWING God’s plan will mean success.  Not your own plan or working without one, but following God’s details in His plan.  The Israelites knew in advance how long the march would be; when to expect the final trumpet blast; when to shout and what the outcome would be.

A TIME TO SHOUT:

“And the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, SHOUT!  For the Lord has given you the city”  (Joshua 6:15 AMP).

I don’t know about you, but personally, that sounds EXCITING and brings JOY!

Shouting is an activity of excitement, either of celebration or of a warning.  We are accustomed to this at sporting events where we think it is proper and necessary.  But we are hesitant and fearful of this as a church function in our communities.  Because we feel that God or at least our neighbors will be offended.  But when we have something exciting, something worthwhile to celebrate, a SHOUT of PRAISE is not only proper but encouraged.  Scripture even supports appropriate SHOUTING:

1 Samuel 4:5-7.

Ezra 3:11-13.

Psalm 5:11.

Psalm 32:10-11; 33:1.

FAITHFUL AND SWEATY PEOPLE:

The children of God had been anticipating this moment of VICTORY for 7 long days.  It had been PROMISED before they started the march around the city.  They could feel the excitement building as the crowd grew around the brink of the wall.  And the goal of VICTORY was getting nearer and nearer.  They had suppressed ALL talk to concentrate on one glorious sound…CELEBRATION at the trumpet signal.

Falling Walls:

“So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown,  When the people heard the sound of the trumpet, they raised a great shout, and [Jericho’s] wall fell down in its place, so that the [Israelites] went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city”  (Joshua 6:20 AMP).

What are we waiting for Church?  Does it seem like there are spiritual walls around your city?  The enemy is alive and well, but know this: his defeat was accomplished at the cross.  Jesus Christ is ALIVE and well; the TRUMPET has sounded and the curtain has been torn from top to bottom.  We in the Church have been quieted long enough.

“Do you not say,  It is still four months until harvest time comes?  Look!  I tell you, raise your eyes and observe the fields and see how they are already white for harvesting.  Already the reaper is getting his wages [he who does the cutting now has his reward], for he is gathering fruit (crop) unto life eternal, so that he who does the planting and he who does the reaping may rejoice [and SHOUT} together.  For in this the saying holds true,  One sows and another reaps.  I sent you to reap a crop for which you have not toiled.  Other men have labored and you have stepped in to reap the results of their work”     (John 4:35-38 AMP).  [I added, and SHOUT for emphasis].

The PLAN has been formulated for your city.  So it is up to us to carry out God’s plan and start marching around your city.  Let’s Get With It–It’s Time To Shout!

Written In Sand–Carved In Stone!

SAND AND STONE:

This story tells of two friends who were walking through the desert.  During some point of the journey they had an argument.  One friend slapped the other one in the face and the one who got slapped was hurt.  But without saying anything, she wrote in the sand:

“TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.”

They kept on walking and came upon an oasis where they decided to take a bath.  The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but her friend SAVED her.  After she recovered from near drowning, she wrote on a nearby stone:

“TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.”

The friend, who had slapped and saved her best friend, asked her:

“AFTER I HURT YOU, YOU WROTE IN SAND AND NOW, YOU WROTE ON A STONE, WHY?”

The other friend replied:

“When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it; but when someone does something good for us, we must carve it in stone, so no wind can ever erase it.”  Learn to write your hurts in the sand and carve your blessings in stone. ~ Author of story unknown.

LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND and CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE:

They say it takes a minute to find a special person and an hour to appreciate them; a day to love them, but an entire life to forgive them.

According to the apostle Paul, we have been FREED to serve, not ourselves, our interests but God’s and the interests of others.

“For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to FREEDOM; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through LOVE you should SERVE one another”  (Galatians 5:13 AMP).

THE DANGER OF ABUSING OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY!

To some people, to be FREE from the Law meant that there was nothing standing in the way; of self-indulgence and a FREE REIN in sin.  They will even try to support they’re FREEDOM with Scripture; using Romans 14 as supporting their motives without context.  They understand the Law to be ONLY RESTRAINING the power of sin in individuals and the world.

In SALVATION God has brought the BELIEVER out from under whatever control divine Law had over them, placing him under superior control by the Holy Spirit.  Out of one control to another; from the control of mere LEGAL LAWS into the control of a person, Holy spirit.  SIN is something the world thinks as sin but how God sees it–does what you’re doing line up with the Word of God.

The Law becomes a SUBSTITUTION of the restraint of the Holy Spirit which brings disastrous results (Romans 7:7-13).  It’s the Holy Spirit who gives FREEDOM; the POWER to LIVE the life God intended us to live.

OUR CALLING–Galatians 5:13a MSG.

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life.  Just make sure that you don’t use the freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom.

Free “to do whatever you want to do.”  FREE from what?

FREE from God’s wrath:

“Therefore, since we are now justified (acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God”  (Romans 5:9 AMP).

FREE from mastery of sin~Romans 6:14.

FREE from the dominion of Satan and his demons~Colossians 1:13; 1 John 4:3-4.

FREE from living under the curse of the Law~Galatians 3:13.

FREE from the condemnation the Law imposes to those who disobey~Romans 8:1.

FREE from the Law as means of justification~Galatians 2:16.

FREE from approaching God in terror and dread~Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:15-16.

A CAUTION!

Galatians 13b says, “and [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse”; in the King James version, instead of using the word “incentive” as the Amplified reads, it uses the word “occasions“.  The meaning brings forth a military term: “a base of operations” from which to serve sin.

LIBERTY was not to be used as a spring-board to take off from the intention of sinning.  Paul’s antidote against this is “through LOVE you should serve one another.”

“LOVE”–is agape…not human affection but divine love,…self-sacrificing love.  Christian FREEDOM is not freedom to indulge in the flesh of self-centerness.   LIVING FREE IS: not ignoring all restraints fulfilling any and all our desires.  LIBERTY doesn’t mean that since we’re not going to hell [freedom in our spiritual asbestos suits]; that Jesus already paid for your sins, you can just do all the evil you want to do.  Judaizers were saying without the Law, people become lawless.

OUR CHALLENGE~Galatians 5:13-14.

“For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept.  You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself” (v.14-Amplified version).

The believer is no longer under the Law of Moses but the Law of LOVE.  Warren Wiersbe says, “The amazing thing about LOVE is that it takes the place of all the Laws of God ever gave,  ‘You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.’  It solves every problem in human relationships.

If you LOVE people because you LOVE Christ Jesus, you will not:

–STEAL from them.

–LIE about them.

–ENVY them.

–try in any way to HURT them; SARCASM by the way isn’t LOVE [I’ll discuss that later].

LOVE in the heart of man is God’s substitute for laws and threats:

“Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except LOVE one another; for he who LOVES his neighbor [who PRACTICES LOVING others] has fulfilled the Law [relating to one’s fellowmen, meeting all its requirements].  The commandments,  You shall not commit adultery,  You shall not kill,  You shall not steal,  You shall not covet (have an evil desire), and any other commandment, are summed up in the single command,  You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. (9)  LOVE does no wrong to ones neighbor [it never hurts anybody].  Therefore LOVE meets all the requirements and is the fulfilling of the Law” (10)   (Romans 13:8-10 AMP).

GOD HAS LIBERATED US TO SERVE ONE ANOTHER:

The words, “liberty and servant” sounds like a contradiction.  God FREES US to SERVE one another; not to take advantage; not FREE to hurt or destroy our brother and sister in Christ.  God didn’t FREE US for that!  He FREED US to be servants to Himself and others, where we find the greatest fulfillment in life.  We have not been FREED to be self-indulgent, self-centered, nor self-serving.

The CONTENTIONS- (v.15a):

“But if you bite and devour one another”

The picture given by the apostle Paul comes from the animal world; wild animals in a deadly struggle.  I found this quote from an unknown author in my searching this past week,  “For wolves or dogs to worry sheep is not strange; but for sheep to distress one another is unnatural.”

Obviously, this was not a literal “teeth gnashing on flesh” conflict Paul was referring to.  The church assembly was not literally biting and eating each others flesh!  What I like to call it was, spiritual cannibalism; what they were doing to each other; cursing the brethren with:

–malice.

–gossip.

–envy.

–hatred.

And I’ve added the word SARCASM to the “doings of the flesh” (verse 19).

In my own spiritual growth to spiritual maturity , I had acquired the infamous ‘Badge of Sarcasm.’  To the point of throwing out my chest in response to the Badge.  Then one day, my adult son emailed me a definition of the English word, SARCASM; for he knew as others did, I was struggling with the bad spirit.  SARCASM had replaced the God-given LOVE for others.

SARCASM  originated from the Greek word, sarkazo; “to tear flesh like dogs, to speak bitterly.”  Could the Badge of Sarcasm been prevalent in the church at Galatia?  Maybe, but I included the word to embellish the picture Paul gives to the Church of believers.

The results of the believer were, from them acting like wild beasts and what effect it was having in their communities; to their witness for Christ Jesus.  Can you imagine; Christians today acting like wild beasts?

The CONSEQUENCES- (v.15b):

“be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another

Everyone loses when Christians fight each other, there are no winners.  Matthew Henry writes–

“Mutual strife’s among brethren, if persisted in, will likely to prove a common ruin; those that devour one another are in a fair way to be consumed one of another.”

Christian churches cannot be ruined but by their own hands; but if Christians, who should be helped, and a joy to one another be as brute beasts biting and devouring each other has CONSEQUENCES.

What can be expected but the God LOVE should deny grace to them; the Spirit of LOVE departs from them and that evil spirit, who seeks destruction of them all should prevail?

There Are Times To Fight:

When the fundamentals are at stake, we should be determined to stand and fight to the finish.  But if it’s an argument over a non-essential issue, we have to LEARN to be SELFLESS and FORGIVING OF ONE ANOTHER.

Although the text that I have been sharing is from Galatians 5:13-15, I think it necessary to put my thoughts in context with an earlier verse of the chapter:

“For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through LOVE”  (Galatians 5:6 AMP).


The HEART which is acceptable to God is not the one that depends on its works–whether right-wing circumcision or left-wing uncircumcision.  But rather one which trusts so fully in God’s grace, the RESULT is a life of LOVE and JOY!

John Piper says it this way:

“LOVE is an essential part of the process of salvation.  It is not optional whether you love one another.  No one can say, ‘I am SAVED by FAITH regardless of whether I LOVE people or not.”

I think what he is saying is, LOVE isn’t a FEELING but a requirement of being saved in Christ Jesus.  The only FAITH which SAVES is, “faith working through LOVE.”

FREEDOM OF FULLNESS:

Remember, we can only LOVE if we are set FREE.  God has called us to freedom of fullness which overflows in LOVE.  We were not freed to the SLAVERY of EMPTINESS; to bite and devour, never satisfied.  In Jesus Christ, God offers us FORGIVENESS, daily help and guidance; hope for the greatest future imaginable.  And IT’S ALL FREE!  Purchased by the death and resurrection of Jesus, received by FAITH alone.  The secret of LOVE is FREEDOM and the secret of FREEDOM is utter confidence in the LOVE of God.

Jesus loves me this I know,  For the Bible tells me so.